Tag Archives: 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.

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