Tag Archives: 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

Competitors Gather at Kentucky Horse Park for This Week’s US Dressage Finals

Sunny skies, rolling green fields, and the iconic four-board fences of the Kentucky Horse Park welcome the droves of horse vans arriving in Lexington, Ky. for this week’s US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, a unique national head-to-head competition showcasing riders and horses competing for top honors at all dressage levels from Training to Grand Prix as well as musical freestyles.

This year’s competitor roster includes over 400 entries for the US Dressage Finals and USDF Dressage in the Bluegrass open show, reflecting an increase of more than 100 entries from last year’s inaugural event. Over four exciting days of competition to be held November 6-9, 2014, riders representing all nine United States Dressage Federation (USDF) regions and from 38 states across the country (and the District of Columbia) will gather in the Horse Capital of the World, including from the West Coast states of Washington, Oregon, and California, as well as up and down the eastern seaboard from Maine to south Florida.

For this second annual Finals, championship offerings have been expanded to 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. From the awe-inspiring atmosphere of the Alltech Arena to the picturesque outdoor Stonelea and Claiborne arenas with state-of-the-art synthetic footing, dressage competition will be held across six rings, including four rings of non-stop Championship action.

In the pre-dawn hours of last Saturday, Barbi Breen-Gurley of Los Osos, Cal. loaded her Dutch Warmblood Vindicator onto a commercial van full of fellow California horses for their 55-hour non-stop journey across the country to the Bluegrass Region. Looking fresh and fit upon his arrival on Monday, the gelding seemed ready to take on 20 other competitors in the Open Grand Prix Championship class later this week. Having attended the inaugural edition of the Finals last November (where the pair finished sixth in the Intermediaire I division), Breen-Gurley was well aware of the long and expensive trip they faced in returning to Kentucky. But there was never a doubt that, given the opportunity, she would be back.

“I was so proud of him last year, and even though this is his first year at Grand Prix, I wanted to come back, do our best, and be able to say that we did this,” Breen-Gurley explained. “My amazing husband Geof supports me all the way, my kids are so proud, and I truly believe that you have to seize an opportunity like this when it presents itself. I knew what we were in for coming all this way, but I am still so grateful to be here. So often I see people give up on their dreams for many different reasons, but I refuse to, even if it means traveling across the country to pursue them.

“I also think it’s great to see even more people from the western states this year,” she concluded. “We had a wonderful time last year, and I’m happy to see others take advantage of this. It’s incredible to be competing with such great people from all over the country who are so committed to the sport. It makes for such a great energy here, and it’s particularly inspiring and exciting for me.”

The US Dressage Finals get started on Thursday, November 6 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 (to learn more, click here). 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: 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

USDF Reports Dramatic Increase in Nominations for 2014 US Dressage Finals

After years of debate and development, last fall’s inaugural US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® were a resounding success. Since then, enthusiasm has continued to spread across the country for this year’s Finals which will return to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, November 6-9, 2014, and recent nomination figures as reported by the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) have far exceeded expectations.

The nomination phase is the second step of the eligibility process for the Finals. Nominations are submitted by competitors who have attended a Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championship, received the necessary placing and/or score necessary for qualification, and have expressed an interest in coming to the Finals in Lexington. To date, five of nine USDF regions have held their Regional Championship competitions and the subsequent nomination periods have closed – and the results are astonishing. All five regions (4, 5, 6, 7, and 8) show impressive increases in nominations submitted by competitors, even though these areas represent some of the farthest distances required for travel to Kentucky. Of these, two regions (4 and 6) have well over 100% increase; and perhaps most dramatic of all, Region 7 has a 214% increase in nominations filed.

“To say that I’m delighted with this update would be an understatement,” said USDF President George Williams. “I realize that perhaps some people chose to stay home last year to see how things went with the Finals. Then they saw and heard what a spectacular event it was, and now they want to try it for themselves. The organizing committee is already making plans to welcome many more competitors than last year, including adding extra rings. We’re so appreciative of all the ongoing support from USDF members in helping make this event such a success!”

One of the new faces who will be attending this year’s Finals is Jessica Iorio of Foxboro, Mass., who recently rode Roulette to win both the First and Second Level Adult Amateur Championships at Region 8. A life-long eventer, Iorio purchased her Holsteiner/Hanoverian-cross three years ago as an event horse, but an unfortunate injury forced a sudden alteration in the mare’s career. “It was a big change for both of us,” said Iorio. “We just started our new dressage career together last year, and this is definitely Roulette’s calling! I will always be an eventer at heart, but she has made dressage so much more fun for me than I would have thought. She’s been fabulous to bring along and now we’re so excited to come to Kentucky.”

No stranger to top competition, Iorio has evented to the FEI 3* level and has attended the American Eventing Championships in the past, but until recently the US Dressage Finals weren’t really on her radar. After a friend encouraged her to declare and then successfully competing at Region 8, Iorio suddenly found herself qualified to attend a national championship in a brand new discipline. “This is a whole new world for us,” laughed Iorio, who is also the full-time mother of three boys. “It will be a 15-hour drive and the distance was certainly a consideration, but my family is so supportive of my attending and who knows when I might get a chance to do something like this again. I’ve ridden to the top of eventing sport and now my goal is to get to the top of dressage sport. So we’re doing this! I’m excited to be able to see and experience it, and I know once we get there it will be great.”

Cyndi Jackson of Glendale, Ariz. has an even more impressive trek ahead of her to get to Lexington, but even the 35-hour haul can’t dampen her enthusiasm to attend her first Finals. During the Great American/USDF Region 5 Championships, Jackson rode Ann Damiano’s Hanoverian gelding Don Angelo to win the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I Open titles. After missing a chance to attend last year’s Finals due to welcoming a new child to her family, Jackson was not going to pass up another opportunity to ride in Kentucky. “I heard how, even though no one was entirely sure what to expect last year, the event had ended up going so well and that everyone loved it,” said Jackson. “So Don Angelo’s owner and I decided that we definitely wanted to represent the West Coast this year if given the opportunity.”

Jackson has competed at the High Performance level as well as the USEF Festival of Champions in Gladstone, N.J., but believes that the US Dressage Finals present a special opportunity for all riders to come together and compete on a national championship stage. “I always thought that after Regionals it would be nice to see all the champions come together to compete in an event like this at the national level, especially for adult amateurs,” Jackson explained, who will be traveling to Lexington with her mother Kay Lorenzen, who will also compete there after winning top honors in the Region 5 Fourth Level Adult Amateur division. “So my whole family will be coming. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I said to everyone, ‘let’s do it!'”

Competitors in several areas of the country have four final opportunities to qualify and/or nominate for the Finals: the Great American/USDF Region 1 Championship was held October 2-5 and nominations for competitors from that region will close at midnight Eastern Time on Thursday, October 9, 2014. Championships in Regions 2 and 9 will be held this weekend (October 9-12), with Region 3 closing out the qualifying calendar on October 16-19 in Florida. The closing date for final entries will be October 23, 2014.

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

Celebrations Conclude on Final Day of Inaugural US Dressage Finals

California’s Akiko Yamazaki celebrated her success aboard “Matrix” in the Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur Championship on the final day of the US Dressage Finals. Photo: SusanJStickle.com.

Emotions ran high as the final six champions were crowned Sunday at the inaugural US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan in Lexington, KY. Riders who traveled to the Kentucky Horse Park from coast to coast celebrated their championship experience with memorable rides and victory laps while cheered on by friends and family.

Adult Amateurs at the Prix St. Georges level were the stars of the day in the Alltech Arena, and one of the riders who traveled the farthest to compete was rewarded with a national title. Akiko Yamazaki of Woodside, CA (Region 7) is widely known as the owner of U.S. Dressage Team horses “Ravel” and “Legolas” for Steffen Peters, but this weekend was her turn to be in the saddle. Yamazaki became the first recipient of the Janine Westmoreland Malone Perpetual Trophy for winning the Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur Championship with a score of 67.895% earned aboard her Danish Warmblood gelding “Matrix”, a horse she successfully returned to competition after being out of action for two years due to injury. “Here is a horse I thought at one point I might have to retire,” she said. “But he rose to the occasion, and I was really happy with how my ride went today.” Attending the Finals with her entire family, Yamazaki was pleased with her experience. “I think this show exceeded all of my expectations, right from the get-go,” she noted. “All the information was provided in such a timely and organized manner, so I already felt well taken care of before I even arrived. And then once I was here, everything ran so smoothly and was just great. Congratulations to the show organizers – I think this has exceeded everyone’s expectations and I’ll be returning home and spreading the word in California that we have to come back en masse.”

Journeying to the Finals from the opposite corner of the country, Krista Nordgren of South Portland, ME (Region 8) earned the Reserve Championship with “Schando”, her 17-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (by Schwadroneur) on a score of 66.228% “I was so proud of my horse – I had tears in my eyes from happiness when cantering down centerline for my final salute,” said Nordgren, who also had loved ones in attendance to cheer her on, including her five-year-old son. “There’s a certain magic to this place,” she explained with emotion in her voice. “The thrill of competing on this stage was a strong pull for me to come all this way, and it exceeded my wildest dreams. I loved the fact that here, the amateur competitor has been embraced; we’ve never had this sort of stage for us other than our Regional Championships. We’ve all been treated like true champions just for making it here to the Finals, and because of that there’s a sense of pride and tremendous camaraderie.”

Building upon the success she found in yesterday’s Fourth Level Open Championship, Heather McCarthy (Prairie Grove, IL, Region 2) claimed another victory in today’s Prix St. Georges Open Championship, once again aboard Dr. Marilyn Johnson and John McGuire’s elegant Oldenburg mare “Saphira” (Florencio x Roxina by Chairman). McCarthy was thrilled with her mount’s performance, which earned a top score of 69.868%. “I had a wonderful ride. I was concerned that I might not have enough horse left today because I thought she gave me everything yesterday, but she went right out there and did her job,” said McCarthy. “I’m on cloud nine. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more than I’ve achieved here this weekend. It’s been a wonderful experience.” Finishing second by only two-tenths of a point with an overall score of 69.605% was Heather Mason of Tewksbury, NJ (qualified in Region 8) and her Dutch Warmblood gelding “Zar” (Iroko x Inga by Actueel, bred in the U.S. by Carol Collyer). Mason and “Zar” conclude their championship week with top-two finishes in each of the three small tour championship classes they contested during the Finals (Reserve Intermediate I Open Champion, Intermediate I Freestyle Champion, and Reserve Prix St. Georges Open Champion). “I was thrilled with him,” Mason said of her partner. “He’s been very brave, just super for me all week, and it’s been a great show all around.”

In the largest division of these inaugural finals, 27 adult amateur riders fought for bragging rights at Training Level under bright morning sun in the Murphy Ring. Ultimately emerging victorious (and claiming her second championship title of the weekend) was Lucy Tidd of Germantown, MD (Region 1) and her four-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding “Ellert HB” with a score of 73.200%. “I was afraid my horse might be a little tired, but he was great, super focused, and he seemed to really enjoy himself,” said Tidd, who was thrilled with her unexpected success at the Finals. “It’s surreal,” she said. “I was just hoping to place – never in a million years did I anticipate doing so well.” Finishing in Reserve (71.333%) was another talented four-year-old, the U.S.-bred RPSI mare “DeLovely” (Don Principe x Sky Spirit by Johns Line, bred and owned by Janet Stone), ridden by Lisa Seegar Brown of Travelers Rest, SC (Region 3).

Returning to the Alltech Arena after narrowly missing the Second Level Freestyle title yesterday, Fie Andersen of Hamilton, MA (Region 8) would not be denied top honors today in the Second Level Open Championship. Once again aboard her Oldenburg stallion “Rocazino” (Rosentanz x Escarda by Silvio I), Andersen earned the win with a score of 74.921%. “I’m a little emotional right now,” she said. “My horse is amazing! He was tired but gave me everything he had. It’s been such an amazing experience to come here and compete head-to-head with riders from around the country, and I think it’s great preparation for bigger and better things for us.” Saturday’s First Level Open Champions Debbie Hill of Gurley, AL (Region 3) with “Boccaccio IOF” (Hanoverian gelding [Bugatti Hilltop x Roxette by Rubinstein I], bred in the U.S. by Hilltop Farm, Inc. and owned by Marchella Richardson) easily moved up a level today to earn a score of 73.968% and earn the Reserve Championship trophy in the Second Level Open division.

Wrapping up the day in both the indoor Alltech Arena and outdoor rings were the Intermediate II Championship classes for adult amateur and open riders. Wellington, FL’s Kristy Truebenbach Lund (Region 3) topped the field in the adult amateur division with 61.447% aboard her flashy chestnut “Reel Adventure” (Hanoverian gelding [Rotspon x Lanthess by Lanthan], owned by Blue Marlin Farms, Inc.). Ironically, the pair earned their win by returning to the same Stonelea Arena where seven years ago her then five-year-old jumped out of the ring during the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships. “I’m a true believer in bringing them up through the levels yourself,” said Truebenbach Lund. “I think it gives you such a true partnership, and I’m very proud that I’ve trained him and we’ve come this far together.” Less than a point behind was Region 1’s Alexa Briscoe of Poolesville, MD riding her own Bavarian gelding “Wildfeuer” (Welt As x Investa by Inschallah X, bred in the U.S. by Monika Levay) with 61.228% for the Reserve Championship.

Another Region 3 competitor, Laura Graves of Geneva, FL, rode her own Dutch Warmblood gelding “Verdades” to her first national title in the Intermediate II Open Championship on a strong score of 71.140% from FEI judges Gary Rockwell, Sandra Hotz, and Charlotte Bredahl over second-place finisher Heather Mason with her 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding “Warsteiner” (Riverman-ISF x Welona by Roemer) who scored 69.035%. “We had a good go today, thanks to a little bit of luck and a whole lot of practice. I’m so proud of my horse,” said Graves. “We knew we’d have tough competition here, and that’s why we came. We were really looking forward to it, and are so glad to finally have a national championship like this to look forward to.” When asked if she would return next year, Graves replied without hesitation. “Oh yeah,” she said emphatically. “If we get invited, we’ll be here.”

Final results, photo galleries, and news archives from the inaugural 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 (www.usefnetwork.com).

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer M. Keeler, Yellow Horse Marketing, jennifer@yellowhorsemarketing.com

A Full Day of Championship Freestyles at Inaugural US Dressage Finals

Competitors like Emily O’Neill of Conestoga, PA aboard “Sir Lancelot” danced to freestyle championship victories during today’s US Dressage Finals. Photo: SusanJStickle.com.

November 9, 2013 – Horses and riders danced the day away in the Alltech Arena in six freestyle championship divisions during the inaugural US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. Despite facing some of the best horses and riders in their divisions from across the country, competitors rose to the challenge in their quest for national titles while also gaining the experience of a lifetime.

In the Third Level Freestyle Championship, Region 1 rider Emily O’Neill of Conestoga, PA danced to the win with Elaine Warner’s Friesian gelding “Sir Lancelot” (Sierk x Marge by Oege) on a score of 71.778%. “My ride was thrilling, that arena is amazing, and my horse was right on – he’s a showman,” said O’Neill, who admitted being initially anxious about the Finals atmosphere. “I was a little intimidated at first by all the amazing horses and riders here, but this was a really special experience and an honor to be at the Finals.” A score of 70.878% gave Jennifer Roth of Magnetic Springs, OH (qualified in Region 4) the Reserve Championship on her own Hanoverian gelding “Reebok” (Royal Prince x Andromache by Arrian, bred in the U.S. by Jack and Diane Vickery) for their “Game of Thrones”-themed freestyle. “I felt like my horse would walk through fire for me today,” said Roth. “He could not have been more perfect.”

At Fourth Level, Linda Strine of nearby Versailles, KY (who qualified in Region 4) rode the striking black Friesian gelding “Beerend W” (Goffert 369 x Jacqueline by Wicher 334) to a top score of 68.333% to claim the Championship trophy for owner Vickie Short. A close second with 67.889% was Wellington, FL’s Kristy Truebenbach Lund (Region 3) with Blue Marlin Farm’s Spanish Warmblood “Akvavit” (by Silvester). Another Region 3 rider, Kathryn Stoy, also impressed the judges with her harmonious ride on Virginia Moon’s Andalusian cross gelding “Maggio” (Lepanto I x Orisha by Peter Pan, bred in the U.S. by Shannon Sluser/CF Andalusians) to earn the winning score of 73.833% in the First Level Freestyle Championship, followed by Claudia Novick (Gastonia, NC, Region 1) in Reserve with 72.333% aboard her Friesian “Marco von Laar” (Onne 376 x Wydana von Laar by Sjaard 320). At Second Level , Hanoverian gelding “Fhreelancer” (Florencio x Lafayette by Londonderry) carried owner/rider Joanne Coleman of Birdsboro, PA (Region 1) to her division’s national freestyle title with a score of 73.678%. Finishing less than a point behind (72.833%) to earn the Reserve Championship was Fie Andersen (Hamilton, MA), who traveled from Region 8 with her Oldenburg stallion “Rocazino” (Rosentanz x Escarda by Silvio I) for a chance to compete at the Finals. “Despite the 17-hour haul, I thought that I needed to be here and try this to see where I stand,” said Andersen. “I am floored by how well this show has been put together. I’m just amazed.”

Anna Marek of Williston, FL (Region 3) impressed the judges and spectators alike in the Alltech Arena as she dominated the Grand Prix Freestyle Championship on a score of 75.135%. The win with her own black Dutch Warmblood gelding “Unico G” (Negro x Kleora by Animo), which she’s brought up from Training Level, was made even more meaningful after an unfortunate elimination in the previous evening’s Grand Prix. “Yesterday was heartbreaking but the rules are there for a reason,” said Marek. “I love my horse and today I was just out to get the win back for him. The Freestyle is one of my favorite tests to ride, it’s so much fun. And I think my horse enjoys it as much as I do.” Accepting congratulations for the Reserve Grand Prix Freestyle Championship with a score of 70.667% was New Jersey’s Heather Mason (qualified in Region 8) with “Warsteiner”, her 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Riverman-ISF x Welona by Roemer).

Championship action continued in the outdoor arenas where adult amateur competitor Amy Swerdlin of Wellington, FL (Region 3) and her Oldenburg mare “Scholastica” (Sir Donnerhall x Loni by Sir Sinclair) claimed their first national title for Third Level. Despite the cool fall weather, the south Florida residents relished the atmosphere, and were unanimously placed first by judges Jane Weatherwax, Jayne Ayers, and Lois Yukins while earning an overall score of 70.342%. “It was a big weather change for us because it’s still 90 degrees at home, but she acclimated and got comfortable,” said Swerdlin. “She was really with me today and I couldn’t be happier.” Kentucky rider Rachael Hicks (Region 2) earned her second Reserve Championship of the weekend, this time in the Third Level Adult Amateur division with “Fabio Bellini” (Westphalian gelding [Fuerst Heinrich x Dakota by Davignon I], owned by Hicks). Even though she was first to go in the Murphy Ring at 8am, Hicks’ score of 68.077% held strong for second place.

When Lucy Tidd of Germantown, MD (Region 1) woke up this morning, she had no idea that she would be competing her horse “Ellert HB” today, let alone that she would be accepting the crystal trophy for winning the First Level Adult Amateur Championship. “We just arrived last night to prepare for Sunday’s Training Level class,” explained Tidd. “But I checked in at the office this morning and due to a scratch, they offered me a spot in today’s First Level class (where I was on the qualified reserve list). I was hoping I might get lucky and get in at the last minute, and I did! It was fortunate that it all came together.” Tidd was thrilled that her young horse rose to the occasion, earning a winning score of 72.634%. “As a four-year-old, my horse hasn’t shown a lot, but he took it all in stride.” Following up on her success in yesterday’s Second Level division, adult amateur rider Erin Laurent of Morristown, NJ (qualified in Region 8) added yet another Reserve Championship to her resume by earning 72.419% at First Level with her U.S.-bred Oldenburg gelding “Whasabi” (Wonderful x Glimmer by Grundstein, bred by Maurine Swanson).

Debbie Hill of Gurley, AL (Region 3) earned her second national title in as many days by topping the field in the First Level Open Championship on a score of 75.484% in the Murphy Ring. For today’s win, Hill rode Marchella Richardson’s six-year-old U.S.-bred Hanoverian gelding “Boccaccio IOF” (Bugatti Hilltop x Roxette by Rubinstein I, bred by Hilltop Farm, Inc.). “The footing was great; the arena was super; he was relaxed and he did everything just as I had hoped,” said Hill. “I’m proud to have been invited to be here, and it’s been such great experience to compete outside our region with competitors from all across the country.” Region 2’s Carrie Wilson (Carson City, MI) and Jane Hutchins’ Friesian gelding “Scepter Fan Leandra” (Goffert 369 x Trinity by Daen 286, bred in the U.S. by Dave and Kelly Baugh) earned 73.011%, good enough to earn Reserve Champion honors for owner Jane Hutchins.

In the Fourth Level Open Championship, Heather McCarthy (Prairie Grove, IL, Region 2) claimed a decisive and unanimous victory with 74.292% earned from judges Gary Rockwell, Janet Foy and Sandra Hotz aboard the Oldenburg mare “Saphira” (Florencio x Roxina by Chairman, owned by Dr. Marilyn Johnson and John McGuire). Rider Karen Lipp will take the Reserve Championship trophy home to Region 3 with the help of her own Dutch Warmblood mare “Baximiliana” (Johnson x Vaximiliana M. by Ferro) as they partnered for a solid second-place score of 70.333%. Both riders were thrilled to be in Kentucky for the inaugural Finals. “It has been such a great experience,” said McCarthy. “I wanted to be a part of the first-ever Finals, and it’s been wonderful – I love everything about it.” Lipp, who came from Ball Ground, GA with several students, enthusiastically agreed. “I’ve been teaching and training for a long time, and I’m so happy that finally there is this terrific opportunity for adult amateurs,” said Lipp. “It’s about time!”

Exhibitors shared in a final evening of celebration in the Alltech Arena while a sold-out VIP crowd enjoyed ringside dining. Presentations were made by dignitaries including Kentucky’s First Lady Jane Beshear, the Kentucky Horse Park’s Executive Director John Nicholson, and Alston Kerr, Chair of the Kentucky Horse Park Commission, followed by an amazing liberty performance given by Kim Barteau and the magnificent Friesian stallion “GP Boater” which entertained the enthusiastic crowd. Concluding the evening were the Intermediate I freestyles where Heather Mason once again found the winner’s circle when she rode her own eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding “Zar” (Iroko x Inga by Actueel, bred in the U.S. by Carol Collyer) to the Championship title on a score of 72.125%. Reserve Champion with 70.167% was yesterday’s Intermediate I Open victor Emily Wagner of La Cygne, KS (qualified in Region 2) and “WakeUp” (American Warmblood stallion [Wagnis x Maiden Montreal by Macho], bred in the U.S. by Beverly McLean Tetrick/Red Mare Farm).

The US Dressage Finals will conclude on Sunday as the last six champions for 2013 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 (www.usefnetwork.com). 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.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer M. Keeler, Yellow Horse Marketing, jennifer@yellowhorsemarketing.com

Thirty‐Year Wait Is Over as First National Titles Are Awarded at Inaugural US Dressage Finals

Photo by Jennifer Munson Photography.

NOVEMBER 8, 2013 – For the first time in almost 30 years, national titles for adult amateur and open dressage riders from Training Level to Grand Prix were presented today at the inaugural US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. A full day of intense competition extended into a festive evening as special celebrations were held to mark this historic event.

During the first set of awards ceremonies at midday, Emily Wagner (La Cygne, KS, qualified in Region 2) thoroughly enjoyed her victory lap around the Alltech Arena after topping 20 other competitors in the Intermediate I Open Championship. Wagner was aboard her longtime partner and U.S.‐bred American Warmblood stallion “WakeUp” (Wagnis x Maiden Montreal by Macho, bred by Beverly McLean Tetrick/Red Mare Farm) to earn a winning score of 72.412%. “It was a thrill to ride in that ring today,” Wagner said. “This venue is just amazing for this event.” Just a month ago Wagner and “WakeUp” were at the Kentucky Horse Park for the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by the Dutta Corp., where they placed third overall in the Intermediaire I division. Even as she debated making another 10‐hour trip to Lexington, Wagner knew she had to come. “I wanted to support it, and I think everyone should want to be here,” she explained. “The Regional Championships have always been our biggest event of the year, but now with the Finals I think it’s fun to be able to showcase all the hard work that everyone’s done throughout the year and then bring it together for a national event; I think that’s important for the sport.”

Perhaps no one had more success than Heather Mason on this first day of championship action at the Finals. In the morning, Mason rode her own eight‐year‐old Dutch Warmblood gelding “Zar” (Iroko x Inga by Actueel, bred in the U.S. by Carol Collyer) to the Intermediate I Open Reserve Championship with 70.219%. Under the brilliant afternoon sun in the Stonelea Arena, Mason not only topped a deep field to win the Third Level Open Championship aboard Lori Racioppo’s Hanoverian gelding “Romantico SF” (Romancero H x Wesermelodie by Wenzel I, bred in Germany) on a score of 72.821%, but also earned Reserve Championship honors in the same class by earning 70.299% with “Lincoln” (eight‐year‐old Oldenburg gelding owned by Meredith Whaley). Mason, of Tewksbury, NJ (qualified Region 8) has been looking forward to attending the Finals for a long time, and today’s wins added to her excitement. “I rode in the then‐American Horse Shows Association (AHSA) ‘national championships’ in 1984 in Kansas City and I’ve been waiting for them to come back ever since,” Mason said. “I think the organizers here have done an excellent job making this feel like a national championship ‐ it feels like a really big deal to be here. Of course I’m thrilled to win but most of all I’m just really happy with how my horses have gone today.”

Debbie Hill brought six horses to the Finals from Gurley, AL (Region 3), and her weekend got off to a winning start as she earned an impressive score of 76.339% to take the Training Level Open Championship with “Floretienne” (Oldenburg gelding, Florestan x Tamarinde by Jazz) owned by Leslie Waterman. Region 2’s Jennifer Conour of Carmel, IN rode Phoebe Crane’s Dutch Warmblood mare “Daisy Van Wittenstein P” (Johnson x Ziggy Van Wittenstein A by Florencio) to reserve honors with 74.800%. Meanwhile in the Murphy Ring, adult amateurs competed for top honors at Second Level, with Rachael Hicks of Prospect, KY (Region 2) and her own Rhinelander stallion “Don Cartier” (Don Schufro x Carmina by Cartier) receiving the unanimous win under all three judges with a score of 72.976%. Earning 67.103% for the Reserve Championship was Region 8’s Erin Laurent of Morristown, NJ riding “Whasabi” (Oldenburg, Wonderful x Glimmer by Grundstein, bred in the U.S. by Maurine Swanson).

In the afternoon, competition in the Alltech Arena was streamed live around the world via the online USEF Network, beginning with the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship class. Emerging victorious was Heather Mendiburu (Wantage, NJ) who returned to the saddle after six months off (due to being pregnant with her fifth child) just in time to qualify for the Finals from Region 8. Surrounded by her family, Mendiburu was thrilled with her mount “What Happen” (Hanoverian mare [Waldstar x Gina de Ro by Gloster] owned by Mendiburu and High Point Solutions) and how she earned the win with a decisive score of 69.518%. “I came to Kentucky to see the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010, and it’s surreal to be here now showing in the same place. It’s a great honor to be here.” Sheryl Ross’s long trip home to Menlo Park, CA (Region 7) will be a happy one as she takes home the Reserve Championship on a score of 66.930% earned with her own Danish Warmblood gelding “Lancaster” (Lobster x Aleksis by Aleksander). “It’s been a long journey, literally and figuratively, to be here,” said Ross. “But it’s been a wonderful experience. I would make the trip again in a heartbeat.” Adult Amateurs also competed at Fourth Level, with less than a point separating the top two spots. Stephanie McNutt of Mechanicsville, MD (Region 1) claimed the Championship sash aboard her Oldenburg mare “Con Dia” (Contucci x Cor Dia by Cor Noir, bred in the U.S. by Hilltop Farm, Inc.) with 67.833%, while a close second (67.083%) was Patricia Fannin of Eads, TN (qualified in Region 4) with her Hanoverian partner “Roxy Royale” (Rotspon x Whisper by Werther). International rider, trainer, coach and “S” judge Kathy Connelly was the official commentator for USEF Network coverage, and she was impressed by what she saw from the Adult Amateur classes. “This is a huge accomplishment just to be here,” she noted. “We have seen some spectacular performances today, and I am very impressed with the quality of the riding.”

A huge crowd gathered at the Alltech Arena for a “Taste of the Bluegrass” dinner and evening festivities, including opening ceremonies and a special presentation by USDF President George Williams to unveil and dedicate the new Janine Westmoreland Malone Perpetual Trophy, to be presented by USDF at the US Dressage Finals for the Adult Amateur Prix St. Georges Champion. Spectators then enjoyed Grand Prix championship competition as both adult amateurs and open riders competed for the nation’s top honors in each division. Region 3 riders ruled the day in the Adult Amateur Grand Prix class as south Florida riders finished atop the leaderboard. Jennifer Huber (Wellington, FL) on her Dutch Warmblood gelding “Vito” (Jazz x Matouf by Wellington) drew first to go in the class but her score of 65.355% held up against seven other competitors, including Palm Beach’s Janne Rumbough with her gray PRE gelding “Junior” (Gaucho III x La Nina by Brioso VI) who earned 62.163% for the Reserve Championship. In the Grand Prix Open Championship, crowd favorites James Koford and “Rhett” (Dutch Warmblood gelding [R. Johnson x Madette by Hendo], owned and bred in the U.S. by Shirley McQuillan) claimed top honors with a score of 67.128%, while the Dutch Warmblood gelding “Oublette” (Amulet x Jinnardi by Expo) carried Anna Whit Watkins of Moody, TX (Region 9) to the Reserve Championship with 66.312%.

Competition resumes Saturday at 8:00am ET as ten 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 Saturday evening freestyle competition on the popular USEF Network (www.usefnetwork.com). 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.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jennifer M. Keeler, Yellow Horse Marketing, jennifer@yellowhorsemarketing.com

US Dressage Finals – Entry and Invitation Qualifications Announced

The 2013 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan will be held on November 7-10, 2013 at the Kentucky Horse Park. It will be the first head-to-head competition in Dressage showcasing Adult Amateur and Open riders at Training through GP levels, who are US citizens. The event will include an Open Division at Training through Grand Prix levels and all Freestyles, as well as an Adult Amateur Division with Training through Grand Prix. Horse/rider combinations who qualify through the nine GAIG/USDF Regional Championships will have the opportunity to compete on the national stage.

Champions and Reserve Champions who have achieved a minimum score and filed a “Declaration of Intent” will be eligible to compete. “Wild Card” invitations are also available to high-scoring competitors in the Regional Championships who are not otherwise eligible. To learn more about the official criteria and review the full Entry and Invitation Qualifications document, click here.

For evolving event and competitor information, usdressagefinals.com will be your resource.

© United States Dressage Federation
4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511
Phone: (859) 971-2277 Fax: (859) 971-7722
Email: usdressage@usdf.org