Tag Archives: US Dressage Finals

Brittany Burson Dominates with Five Regional Champion Titles en Route to 2023 US Dressage Finals

Brittany Burson and Fiorenza. John Borys Photography

October 13, 2023 – Lexington, KY – The second of three weekends of 2023 Great American Insurance Group (GAIG)/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Regional Championships, held across a total of nine USDF regions, offered more riders the chance to pick up qualifying berths for the 2023 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® at the Kentucky Horse Park on November 9-12.

Five for Burson at Region 4

At Fourth Level it was Furst Emilio’s turn in the spotlight — once he overcame his fear of the spotted horse in the warm-up arena. Patricia Joy’s 13-year-old gelding by Fürst Fugger is another bought from Germany unseen during the pandemic, and was intended for Joy, but he can be complicated, so Burson is sharing the ride with his 70-year-old owner.

Linda Phifer’s seven-year-old Leonardo Z delivered Burson’s fifth victory. The Glamourdale son clinched the Third Level Freestyle with 74.688% and was reserve champion in the opening class with 71.188%. Leonardo has recently jumped up the levels.

Growing and Winning Together in Region 4

It was a memorable weekend for Adult Amateur (AA) Casey Eiten. Not only did she and the 14-year-old Eschaton win the Region 4 Intermediate II Championship title with 60.074%, but they also contested their first ever Grand Prix, gaining a score towards the rider’s USDF Gold Medal in one of the warm-up recognized classes that ran alongside the Regional classes. Eiten, who is 28 years old now, was 15 when she and her parents bought Eschaton, and they have climbed the competition ladder together.

“We didn’t know very much about what kind of baby horses we were looking for,” admitted Eiten, who liked the look of the young son of Sir Sinclair. “He was actually born and bred at the farm where I took lessons, and the breeding seemed right. I was out there every day when I was younger, getting him used to all the little stuff, like brushing and bringing him in.

“We started him, and I was the first person on him. It’s kind of crazy because I went through high school and college and now my adult career and life with him; he’s been there with me through it all. I feel really lucky that he turned out the way he did.”

Allen’s Four Wins Dominate Region 5

Adult Amateur Andria Allen had a stellar show at the Region 5 Championships on September 29 – October 1 in Scottsdale, AZ with her two horses. She scooped three Regional Championship titles and a reserve with the six-year-old Dutch-bred Mardeaux (Ferdeaux x Connoisseur) and Keno SSF (Governor x Contango).

Her double champion Mardeaux — at Second and Third Level — was yet another bought unseen from the Netherlands two years ago, mid-pandemic, and has been a little challenging since he arrived.

A fresh approach to saddle fitting has been the key for Allen’s other ride, the eight-year-old Keno SSF, whom she bought in-vitro from Shooting Star Farms.

“He’s such a big powerful horse, and as a five-year-old he was so naughty,” she explained. “We found a little bit of kissing spine, not much, but it needs managing. My Colorado trainer rode him in a different saddle — a Dresch — that sits further forward so the scapula can go underneath it. It puts my weight about four inches further forward, and it’s been an absolute game changer for Keno.”

Stacey Knox and Frosty Fox led an enormous Region 4 Second Level AA class, putting down an unassailable 71.429%, which was the only score above 70% out of the 25 starters. The seven-year-old Hanoverian by Floris Prince finished third at the Region 4 Championships in 2022 at First Level, and will be making his first trip to Finals.

The 2023 US Dressage Finals will be held November 9-12 in Lexington, KY at the Kentucky Horse Park, and is a national championship competition that showcases the Adult Amateur and Open divisions. Classes run at Training Level through Grand Prix, plus divisions for Junior/Young Riders at Training Level through Fourth Level. There is $120,000 in prize money up for grabs over the four days. Learn more at www.usdf.org/usdressagefinals/index.asp.

Founded in 1973, the United States Dressage Federation is a non-profit membership organization dedication to education, recognition of achievement, and promotion of dressage. For more information about USDF membership or programs, visit www.usdf.org or e-mail usdressage@usdf.org

By Alice Collins for Jump Media/USDF

Kuhn Weathers the Storm to Win on Second Day of 2018 US Dressage Finals

Friday morning at the 2018 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington dawned with the type of weather conditions more suitable for staying in bed than having the ride of one’s life. Hailing from New Berlin, Ill., Martin Kuhn (Region 4) is no stranger to chilly weather, but when he entered the ring at 10am for the Training Level Open Championship, the persistent rain and 40-degree temperature was admittedly tough to handle. But his mount, Debra Klamen’s five-year-old Hanoverian gelding Ronin (Romanov Blue Hor x Something Royal by Sir Donnerhall I, bred in the U.S. by Marcia Boeing) held steadfast, earning the championship title with an impressive score of 72.803%.

“It was really cold and wet, but my horse seemed unaffected by the conditions – they bothered me much more!” Kuhn laughed. “Situations like this can often be ‘interesting’ with young horses, but even though he’s only five, at this point in the show season he’s been out a lot and in some challenging environments. So when the time came to go down centerline today, he put his head down and did his job. I couldn’t be more happy with him.”

Kuhn is no stranger to success at the US Dressage Finals, finding the winner’s circle with several talented mounts over the last six years. But in his opinion, Ronin stands out. “He’s an amazing athlete – I think he’s the most talented young horse I’ve ever sat on,” Kuhn explained. “I’ve had the privilege to work with lots of horses who have ability, are willing and fun to ride, but on top of that, Ronin is easily the most athletic and elastic horse I’ve ever ridden.”

Also impressed with the maturity of her young partner under adverse weather conditions was Reserve Champion Kelsey Broecker of Celina, Texas (Region 9), who rode Molly Huie’s four-year-old Hanoverian gelding Caelius (Christ x Hauptstutbuch Bonny by Buddenbrock) to a score of 71.818%. “By our ride time, I was ready to be done,” she laughed. “But like Martin’s [Kuhn’s] horse, mine was also unfazed by weather and the overall atmosphere. He doesn’t act like a typical four-year-old – he’s a bit of an old soul, so agreeable and so much fun to ride. He’s just a joy to bring to shows.”

Hometown Girl Laura Crowl Wins Big in Second Level Adult Amateur Championship

Almost 40 competitors from all across the country entered the Claiborne Ring to compete for this year’s Second Level Adult Amateur Championship title, but local eventer and newlywed Laura Crowl of Lexington, Ky. (Region 2) only had to drive a few miles down the road to claim the blue ribbon with her six-year-old U.S.-bred Dutch Warmblood mare Hana (UB-40 x Jolien E by Chronos). After overcoming an untimely hoof abscess right before the Region 2 Championships, Crowl and Hana successfully made it to the Finals and became the only combination to top the 70% mark from all three judges, earning the unanimous victory with 71.585% to earn their first national title.

“I loved almost everything about our test,” said Crowl. “She was really spot on the entire time and did everything I asked. Over the last month I’ve asked her for a little more expression in the movements, and I think the judges appreciated it. She really stepped up to the plate.”

As an eventer who has competed through the FEI 2* level, Crowl originally found Hana in the local barn of her breeder, Reese Koffler-Stanfield, when searching for her next prospect. But the relationship got off to a rocky start. “The first time I rode her she bit me, and it turned out she hated stadium,” Crowl laughed. “But she loved dressage so I had to adjust to what she wanted to do, and along the way I realized it’s fun, not just something you get through to go cross-country. It definitely was a little interesting in the beginning, but we’ve grown to love each other since then.”

In her first trip to the US Dressage Finals, Amanda Lopez of Sarasota, Fla. (Region 3) earned Reserve Championship honors with her nine-year-old Westfalen gelding Rubitanos Dream (Rubitano x Diva by Dream of Glory) with 69.431%. “I like horses with a little character, and we joke that he’s like one of the ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz – it has to fit, and we just really ‘click’ with each other,” said Lopez of her mount. “I feel so lucky that he chose me as his person. He aims to please with a heart of gold, and I was so honored to show him today in front of these judges and against this caliber of competition.”

Growing Confidence Earns Sandeman the Third Level Open Championship

Angela Jackson of Henderson, Ky. (Region 2) already knew Sandeman was a nice horse, since earlier this summer the six-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Sir Donnerhall x Flora by Florencio, owned by Julie Cook) earned reserve honors at the Markel/USEF Young Horse Championships at Lamplight. But it was the youngster’s ever-growing confidence in himself that carried the pair to the unanimous victory under all judges in Friday’s Third Level Open Championship with a total score of 73.632%.

“It was one of our nicest rides of the year, so to do that here is special,” Jackson explained. “Sandeman has grown up a lot. I could finally ride each movement of the test with a little more confidence today, and everything fell into place. This is definitely ‘the’ show of the season. I’m so thankful for all of the sponsors who support this event, and everyone who makes it possible. It’s the highlight of our year.”

Martin Kuhn (Region 4) participated in his second awards ceremony of the day, this time taking Reserve Champion with 72.265% at Third Level aboard Elizabeth Cronin’s seven-year-old Westfalen gelding Venivici (Vitalis x Sabrina by Sherlock Holmes), who earned First Level Open Reserve Championship honors last year. “It was a little exciting in the cold and the rain, but he stayed with me,” Kuhn noted. “It was definitely a little bit of a conservative ride, but he trusted me and was happy to do his job. He used to be a little bit of a nervous type, but like Angela’s [Jackson’s] horse, as he’s matured, he’s become much more confident.”

Sara Stone Rises to the Challenge in Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship

As Sara Stone of Lake in the Hills, Ill. (Region 4) and her seven-year-old American Warmblood gelding Gotham (Gabriel x Mystic, bred in the U.S. by Indian Hills Stables) prepared for their afternoon ride in the Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship, she knew she was facing quite a challenge. “It was a very tough class, and I didn’t think we had a chance at all,” Stone admitted. “But Gotham was in a great mood this afternoon, and he actually likes this chilly weather. When we came out of the ring, I was so focused on what we were doing that I actually wasn’t sure what to think about our test.”

Not long after, all Stone could think about was how proud she was of her mount as the pair emerged as victors with a winning score of 67.704%. “I bought him when he was just three, and he’s the first horse of my own that I have ridden at this level. He’s my best friend,” said Stone, who works in commercial insurance in addition to raising a family. “As an adult amateur, all of the hard work, passion, sweat and tears that goes into having an everyday job and being a mom all while trying to ride…to be able to come to a show like this and lay it all on the line with so many people supporting you…it’s the icing on the cake at the end of the year, and I can’t wait to come back again next year.”

Reserve Champion Amy Gimbel of Oldwick, N.J. (Region 8), who also works in the insurance field when not in the saddle, was equally delighted with her nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Eye Candy (UB-40 x Wednesday by Weltmeyer, bred in the U.S. by Judy Barrett) and their second-place score of 67.407%. “We had some nice moments as well as some tense moments, but overall I was pleased,” Gimbel noted. “We’ve been to the Finals before but took a few years off – Eye Candy had an injury and it’s been a bit of a slow, arduous journey back, something that so many horse people can relate to. Just to be back here is a big accomplishment for us and means a lot.”

Romantico SF Bounces Back to Claim Intermediate I Open Championship

Over the course of more than four straight hours of hard-fought competition on Friday afternoon in the Alltech Arena, competitors battled for top honors in the Intermediate I Open Championship. With a score of 72.157%, ultimate victor Heather Mason of Lebanon, N.J. (Region 8) explained how her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding Romantico SF (Romancero H x Wesermelodie by Wenzel I) had already proven to be the winner of a much bigger battle – for his life.

“He was laid up for a year with an injury, and I only had about two rides on him when he went in for colic surgery the week after I returned home from last year’s Finals,” Mason remembered. “But amazingly here we are. He’s not an easy horse, which is how I originally ended up with him for just a dollar. But he was great today: the first medium trot was a little bit tentative, but as we got more comfortable in there he was very good. His canter work is generally strong, his pirouettes were very solid, and his zig zag was good. He’s back and better than ever.”

Finishing in Reserve with 71.373% were last year’s Prix St. Georges Open division champions Nora Batchelder of Williston, Fla. (Region 3) and the 10-year-old U.S.-bred Hanoverian gelding Faro SQF (Fidertanz x MS Rose by Rotspon, bred by Jill Peterson). “He was super brave and ready to go today – there’s always a lot of atmosphere in the Alltech Arena but he dealt with it really well,” Batchelder said of her mount. “The canter work is always his strong suit, and I also thought his trot extensions were nice. It’s even more exciting for him to do well because his co-owner and my cousin Andrea Whitcomb is here to watch this year, which makes it extra special.”

Finals First-Timer Hannah Hewitt Wins Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship

It may have been Hannah Hewitt’s very first time cantering down centerline into the impressive atmosphere of the Alltech Arena, but she and Tammy Pearson’s eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Fidens (Tango x Bliss by United) looked like Finals veterans as they came away with the victory in the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship on a score of 67.745%.

“I’m so excited to be here for my first Finals, and it’s been amazing. My trainer, Karen Lipp, has been here several times and really encouraged me to try for this,” said Hewitt, of Atlanta, Ga. (Region 3), who attends law school and finds time to train by being in the saddle before 7am almost every day. “I was very happy with the energy we had today: a little more expression in the trot, and I loved our pirouettes. He’s still young, but has grown up a lot even in just the last few months, and he surprised me a little bit in that he was unaffected by the Alltech Arena – he was very steady and good. He’s a small horse with a big personality, and is just a joy to ride.”

After claiming the 2017 title at this level, defending champion and director/cinematographer Elma Garcia of Mill Spring, N.C. (Region 1) returned to the Finals to claim this year’s Reserve Championship with her 16-year-old Hanoverian mare Wenesa (Westernhagen x Dancing Girl by Davignon) with 67.696%. “Since this spring I have a new program with Wenesa because we’re preparing for the Intermediaire II, so she’s changed a lot since last year – she’s feeling very powerful and is more sensitive,” Garcia explained. “I love coming here and showing in front of so many top judges, and experiencing the camaraderie among the competitors from all over the country and seeing so many different breeds, all in one place. It’s a special feeling.”

Alice Tarjan Wins Second Straight 2018 Finals Title in Grand Prix Adult Amateur Championship

After emerging victorious in Thursday’s Intermediate II Adult Amateur division, Alice Tarjan of Oldwick, N.J. (representing Region 1) is now two-for-two at this year’s US Dressage Finals with her eight-year-old Hanoverian mare Candescent (Christ x Farina by Falkenstern II). The pair returned to the winner’s circle in the Grand Prix Adult Amateur Championship with a score of 64.203% to claim the new George W. Wagner Jr. Perpetual Trophy (presented by the International Georgian Grande Horse Registry). “She was on fire in the warm-up,” said Tarjan. “Even though we had a couple of mistakes today, I’m thrilled because she’s a young horse and the quality keeps getting better and better. She’s so much better than she was just six months ago.”

Fellow Region 1 rider Kristin Herzing of Harrisburg, Pa. and her Hanoverian gelding Gentleman (Grusus x Rumpelstilzchen by Raphael, bred in the U.S. by Kathryn and Jeffrey Nesbit) have been together for 15 years, and traveled to Kentucky this year for their fourth US Dressage Finals. The pair’s persistence paid off with Reserve Champion honors in the Grand Prix Adult Amateur division with 61.667%. “Coming to the Finals is on my list of goals every year,” Herzing explained. “I’m so pleased with my horse today. He may be 20 years old, but he is a bit of a nervous type. He knows his job and the test, so I just try to keep him calm and steady. I knew I needed to have a clean test, and we did.”

Adiah HP Wows the Crowd in Grand Prix Open Championship

At first glance, the colorful mare Adiah HP may not look like your stereotypical Grand Prix dressage champion. But everyone knows a book can’t be judged by its cover, and this 11-year-old Friesian Sport Horse (Nico x Marije ANT by Anton, owned and bred in the U.S. by Sherry Koella) is no exception. In the experienced hands of James Koford of Winston-Salem, N.C. (Region 1), Adiah HP had the crowd cheering in the Alltech Arena as she claimed the Grand Prix Open Championship and Veronica Holt Perpetual Trophy (presented by USDF Region 5 and Friends) with 69.130%.

“I am so pumped! She’s getting so mature – now she goes in the ring and gets excited, but I can channel that energy,” said Koford after the win. “I saw her in a clinic four years ago and thought she was the most fun horse I’d ever seen, and I had to sit on her. Now she’s gone on to do everything I’ve asked and more. She’s like my dirt bike: I just get to run around and have fun, without stress or drama. It just gives me goosebumps because it’s so much fun to get on a horse like this that loves to go in the show ring.”

Last year’s Intermediate II Open Reserve Champion Judy Kelly of Clarkston, Mich. (Region 2) returned to the Finals with her 14-year-old Hanoverian mare Benise (Breitling W x Rubina by Rubinstein) and added another Reserve title to their resume, this time in the Grand Prix Open division with 67.862%. “This is her second year at the level so she can do everything; I just wanted to be able to guide and direct her and show her off. Now we’ll try to do the same thing tomorrow night in the freestyle,” said Kelly.

To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review day sheets and results, and read daily news releases, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com.

Regional Qualifying Starts This Weekend for the 2018 US Dressage Finals

“It’s such a nice finish to the year in coming to the Finals because it really feels like a national championship. You hear the announcer saying riders’ names from all over the country, and it’s definitely something special to be a part of.”

For the last four years, rider/trainer Michael Bragdell has wrapped up his competition season by bringing horses to Lexington, KY for the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® on behalf of Hilltop Farm in Colora, MD. And once again, this unique championship show is a “can’t miss” event on his calendar as he prepares several mounts for the upcoming Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Regional Championships, where Bragdell hopes to qualify for a coveted invitation to return to the Kentucky Horse Park this November.

Every year excitement for the US Dressage Finals and Regional Championships seems to grow, and as competition gets underway this week in Region 4, it appears 2018 will be no exception: show officials report a 23% increase in the number of Regional Championship rides from when the competition was held at the same venue in Mason City, Iowa two years ago. Anticipation will only build as additional championships are scheduled across the country in the coming weeks, including Region 6 and 8 on September 20-23; Region 7 on September 27-30; Regions 5 and 9 during the week of October 4-7; and wrapping up with an exciting final weekend of qualifying in Regions 1, 2, and 3 on October 11-14. Besides providing a pathway for competitors to qualify for November’s US Dressage Finals, each of the nine Regional Championships will offer over $20,000 in prize money and awards, for a whopping total of more than $180,000 for the season.

Bragdell has already found his way to the winner’s circle at the US Dressage Finals several times and will compete in the upcoming Great American/USDF Region 1 Championships in Virginia in pursuit of qualifying 2017 Intermediate II Open Champion Qredit Hilltop, two-time Finals Champion Sternlicht Hilltop, and newcomer SenSation HW for this year’s Finals. He will be joined by Hilltop Farm Assistant Trainer Jessica Fay, who is also hoping to punch her ticket for her first trip to Kentucky.

As an internationally-renowned center for sport horse breeding and training, Hilltop Farm has made the US Dressage Finals an important part of their successful program. “The Finals have a real championship feel to them – the venue at the Kentucky Horse Park, especially the Alltech Arena, offers a ‘big’ environment for the horses that is important for their development and confidence,” said Managing Director Natalie DiBerardinis, who has attended the Finals three times to cheer on Hilltop Farm entries. “Our country is so large that most riders stay within their region, so to get exposure to top horses and riders from around the country gives you an entirely different perspective.

“The Finals also get a lot of coverage through the livestreaming, press coverage, etc. and that can be a great boost for a stallion, sales horse, or farm/trainer’s overall program,” DiBerardinis continued. “And there’s something for everyone: for the young horses, it offers an alternative goal for some that for a variety of reasons may not be pointed towards the young horse programs; for trainers with adult amateur students, it’s a great opportunity to combine their own championship goals with their students’ goals; and the Regions Cup competition adds a fun element as well. It’s just an extremely well-run and fun show, which keeps growing and each year seems to get better and better.”

As a reminder for all competitors, a horse/rider combination must declare their intention to participate in the US Dressage Finals by completing the Declaration of Intent form by midnight on the day prior to the first day of their Regional Championship competition (including any open class day before the start of championship classes). There is no fee to declare, but horse/rider combinations must declare at the level(s) and eligible division(s) they intend to compete in at the US Dressage Finals. Declarations may be submitted at this link: https://www.usdf.org/usdressagefinals/competitors/eiq.asp.

Don’t miss your chance to compete! The US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® is a unique national head-to-head competition which offers a wealth of championship titles and over $100,000 in prize money, all while showcasing adult amateur and open riders from across the country in Training Level to Grand Prix. To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, declare and nominate for the Finals, and sign up to receive news and updates, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com.

Source: Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals

Official Prize List Available for US Dressage Finals and USDF Dressage in the Bluegrass

The 2018 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® and USDF Dressage in the Bluegrass are to be held at the Kentucky Horse Park, November 8-11. Start making plans to attend and view the official 2018 prize list, along with other information, at www.usdressagefinals.com.

Declarations are now being accepted for the 2018 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. There is no fee to declare, but horse and rider combinations must declare at the level(s) and eligible division(s) they intend to compete in at the US Dressage Finals. Declare now at www.usdressagefinals.com.

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Email: usdressage@usdf.org

Festive Freestyles Featured on Third Day of 2017 US Dressage Finals

“I wasn’t looking for another Friesian when I got the call about Wietze, so at first I said I wasn’t interested. But then I tried him and after 10 minutes I said, ‘I have to have this horse!’”

Little did retired dance teacher Lynnette Wadsworth of Hastings, Fla. (Region 3) know that her now 18-year-old Friesian gelding Wietze G (Rypke x Wijke by Reitse) would carry her to back-to-back victories in the Grand Prix Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship division at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, being held November 9-12 in Lexington, Ky. The pair claimed the Calaveras County Perpetual Trophy (presented by Olva Stewart Pharo) in 2016, and came back to the Alltech Arena to reclaim the title with a top score of 66.417% for their classic rock-themed performance.

“He was actually quite tense today but I was able to pull him together and make a decent ride out of it. I wanted to have a good time because it’s new music for us and it was all about having fun this year,” said Hastings. “Nine years ago when I bought Wietze, he had all of the upper-level movements already on him but I was barely a Third Level rider. So I get this big horse and he can piaffe and passage but I couldn’t get basic movements out of him, so I had to rise to the occasion – he’s really taught me how to ride. We started together at Third Level and with lots of help from my trainers I’ve been able to get to his level. He’s so willing, safe, and fun – I couldn’t ask for a better dance partner.”

Finishing in reserve was Jennifer Drescher of Frederick, Md. (Region 1) riding her 16-year-old Morgan gelding Blue and White Raven (Night Hawk of Rocking M x Four-L Black Magic by Goldenaire Senator G, bred in the U.S. by Joanna Kelly) with 66.058%. “We’ve also come through the levels together and I’m so lucky to have him,” Drescher noted. “He was a superstar and so willing today and I couldn’t be happier.”

A tough field of horses and riders competed for Intermediate I Freestyle Open Championship honors, and in her first trip to the US Dressage Finals Melissa Taylor of Wellington, Fla. (Region 3) rode the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood Ansgar (Special D x Diona by Formateur) to a decisive victory with 74.058% as owner Nicole Polaski watched her gelding earn the win from New York City via livestreaming on the USEF Network. “I’d always heard great things about this show, and this year the timing worked out for us to come. I love the facility and it’s an amazing event,” Taylor explained. “When I got Ansgar, we needed to work on trusting each other in the show ring, and it really took me all season to develop that. Just now I felt like he really stepped up at Regionals, and again here at the Finals. I was super proud of him today – he’s a hot little tamale who definitely has an opinion of his own, so I was pleased that we came together in such a good way.”

Nicole Levy (Georgetown, Ky. Region 2) was also pleased with her partnership with Kate Sanders’ nine-year-old Hanoverian mare Floratina (Fidertanz x Rubina by Rubin-Royal) as they claimed reserve honors with 71.817% for their final Intermediate freestyle performance before moving up to the large tour next year. “It took a while to gain her trust and get her to want to work for me, not feel like she had to,” said Levy. “So my goal for her is to always come out and feel confident in what she does, and she was really good today.”

For Adult Amateurs in the Intermediate I Freestyle Championship, 2016 reserve champions Alexandra Krossen of Basking Ridge, N.J. (Region 8) and Heather Mason’s 11-year-old Hanoverian cross mare Damani (Duvall x Godiva by Gesandt, bred in the U.S. by Virginia Godfrey) came back to Kentucky to claim the top title with 70.842%. “She was amazing – she was very calm and collected, which isn’t always the way she is so it was a nice surprise,” Krossen noted. “She was totally with me and did everything I could have asked. She has really good flying changes, so I did my 3s on a circle and my 2s down centerline to really show them off, and our pirouettes have gotten a lot better this year as well.”

Friday’s Intermediate I Adult Amateur Champions Elma Garcia of Mill Spring, N.C. (Region 1) padded her resume even further by earning reserve in today’s freestyle with her 15-year-old Hanoverian mare Wenesa (Westernhagen x Dancing Girl by Davignon) on 68.792%. “We’re fairly new to freestyles, but I was inspired by Mongolian music at a film festival so I decided to try it for our performance,” said Garcia.

The top placings for the Fourth Level Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship could hardly have been closer as less than one-tenth of a point separated champion from reserve, but it was Susan Jones of Walton, Ky. (Region 2) who claimed the top spot with her 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding Reliance (Rohdiamant x Gesstine by Classiker) on 71.067% for their Beach Boys-themed performance. “We’ve been together almost eight years – I got him to build my confidence and learn to be the best dressage rider I could be, and he’s lived up to his name,” Jones explained. “He’s always very calm, but today six mounted police officers went by the warm-up 10 minutes before my ride, and I thought I was going to get bucked off. I went into the ring thinking it was going to be the best ride I’ve ever had or it would be a disaster. I was able to use everything I’d learned to harness that feistiness and he was awesome. Now I should thank those officers! It was the best we’ve ever done so it was a bit of a surprise in a nice way and very special.”

Lisa Rush’s 17-hour drive from Dell Rapids, S.D. (Region 4) almost ended in disaster after arriving at the Kentucky Horse Park, but she and her eight-year-old Westfalen gelding Finestep HW (Florenciano x Merana by Medici) rebounded to claim reserve championship honors with 70.989%. “After we arrived here on Wednesday, he fell in the lunging ring and hurt his stifle and I wasn’t sure we’d even be able to ride,” said Rush. “So I’m very grateful that he recovered so quickly and end up being able to be here today – he felt great! He works so hard for me and I’ve really enjoyed being with him, and we’d like to try for the Developing Prix St. Georges Championship next year.”

Adult amateurs from across the country also competed Saturday for the Second Level Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship, where Sara Stone of Lake in the Hills, Ill. (qualified in Region 2) rode her six-year-old American Warmblood gelding Gotham (Gabriel x Mystic bred in the U.S. by Indian Hills Sport Horses) to the win with 72.844%. This was the pair’s third trip to the Finals, but their first attempt at a freestyle which featured music from One Republic. “He was very relaxed – actually it was the most relaxed he’s been all weekend. He came out ready to work today,” said Stone, who works in commercial insurance when not in the saddle. “Every year he just gets better and better and I learn more and more. I was actually quite nervous, and to be sitting here as the champion is just unreal. I love this horse show, and to be fortunate enough to come back year after year is just incredible.”

Family nurse practitioner Ashley Miller of Fort Myers, Fla. (Region 3) rode her 15-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding Hickeys Creek (Afternoon Deelites x Slewadore by Seattle Slew, bred in the U.S. by Wild Ride LLC) to reserve honors with 69.833% for their Madonna-themed performance. “I like to pick music that makes people stop and want to watch, that’s easily recognizable and which people can relate to,” Miller explained. “We had some training setbacks due to Hurricane Irma and shoeing issues, but we made it to Regionals and then here to the Finals. He’s a very steady Eddie kind of guy who’s taught me so much, and he really ‘brought it’ today.”

In the Second Level Freestyle Open Championship, Hailey Guard of Huntersville, N.C. (Region 1) with her nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Dalwhinney (UB 40 x Windsor CA by Warkanson, bred in the U.S. by Susen Shumaker) cruised to the unanimous win under all three judges with 74.556% for their Tchaikovsky-themed performance which Guard put together herself. “I originally wanted to use Swan Lake but it didn’t quite suit her, but then stumbled on the Nutcracker and it matched her gaits so well so that’s what I went with,” said Guard. “‘DW’ has been phenomenal this week and I couldn’t be prouder. I actually started her under saddle as a four-year-old for a client in Minnesota, but she was bred the next year and then I moved away so I didn’t see her for three years. A year ago the owner got in touch with me and said they didn’t really have a use for her anymore and asked if I wanted her because I had loved her so much, so a big thank you to her previous owner for bringing her back into my life. Since then we’ve taken our time and went back to basics for this year – I’m enjoying bringing her along and now look forward to moving up together.”

Also looking forward to great things to come is reserve champion Kristen Becker of Lemont, Ill. (qualified in Region 2) who earned 71.544% with her six-year-old Oldenburg gelding Amadeus (by Ampere bred by Tricia Veley). “Our freestyle uses Lou Bega’s ‘Mambo No. 5’, and it’s really fun and suits his personality. He’s such a great competition horse and I’m really excited about the future with him.”

Angela Jackson of Henderson, Ky. (Region 2) had her hands full juggling four rides on Saturday morning, but her hard work paid off in spades as she claimed both Champion and Reserve honors in the Third Level Freestyle Open division. As the first pair down centerline, Jackson topped the leaderboard with Jane Lineberry’s seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Femke Zarma TF (Contucci x Allure S by Rousseau, bred in the U.S. by KC Dunn) on the strength of a score of 74.100%, a mark which could not be caught for the duration of the class. Jackson’s own home-bred seven-year-old RPSI gelding Figaro H (Fantasmic x Romina H by River H) finished a close second with 72.211% for reserve honors.

“Both horses had lovely tests and I’m so proud of them. Yesterday Femke was a little distracted outside, but today she really focused and it was the best freestyle we’ve had all year, so it was great to have that kind of ride here at the Finals,” said Jackson, who interestingly also found success at this event in previous years with Femke Zarma TF’s dam, Allure S. “I’d like to say a huge thank you to breeders like KC Dunn who breed amazing horses like this right here in the U.S., as well as everyone who makes this event a reality, including Adequan, whose support helps to make all of this possible. It’s a dream for us to be here.”

In outside rings, Anna Marek (Williston, Fla., Region 3) rode Diane Morrison’s five-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Haiku (Sir Sinclair x Melvira by Gentleman) to win the First Level Open Championship with 72.843%. “I’ve ridden her since she was three and she has endless energy and loves to have all attention on her,” Marek laughed. “She’s young and sometimes it can be a little bit ‘hit or miss’ with her, but we had a great ride today. She does have a little bit of an ego, but I like that about her because she goes in the ring and tries so hard, and I think that will eventually help make her a really good upper-level horse.”

Martin Kuhn of New Berlin, Ill. (Region 4) was also pleased with Elizabeth Cronin’s six-year-old Westfalen gelding Venivici (Vitalis x Sabrina by Sherlock Holmes) as they earned 71.324% for reserve. “Venivici hasn’t had a lot of show experience, but he’s eager and wants to do a good job,” said Kuhn, who earned his second Reserve Championship title of the weekend. “He tries really hard – sometimes too hard – but I was very proud of him and as his confidence grows, I think his good qualities are really going to blossom.”

Despite frigid morning temperatures, Stephanie McNutt of Mechanicsville, Md. (Region 1) rode her five-year-old Westfalen gelding Freestyler HRH (Furst Fugger x Dolce Vita HRH by Don Bosco) straight to the winner’s circle in the First Level Adult Amateur Championship with 72.598%. “A little chilly would be an understatement, but I do have to say that brisk is good – it keeps the horses motivated,” McNutt noted. “I was super happy with him – he’s had a long season and was feeling a little unmotivated, but he really pulled it together for me today and gave me good energy, so I couldn’t ask for more than that. He’s a really good egg. I’m excited to be back for my fourth Finals – this is the pinnacle event for adult amateurs, and to make it here again is really thrilling.”

Bonnie Canter of Hocksley, Texas (Region 9) has had a great week at this year’s Finals, and a “rear-and-spin move” just before entering the arena did not deter Canter from earning reserve with her youngster Shakira 467 (five-year-old Hanoverian mare, Sporcken x Waluga by Weltmeyer) with 71.176%. “She’s definitely a hot red-head,” Canter laughed. “She’s still young so can be a bit unreliable, but once she’s in the ring she’s great and I was pleased that she kept it together today.”

Drawing the day’s first ride time of 8am, Linda Currie of Holliston, Mass. (Region 8) had to deal with some of the worst of the sub-freezing temperatures as she prepared for her championship ride. But 25 degrees did not stop her and her appropriately-named seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Frost T (San Remo x Alona by Jazz) from posting the best score of 70.000% in a huge field of 35 competitors in the Third Level Adult Amateur Championship, ahead of Bonnie Canter of Hockley, Texas (Region 9) and her Connemara/Hanoverian cross mare Fifinella GCF (Fred Astaire x South Ridge Bliss by South Ridge Duncan’s Honor, bred in the U.S. by Sharon Garner) who finished in reserve with 69.829%. “I hope someone out there appreciated the irony of my horse’s name,” she laughed. “Fortunately I live in New England so I’m used to riding in cold weather. Frost T is young but knows his job and has never let me down. Some say it was karma that I got him – I had lost my previous horse to a tragedy and found Frost T just ten days later. He had just been imported and all this weird stuff happened that just seemed meant to be. We have just clicked ever since. He’s very talented and is a cool character but he does have an electric side to him that comes out sometimes. Everything seems to come easy to him and he’s so willing, he thinks everything is fun and he hasn’t had a bad day in his life.”

With multiple titles already to her credit, Heather Mason of Lebanon, N.J. (Region 8) knows her way around victory lane at the US Dressage Finals and once again had no problem finding her way there with her 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding RTF Lincoln on a top score of 72.852% to win the Fourth Level Open Championship. “I’ve known this horse since he was born,” said Mason. “He was reserve champion at Third Level at the inaugural Finals in 2013, but the next year he hurt himself and was out of competition for two years. But now he’s back in the ring and better than ever. His amateur owner sold him to me for a dollar last year because she had to have hip replacement surgery, and she knew he wouldn’t be the right fit for her after that. But she felt like he’d be in good hands with me, and she’s even here cheering us on. It’s a great situation for everyone. This is such an exciting show to come to – we love this show and come every year, and I have a bunch of clients who also like to come. It’s challenging, but everyone gets a lot out of the experience and I look forward to bringing Lincoln back for the small tour next year.”

Mason just edged out Region 3’s Nora Batchelder (Williston, Fla.), who rode her eight-year-old Hanoverian mare Fifi MLW (Fidertanz x Wolkenstanza MLW by Wolkentanz I, bred in the U.S. by Mary Winn) to reserve with 72.593%. The pair earned a reserve championship at Third Level last year and had no trouble now succeeding at Fourth. “She was a little tight when we first started and there’s a lot to look at out there, but she loosened up well and was a really good girl in the ring. I was especially happy with our trot work,” Batchelder added.

The highlight of the evening was the Grand Prix Freestyle Open Championship and the presentation of the new Jazzman Perpetual Trophy (presented by Donna Richardson), where fan-favorite and hometown hero James Koford of Lexington, Ky. (Region 2) rode the eye-catching chestnut tobiano 10-year-old Friesian Sporthorse mare Adiah HP (by Nico, owned and bred by Sherry Koella) to a victorious score of 71.133% for the debut performance of their brand new cowboy-themed freestyle. “She’s just starting Grand Prix so I was actually feeling guilty this week thinking ‘what am I doing?’ because I wasn’t sure I had her ready,” Koford explained. “When you’re this visible and this different, you don’t want to not be ready or seem unpolished, but then I thought, ‘bring it on’.

“She has so much talent but there’s nowhere to school for these types of conditions – it doesn’t matter how much you practice at home or go to regular shows, it’s not the same,” Koford continued. “So win, lose or draw I felt like I had to expose her to this and see if she wants to go ‘bright lights, big city’. She literally heard the applause from the horse before her and charged down the tunnel to go in the ring, like ‘hang on Jim, I’ve got this’ and I said ‘game on sister, let’s go!’ I could feel that the crowd was so into it. I love riding her and she makes me laugh every day – she’s bigger than life.”

Also enjoying success in their first season at the Grand Prix level were reserve champions Nicole Harrington of Amelia, Ohio (Region 2) and Three Oaks Farm LLC’s 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding Wizard of Oz (Weltmeyer x Vadella by Landacel), earning 70.617% for their appropriately-themed Wizard of Oz freestyle. “The music just seemed to suit him to a ‘T’. He’s still a little green but it’s all coming along,” said Harrington. “He’s such a hard worker and is a character in the barn. Has only been to maybe six shows in his life and this was the biggest environment he’s been in, but he handled this atmosphere fantastically.”

Watch live online streaming on the popular USEF Network at: https://www.usef.org/network/coverage/2017usdressagefinals/. To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review day sheets and results, and read daily news releases, visit the official event website at http://www.usdressagefinals.com.

Source: Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals

US Dressage Finals Set to Begin at the Kentucky Horse Park

Photo Credit: USDF.

Lexington, Ky. – The prestigious United States Dressage Federation’s (USDF) US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan are set to begin at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park from November 9 through 12. Top dressage competitors from across the country will compete on a national stage, in an event that showcases adult amateurs and open division competitors from Training Level through Grand Prix.

More than 390 entries will represent nine of the USDF regions from 38 states, plus the District of Columbia, at the fifth annual event. Vying for 30 titles across the divisions, competitors will head down the centerline looking to earn the title of National Champion.

Additionally, riders can cheer on their fellow regional members as they compete for the Third Annual Regions Cup Team Competition. With a regional team of three athlete/horse combinations representing each USDF region, competitors can show their regional pride and compete for bragging rights as the top-scoring eligible athlete/horse combination from Training/First Level and FEI-level Regional Championship classes. The highest-scoring eligible adult amateur athlete/horse combinations from the Second through Fourth Level Regional Championship classes complete each regional team.

USEF Network will stream live coverage of the 2017 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® beginning at 8:00 a.m. EST on Thursday, November 9.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

New Travel Grant Program and Increase in Prize Money Announced for 2017 US Dressage Finals

“I dream, quite literally, of going back to the Finals again, and to this day I compete with that mindset.”

For Jennifer “Joey” Evans of San Francisco, Calif., last fall’s journey across the country to compete in the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® with her Dutch Warmblood gelding Bombay Sapphire in the First Level Adult Amateur Championship division was the trip of a lifetime. Now the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) announces a new travel grant program for qualified competitors representing certain states in the Western United States, which may help riders like Evans realize their dream of competing in Kentucky again in the future.

To alleviate some of the financial burden for those traveling the greatest distance to the 2017 Finals, the USDF is making up to $50,000 in travel grant funds available to eligible competitors who apply and fall into one of two groups based on the rider’s address of record as associated with their USDF membership. Competitors from Group 1 (which includes Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Alaska, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada and Utah) are eligible to apply for grants of up to $1,200 per horse/rider combination, while competitors from Group 2 (Wyoming, New Mexico, and Colorado) are eligible to apply for grants of up to $900.

“I think this is great news for West Coast riders – my trainer and I are always telling fellow riders what an incredible experience the Finals was last year,” said Evans. “I would love to go back every time if I were to qualify again, but the reality is that it was such an expensive trip out that I cannot justify the cost year after year. We have some very talented riders out here who would love to go to Kentucky, but I know first-hand that the logistics and expense of making the trip can be discouraging.

“Conversely, possibly the top reason we found the Finals to be such an extraordinary experience was because we were at the Kentucky Horse Park,” Evans continued. “We were showing in the ‘big leagues’ at one of the nation’s most famous and historical horse parks. So with the Finals continuing to be held in Kentucky for the time being, I am thrilled to hear there will now be funds available to riders in my area and neighboring regions. I think it may help make the dream a little more accessible for more competitors.”

This new travel grant program announcement comes on the heels of an increase in USDF’s overall support of the US Dressage Finals, which will be held November 9-12, 2017 in Lexington: prize money for the main event will see an exciting increase to $75,000 this year, as well as a total of over $180,000 in prize money now being offered for the 2017 Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships, which serve as qualifying competitions for the Finals.

“The USDF is proud of what has been created with the US Dressage Finals and is committed to keeping it one of the premier dressage competitions in the U.S.,” said USDF President George Williams. “Making it easier for those competitors who have to travel great distances to attend has been one of the goals from the start for this showcase event, so we’re excited to be able to make travel grants a reality for this year as well as continue to offer generous prize money incentives for both the Finals and the Regional Championships.”

Excitement for this year’s event is now officially underway as USDF has also released the official prize list for the 2017 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. To learn more about the Finals, download the 2017 prize list, and sign up to receive news and updates, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com.

YELLOW HORSE MARKETING, jennifer@yellowhorsemarketing.com

Texas Takes the Titles at US Dressage Finals

Bonnie Canter and Fifinella GCF. Photos by Susan J. Stickle.

Lexington, KY – (Dec. 6, 2016) – The state of Texas was well-represented when Region 9 raked in the ribbons at the 2016 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. Thirty-three of the region’s 35 riders attending the Finals hailed from Texas with an almost even distribution of Adult Amateurs (16) and Open riders (19).

Region 9 placed third in the US Dressage Finals Regions Cup in which the top three scoring riders of designated divisions competed on regional teams to win bragging rights for their respective USDF Region. Participants Bonnie Canter from the Houston area rode Fifinella GCF to win the championship in the Second Level Adult Amateur (AA) Finals with a 72.317 percent, Terri Sue Wensinger from the Dallas area rode Valentino in the AA Prix St. Georges Finals to earn a 65.263 percent, and Arkansas’ Amanda Bailey and Les Paul scored a 69.621 percent in the AA Training Level Finals for a total regional score of 69.067 percent.

“We were well-represented in Region 9,” said Canter, adding that it was exciting to be among some of the elite in the sport at the event held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington Nov. 10-13. “You felt like you were in the big-leagues. It was fun to see a lot of the names you read about or have seen videos of actually riding. It was nice to be in the thick of things. That was a treat for us.”

She rode her 6-year-old 15.1 hand Hanoverian/Connemara cross mare (ES Fred Astaire-South Ridge Bliss) to victory in an AA Second Level Finals class of 30 riders.

“The amateur at Second Level was pretty darned good,” she said. “I was pleased and, in general, the amateurs got better scores than the Open riders at Second Level. The winning score of Open riders at Second Level was a 70.163 percent and that score would have come in fourth in the Adult Amateur class. You can still be a good rider and be an amateur rider.”

Ashlee Watts and Hampton

Another AA rider, Ashlee Watts of College Station, Texas, also earned accolades at the Finals. She and her 8-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Hampton (Hotline-Madiganl) scored a 72.059 percent for the championship in the AA First Level Finals, although it was a bit of a rocky start to this year’s event. In 2015 when she qualified for the Finals, she arrived early and settled in. This year, her demanding job as a veterinarian specializing in equine orthopedics at Texas A&M University changed the dynamics. Her husband trailered Hamilton to Lexington and Watts flew in with time for one warm-up before the show. She hadn’t ridden in a week.

“It wasn’t quite the preparation that was ideal for either of us,” she said. On Friday, they competed in the AA Second Level Finals class to place fifth with a 68.699 percent. “He was a little too hot and spooky. As a result, I overrode the tempo and it was not a very good test.”

On Saturday, she warmed up a little more carefully and asked for a little bit less. “Whenever I enter at A, he turns it up at least 10 percent, sometimes 20 percent. When he doesn’t have time to get used to the venue, I think I really need to back off.”

Her Saturday ride was an early morning one and the temperature was in the high 20s to the low 30s – quite a change from the 90-degree temperatures in the Houston area. “He was awesome on Saturday and his normal, cocky, amazing self.”

She was impressed with the event and with the riders from her area. “The show was very exciting and very friendly with lots of nice people and a lot of really nice horses,” she said. “I think in my Second Level test there were three people from Region 9 in the Top Ten. Region 9 has become very competitive with quality horses, riders and trainers.”

Another hard-working Houston area rider, John Mason of Conroe, Texas, also dealt with a bit of equine excitement at the show. The head trainer at Tex-Over Farms rode four horses in 14 classes at the show.

“I had one horse [Adante’s Image, a 9-year-old Holsteiner/Cleveland Bay gelding by Linaro out of By the Grace of That owned by Nancy Kretschmer] that was slated to do well and the test was going really well,” he said. “He got a little exuberant and high on life and we had a small melt-down in our test. He won his Second Level warm-up test the first day with a 71.098 percent and got second in his warm-up test the second day. The first of his Finals test was absolutely spectacular and then in the canter work he just got a little bit rambunctious.”

Not only did Mason ride in 14 classes but he also brought one of his students to the National Finals.

“As always, I loved it,” he said. “Finals is our opportunity to play with the big boys and to see what the competition is like for some of the bigger shows. I enjoy it. It’s great having that level of competition and being able to be competitive against that caliber of horses. I think the difference between my eighth-place finish in the Freestyle Open on my I-1 mare [Christine Renne’s Faye, an 11-year-old Hanoverian mare by Forsyth out of Elfe] and first place was around two percentage points [Mason scored a 69.00 percent and the winner, Morgan Barrow, scored 71.708 percent on Janice Davis’ 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding, San Corazon]. To be that close to winning in a test I was really proud of – for me, that’s what it’s all about. It’s making sure I’m on the right track to be competitive with the best horses in the country.”

Another pro, Anna Whit Watkins, rode in her second National Finals. She said the Texas people took it in stride when things got tough, including when the electricity failed in the main arena due to a blown transformer.

“I was watching and Erica-West Danque was riding and she was doing her line of three tempis and the lights just went ‘poof’ and it was totally dark,” Watkins said. “It took 30 seconds or a little longer for the emergency lights to come on and she walked around for a little bit and the judge at C said, ‘Maybe you should start that line again.’ And she did.”

Watkins claimed the Reserve Championship in the Open Grand Prix on Friday night on her own Oublette, a 20-year-old KWPN gelding by Amulet out of MV Jinnardi. “I was Reserve Champion the first time I came to Finals in 2013.”

They placed fourth in the Open Grand Prix Freestyle Finals class with a 69.458 percent. She said her freestyle, created by Tigger Montague of Virginia, has been successful for she and Oublette in shows in Florida as well as in Houston. “My horse really likes the music,” Watkins said. “It’s been a blast to ride. The music really fits him and its fun. It helps that he likes his job. He’s a fine fellow.”

Watkins agrees that the US Dressage Finals is a unique opportunity. She appreciated the excitement and atmosphere of the show but was quick to say that it felt like old home week since she and her students were stabled next to fellow Region 9 riders Mason and Danque.

“When people go and get out of the region, they begin to appreciate the diversity and the amazing athletic ability that we have across the country,” she said. “When you go to the National Finals, you begin to go, ‘Oh these people are pretty good. There’s a lot of competition around here.’ It gives you perspective and it’s a fascinating place to go see people ride.”

To see the show results, go to results.horseshowoffice.com. To learn more about the Houston Dressage Society, go to houstondressagesociety.org, and like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HoustonDressageSociety.

For more information, contact:
Chris Renne
President, Houston Dressage Society

The Show Must Go On at the 2016 US Dressage Finals

Debbie Hill and Cartier.

Debbie Hill comes to Kentucky every year for the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, and has gone home to Gurley, Ala. (Region 3) with her share of championship titles. But this year, much to her dismay, uncharacteristic mistakes by each of her three mounts had so far kept her out of the winner’s circle. She was down to her last ride Sunday afternoon in the Fourth Level Open Freestyle on a horse she’d already had a disappointing performance with earlier in the week. And then the lights went out. “I came into the arena and just thought, ‘oh no’,” said Hill.

A blown transformer just after 2pm ET had utility crews scrambling and left the Alltech Arena shrouded with only emergency lighting to illuminate the arena floor. But as the saying goes, “the show must go on” and officials, staff, volunteers and competitors all came together to make sure the last class of the day went off without a hitch. Still, Hill wasn’t optimistic about her chances with Cartier, a nine-year-old unregistered Dutch Harness gelding owned by Robbie Rice.

“This is his first year of showing and he’s quite green, and he can be very afraid and spooky. When that happens, the first thing he does is back off and throw his neck up,” she explained. “I had a very hard time in the warm-up because it was so dark. But once we got in the ring, I was pleasantly surprised that he came through! I’m so thrilled that he’s come so far because he really is fun, and I always hoped he’d succeed.”

The pair’s unanimous win under all three judges with an overall score 74.389% for their Pink Panther/James Bond medley could also be considered for a “Least Likely to Succeed” award. “We were told by his previous owner that he came from the Amish, and went through the New Holland sale as a driving reject,” Hill said of her mount. “He was put up for sale as a dressage horse, and when we first saw the sales video my client was like, ‘no way’. But there was something about him I liked – I couldn’t put my finger on it. There were moments where he had that nice swing in his gait and he has a lot of presence. When we went to see him, it was out in the middle of nowhere and there was no arena to ride him in. His owner said he just rode him out in the forest! Everybody said ‘no’, but I thought I could make something out of him.

“Right from the start, Cartier was so sweet and willing, but it was a mess,” Hill continued. “It was quite a struggle trying to get him to put his neck down, bring the hind legs under and his back up. He had no idea how to even be on the bit. For the first six months I was like, ‘what are we going to do with this?’ Thankfully Roel Theunissen really helped me with him. Of course in hindsight, I’m so lucky we took a chance on the horse, because he’s certainly rewarded my faith.” Finishing with Reserve honors on her home turf with a score of 72.778% was Reese Koffler-Stanfield of Georgetown, Ky. (Region 2) aboard her seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Elancourt (Ampere x Belita V by Stedinger).

Endel Ots of Wellington, Fla. (Region 3) has competed around the world, and he turned his first trip to the US Dressage Finals into a winning one aboard the seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding Samhitas (Sir Donnerhall x Heidebluete by Abanos) owned by Ots and Gary Vander Ploeg. The pair earned 71.009% in the Prix St. Georges Open Championship to be awarded the Miki Christophersen Perpetual Trophy (presented by USDF Region 4). “He’s only seven so this is his first year at the level, but he was very solid,” said Ots. “We’ve competed together in Europe for the 2015 Young Horse World Championships as well as Devon this year, so he’s used to competing in venues like this with a lot of atmosphere. I’d heard and read about this show and wanted to come, and it’s been fantastic. If I had more horses ready I’d bring them too. I couldn’t recommend the show any more.” Having already earned the Intermediate I Open title earlier in the week, Mike Suchanek of Cambridge, Minn. (Region 4) added Reserve Champion Prix St. Georges honors to his resume with Hero L (nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding [His Highness x Waterlily L by Wolkenstein II] owned and bred in the U.S. by Leatherdale Farms) with a score of 70.132%.

Rachael Hicks and Don Cartier
Rachael Hicks and Don Cartier

Last year’s Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur Champion Rachael Hicks of nearby Prospect, Ky. (Region 2) successfully defended her title Sunday morning to be awarded the Janine Westmoreland Malone Perpetual Trophy (presented by USDF), but this time it was aboard her nine-year-old Rheinlander stallion Don Cartier (Don Schufro x Carmina by Cartier) with a score of 68.377%. “The good and the bad of it is that we weren’t in the indoor where he sees spooky monsters, but it was freezing out there at 8am! I couldn’t even feel my fingers and couldn’t adjust my reins because they felt frozen in one position,” she laughed. “I don’t know that it was our best ride, but it was very steady and good enough to get the job done. He needs as much event exposure like this as possible to keep progressing, and we now hope to try the CDI Adult Amateur division in Florida.” Hicks just edged out California’s Elma Garcia from Thermal (Region 7) with 68.246%. Her 14-year-old Hanoverian mare Wenesa (Westemhagen x Dancing Girl by Davignon I) hitched a plane ride to Kentucky with Thoroughbred racehorses returning from the recent Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. “I think we held back in our Intermediate I ride earlier in the week, so we really went for it today. My changes were clean and big and bold, and I’m just delighted,” said Garcia. “I told my coach right from the beginning of the year that I wanted to qualify for the Finals and have this experience. This is a ‘bucket list’ event and I don’t know how you can’t come if given the chance – I’m just so happy we came and proud of my mare.”

Mike Suchanek of Cambridge, Minn. (Region 4) may have been the busiest rider at the Finals this year, but his efforts were rewarded with yet another title for Leatherdale Farms as Hannigan L (five-year-old Hanoverian gelding [Herzensdieb x Pia Colada by Pik L] bred in the U.S. by Leatherdale Farms) was the only performance to break the 70% barrier to earn 70.163% and the win in the Second Level Open Championship. “I love these youngsters!” said Suchanek. “In warm-up he was a little excited at first about the freestyles going in another ring, but he settled and the ride went perfectly. He likes to perform and I had a lot of fun out there. The Second Level work comes easy for him – he has the gaits and the stature to pull it off. His canter work is very good, he’s very well-balanced. I couldn’t have been more pleased with him.” Finishing with his second Reserve Championship title of the week was Martin Kuhn of New Berlin, Ill. (Region 2), this time aboard Colleen Rull’s six-year-old Hanoverian gelding Rapson (Rapture R x Wisteria by Warkanson, bred in U.S. by the St. Louis Equestrian Center) with 68.943%.

As a trainer for the world-famous Tempel Lipizzans, Jessica Starck of Old Mill Creek, Ill. (Region 2) is usually helping to prepare the legendary white stallions for special appearances across the country. But this week she stepped into a different type of spotlight to win the First Level Freestyle Open Championship with Tempel Lipizzans’s U.S.-bred six-year-old stallion Maestoso Alfaya II (Maestoso Legeny x Alfaya by Favory V Jacinda) with an impressive score of 74.178% using music from the 1940’s. “He was right with me, which is a blessing because he’s a very spooky horse and he can either be ‘on’ or ‘off’. I was the most nervous for this class that I’ve ever been out of everything we do,” said Starck. “But he stepped up to the plate and kind of took over, and we had a fun, beautiful ride. I’ve been working with him for about a year, and dealing with the spookiness has been difficult. To bridge over to the competitive sport was a little bit of a stretch at first, but it was a great goal and we did it. This experience has really helped him mature, and he may take the skills he’s learned this year in the competition arena to become part of the Tempel stallion show in the future. It would be great fun to do both.” Taking home Reserve honors with 71.722% was Nicole Harrington of Amelia, Ohio (qualified in Region 4) aboard Camomila MCD, a five-year-old Pura Raza Espanola (Hielo MOR x Jazmin MOR by Zodiaco II) mare owned and bred in the U.S. by McDowell Equestrian Inc.

The competition couldn’t have been more hard-fought than it was in the First Level Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship, where the top two combinations finished on the same score of 70.722%. A tiebreak gave the ultimate victory to Malena Brisbois of Nokesville, Va. (Region 1) with her homebred 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding Amadeus (Briar 899 x Rock Starlet by Rocamadour). “It’s fun to be able to ride a horse you’ve had since he was a thought in your head and take him to the national championships,” said Brisbois. “Our freestyle uses the song ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ by Falco, so it’s very fitting and he puffs up when he hears his music – he loves to hear his name over the loudspeakers! This was our last freestyle ride before we move up to Second Level, so it was a great way to finish.” Fellow Region 1 competitor and former eventer Jessica Keating of Ashburn, Va. also rode her homebred mount Divine Comedy (13-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding [Nevada x Cair Paravel by Castle Guard]) to earn Reserve with her Fleetwood Mac-themed performance. “He’s 15.2 hands but I’m 5’10” so he looks deceptively small – he’s a little guy but he takes big steps,” Keating noted. “This is our first year doing dressage and I actually wasn’t going to come to the Finals. But someone said to me at Regionals that with horses, if they’re sound, healthy, able, and you get the chance, you have to do it. So I really took that to heart and my experience here has been fantastic.”

After being the bridesmaid in Saturday’s First Level Adult Amateur division, pharmaceutical sales representative Lauren Lewis-Gladish of St. John, Ind. (Region 2) finally walked down the aisle to claim the Training Level Adult Amateur Championship with her “dream horse” Sinfonie (six-year-old Hanoverian mare [Soliman de Hus x Bravour by Belissimo M]) with a winning score of 72.121%. “Can you believe it?” she exclaimed. “I was really looking for her to trust me, and she really gave me her all. We’ve had some ups and downs since I got her because she had her foal last year and we just started back riding this spring. Then when we got here the other night, she slipped and fell on the cement and I didn’t even think we’d be competing. Coming here is overwhelming, so for them to look to you for guidance like she did today and go like she did, it’s very special.” Earning the Reserve Championship with 70.379% was Sara Davisson (also representing Region 2), a special education teacher from Calamus, Iowa. This was Davisson’s third trip to the Finals, but she wasn’t so sure about coming this year with her Dutch Warmblood gelding Havallo. “It was a little nerve-wracking to think about coming this year with a four-year-old, and I was kind of on the fence about it,” she explained. “But he won at Regionals and I took the chance even though you never know how things can go with young horses. He handled everything like a pro and just kept getting better and better throughout the week. He really is a rock star. This was the first time in nine years that my in-laws got to see me show, so it was a family affair and made it all the more special.”

Birgitt Dagge’s seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding Laxwell (Lingh x Dessous by Donnerhall) recovered from an untimely hoof abscess just in time to earn a unanimous victory for her and Region 3 in the Third Level Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship with 71.000% over Teresa Fickling of Macon, Ga. (also of Region 3) aboard her eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Dolcetto O (Sandreo x NN by Welt Hit II) with 68.944%. “A special thank you to my farrier who is here and re-shod him about 10 times on Wednesday trying to get him figured out, and it worked,” said Dagge, a realtor from Bonita Springs, Fla. “He loves the atmosphere in the Alltech because he thinks he’s awesome, and of course I do too! I love doing freestyles and he’s a super horse – this is just his fourth time doing this freestyle, and his flying changes were very good today. We had to work for the last few days to get our momentum back, but today was our day.”

Adding to the excitement of the final day, the top-scoring riders in various divisions from each of the Great American/USDF Regional Championships competed on regional teams in the second-annual US Dressage Finals Regions Cup, vying with competitors from across the country for awards and bragging rights for their respective USDF Region in which they qualified to attend the Finals. Coming out on top after four days of championship competition was the Region 3 team comprised of Kristy Truebenbach Lund and Living Lucky at Training Level Adult Amateur, Amy Swerdlin with Quileute CCW at Second Level Adult Amateur, and Endel Ots with Samhitas in the Open Prix St. Georges. Their winning average score of 70.498% was good enough to successfully defend their 2015 Regions Cup title ahead of Region 7 with 69.172% and Region 9 with 69.067%.

More information including final results, photo galleries, and news archives from the 2016 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® are available on the official event website www.usdressagefinals.com. Video on-demand from select championship performances is also available on the USEF Network at www.usefnetwork.com.

Source: Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals

Media Contact: Jennifer M. Keeler,
Yellow Horse Marketing, jennifer@yellowhorsemarketing.com

Riders Have the “Best Day of My Life” at the 2016 US Dressage Finals

Katherine Lewis.

Katherine Lewis of Aiken, S.C. had already had a fairy-tale trip to the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® after being crowned Friday’s Fourth Level Adult Amateur Champion. But when her distinctive freestyle music featuring the American Authors hit “Best Day of My Life” rang out over the loudspeakers in the Alltech Arena in Lexington, her winning week was about to get even better. “What more is there to say for a freestyle when you’re here riding in this type of atmosphere on your once-in-a-lifetime horse?” she asked.

That special horse is the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding Donneur (Donnerschwee out of Akorina by Cordeur), who has reformed his formerly self-destructive ways into cruising to another Finals victory in the Fourth Level Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship with 73.778% (see Lewis’ winning freestyle ride HERE courtesy of US Dressage Finals videographer Richard’s Equine Video). “We had to learn to manage him in turnout, because he’s jumped out, crashed on pavement, and taken high-speed farm tours. We had to be so vigilant because he kept hurting himself,” she explained. “But at the same time we didn’t want him to have to be locked up forever. So finally we just held our breath and turned him out in a 12-acre field with a retired show hunter to babysit him. And thankfully it worked.”

Lewis also had to figure out how to channel her mount’s energy in a positive direction in the electric setting of the Alltech Arena. “It’s such an amazing venue and it gives my horse lots of extra lift and presence, but he also can get quite worked up especially during awards,” she said. “My incredible trainer Shawna Harding is staying at my house taking care of all my animals so we could be here, and she and my husband figured out a way to Facetime our schooling and warm-ups. Her help has been invaluable to me, and we worked out a plan to use Donneur’s lift and brilliance in that ring to our advantage. It’s a fine line because he’s an overachiever and we want him to feel good about himself, but he still has to listen. Shawna always says, ‘don’t bore me, wow me,’ so that’s what I tried to do and it worked!” Lewis’ freestyle music also has a family connection. “My daughter and son-in-law are here with me, and they used two of the songs from my freestyle including ‘Best Day of My Life’ in their wedding at our farm last year,” she explained. “It was a little bit of a home job putting this together, but I’m so proud to win with their wedding music.” Taking home the Reserve Championship was Anne Chapin of Charlottesville, Va. (Region 1) with her nine-year-old Oldenburg mare Luna Popp (Liberty Gold x Fein Dancer by Feinbrand, bred in the U.S. by Isabel de Szinay) on 68.833%.

Michael Bragdell, Colora, Md. (Region 8) also enjoyed his freestyle as he rode William and Laura Mitchelson’s six-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Faberge Blue (Contango x Kroniek U by Democraat, bred in Maryland by Marie Emrey) to the winner’s circle in the Third Level Open Freestyle with 73.556%. “I’m a big ‘80s fan so Karen Robinson was excited to put this together for me. It’s fun, my horse seems to love the music, and I think it goes really well with his gaits,” said Bragdell. “I’m so excited for his owners. He grew up on our farm and he’s always been a worker bee – he’s a thrill to ride and I love his brain and work ethic. He’s the type of horse that if he’s not ridden first in the morning then he’s a little disappointed in me.” Jennifer Roth of Sunbury, Ohio (Region 2) earned Reserve honors with her 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding Reebok (Royal Prince x Andromache by Arrian, bred in Pennsylvania by Diane and Jack Vickery) with 72.889%. “I used music from Game of Thrones, because who doesn’t love dark and scary music?” she laughed. “It’s my horse’s first season back after two years off for a rear suspensory injury, so it means a lot to be here. I’m just so glad to have my horse back.”

In the Second Level Open Freestyle, Region 2’s Jennifer Conour of Carmel, Ind. rode the nine-year-old American Warmblood mare Emerald (Andre x Opal, bred in Illinois by Indian Hills Stables) to victory for owner Diane Breier with a top score of 72.778%. “The chilly temperatures didn’t bother her at all, she’s very steady and such a good girl. She was purchased for her owner who asked me to help ride her so I get the pleasure of competing her here. She’s so solid in her work, really good with her simple changes which have coefficients, and she seems to like her music,” said Conour, who also explained why the music has special meaning for Breier. “Her owner picked out her music because it was her father’s favorite music from the movie ‘The Sting’, so she thinks of her dad every time she hears the freestyle music.” Finishing in Reserve with 72.111% was Deirdre Malburg of Belton, Texas (Region 9) with Boldness Be My Friend SLR, a nine-year-old Friesian cross gelding (Gabriel x Savannah SLR by Whitesville) owned by Raelynn Stephens. “He also is a very steady horse and I can always count on the fact that he’s going to go in the ring and do his job,” Malburg explained. “He’s half Friesian, a quarter Thoroughbred, and a quarter Shire and was purchased by his owner for $500. I got him about a year ago and he wasn’t the easiest to work with at first, but he had a breakthrough this year and has decided he loves dressage and loves competing. After going through three freestyles we now use tango music because he chose it!”

Kendall Brookhart and Rianna
Kendall Brookhart and Rianna

After successfully qualifying in Region 7, Kendall Brookhart decided to bring her nine-year-old Oldenburg mare Rianna (Regazzoni x Desert Princess by Diamont, bred in Arizona by Sharee and Kendall Brookhart) all the way to Kentucky from her home in Cave Creek, Ariz. “I had heard some wonderful things about competing here so we were very excited to come,” said Brookhart. “We had planned to bring Rianna in 2014 but she came down with a cough so we couldn’t put her on the trailer and had to scratch. So it’s been a two-year wait, but now I couldn’t be happier to be here.” Her patience paid off with a win in the Second Level Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship on the strength of a score of 71.722% for a performance using music from Madonna that Brookhart had originally planned to use with Rianna’s dam. “It was so much fun riding in the Alltech today. She was a little on edge and spooked pretty hard in the corner so I had to ride creatively and adjust as I went, but I’m really pleased. She gave me all that she could today.” Hometown girl Michelle Morehead of Lexington, Ky. (qualified in Region 3) rode her nine-year-old Oldenburg mare Silhouette (Staccato* x Lafonsa by Hofnar, bred in Virginia by Donald and Yolanda Williamson) to a close second with 71.444%. “Right before we went in the ring, my trainer told me I had to go for it, so we did,” she said. “My previous mare had suffered a career-ending injury and I was just devastated. Soon after my trainer found Silhouette who was up for sale, and she said I really needed to look at her. So she kind of fell in my lap, and it’s been quite a blessing to say the least.”

Region 9’s Ashlee Watts and her family had to go the extra mile to make it back to this year’s Finals with her eight-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Hampton (Blue Hors Hotline x Madigan L), but those efforts paid off with a victory in the First Level Adult Amateur Championship with 72.059%. “I am an equine orthopedic surgeon in College Station, Texas, and I almost didn’t come due to work commitments,” she said. “But the more I thought about it, the more I said, ‘I have to go’.” So her husband drove the horse to Kentucky while she flew in the day before competition to meet him, which didn’t leave much time for preparation. But Watts didn’t let that, or an unfortunate off-course error in her test, keep her from victory. “Hampton was more settled today and was perfect in our test. To come here where it’s such a showcase with so many great riders and amazing horses, with an atmosphere that is competitive but so pleasant and happy, it’s a great way to end the year.” Reserve Champion was Lauren Lewis-Gladish of St. John, Ind. (Region 2) who rode her six-year-old Hanoverian mare Sinfonie (Soliman de Hus x Bravour by Belissimo M) to a score 71.961%. “This is my dream horse – I saved money for 15 years to be able to get a horse like her,” Lewis-Gladish explained. “I’ve owned her for two years but she had a foal last April and she’d never been shown prior to being bred, so this is her first season out. Today she settled in and decided to show me what she’s capable of doing and tried so hard to please me. It’s so amazing that I’m sitting here and we’ve accomplished so much in such a short time.”

Heather McCarthy of Prairie Grove, Ill. (Region 2) has found plenty of success at the Finals in past years, and she once again found the winner’s circle as she rode Sandi Chohany’s five-year-old Oldenburg gelding Au Revoir (Ampere x Lara by Liberty M) to a score of 73.971% to claim the First Level Open Championship title. “This is a new horse for me – we’ve only been together since April and this was his first big show season. I rode him a little conservatively yesterday not knowing how he’d handle everything, but today he was just perfect and I could really go for it,” she said. “I’ve attended every single Finals and look forward to it every year. I have an even bigger group with me than ever before, including several first-timers, and we wouldn’t miss this for anything.” McCarthy just edged out Mike Suchanek of Cambridge, Minn. (Region 4) who rode three horses to top ten finishes in the class, including Reserve honors with the five-year-old Hanoverian mare Duchess L (Damsey x EM De La Rosa by De Niro, bred in the U.S. by owner Leatherdale Farms) with 73.627%. “It’s just her first year of showing so I am really proud of her coming all this way,” he noted. “She’s still growing in strength but her gaits have been really improving.”

Amy Swerdlin of Region 3 took the long drive north from Wellington, Fla. as well as the chilly temperatures in stride as she and her homebred six-year-old Oldenburg gelding Quileute CCW (Quaterback x Gluckslady by Gluckspliz) claimed the Third Level Adult Amateur Championship with 67.650%. “He was quite fresh and excited today but he stayed with me, and despite a few bobbles overall I was very happy,” she said. “It’s even more special because I bred him myself and I was there when he was foaled. There were so many good riders in the class but I think he has a lot of presence and is a bit of a show-off so that helps him do well.” Lisa Rush of Dell Rapids, S.D. (Region 4) also traveled a long way to the Finals and was rewarded with Reserve Championship honors with her seven-year-old Westfalen gelding Finestep HW (Florenciano x Merana by Medici) on a score of 67.393%. “My horse was also fresh today, but all in all he did everything I asked him to do,” noted Rush, who added that she and her daughter trailered her mount 17 hours to Kentucky in order to participate in the Finals for the first time. “Three years ago I purchased him sight unseen off the internet and imported him. It was quite a leap of faith, and at first you think, ‘what have I done?’ But he’s been fantastic and it’s turned out really well.”

Region 8 riders claimed top honors in the Fourth Level Open Championship, where Shannon Stevens of Annandale, N.J. rode her seven-year-old Hanoverian mare Pik L’s Donabella (Pik L x Donatela by Don Primero, bred in the U.S. by Horses Unlimited) to the win with 71.556%. “I bought her when she was two years old, sight unseen from an online auction. There was something I saw in her in the first 30 seconds that made me feel I had to have her, but my husband thought I was out of my mind!” she laughed. “My mare is a super energetic, exuberant type so my goal going into this was to ride a clean, conservative, harmonious test and I think we achieved that. To be honest, she’s a humbling horse and every day can be a bit of a challenge, but she’s pushed me to become a better rider. I’ve learned so much from her and I was really pleased with our performance today.” Region 8 team mate Jane Hannigan of Harvard, Mass. rode the seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding Fackeltrager (Fackeltanz x Whisper D by Gribaldi, owned by Ruling Cortes LLC) to Reserve with 69.741%. “We did Third Level here last year and wanted to come back because it’s such great experience for him to be in this environment,” said Hannigan. “It was cold and windy today and he was a little snorty but he tried his best to pay attention. He tried to do too many flying changes but he was just trying too hard. He’s a very elastic mover and the lateral movements are his strength.”

After traveling all the way across the country to compete, a Region 6 competitor once again grabbed headlines as Morgan Barrows of Monroe, Wash. rode Janice Davis’ eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding San Corazon (San Amour x Ridehna by Rohdiamant) to victory in the Intermediate I Open Freestyle Championship with 71.708%. “I came out knowing I needed to do better than I did in the Intermediate I class yesterday, but pulling the first ride in the class is not a position I like being in. I don’t get nervous during the ride, but I do get extremely anxious after the ride so it was hard for me to watch the rest of the class,” said Barrows. “I’ve been using this freestyle in CDIs this season and I knew what I needed to do to amp it up, so I took those risks and it paid off. It’s a long way for us to come to the Finals, but we had a super trip coming here and have no regrets. For all of those people sitting at home considering coming in the future, I would have to say, ‘get in the truck and go.’ It’s great here in Kentucky and I’m not sure there’s anywhere else that can do this event like this.” Earning her second straight Reserve Championship of the weekend was Ashley Wimmer of Winston-Salem, N.C. (Region 1) who earned 71.583% with her own 11-year-old Oldenburg mare Somerhall (Sir Donnerhall x Arantscha B by Archipel). “She was a little bit tense in the Alltech today but I was able to get her settled for the most part. We had a mistake in the three-tempis but it was completely my fault, and the rest was really good,” said Wimmer. “My freestyle was designed by my daughter and it suits my horse really well because she’s a very elegant, light-moving horse. That can be a challenge to get right, but we get great scores for it.”

Less than one-tenth of a point made all the difference for Darcy Gaines of nearby Versailles, Ky. (qualified in Region 4) to win the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Freestyle with 69.917% aboard her 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Amigo (by Scandic). “I’m so thrilled. Everything I asked for, he responded – he was right with the music and didn’t make any mistakes. I couldn’t have asked for anything more from him today,” said Gaines, who described her long journey to find her current partner. “I spent about 13 years buying and selling inexpensive horses to build up enough money to buy a really fabulous horse. But after only a year and getting to show at Prix St. Georges one time, he suffered a career-ending injury and I thought I was done with the sport. But I kept working my tail off and saved every penny I could, and went to Europe where I found Amigo as an unbroken two-year-old and didn’t spend a lot of money on him. I’ve brought him along all by myself and I still do everything I can to support this hobby I love.” Alexandra Krossen of Basking Ridge, N.J. (Region 8) and Heather Mason’s 11-year-old Hanoverian cross mare Damani (Duvall x Godiva by Gesandt, bred in the U.S. by Virginia Godfrey) earned the Reserve Championship for this division in 2015, and returned to Kentucky to earn the same honor this year with 69.833%. “Damani came to Heather as a sale horse, and last year was our first season together. Luckily I still have the ride on her,” said Krossen, who works for a pharmaceutical company when not in the saddle. “She was a little hot today but that actually made things flow a little easier, despite a bobble in our three-tempis.”

Under a stunning November moon shining over the frosty Bluegrass countryside, Region 3 riders quickly heated things up in the Alltech Arena as evening festivities got underway with the Grand Prix Adult Amateur Freestyle, where Lynnette Wadsworth of Hastings, Fla. rode her 17-year-old Friesian gelding Wietze G (Rypke x Wijke by Reitse) to claim both the win and the Calaveras County Perpetual Trophy presented by artist Olva Stewart Pharo with 66.750% over Phyllis Sumner of Atlanta, Ga. with her 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding Wilby (Walt Disney I x Doretta by Darling) on a score of 66.500%.

As the next-to-last combination to canter down centerline in the Grand Prix Open Freestyle, the elegant pair of Chase Hickok of Wellington, Fla. (Region 3) and Sagacious HF (17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Welt Hit II x Judith by Cocktail, owned by Hyperion Farm Inc.) quickly took command of the crowd and powered to their second Finals triumph in as many days. Their winning score of 74.167% gave them the unanimous victory under all three international judges including Janet Foy, Lilo Fore, and William Warren. “We are just ecstatic with the results from this weekend! Our goal was to come here and have a positive experience in anticipation of moving up to the CDI Grand Prix level during the upcoming Florida season, but this far exceeded our expectations,” said a delighted Hickok. “I really love our freestyle. The music actually came with Sagacious, and I’ve tweaked it a bit to suit us and changed around the choreography some, but the credit for the design and music selection really goes to Marlene Whitaker. It’s such a fun freestyle to ride and I think the music really suits Sagacious and highlights his strengths.” After winning Thursday’s Intermediate II Open title, Heather Mason of Lebanon, N.J. (Region 8) and her 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Warsteiner (Riverman ISF x Welona by Roemer) had another strong performance to finish with Reserve honors on a score of 72.917%.

To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review day sheets and results, and read daily news releases, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com.

Source: Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals

Media Contact: Jennifer M. Keeler,
Yellow Horse Marketing, jennifer@yellowhorsemarketing.com