Tag Archives: US Dressage Finals

Competitors Overcome All Obstacles to Gather at Kentucky Horse Park for US Dressage Finals

Competitors are now arriving on the hallowed grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park for this week’s US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, and these horses and riders represent a myriad of both physical and personal journeys in traveling from across the country to take part in this unique national head-to-head dressage competition. For one exhibitor, even financial constraints and the memory of an “exploding truck” can’t keep her from making her annual pilgrimage to Lexington.

When Cecilia Cox qualified for the inaugural Finals in 2013, she and friend Shelly Schoenfeld happily embarked on the 18-hour journey from Leon Springs, Texas with American Warmblood mare Donabella in tow for what they hoped would be the experience of a lifetime. It certainly was a memorable trip – but not for the reason they originally envisioned. “We were halfway there and our truck ‘exploded’,” said Cox. “We were stranded on the side of the road for three hours with Donabella, and had to find alternate transportation to finish the trip to Kentucky. It ended up taking three months to get that truck fixed.”

Despite the first year’s nightmarish journey, Cox would not be deterred. She happily came back to the Finals in 2014, and has once again returned to compete this week with Donabella as well as stablemate Winnie Too, her 12-year-old gray American Warmblood mare. “My experiences at the Finals have been wonderful,” she noted. “I love the venue, being able to see riders from all the other regions, and competing with others who have experienced the same things as you but come from different areas of the country. It pushes you that extra bit to be around them because it makes you want to be a better rider.”

Cox is one of almost 400 entries gathering in the heart of the Bluegrass for the US Dressage Finals and corresponding open show. Over four exciting days of competition, riders representing all nine United States Dressage Federation (USDF) regions will compete for championships in 30 divisions, offering exhibitors from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels (including adult amateurs, professionals, and High Performance riders) a chance to earn national honors, fantastic prizes, and more than $50,000 in prize money at all dressage levels from Training to Grand Prix as well as musical freestyles. For added excitement this year, the top-scoring riders in various divisions from each of the Great American/USDF Regional Championships will also compete on regional teams in the new US Dressage Finals “Regions Cup”, vying with competitors from across the country for additional awards and bragging rights for their home USDF Region.

With her two mounts, Cox will once again trot down the centerline with the staunch support of her family, including husband Mark and daughters Eirin and Amanda. “My husband is so supportive of me – he’s willing to stay home and take care of everything while I’m gone so that I can do this. It’s a team effort,” Cox said. She also explained how she goes to great lengths to be able to afford to make the annual trip to the Finals. “I don’t want to take money out of the household budget to do this, so we stay in the campground and eat meals in our RV to help keep costs down. At home, I critter-sit for friends and neighbors, braid at horse shows, and body clip horses so I save can every penny I can towards the horses. The Finals are my goal every year, and the sacrifices are absolutely worth it – I’m happy to get covered in horse hair in order to do this! It’s such an incredible opportunity.”

Traveling from the opposite side of the country to experience her first Finals is Lisa Schmidt of Hampton, N.J. She earned an invitation to compete thanks to a victory in the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 1 Open Training Level Championship with Debbie Gunset’s five-year-old Hanoverian gelding Qrown Prince. When not in the saddle, Schmidt is a USEF “S” judge and also serves as the USDF Region 1 Director, marking the first time a member of the USDF Executive Board will ride in the Finals. “Over the last two years I have always been somewhere judging so haven’t had the opportunity to come to Kentucky,” said Schmidt. “But this year I worked to balance the judging and showing and am lucky enough to get the chance to finally go. I am particularly excited because as an Executive Board member, I have been involved in the planning process for the Finals but never got to experience it for myself. I know so many people in my region who have competed in previous years and raved about it, so I feel like I can’t miss this chance.”

The US Dressage Finals get started on Thursday, November 5 with USDF Dressage in the Bluegrass open classes, followed by a Competitor Welcome Party at the Alltech Arena. Championship classes kick off on Friday, with special evening performances and activities both Friday and Saturday to entertain competitors and spectators alike. For a truly unforgettable championship experience, limited VIP seating in the Alltech Arena is still available for purchase. For those dressage fans unable to attend the Finals in person, the popular USEF Network will feature live online streaming of select classes from the Alltech Arena on their website, www.usefnetwork.com.

To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review entry lists, purchase tickets to special events, and sign up to receive news and updates, visit the official event website at http://www.usdressagefinals.com.

Source: Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals

Anticipation Builds as First Invitations Are Issued for 2015 US Dressage Finals

Lori Tormoehlen.

“I anticipated that competing in the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® was going to be an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it absolutely was. The thrill of competing on that national stage was a strong pull for me to travel all that way, and it exceeded my wildest dreams. I would love to go back!”

Adult amateur rider and full-time mom Krista Nordgren echoed what so many dressage competitors have experienced attending the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. Now that the first four Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Regional Championships have concluded with almost 850 competitors already declared for the Finals from USDF Regions 2, 6, 7, and 8, excitement and anticipation are running high as the first round of Finals invitations have now been distributed to qualified horse/rider combinations.

Nordgren first made the 1,000-mile trek from her home in South Portland, Maine to the Kentucky Horse Park for the inaugural Finals in 2013 where she claimed the Reserve Championship in the Adult Amateur Prix St. Georges division. Now she and her Danish Warmblood gelding Schando have progressed to the Intermediate II level, and last weekend they claimed the Region 8 Adult Amateur title in Saugerties, N.Y. to secure an invitation to return to Lexington and pursue another championship on November 5-8, 2015. “Ever since our first trip two years ago, I guess you could say I’m a bit of a US Dressage Finals ‘evangelist’ because I’m such a huge fan of the event,” laughed Nordgren. “The show staff and volunteers make you feel like a champion for being there, and I don’t think any showgrounds compares to the magnificent atmosphere of the Kentucky Horse Park. My horse is 19 this year so that’s a factor in deciding about the trip, but I’m part of an enthusiastic group of competitors up here in Maine so we’re all actively working on arrangements. This could be my last chance for an experience like this with Schando, so if we do make it, I’ll be savoring every moment.”

With so many competitors like Nordgren now beginning to plan their journeys to Kentucky from across the country, USDF has unveiled a new Transportation Resources webpage which includes links to horse transportation vendors, as well as a Horse Transport Share Forum where competitors can connect with others in their areas to organize group transportation. As part of ongoing efforts for the Finals to be the most exhibitor-friendly competition possible, USDF created the Horse Transport Share Forum to assist in what can be a daunting process in arranging transportation for horses to and from Lexington. For more information, visit this link: http://www.usdf.org/usdressagefinals/competitors/forum.asp.

In addition to returning competitors like Nordgren, this year’s Finals will also welcome a multitude of first-timers such as Lori Tormoehlen of Sand Creek, Mich. Aboard Horses Unlimited’s Zweibrucker mare Gracefull Rendition HU, Tormoehlen claimed top honors for Third Level Freestyle at the Great American/USDF Region 2 Championships in Grass Lake, Mich., and now she can’t wait to come to Kentucky and show off a performance that will be near and dear to her heart. “I have always wanted to do a freestyle and this is my first year riding one. The music we ended up with is so beautiful and suits this horse perfectly, and our canter music of ‘Over the Rainbow’ connects me to my mom who passed away a few years ago, so it’s pretty emotional,” said Tormoehlen. “I haven’t yet been to the Finals as a competitor or spectator, so I am thrilled to participate this year! The opportunity to compete in a competition of this level does not happen by accident, and like so many other riders with a goal like this, I’ve worked very hard to get myself and my horse here and I take none of it for granted. I realize I am so fortunate and I may not get this opportunity again in my life, so I can’t wait to go!”

Elizabeth Landers
Elizabeth Landers

Despite traveling the farthest for the opportunity to compete in Kentucky, West Coast riders from Regions 6 and 7 have enjoyed great success at the Finals and Elizabeth Landers of Agoura Hills, Calif. hopes to join that growing roster of champions. After big wins during last week’s Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Championship in Rancho Murieta, Calif., Landers is ready to hit the road for her first Finals experience. She’ll be bringing her own Hanoverian gelding His Highness Crusador to compete at Open Third Level and the Freestyle, as well as her Oldenburg mare and former show jumping partner Liberty for First Level Freestyle.

“I’m still waiting for someone to pinch me – It’s a dream come true and such a joy for me to be able to compete these two very special horses,” said Landers, who added that qualifying for the Finals was her “number one goal” for the year. “It’s a long way and I know it will be an expensive trip, but one way or another, I’m going to figure out a way to get there. I think that this national competition is invaluable for the development of the sport, and I truly believe that in ten years we will look back and see that these early years of the Finals were the beginning of what will be the most important event to happen to the sport in this country. I’m just so very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.”

Great American/USDF Regional Championships continue in Regions 3, 4 and 9 on October 8-11, with Regions 1 and 5 closing out the qualifying calendar on October 15-18. There’s still time for competitors in these regions to declare for a chance to come to Kentucky – click HERE to find out how to complete a free declaration. 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.

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

© United States Dressage Federation
4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511
Phone: (859) 971-2277 Fax: (859) 971-7722

Regional Qualifying Gets Underway for the 2015 US Dressage Finals

Lauren Chumley & Nikolas (Jennifer M. Keeler)

September marks the traditional end of summer but it also rings in the start of the fall championship season as the first round of Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Regional Championships get underway across the country, with almost 950 competitors preparing to ride down the centerline this weekend in USDF Regions 2 (Michigan), 7 (California), and 8 (New York). While plenty of ribbons and awards will be on the line, many riders have an even bigger goal in mind: to qualify for the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan, which will once again return to the Kentucky Horse Park, November 5-8, 2015.

One of those riders hoping to punch a ticket to Lexington is Lauren Chumley of Frenchtown, N.J. who is headed to the upcoming Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 8 Championships in Saugerties, N.Y. Chumley traveled 13 hours to last year’s Finals with two horses in tow, and now she’s seeking to return to the Bluegrass and once again participate in this unique national head-to-head competition which offers a wealth of championship titles and over $50,000 in prize money, all while showcasing adult amateur and open riders from across the country in Training Level to Grand Prix. This year, new perpetual trophies will be presented as well as a return of the popular High Score Breed Awards, offered at national and FEI levels for both Open and Adult Amateur competitors. To date, 33 breed organizations have elected to participate in this special High Score Breed Award program (see a complete list HERE).

“I think having the national Finals is a great concept for bringing everyone together,” Chumley explained. “To see people from across the country who are the best that each region has to offer is just great to be a part of, and I especially enjoy seeing old friends from other regions that I wouldn’t otherwise get to see. I also think having the opportunity to show in the Alltech Arena is super cool – it’s such a great environment.

“I know it’s a challenge for riders from some of the regions who have to come so far, but it’s worth it in so many ways,” she continued. “Is it a long drive? Yes. Does it take a lot of planning? Yes. Can it be cold? Yes. Is it time and money well spent? Absolutely.”

Before heading off to Saugerties, Chumley made sure to submit online declarations for the five horses she’ll be hoping to qualify for the Finals, as did her clients and friends. As a reminder for 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. For instance, the deadline for participants at Regional Championships 2, 7 and 8 is September 16th at midnight (defined as 12:00 am [midnight] in the time zone where the Regional Championship is held).

“I’ve got nothing to lose so I declared all of my horses and if they get the scores, I’ll probably bring them all. Why not? It’s a great time and I’d love to come back and bring my clients and owners to experience it,” she said. “I’m especially excited about Nikolas, the four-year-old German Riding Pony I’ve competed this year for Melissa Dowling. He’s already proven himself in the ring despite his young age, and I just think it would be so cool to bring a pony to the Finals to compete in the open division. I think he can be competitive, and we’ll see what he can do this week at Regionals. I also have an Adult Amateur client riding Prix St. Georges and she has declared herself to go, as well as two good friends who also would like to attend, so if we make it we’ll all caravan out together.”

After this weekend’s initial round of Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships, next on the calendar will be competition in Region 6 on September 24-27, followed by Regions 3, 4 and 9 on October 8-11, and Regions 1 and 5 closing out the qualifying calendar on October 15-18. With the first three regions looking to be off to a strong start, USDF President George Williams believes the excitement for the 2015 Finals will once again sweep across the country.

“Now in the third year, we’re looking forward to the Finals getting better and better each time,” noted Williams. “I’m so proud that this idea finally came to fruition and has exceeded everyone’s expectations, offering our members this unique competitive opportunity and what for many may be a once-in-a-lifetime event. I wish good luck to all USDF members competing at the upcoming Regional Championships and remember to submit those declarations, because whether you’re a Finals veteran or looking to come for the first time, it is an incredibly special experience.”

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.

United States Equestrian Federation | 4047 Iron Works Parkway | Lexington | KY | 40511

US Dressage Finals Champion Devon Kane Stars on Dressage Radio Show

Destiny gives Devon ideas on what to say in her Dressage Radio Show interview (Photo courtesy of JRPR)

Wellington, FL (November 26, 2014) — The winner of the 2014 United States Dressage Finals Grand Prix Championship is now also a radio star. FEI dressage competitor and trainer Devon Kane of Wellington, Florida, is featured as a guest on Dressage Radio Show’s “Dressage Radio Episode 285 — US Dressage Finals Wrap.” In the thirty-five minute episode, Kane shares the exciting story of her unexpected journey to Lexington, Kentucky that resulted in national victory.

Dressage Radio Show, produced by the Horse Radio Network, broadcasts top dressage news and entertaining rider interviews every Friday. The show was eager to welcome Kane as the guest of Episode 285 on November 12, 2014. Equestrians Reese Koffler-Stanfield and Phillip Parkes hosted the episode, which featured successful U.S. Dressage Finals competitors Kane and Rachael Hicks. With an over twenty-hour trek from south Florida to the sleeting, stormy Lexington finals and the outstanding accomplishments of a spirited horse in the Grand Prix ring, Kane’s story is one that dressage enthusiasts will not want to miss.

“I wasn’t planning to go to Kentucky because of the distance and the traveling, but the more I thought about it, the experience of being able to go up there and ride in a real indoor arena was really something I couldn’t pass up,” Kane explains on the radio show. “I need that exposure and I need that time in the arena. It worked out greatly to our advantage, obviously!” Kane and her self-trained Danish Warmblood gelding Destiny took first place in the U.S. Dressage Finals Grand Prix Championship Open on Friday, November 7, with an impressive score of 72.000 percent. Since Kane purchased Destiny as a barely broke five-year-old, the pair has become a formidable team in the show ring. The now eleven-year-old horse is a brilliant example of Kane’s training abilities.

“My horse was wonderful! He was super and ready and we were so prepared,” Kane shares about the Finals. “Destiny is one of those really special horses. When I first met him, I knew there was something great in the horse. He’s a little spunky. He’s always been a little bit different and kind of difficult to keep together. But in the Grand Prix, he’s really come into his own. He’s so much happier in the Grand Prix work then in anything else. It keeps his mind and his body busy.” Both Destiny’s and Kane’s love for Grand Prix dressage was evident from their beautifully fluid movements throughout the test.

“The coolest part about nationals is there are so many different people and different areas represented that you don’t always see at other show circuits,” Kane enthused. “They made the atmosphere so electric and so exciting! I’m very happy that we did this.” As the winter competitive season of Wellington, Florida approaches, national champions Kane and Destiny are ready to continue their winning ways.

To listen to Kane’s exciting interview on Dressage Radio Show, go to http://dressageradio.horseradionetwork.com/2014/11/12/dressage-radio-episode-285-us-dressage-finals-wrap/. For more information about Devon Kane, Destiny, and Kane’s flourishing dressage training, boarding, and sales business Diamante Farms in Wellington, visit www.DiamanteFarms.com or call 561-307-2831.

Contact: Devon Kane
Diamante Farms

Caroline Roffman Coaches to Win at the U.S. Dressage Finals

Rachael Hicks at the 2014 United States Dressage Finals in Lexington, Kentucky (Photo courtesy of Caroline Roffman)

Wellington, FL — It’s been an exciting autumn season for Lionshare Dressage, home of international dressage competitor and trainer Caroline Roffman. Roffman, a Nations Cup Individual Bronze Medalist and Nations Cup United States Team Gold Medalist, watched her students flourish in prestigious national competitions under her training. Student Rachael Hicks repeatedly scored at the top of her classes in the 2014 United States Dressage Finals in Lexington, Kentucky on November 6-9.

The 2014 U.S. Dressage Finals, presented by Adequan, took place at the Kentucky Horse Park. The park was filled with qualified top competitors such as Roffman’s students, representing states all across the country. The Finals were a Level Five Competition, which is the highest level of competition held in the United States under United States Equestrian Federation rules. The competition featured the country’s best riders in the adult amateur division and open division.

Hicks, who began training under Roffman this year, has been amazed with the drastic improvements in her riding since their partnership began. “I have been working with Caroline since April of 2014, but with the results I’m getting I wish now that I had begun working with her sooner,” Hicks of Prospect, Kentucky explains. At the 2014 U.S. Dressage Finals, Hicks rode her eight-year-old Westphalian gelding Fabio Bellini (by Furst Heinrich) to first place in the U.S. Dressage Finals Fourth Level Championship in the Adult Amateur division. The pair rode beautifully, and scored 71.750 percent. Hicks further proved her talents by also obtaining second place in the Fourth Level Championship on Don Cartier, a seven-year-old stallion by Don Schufro, with a score of 70.458 percent.

The following day, Hicks and Don Cartier won the U.S. Dressage Finals Third Level Championship in the Adult Amateur division with 70.342 percent. Hicks’s successes continued throughout the weekend, with a win on Fabio Bellini in the USEF Fourth Level Test Three Adult Amateur division (68.938 percent) and a second place on Don Cartier in the same class.

Roffman was thrilled with her students’ performances. “Congratulations on a winning weekend at the U.S. Dressage Finals, Rachael! Two Championships and one Reserve Championship in one weekend,” Roffman smiles. “I’m very proud!” Hicks was also proud to have earned such prestigious national wins, and is grateful to Roffman for helping her equine partners and her attain this level of skill. “We couldn’t have done it without Caroline,” she says.

Caroline Roffman settles for nothing less than the best when training riders and horses, competing herself, and running her top-quality dressage training, lessons, and sales business Lionshare Dressage. Lionshare Dressage, based in Wellington, Florida, has the knowledgeable, caring staff and advanced equipment necessary to give horses and riders the best learning environment possible. For more information about Roffman and Lionshare Dressage, visit www.lionsharedressage.com, email lionsharedressage@gmail.com, or call 617-633-1003.

For more information contact:
Caroline Roffman
Lionshare Dressage

Devon Kane and Destiny: Grand Prix Champions at the 2014 US Dressage Finals

Devon Kane and Destiny on their way to victory at the US Dressage Finals. (Photo courtesy of SusanJStickle.com)

Wellington, FL (November 13, 2014) — As international dressage rider Devon Kane and her self-trained Danish Warmblood gelding Destiny ease back into competition after a summer of training in Europe, an unexpected change of plans brought the pair amazing results. A last-minute decision to compete in the 2014 United States Dressage Finals led to Kane and Destiny achieving first place in both the U.S. Dressage Finals Grand Prix Championship Open and the FEI Grand Prix Open.

Kane and Destiny had recently claimed the win at the 2014 Great American Insurance Group USDF Region 3 Championships and Wellington Classic Dressage Autumn Challenge, which was their first post-Europe competition. The pair then planned to focus entirely on preparing for the fast-approaching winter competition season in Wellington, Florida. As the 2014 U. S. Dressage Finals drew near, though, the encouragement of Kane’s supporters convinced the young competitor to venture from Wellington to Lexington, Kentucky on November 6-9 for the prestigious national event.

“It has been a long and challenging year turning my dragon into a Grand Prix horse,” said Kane, referring to Destiny. “Green mistakes during season kept us a little frustrated, and not being able to compete in Europe this summer was heart wrenching, but I’m confident that our patience paid off. This was a fabulous way to finish the year, and get us ramped up for next year. I am feeling very confident in my horse and my training and excited for the CDI circuit this winter at the Global Dressage Festival!”

The 2014 U.S. Dressage Finals, presented by Adequan, took place at the Kentucky Horse Park. Qualified top competitors from across the country filled Lexington for this Level Five Competition, which is the highest level of competition held in the United States under United States Equestrian Federation rules. The competition featured talented riders from Training Level to the Grand Prix in adult amateur and open divisions.

Kane and Destiny’s first class was the FEI Grand Prix Open on Thursday, November 6. The Finals weekend was chilly with sleet falling from the sky, but the Florida duo rode into the show ring with sunny spirits. Kane was especially enjoying the electric competition atmosphere in the Horse Park, and felt that she and Destiny were at a good place as they returned to competition with a summer of training on their minds. “We are bringing back the pizazz and the flash, and keeping the calmness. It seems to be balancing out,” the USDF Gold Medalist explained. She added, “I think it’s really great to have people here from all the different states. It’s really fun!”

Although the FEI Grand Prix Open class was large, Kane and her eleven-year-old mount (by Diamond Hit out of MIDT-West Regina) won with an impressive ride and a score of 70.100 percent. The pair then moved on to the U.S. Dressage Finals Grand Prix Championship Open on Friday, November 7. Once again, Kane and Destiny’s precise, beautiful movements captured first place. Their score was 72.000 percent.

Kane was thrilled with her horse’s performances, and feels excited and prepared for further successes in Wellington, Florida this season. For more information about Devon Kane, her horses, their upcoming show schedule, and her training, sales, and boarding business at Diamante Farms in Wellington, visit www.DiamanteFarms.com or call 210-240-1614.

Contact: Devon Kane
Diamante Farms

Ten More Champions Are Crowned on Final Day of US Dressage Finals

Amy Gimbel.

Intense head-to-head dressage competition across 30 championship divisions concluded on Sunday at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington for the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. Surrounded by friends and family, emotions ran high for competitors as they rode their way into history and celebrated their success with joyous victory laps before packing for their long journeys back to homes across the country.

The appropriately-named Dutch Warmblood Eye Candy (Weltmeyer x UB40) was one of the day’s big winners. In the largest class of the Finals, the lovely five-year-old mare owned by Heather Mason was the final ride of the class but made the biggest impression with the judges as she carried rider Amy Gimbel of Lebanon, N.J. (Region 8) to victory in the hotly-contested Training Level Adult Amateur Championship with a score of 75.800%. “I started riding Eye Candy about nine months ago,” said Gimbel. “The horse I had been riding before her was sold, so I was looking for something to catch ride and Heather offered her to me. She’s been a super horse to show – even though this was only her fifth competition and it has a huge atmosphere, she handled it all so well. I feel so lucky to ride her and I have a lot to be thankful for.” First to go down centerline at 8am was Carolyn Desnoyer of Mosinee, Wis. (qualified in Region 4) aboard her warmblood mare Fresca (Festrausch x Rising Star by GP Raymeister). They posted a score of 73.533% that stood atop the leaderboard for the duration of the class until Gimbel’s final ride, but ultimately was still good enough Reserve Championship honors. “She came out of her stall ready to work and two minutes after we got to the warm-up I thought ‘hey, they could ring that bell any time; we’re ready to go,'” said Desnoyer of her mount. “She went in and did her job and gave me everything she had. I was so proud of her. I feel like Cinderella – it’s been an amazing experience here at the Finals.”

A particularly heartwarming moment of the day came during the presentation of the Janine Westmoreland Malone Perpetual Trophy (presented by USDF) to the new Adult Amateur Prix St. Georges Champion, Adrienne Bessey of Region 7. Bessey and her Danish Warmblood mare Dido ran away with the title on an impressive score of 71.491%, more than six points better than the next-placed competitor. With this score, Dido (by Royal Hit) also earned the Lloyd Landkamer Perpetual Trophy for FEI Highest Scoring Mare, presented by Janet Foy. It was an emotional win for Bessey, a family practice physician in Thousand Oaks, Cal. “My test felt great; she was perfect for me and did everything I asked,” she explained. “I hadn’t ever thought of traveling this far for a show, but some of my friends in California were coming and asked if I wanted to go, so I said ‘sure, why not’. I can’t believe how well organized and fun this show is. The atmosphere is almost indescribable, it feels very big but at the same time everyone is so supportive of each other. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to come here.” Earning Reserve Champion honors was Jennifer Van de Loo (Holly Springs, Miss., qualified in Region 2) who rode her Oldenburg gelding Lanzelot 99 (by Lord Sinclair I) to 65.000%. “He is my schoolmaster, and this is just my second year at the FEI level,” said Van de Loo. “He’s the best horse ever and I’m so thankful for him. It’s an honor to be here and I’ve enjoyed it so much.”

The morning’s Prix St. Georges Open Championship became a clash of the titans as incredibly talented horses and riders battled for the win. Saturday night’s Intermediate I Open Freestyle Champions Angela Jackson and Allure S (Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Kerrin Dunn) returned to the ring no worse for wear to once again post a top score of 71.491% and lead another victory lap. “She was still asleep this morning when I had to get her ready, but she got up and felt great! It felt like the best Prix St. Georges test I’ve done with her all year,” said an elated Jackson of her partner. “Now we’re going to go home, take a little time off, and then start preparing for a move up to the Developing Horse Grand Prix.” Reserve Champions Mette Rosencrantz (Topanga, Cal., Region 7) also has big plans for Anne Solbraekke’s Hanoverian gelding De Noir 3 (De Niro x Maharani by Matcho) as she is considering the pursuit of a U.S. Team berth for next year’s Pan American Games in Toronto. The elegant pair followed up their Intermediate I Open Championship on Friday by finishing a close second today with a score of 71.009%. “I had a good ride; he’s a great show horse, and I enjoy riding him,” Rosencrantz said. “There were so many talented riders and horses in this class; it was amazing. Everyone was breathing down each other’s necks because we’re all here for the same reason – to win.”

Amy Stuhr Paterson (Lee’s Summit, Mo., Region 4) thought she might be in trouble as she prepared for her Intermediate B Adult Amateur Championship performance with Greenwood Sporthorses’ Dutch Warmblood mare Wies V/D Klumpert (by Future x Sarina V/D Klumpert by Havidoff). “My horse was incredibly wild in that ring yesterday when we were just hand walking around the perimeter,” she explained. “She was literally passaging in-hand, so I was a little bit worried about what today might bring.” But the lovely Dutch Warmblood mare rewarded Paterson’s trust by earning a score of 68.690%, good enough for a narrow victory. “She ended up using all that energy for good and not evil, so I was thrilled with our ride,” said Paterson, who missed last year’s inaugural Finals due to battling breast cancer. “It’s a tricky test, but she was honest and with me the entire time. It meant a lot to me to be here, and I definitely want to show at Grand Prix next year and come back.” Friday’s Grand Prix Adult Amateur Champions Alice Tarjan (Frenchtown, N.J. Region 8) and her young Oldenburg mare Elfenfeuer returned to claim Reserve Championship honors today with 68.333%. “She handled being outside really well today. We had some mistakes but we’re green at this level and we have plenty of work to do and room for improvement,” said Tarjan.

Heather Mason of Lebanon, N.J. (Region 8) found great success at last year’s inaugural Finals, and she returned to Kentucky to claim yet another title with her 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Zar by topping the Intermediate B Open Championship on a score of 69.286%. “This is a great show and so well-run. I love it, and my clients all love it. I think it’s just a fun show to go to, and it’s a lot bigger this year,” said Mason. “As for Zar, I think he’s actually going to be a better Grand Prix horse than a small tour horse, just because his piaffe/passage work is pretty special. He’s kind of a hot horse who is very honest but incredibly scared of everything, so I had a lot of horse under me today! But he was really good and he held it together.” Also returning to the Finals was Eva Oldenbroek Tabor of Medina, Texas (Region 9) who earned the Reserve Championship with her flashy Dutch Warmblood gelding Uberlinus (by Metall) with 66.865%. “I’ve have him since he was three years old and he’s 13 now, so I know him inside and out,” said Tabor. “I’ve been through some ups and downs with him because he’s sensitive and he’s not easy. But we’ve worked our way up from the young horse classes and here we are! Today was a wonderful day – he was flawless. I was here at the Finals last year and it made me want to come back. The arena is amazing and the footing is amazing. It’s probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever competed in.”

Morgan Barrows of Monroe, Wash. (Region 6) and Janice Davis’ six-year-old Oldenburg gelding San Corazon have proven to be unbeatable at Open Second Level at these Finals, following up on Saturday’s freestyle win by claiming today’s Second Level Open Championship with 72.063%. “He’s been such a ‘steady Eddie’ at every horse show from the minute you take him off the trailer,” said Barrows. “He’s already showing talent for the Prix St. Georges, so if he’s ready we’ll think about Developing Horse next year. We’ll see how it goes. Maybe we’ll even be able to come back here – we certainly had a great time this year.” Also enjoying the Finals experience was Reserve Champion Tena Frieling of Holland, Mich. (qualified in Region 2) who earned a score of 70.159% with her Oldenburg gelding Royal Heir, which she has developed since he was a three-year-old. “I can’t believe that we’ve done this,” said Frieling as she blinked back tears. “It’s completely unexpected. Today my ride was as good as it could have been. It’s been a long road for us, but I’m just so happy to be here. It’s been a fantastic experience.”

Music once again rang out across the Kentucky Horse Park as a second full day of freestyles got underway with 24 entries in the First Level Open Freestyle in the electric atmosphere of the Alltech Arena. Emerging victorious was Megan McIsaac of Oregon, Wis. (Region 2) who rode the Trakehner gelding Kingsley (owned by Wisconsin Kid LLC) to a top score of 73.722%, good enough for a narrow win over Stacey Hastings (Mooresville, N.C., Region 1) riding Karen Guerra’s Friesian mare Trijntje v.d. Bokkefarm (by Beart 411) with 73.167%. “It was so awesome to be here and be a part of this event,” said McIsaac, who was attending the Finals for the first time. “Kingsley is so talented and he always brings that to the table. He’s a really special horse and I have some exciting goals for him for the future.”

Cariann Wlosinski (Lexington, Ky., Region 2) and her own Oldenburg mare Rhiannon (by Rousseau) had already added Saturday’s Second Level Adult Amateur Freestyle title to their resume, but returned on Sunday to claim one more victory in the First Level Adult Amateur Freestyle on a score of 73.700%. “It’s been a fun weekend!” she exclaimed. “We rode this freestyle last year and finished third, so it meant a lot to come back and win with it this year. I thought she’d be tired today, but she actually was even better. I also would like to thank those who made the decision to separate the open and adult amateur freestyle championship classes. Everyone loves freestyles but they are a lot of work, and it means a lot to have our own division.” Amy Gimbel and Heather Mason’s young Dutch Warmblood mare Eye Candy had already earned the Training Level Adult Amateur title earlier in the morning, but the pair also added a second championship honor to their roster by earning the First Level Adult Amateur Freestyle Reserve Championship. “She was a little distracted in this test, but she’s still such a good girl and I couldn’t be happier with our experience.”

Nancy Szakacs’ smile was infectious as she rode a Ricky Martin-themed freestyle aboard her own Westfalen gelding Rudi Regali to top the Third Level Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship with 69.056%. “This music suits his movement and personality, and today we were so ‘on’ with the music, it really was like we were dancing,” said Szakacs, who works in clinical research for a biopharmaceutical company back home in Hollister, Cal. (Region 7). “It felt like so much fun just being in the Alltech Arena and having that electric experience. I remember at one moment I looked up to see my name on the huge scoreboard at the end of arena and just thought, ‘wow!’ It’s been wonderful.” Reserve Champion Taryn Hochstatter (St. Charles, Ill. qualified in Region 4) was equally thrilled after scoring 67.500% aboard Ginna Frantz’s Oldenburg mare Bella Luna GP. “She’s a sassy chestnut mare, so we love to show off that attitude in her freestyle,” said Hochstatter, who came to the Finals for the first time with her mother, who she called her “number one fan”. “Of course there’s pressure to do well, but when we halted at the end of the test I almost cried because my horse did so well today. It was unreal.”

Stacey Hastings brought five horses to the Finals from Mooresville, N.C. (Region 1) and now returns home a national champion after claiming the Fourth Level Open Freestyle title with 72.278% aboard Coves Darden Farm’s striking black PRE stallion Police. “This is a brand new freestyle with music by Peter Gabriel which suits him well,” Hastings explained. “The downside is that it’s so new; I just learned the music last week and didn’t have time to actually practice it more than about three times. But I had it on video so I just watched it over and over and over and hoped for the best. We lucked out! I’m so glad I came this year; the show ran well and everyone’s been so friendly.” Fellow Region 1 competitor Dawn Weniger of Apex, N.C. and her Dutch gelding Don Derrick (by Don Ruto) didn’t let a few bobbles keep them from claiming Reserve honors with 69.333% for their medieval-themed performance. “He was afraid of some patches of light shining on the floor of the arena so he jumped over them a few times, but he was lovely and forward and light, and I’m pretty darn happy,” Weniger said. “I’ve never done a national championship before, and I was having so much fun with my horse. He makes me smile every day. He’s so kind and fun and talented, but still a regular guy.”

More information, including final results, photo galleries, and news archives from the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, is available on the official event website www.usdressagefinals.com. Video on-demand from select championship performances is also available on the USEF Network (www.usefnetwork.com). A complete archive of each competition day’s results is listed at this direct link: http://www.usdf.org/usdressagefinals/competitors/results.asp.

Source: Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals

Riders and Horses Dance to Victory on Freestyle Day at US Dressage Finals

Janne Rumbough.

Music filled the concourse of the Alltech Arena to the delight of an enthusiastic crowd of spectators and VIPs on Saturday as some of the country’s best dressage horses and riders did their best to captivate the judges and earn national championship honors for their carefully-choreographed musical freestyles at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, being held November 6-9, 2014 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY.

One of the highlights of the day was the presentation of the new Calaveras County Perpetual Trophy (by artist Olva Stewart Pharo) to the very first US Dressage Finals Grand Prix Freestyle Adult Amateur Champion, Janne Rumbough of Palm Beach, Fla. (Region 3). The crowd went wild and clapped to the beat of Rumbough’s Mary Poppins-themed music as her gray PRE gelding Junior (by Gaucho III x La Nina by Brioso VI) seemed to relish the electric atmosphere of Alltech Arena, earning a winning score of 70.708% over fellow Region 3 competitor Aileen Daly (Aiken, S.C.) who rode her Hanoverian gelding Windsong (Weltmeyer x Lara by Laurie’s Crusader) to second place with 65.250%. During the awards ceremony and subsequent press conference, Rumbough was emotional about her win. “I’m just speechless. I am so honored to be the first one to have my name on this beautiful trophy, and to finally win a championship title like this,” she explained. Rumbough also finished as Reserve Champion in the Grand Prix Adult Amateur division yesterday, as well as at the inaugural Finals in 2013. “It gives me chills to talk about it, I’m so grateful and honored. This has been a goal of mine for years, and now I can check it off the bucket list. But I still want to come back next year and win the Grand Prix test too!”

Starting off the day were competitors showing off their Second Level Freestyles, and in the Adult Amateur division, crowd favorite and hometown girl Cariann Wlosinski (Lexington, Ky., Region 2) earned the unanimous win with 70.567%. A full-time middle school teacher who “teaches by day and rides by night,” Wlosinski attended the inaugural Finals last November and was “determined to try to get back here this year.” She danced to a Beatles medley aboard her own Oldenburg mare Rhiannon (by Rousseau), a horse she bred and raised herself. “I had her dam, so I was there when she was born. We’ve been together six years now,” said Wlosinski. “She loves it here in the Alltech Arena because she loves to come in here and have the ring to herself. We had a great ride, and it was awesome to have all my friends and family here to cheer me on.” Finishing second was Camilla Van Liew (Charleston, S.C., qualified in Region 1) riding her Dutch Warmblood Dartesch (Special D x Sedesch by Jazz) with 68.322%. As a small animal veterinarian, Van Liew explained she often has to make time to ride during pre-dawn hours before going to work, but her efforts paid off today. “I was a little worried about riding in the Alltech today since it’s only the fourth time we’ve ever ridden a freestyle and my horse is young,” she said of her six-year-old gelding, whose sire is also competing at the Finals. “But he really kept it together, I was awfully proud of him. He’s such a good guy, and it’s been a dream to be here.”

Perhaps no competitor had more fun with her performance than the Second Level Open Freestyle Champion Morgan Barrows (Monroe, Wash., Region 6) riding Janice Davis’ Oldenburg gelding San Corazon. Their Billy Idol-themed freestyle was rewarded with a top score of 74.678%. “I had a blast! I want to go out there again,” said Barrows, who has been partnered with her mount for less than a year. “I originally saw him at a friend’s farm in Sweden when he was three. Later when he came up for sale, I knew we had to get him. It’s been fun to bring him up, and the longer I ride him the more fun he gets. He’s a great horse and I’m excited to see where he’s going to go.” Delighted to also be accepting national honors with a score 72.022% was Reserve Champion Claudia Novick riding her Friesian gelding Marco von Laar (by Onne 376 x Wydana von Laar by Sjaard 320). This pair returned to Kentucky after attending the 2013 Finals, where they went home to Gastonia, N.C. (Region 1) as Reserve Champions in the First Level Adult Amateur Freestyle. “The cold weather actually helps us!,” Novick laughed. “My horse is such a character. He was formerly a driving horse, so he had to change his body and mindset from pulling to pushing. I think this year he’s really ‘gotten it.'”

Retired small animal veterinarian Jeanne Van Nuys-Hitt of Harrisburg, Pa. (Region 8) rode her Oldenburg gelding Sirtaki to victory in the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship, where their Enya-themed performance earned a top score of 68.792%. “I am thrilled. You put a lot of time, money, and blood, sweat and tears into getting here, so any time you end up on top of a great field of riders, it’s the ultimate thrill,” said Van Nuys-Hitt. Finishing just a point behind the leader to earn their second Reserve Championship of the weekend on a score of 67.792% was Lauren Thornlow of Monroe, Wash. (Region 6) and her Oldenburg gelding Royal Konig (by Rubin Royale), a horse which Thornlow has had since he was just three years old and has now become her first FEI-level mount. “It’s been a great journey to bring him along,” Thornlow noted. “He’s a great guy with a terrific personality, and his favorite thing to do is to go out there and show off.”

Region 2 riders claimed top placings in the afternoon’s Third Level Open Freestyle Championship. Earning the unanimous win under all three judges was Angela Jackson of Henderson, Ky. riding Theresa Schnell’s impressive Oldenburg stallion Hemmingway (Hofrat x Alsonara by Archipel) with 73.878%. “It’s so beautiful in there, people are cheering, and I just had a fantastic time,” said Jackson of her Pirates of the Caribbean-themed freestyle performance. “My horse was energetic and right with me every step of the way. He’s had a fantastic year already, and to top it off by being champion here is just great.” Finishing in the reserve spot were Laurie Moore of Ada, Mich. and Christine Miller’s Holsteiner gelding Lyric PT, who were rewarded with 71.367% for their Beatles-themed musical performance. “I had a super warm-up getting him nice and forward, and we went in the arena and he was just free and happy,” said Moore. “The music is fun and up-tempo, and it suits him perfectly.”

Former jumper rider Anna Jaffe of Concord, Mass. (Region 8) has made a successful switch to the dressage ring as she rode Jane Karol’s Westfalen gelding Moonshine (by Lamerto H) to victory in the Fourth Level Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship on a score of 68.822%. “This is the first horse I’ve ever done dressage on, and it’s been an extraordinary opportunity to learn from him,” explained Jaffe. “We don’t have any indoor shows like this in New England, and my horse is naturally very spooky. But he loved the Alltech Arena! This was the best show of his life, and I’m so happy to be here.” Region 6’s Jacquelyn McMaster of Sherwood, Ore. drew confidence from her Dutch Warmblood gelding Paviano to overcome her show nerves and ride for a score of 68.156%. “I was quite nervous, but about two minutes before show time he felt so good,” she said. “So I just took a deep breath and let it all sink in, and it was just amazing being in there in that atmosphere. It ended up being a lot of fun.”

In the outdoor championship rings, competition was fierce across all levels. Topping a huge field of 35 competitors in the First Level Adult Amateur division was Julie McCrady of Raymore, Mo. (Region 4) riding her five-year-old Remanessa. Even though the pair had to wait all day to compete as they were scheduled last to go in the class, their patience paid off as they earned the winning score of 71.290%. Making the win even more meaningful was the fact that McCrady bred the Hanoverian mare (Rousseau x Leonessa by Louis Heslegard) with her husband, and they were making a return trip to the Finals after competing at Training and First Level last year. “I think the people are so friendly here, everyone bends over backwards to help you. I encouraged one of my friends to come here to ride in the open show just so she could be part of the experience,” McCrady said. “It’s just been wonderful, and so special to have bred Remanessa ourselves. She was a handful on the ground until we started her under saddle where she seemed to find her purpose in life. Now she’s a great mare.” Another competitor who was delighted to find success at the Finals was Viki Meyers of Russellville, Ark. (Region 9) who rode her Hanoverian gelding Gold Flash (by Gold Luck) to the Reserve Championship with 70.753%. “I had the time of my life today. Each of my rides has gotten a little bit better, and I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here,” said Meyers. “We don’t have any licensed dressage shows in Arkansas, so I have to travel extensively just to train and compete. This was my first year to even go to Regionals, and now I find myself at the Finals and I’m just amazed. My friends drove all the way to Kentucky just to watch me compete in one test! I feel really special to be here, and it may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience but I do hope to be back here next year.”

In the First Level Open division, Gwyneth McPherson will now make the 20-hour drive home to New Gloucester, Maine (Region 8) with a Championship title in hand after guiding Pineland Farms Inc.’s five-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Eskandar (Zhivago x Ostara by Caritas) to victory with 75.538%. McPherson was impressed with how her mount (which she found in 2012 as a young stallion in Belgium) handled the conditions. “I was delighted with my ride,” she said. “He can be spooky but even with the wind and cold, he stuck with me for the whole test.” Yesterday’s Training Level Champions Patricia Becker from Wadsworth, Ill. (qualified in Region 2) and Joan Pecora’s five-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Edward (by United) moved up to First Level today and claimed Reserve honors (73.333%). “He has such a super temperament, and he couldn’t have been better,” she noted.

Rachael Hicks of Prospect, Ky. (Region 2) has already had a successful Finals with both a Championship and Reserve title to her credit for Fourth Level, but today she added yet another honor to her resume by earning a decisive victory in the Third Level Adult Amateur division with 70.342% aboard her lovely Rheinlander stallion Don Cartier (Don Schufro x Carmina by Cartier). “It was a little chilly out there today,” laughed Hicks. “He was a bit tired today so I decided not to push for a ’10’, but it was steady and consistent test and he gave me a great feeling throughout.” Back home in Santa Monica, Cal. (Region 7), Christine Ekstrand is an orthopedic surgeon and the mother of seven children. But today she celebrated earning Reserve Championship honors with her Hanoverian gelding Braxxton (Baroncelli x Rosana by Rotspon) on a score of 67.479% “He was tired from the trip at first, but he perked right up and I was really pleased with how he did today,” Ekstrand said of her mount.

Melissa Beardsley’s Hanoverian gelding Louis Vuitton lived up to his name in giving Shauntel Bryant of Seattle, Wash. a fashionable ride in the Stonelea Arena which was good enough to ultimately win the Fourth Level Open Championship on a score of 69.417%. “He’s an ‘on’ or ‘off’ kind of horse, but he was really ‘on’ today and gave it his all,” noted Bryant. “It was the kind of ride where you just say to yourself, ‘this is lovely’. He definitely woke up on the right side of the stall today, and the brisk weather actually works to his advantage. I almost didn’t bring him to the Finals because he’s not a super consistent horse, but now I’m glad I did because he pulled it off!” Debbie Hill of Gurley, Ala. (qualified in Region 2) earned her second Reserve Championship title in as many days with Boccaccio IOF (Hanoverian gelding [Bugatti Hilltop x Roxette by Rubinstein], owned by Marchella Richardson) with 69.167%. “Bo was ready to go again today,” Hill said. “He always aims to please and works hard. He put in a great effort out there and of course I was thrilled. There’s so many fantastic horses and riders here which makes for great company and competition, so I’m just glad to be a part of it and I’ve really enjoyed myself.”

Kentucky women seemed to claim home field advantage as they swept the top spots in the evening’s Intermediate I Open Freestyle Championship. Angela Jackson earned her second national title of the day, this time aboard Kerrin Dunn’s lovely Dutch Warmblood Allure S. Even though the mare wasn’t feeling quite like her normal self on Thursday, when she entered the arena as the first combination down centerline for the class, “she rebounded and put her game face on today,” said Jackson. “The feeling you get from her in the arena is just amazing. The crowd was really into it, and she loved it. I just love a good mare.” Linda Strine from nearby Versailles, Ky. also had high praise for her mount, Julie Roche’s Friesian mare Inke FCF (Erik x Nynke Marije by Nikolaas 310) who improved upon a fourth-place finish in this division at last year’s Finals to earn tonight’s Reserve Championship with 67.292%. “The best horses I’ve had have been mares,” said Strine. “She was fired up – she’s very expressive but also so reliable. I can always count on her, and she knew she was there to show off.”

It may have taken North Forks Cardi four days to travel across the country from Battle Ground, Wash. (Region 6) to attend the Finals with owner/rider Jessica Wisdom, but it only took a matter of minutes for the charismatic Welsh Cob stallion to become the fan favorite on his way to winning the finale class of the night, the Grand Prix Open Freestyle Championship. “Freestyle is where he really shines – he hears that music and he becomes a big horse. Nobody told him that he’s only 14.3 hands!” said Wisdom. “All he has to do is go out there and be the rock star that he knows he is. And you saw what happens! He has an ego the size of Texas. He seemingly becomes three hands taller and says, ‘watch this.’” The Reserve title went to Region 4’s Emily Miles of La Cygne, Kan. (69.833%), who today found success aboard her Hanoverian gelding Weltdorff, a horse she’s had since he was a youngster and has risen up to the Grand Prix level together. “It’s always seemed that he’s played the role of bridesmaid to my other horse WakeUp, so I’m happy for him to earn this,” said Miles. “I have to admit I don’t particularly like my music, but I trusted my freestyle designer who insisted that it works for my horse. Obviously she was right! The best moment was coming down centerline as we did 25 one-tempis one-handed and the crowd started clapping. And turns out my husband was watching our ride from home on the USEF Network! So it’s been a really fun night.”

The US Dressage Finals will conclude on Sunday as the last group of 10 champions for 2014 are crowned. Follow the action through updates on the USDF Facebook page and the US Dressage Finals website, as well as watch live online streaming of Sunday’s classes from the Alltech Arena on the popular USEF Network (http://www.usefnetwork.com).

To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review entry lists, purchase tickets to special events, and sign up to receive news and updates, visit the official event website at http://www.usdressagefinals.com.

Source: Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals

First Round of 2014 Championship Titles Are Awarded at US Dressage Finals

Mette Rosencrantz.

The first championship honors were awarded today at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. This spectacular competition being held from November 6-9, 2014 in four championship arenas has brought together the top dressage riders and horses from across the nation to ultimately honor a new generation of Adult Amateur and Open division champions from Training Level to Grand Prix.

Mette Rosencrantz of Topanga, Cal. was grinning from ear to ear as she accepted congratulations for becoming the first Finals champion crowned in 2014. Her long journey all the way from the West Coast ultimately proved worthwhile as she guided Anne Solbraekke’s elegant black Hanoverian gelding De Noir 3 (De Niro x Maharani by Matcho) to a resounding victory in the Open Intermediate I Championship, earning the unanimous win under all three judges for a total score of 72.632%. “I saw all the other riders warming up, and I thought, ‘Uh oh, I’m going to have to go for it because everyone’s really really good,'” said Rosencrantz. “But my horse was great in the ring and handled the atmosphere with no problem. It’s a long way and a long time away from home, but everyone has gone out of their way to make us feel welcome here. The setting is great, and it’s really fun to come ride at a show like this.” Finishing in Reserve was Susanne Benne aboard Zonnerhall (Dutch Warmblood [by Gribaldi] owned by Toni Pastermack) with on a score of 68.816%. Benne recently obtained her U.S. citizenship and became eligible to come to the Finals, and happily traveled from Satellite Beach, Fla. (Region 3) to participate. “I definitely think it’s worthwhile to come here, even from a long distance,” Benne noted. “Having so many excellent riders and horses here makes it all even more special.”

Patti Blackmore (Louisiana, Mo., Region 4) placed third at last year’s Finals in the First Level Adult Amateur division, and this year she improved upon that performance to claim the Second Level Adult Amateur Championship aboard her own Hanoverian gelding Rubico (by Rotspon). As the only combination to break seventy percent, they earned a decisive win with a total score of 71.905%. “I breathed a sigh of relief after our counter canter portion of the test,” laughed Blackmore, who is a small animal veterinarian and mother of twin 12-year-old girls. “My family is so supportive; in fact, my daughters are helping to clean stalls for the horses at home so that I could be here.” Reserve Champion with 68.810% was Jessica Iorio (Region 8), who is also a busy mom with three young boys at home in Foxboro, Mass. She and her warmblood mare Roulette (by Loerke) are former die-hard eventing competitors, but an injury forced a change in career. “It’s worked out well and competing in dressage has been more exciting than I expected,” said Iorio, who drove all night Monday to come to Kentucky. “Roulette did the best she could despite the chilly weather and I was thrilled with how she held it together in the ring.”

Two talented five-year-olds ruled the day in the morning’s Training Level Open Championship. Champion Patricia Becker (Wadsworth, Ill., qualified in Region 2) rode Joan Pecora’s five-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Edward to a strong performance and a winning score of 77.933%. “He warmed up so well despite the cold and the wind, and I think it was the best test we’ve had all year,” noted Pecora. “It’s such a great experience coming here, and is so important for a young horse’s future to get exposed to a big venue like this.” Mike Suchanek of Cambridge, Minn. (Region 4) and Douglas Leatherdale’s Hanoverian mare Fleur De Lis L may both be newcomers to the dressage ring, but they did not let the fact that this was their first show season keep them from earning the Reserve Championship with 74.667%. “She didn’t put a foot wrong today, and I’m honored to be here,” said Suchanek.

Heather Blitz of Medfield, Mass. is no stranger to international dressage competition in the U.S. and Europe, but the Region 8 rider made it a point to add the Finals to her calendar this year. Her decision paid off as she won today’s hard-fought Third Level Open Championship with Oak Hill Ranch LLC’s young Danish Warmblood stallion Ripline on a score of 71.239%. Despite Ripline’s long 24-hour trip to Kentucky, Blitz was thrilled with both her young star and the Finals. “I’m really happy with my horse and how he’s handled everything here,” Blitz said. “I’m also very impressed with this event, and it was incredibly worthwhile to come here. The facility is of such a high quality, and the indoor looks like a top-notch European show. I will definitely come back.” Reserve Champion Debbie Hill of Gurley, Ala. (qualified in Region 2) was a big winner at last year’s inaugural Finals, and returned to Lexington this year to claim even more honors despite currently undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. She and her partner, Marchella Richardson’s charming Hanoverian gelding Boccaccio IOF (Bugatti Hilltop x Roxette by Rubinstein), didn’t even let a broken bridle in warm-up shake their concentration, earning a total second-place score of 69.872%. “He was pretty fresh out there this morning,” she said. “I had a few little bobbles but overall he was so good. I’m just so happy to be here.”

The afternoon’s Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship was dominated by Region 2’s Rachael Hicks of Prospect, Ky. as she claimed both the Champion and Reserve Champion honors with her two mounts, Fabio Bellini (Westfalen gelding [Furst Heinrich x Dakota by Davignon I]) on 71.750%, to edge out stablemate Don Cartier (Rheinlander stallion [Don Schufro x Carmina by Cartier]) with 70.458%. “Today the sun came out and we enjoyed the brisk weather, and I think it energized them a little bit. They’re both so different and so I have to ride them very differently,” said Hicks of her mounts, both of which she’s had since they were four years old and brought through the levels. As a busy mom, Hicks works hard to find time to be in the saddle. “I have three young kids, and every morning I get them to school, and then I have few precious hours with the horses on the farm before 3pm when the kids come home and I become a mom again.”

Region 2’s Jacqueline Beasley may have only had a 15-minute drive from her home in Lexington to the Finals, but her journey to winning today’s Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship has been much longer. She purchased her now 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding Winston (by Worldly) as a three-year-old in Germany and together the pair has risen through the levels, culminating in today’s winning ride with a score of 67.632%. “I never thought we’d come so far,” said Winston. “Even though I live here and I’ve shown at the Horse Park before, I’ve never had the opportunity to show in the Alltech Arena. During yesterday’s schooling session, he was very impressed by the atmosphere so I was concerned going in the arena today. But he rose to the occasion, was so perfect and answered all my questions. He gave me a lovely ride today and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. ” Lauren Thornlow and her Oldenburg gelding Royal Konig had to trek 2500 miles with friends and their seven horses from Monroe, Wash. (Region 6) to earn Reserve Championship honors (67.193%), but she was happy to have made the trip. “I’ve never hauled this far for a show before, but it’s been a great experience for all of us,” she said. “I had a great ride today with my horse – he’s put the right foot forward every step of the way on this journey.”

Despite being only seven years old, the talented Oldenburg mare Elfenfeuer carried owner/rider Alice Tarjan of Frenchtown, N.J. (Region 8) to victory in the Grand Prix Adult Amateur Championship with 68.133% “We still have a lot to learn, but I think this level suits her and she’s a good girl and tries hard,” said Tarjan. “I haven’t been here at the Horse Park since coming for a Pony Club event about 20 years ago, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. These Finals are such a big event, and it’s exciting and inspiring to be here.” Janne Rumbough’s gray PRE gelding Junior (by Gaucho III x La Nina by Brioso VI) literally bucked for joy during the victory lap in celebration of his Reserve Championship honors after earning a score of 65.000%. Rumbough returned to the Finals from Palm Beach, Fla. (Region 3) after earning the same title last year. “I had a wonderful time in there. I’ve brought him through every level, and he’s proof that the test system works,” she said of her longtime partner. “I thought he was even better than last year, and I’m just happy and feel lucky to be here.”

A huge crowd gathered at the Alltech Arena for a “Taste of the Bluegrass” dinner and evening festivities including opening ceremonies and special presentations followed by Grand Prix championship competition. Topping 20 other competitors for the nation’s top honors in the Open division, Diamante Farm’s black Danish Warmblood gelding Destiny lived up to his name as he carried Wellington, Fla.’s Devon Kane (Region 3) to victory with an impressive score of 72.000%. “It’s very exciting, especially since I didn’t even expect to come here,” explained Kane. “But after we won at Regionals we said, ‘why not’. It’s a wonderful opportunity to ride with great competition and fantastic judges in a tremendous venue, and it’s really fun to see everyone from all over the country. We had a great ride and he was so ‘on’ tonight.” Last year’s Intermediate I Open Champions Emily Miles (La Cygne, Kan., Region 4) and her American Warmblood stallion WakeUp (Wagnis x Maiden Montreal by Macho) successfully made the jump up to the Grand Prix level, earning Reserve Championship honors on a score of 69.067%. “This is just our fifth Grand Prix test together, and I couldn’t be happier with him,” said Miles of her partner. “He handled the electric atmosphere like it was no problem – he was just a rock star through the whole thing, so solid and easy.”

Competition resumes Saturday at 8:00am ET as 12 new Finals champions will be crowned throughout the day. Follow the action through updates on the USDF Facebook page and the US Dressage Finals website, as well as watch live online streaming of classes from the Alltech Arena on the popular USEF Network (http://www.usefnetwork.com).

To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review entry lists, purchase tickets to special events, and sign up to receive news and updates, visit the official event website at http://www.usdressagefinals.com.

US Dressage Finals Off to Impressive Start in Lexington

Photos: Bob Tarr.

Exciting head-to-head dressage competition got underway on Thursday at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® in Lexington, KY, November 6-9, 2014. Nearly four hundred Adult Amateur and Open riders from Training Level to Grand Prix have come to the Kentucky Horse Park in their quests for national championship honors, and many of them made their final preparations today by competing in one of the multitude of open and warm-up USDF Dressage in the Bluegrass classes.

With an increase of more than 100 entries from last year, event organizers including manager Lloyd Landkamer have worked overtime in an effort to ensure a truly special competition experience for exhibitors who have come to Lexington from across the country. “The first day has gone great,” said Landkamer. “We learned so much from last year’s show, and were able to make improvements based on feedback we received from competitors to make this event even better. I think everyone went home last year having had such a positive experience at the inaugural Finals, and this directly contributed to the impressive increase in our entry numbers. It makes for a tight schedule, but the whole organizing team has come together to make it happen.”

Kicking off today’s competition was Pam Heglund aboard her Westfalen mare Letizia, who were the very first pair to canter down centerline in the Alltech Arena. Their solid performance was ultimately good enough to earn second place in their Open/AA Prix St. Georges warm-up class. Traveling from Ada, Mich. for her first Finals, Heglund was overwhelmed with her experience so far. “I’m almost speechless. I’m just so honored to be here and to be able to share this with my family and friends,” said Heglund. “They’ve done such an incredible job with the setup and the organization of the show, the Alltech Arena is so beautiful yet inviting for the horses, and the footing is amazing. I was super excited to march in the ring first! We had a clean test which was as smooth as it could be. It was a great way to start, and I was so happy and proud of my horse.” Heglund and Letizia now look forward to returning to the Alltech Arena on Saturday afternoon for the Fourth Level Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship.

WilleThrilled to be back at the US Dressage Finals for the second year in a row is Amanda Wille of Richmond, Va. with her pinto Irish Warmblood gelding Mason. In 2013, this eye-catching pair competed at the inaugural Finals at First Level and they now return to take on the competition in the Second Level Adult Amateur Championship. “I was delighted to come back because the facility and the staff are great, and the best of the best in the nation are here. It’s such a huge accomplishment to make it, and so far it’s just as awesome as it was last year,” explained Wille. She and Mason won their warm-up class today, topping the field in the Second Level Test 3 Open/AA in the outdoor Murphy Ring. In addition to tomorrow’s Championship ride, they have also entered two Third Level open classes in the USDF Dressage in the Bluegrass portion of the competition in order to earn additional experience in a championship atmosphere. “The outdoor arenas are beautiful, the footing is phenomenal out there and they have a great championship feel. There’s nothing better than going across the diagonal in medium trot and seeing your name on the scoreboard. It’s all a great experience and you’re competing with the best, so why not take advantage as much ring time as possible.”

Wrapping up a busy first day, exhibitors enjoyed a Competitor Welcome Party and Trade Fair Kick-Off on the concourse of the Alltech Arena. Competition resumes Friday at 8:00am ET as the first of the Finals championship classes get underway. Follow the action through updates on the USDF Facebook page and the US Dressage Finals website, as well as watch live online streaming on the popular USEF Network (http://www.usefnetwork.com).

To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review entry lists, purchase tickets to special events, and sign up to receive news and updates, visit the official event website at http://www.usdressagefinals.com.

Source: Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals