Katie Hoog (left) and Amy Speck-Kern with Gerona (Photo courtesy of Excel Dressage)
Wellington, Florida (November 11, 2016) – As 2016 begins to wind down, Excel Dressage and its students are winding up for the national championships and setting personal records in the FEI levels. Based in Loxahatchee, Florida and led by head trainer Amy Speck-Kern, Excel Dressage celebrated a number of milestones over the summer and fall, with top finishes for its riders on a few different levels.
Speck-Kern’s 2016 Markel/USEF Young Horse Championship mount, Gerona (Tango X Odessa X Junior STV), forged a new partnership with her amateur owner, Katherine Hoog, and the pair successfully qualified for the 2016 US Dressage Finals, November 10-13. The invitation only competition recognizes the best amateur and professional riders in the country, and Hoog and the elegant 5-year-old KWPN mare will travel to the Kentucky Horse Park this week to vie for the Training Level Adult Amateur Championship. With Speck-Kern at the reins, Gerona, known around the barn as Gigi, placed among the top 15 5-year-olds in the nation this summer, after only a few months of being imported from The Netherlands. Hoog took over the ride on the mare with her sights set on the Finals, and qualified in one shot during the USDF/GAIG Region 3 Championships at the Atlanta National Fall Show in Georgia, the mare’s second National Championship qualification in less than a year. With qualifying scores in the mid-60s, the pair also won an entire Open/AA class with a 73.8% and was fourth in her Championship class out of over 50 riders with a score of 72.5%.
“I’m extremely proud of Katie’s success with Gerona, a horse she scouted and imported and now has qualified for the US Dressage Finals,” said Speck-Kern. “We experienced an almost 30 degree drop in temperature, intense wind, and a huge atmosphere at Regionals. Katie stepped up to the plate and rode like a pro, showing a great deal of poise and skill in presenting a young horse. In training at home, they took time to get to know each other, especially the timing of the aids to get Gigi moving freely forward in self-carriage. Talented young horses are wonderful to ride, but they don’t just do it by themselves. In addition to athleticism and balance, it takes a lot of feel from the rider.”
Bonnie Kretchik, another Excel Dressage student, recently debuted at the FEI level after beginning her career with Excel Dressage schooling 4th Level. With scores in the mid to upper 60s at 4th and Prix St. Georges, in their most recent show at the Wellington Classic Fall Challenge she and her 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding San Dante (Sandro Hit x Weltmeyer) scored a personal best of 66% in the Prix St. Georges, only their third show at the FEI level.
“Bonnie has come a long way in the past year,” said Speck-Kern. “When we first began working together she was just starting to show 4th Level and has made a ton of progress. They are now confident at the Prix St. Georges and are just about ready for the Intermediaire I as well. Sammy [San Dante] was not a schoolmaster and has never been competed at Prix St. Georges by a professional, so Bonnie gets a lot of credit for training him at the FEI level and developing him in to a true show partner.”
Esteban, an Excel Dressage import, also made his way to Nationals with his new owner, after being scouted and imported in November of 2015 and sold in January of 2016.
Excel Dressage was founded by Speck-Kern in 2010 and offers training, showing, and sales of top caliber dressage horses. After beginning her career with Olympic Bronze Medalist Michael Poulin and “S” Judge Sharon Poulin, Speck-Kern’s naturally quiet and effective riding style and training method drew a strong international client base of competitive amateurs. Excel Dressage imports a select number of exceptional sales and show prospects each year, and Speck-Kern is also an equestrian Ambassador for the Kids Cancer Foundation as a way to give back to the research and therapies that saved her life when she was diagnosed with Acute Myleoid Leukemia at 18. With her sights set on eventually obtaining an international judges accreditation, she was recently accepted into the USEF “r” program and competing her FEI mounts on the 2017 Wellington show circuit.
For more information on Amy or Excel Dressage, visit www.ExcelDressage.com.
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