Category Archives: USEF

Kat Fuqua and Skylar Wireman Crowned First Two 2018 USEF Pony Finals Champions

Photo: Kat Fuqua and Brighton.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 8, 2018 – Bowties and braids returned to the Walnut Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park for the second day of the 2018 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, on Wednesday, with the day one leaders aiming to retain their top positions in the Large Regular and Small Green Pony Hunter divisions. In the end, Kat Fuqua and Brighton led from start to finish and were successful at fending off the large field of competition to emerge victorious in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, while Skylar Wireman, with the reins on Neon Moon, leapfrogged 20 places to the top of the leaderboard in the Small Green Pony Hunter division.

As the last to ride of more than 140 entries in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, 11-year-old Fuqua and her own Brighton overcame the pressure to lay down the highest scoring single trip of the day, easily sweeping all three phases of the division and claiming the championship tricolors. Displaying their prowess by maintaining an even rhythm around the lofty track, the winning duo raked in scores of 85.5, 87.5 and 88 from the judges’ panel to brandish top marks of 261 in the over fences class. Combined with Tuesday’s score, Fuqua and Brighton’s final tally was 1063.65, more than 30 points ahead of the reserve champion and a strong score to keep them in contention for the Grand Regular Pony Hunter title to be crowned Saturday following the conclusion of all the divisions.

The 2018 event is Fuqua’s fifth Pony Finals appearance, but her first championship win, fittingly on her mother’s birthday. Both of Fuqua’s parents are grand prix dressage riders, but their daughter has shown an aptitude for jumping and shows no signs of slowing down, recently earning a top placing at the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships – East. The young rider from Atlanta, Georgia will return later in the week to contest more pony divisions against her peers.

One of only five pony-and-rider combinations to break the 1,000-point benchmark, Chandler Wilks navigated Ashley Vail Aycox’s Valentino to the reserve championship with a cumulative score of 1029.86, followed by Propp and Aquitaine Equine’s News Day, who jumped from ninth at the beginning of the day to nab the final podium spot with marks of 1027.76. Clair Campbell and Eastside, owned by Maher Family, LLC, claimed fourth place, while Emma Rupinski and Lily Rupinski’s Stonewall Top Call pulled off one of the largest improvements of the day to finish in fifth position after jumping from the 30th spot.

Capping off the afternoon, the Small Green Pony Hunters took the spotlight and, with a smaller field of 40 contenders, movement among the top of the ranks was not out of the question. Riding 19th in the order of go as the 21st-ranked pair after day one, 13-year-old Wireman and Balmoral’s Neon Moon were not pegged as one of the frontrunners, but quickly attracted attention with their talented trip that earned them scores of 86, 87 and 90 from the watchful eyes of the judges. Forced to wait with nearly half of the class still to ride, Wireman looked on as her fellow riders took their shot at usurping her place atop the scorecard, but none were able to overtake her over fences marks of 263 or her cumulative 998.50 division points.

Alexa Lignelli and Agatha Lignelli’s Just Right rode to the second place ribbon both over fences and overall with 254 and 994.60 points, respectively, while Alexandra Miller aboard Pineapple, owned by Emily Elek-Burtard, likewise clinched third position over fences and in the final division rankings. Owner-rider Vanessa Mazzoli and Partly Cloudy earned the fourth spot, and Propp and Aquitaine Equine’s With Love, the day one leaders, rounded out the top five finishers.

Earlier in the day, Carolyn Colter and Jessica Zandri’s So Enchanted maneuvered their way to the early lead in the Small Regular Pony Hunters thanks to ribbon-worthy performances in both the model and under saddle phases.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Kat Fuqua and Clara Propp Ride to Early Lead at 2018 USEF Pony Finals

Photo: Kat Fuqua and Brighton.

Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 7, 2018 – Tuesday morning marked the highly-anticipated commencement of the 2018 USEF Pony Finals, presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, at the Kentucky Horse Park, with nearly 200 ponies and their junior riders taking center stage in the first two divisions of the week. The most celebrated event of its kind for pony riders in the United States, the USEF Pony Finals is a three-phase competition judging the pony’s conformation, way of moving and jumping ability. After the first two rounds of competition for the Large Regular Pony Hunters, Kat Fuqua and Brighton emerged as the early leaders by impressively earning blue ribbons in both the model and hack ahead of 146 fellow contenders. Besting the field in the Small Green Pony Hunters, Clara Propp and With Love will ride last over fences as the initial frontrunners in their division.

Though Fuqua and her own Brighton have only been paired together for one short month, their short relationship did not detract from their performance in the Walnut Ring as the pair consistently impressed the judges’ panel in the Large Regular Pony Hunters. Under the tutelage of trainer Michael Newman of Aubrey Hill Equestrian in Pace, Florida, the 11-year-old rider and chestnut pony collected scores of 260.23 in the model and 281.42 in the hack to solidify their place atop the leaderboard headed into the final portion of competition. No stranger to the winner’s circle, Brighton carried Claire Campbell to a similar lead in the division after day one of the 2017 USEF Pony Finals with a cumulative score of 512.62, and this year the pony improved on his performance to stand an even better chance of sweeping the division with total marks of 541.65 headed into day two.

Chasing Fuqua and Brighton’s commanding early lead, Chandler Wilks and Ashley Vail Aycox’s Valentino currently sit in the reserve spot with 534.56 points, while Caroline Passarelli piloted another Fuqua-owned mount, Chic in Time, to third position overall. Sitting in fourth is Brynn Kuhnell and D’Artagnan, owned by Simply Ponies, LLC, trailed by Ava Aguilar and Sienna Gustafson’s Imagine That rounding out the top five slots.

In the Small Green Pony Hunters, Clara Propp began her day on a high note, winning the model with Aquitaine Equine’s With Love to the tune of 265.98 points from the judges. In the flat portion of the division, fellow bow-clad rider Omi Enkin and her own Happiness nabbed the first prize with a score of 258.00, but Propp and With Love’s third place marks of 254.50 were enough to propel the 11-year-old from Canada and her grey pony to the top of the overall scorecard. Boasting a composite score of 520.48, Propp and With Love currently sit 10 points ahead of the next-closest competitors, Enkin and Happiness with 510.20 points, headed into the over fences final phase.

Currently sitting in third place, Helen Ryan and Town Line Equestrian, LLC’s Charming will attempt to usurp the leaders, with owner-rider Jordan Gibbs and Show Off hot on their tails less than one point behind. Vanessa Mazzoli and her own Partly Cloudy clinched fifth place to close out the top contenders after day one.

Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386
rjw@phelpsmediagroup.com

Parra Again Qualifies String of Rising Superstars for USEF Developing & Young Horse Championships

Cesar Parra and Don Cesar, his Developing Prix St Georges contender. (Photo courtesy of digishots.nl)

Whitehouse Station, NJ (June 11, 2018) – Consistency is everything in dressage and since 2012, internationally celebrated rider and trainer Dr. Cesar Parra has been qualifying some of the brightest rising stars in the sport for the USEF Developing and Young Horse National Championships. This season will be no exception.

Dr. Parra and his team are in the process of qualifying five exceptional horses to represent Piaffe Performance and GK Elite Sport in the national championships this August 21-26 during the US Dressage Festival of Champions at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL. “They’re quality horses. I’m in love with all of them,” he says, referring to the extraordinary depth and breadth of talent each horse represents: Throughout the 2018 show year, all five horses – Fashion Designer OLD, GK Don Cesar, GK Sir Beckmann, Supremont, and Furstin P — have ranked nationally at or near the top of their division.

Defending their 2017 title will be Parra and Fashion Designer OLD, currently third on the USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix rankings on a 70.032% average. “He won last year and is destined to be an amazing Grand Prix horse,” he says. “I love bringing young horses like him through the stages and giving them the best chance to bring the best out of them. He’s really a character. In his stall he’s a puppy dog but under saddle, his strength and dominance show through.”

Coming into the USEF Developing Horse Prix St Georges National Championship with a 70.993% are Parra and GK Don Cesar, whom he describes as a “nice, happy horse, who is always willing to please.” Parra has shaped that same willing attitude into the current leader (8.20) on the USEF Young Horse Dressage Six-Year-Old Division leaderboard, GK Sir Beckmann: “Like all the horses qualified this year, he came to us as a three-year-old and is such an effortless performer, with an undeniable talent.”

As confident as her trainer in her own caliber is Parra’s one mare among the qualifiers, Fürstin P, who is in the top three with a 8.140 in the USEF Young Horse Dressage Five-year-old division, ridden by Roberto Brasil and owned by Dr. Heather Hornor. He adds with a laugh, “She’s a prima donna. She knows she’s good and that she’s pretty, and she’s right!” But she’s also not alone. Parra has a second rising star joining her in that division, Supremont, ridden by Merita Hagren and owned in partnership with Dr. Heather Hornor, coming in with a 7.530.

“I’m very proud of all the horses, and excited and grateful to everyone who has been so supportive and nice to us throughout the season. We have consistently qualified to go to the national championships for several years now,” says the Parra, estimating that over the last decade he has trained and ridden more than a dozen horses down USEF National Championship center lines.

Referring to his own deep well of experience competing internationally that he will bring to Lamplight Equestrian Center, the Olympian, Pan American Games Team Gold medalist, Nations Cup Silver medalist, and two-time FEI World Equestrian Games™ and FEI World Cup™ Finals veteran says, “As a rider, the more experience you have of course gives you greater possibilities. Going to the US Nationals with European experience helps (Dr. Parra and GK Don Cesar were the only horse-and-rider pair to represent the United States in the 2017 Longines FEI World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses last summer), as there will be a lot of great riders and horses at our National Championships, so you can’t take anything for granted.

“It would be very rewarding to do well at the national championships and go on to represent the United States in Europe with these horses in the future.”

Consistency, in both Dr. Parra and in the horses he trains, suggests he’ll be keeping his passport handy.

Follow Dr. Parra and all the rising dressage stars he has in training and learn more about his lessons and services at www.piaffe-performance.com and on Facebook @PiaffePerformance.

Contact: Dr. Cesar Parra
GK Elite Sport
(410) 977-8352
www.gk-horses.com

Marilyn Little Wins Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous (Photo by: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian)

Lexington, Ky. – Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous added another milestone accolade to their resume on Sunday. As the top American combination at the Land Rover® Kentucky Three-Day Event (LRK3DE), they earned the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship. A six-time competitor of the event, Little reached the LRK3DE podium for the first time with a score of 32.8. In a shocking twist, Great Britain’s Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class placed first with a score of 28.7 to strip Germany’s Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST’s chance of earning their fourth straight title.

“It is a really incredible feeling [to win the National Championship] and be next to Oliver Townend and Michael Jung. For ‘Kitty’ to have this performance this weekend, she just astounds me every day. I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to ride her, and it makes it even more special that [owners] Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders were here,” said a thankful Little. “The people who brought this horse to this level, the hours, the tears, the time – it’s unimaginable to the outside world [of eventing], but we all feel it intensely in the prize giving ceremony, and it’s a very emotional experience. The partnership with [RF Scandalous] is strong, and I’m grateful for everything I have had with her, and I’m looking forward to the future with her.”

As the heavy favorite, Jung took the early lead in the LRK3DE following the first day of dressage on Thursday with a stellar score of 27.1. However, in an interesting turn of events, Little (Frederick, Md.) and RF Scandalous, a 13-year-old Oldenburg mare, put in a personal best dressage performance of 24.8 to steal the lead from Jung.

“She was a little bit excited with the Friday afternoon atmosphere, which we are familiar with at Kentucky. I was excited to go on Friday afternoon and knew she could handle it well. She was very businesslike, and it was a great ride. She was looking to please and she did her job,” said Little, who has focused heavily on improving Kitty’s dressage scores over the past year.

Not only did Little compete in the LRK3DE, she pulled double-duty and jumped in Friday’s inaugural Kentucky Invitational $35,000 Welcome Speed Cup CSI3* before conquering Saturday’s cross-country course. Little rode Derek di Grazia’s track cautiously, which resulted in eight time penalties, finishing 11 seconds over the time. As a result, they dropped to sixth place with a score of 32.8.

“I was thrilled with her; she jumped all the combinations well and gained confidence with every jump. She held her line great and tried hard. She has a long, lopey stride and was looking to go,” said Little.

Sitting in fourth place, Lynn Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) and The Donner Syndicate LLC’s Donner were the top-placed American combination following cross-country heading into Sunday’s show jumping finale with a score of 31.3. Only four jumping faults separated the top five, and Little and RF Scandalous produced a clean round, which put the pressure on Symansky to jump clean. Unfortunately, they dropped one rail, which moved Little to third place following a clean round by Townend and Cooley Master Class and two rails by Australia’s Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18.

Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) and Z, owned by Thomas Tierney, Simon Roosevelt, Suzanne Lacy, Ann Jones, and Caroline Moran, were the second highest-placed American combination and placed sixth overall with a score of 33.7 to earn the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Reserve National Championship. The Rio Olympic individual bronze medalist and Z finished on their dressage score, an impressive feat for the nine-year-old Zangersheide gelding’s first CCI4*.

Edited Press Release from Classic Communications

Jung Back on Top after Cross-Country

Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian.

Symansky and Donner Ride to the Lead of Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship

Lexington, Ky. – The conditions could not have been more perfect for a day of brilliant cross-country action, and the riders and horses did not disappoint. Defending champion Michael Jung of Germany and fisherRocana FST showed the depth of their partnership to take over the top spot after adding only 0.4 penalties to his dressage score to lead with 27.5.

Breathing down his neck is Australia’s Chris Burton and Nobilis 18 (27.9) and Oliver Townend of Great Britain on Cooley Master Class (28.7). Townend also tied for fourth aboard MHS King Joules (31.3) with Lynn Symansky and Donner (31.3). Less than a rail separates all of them as they head into the show jumping finale.

Symansky (Middleburg, Va.) and Donner, the 15-year-old Thoroughbred owned by The Donner Syndicate, LLC, are the highest-placed American combination and currently lead the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship. Overnight leader Marilyn Little (Frederick, Md.) and RF Scandalous, Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders’s 13-year-old Oldenburg mare, added 8 time penalties to drop to sixth overall (32.8), and second in the national championship.

Donner is competing in his ninth CCI4* and their experience showed as he and Symansky cruised around easily. “I don’t have any complaints,” she said with a smile. “He takes a bit to get into the groove, especially with the crowd… He went around like clockwork. It’s a tribute to knowing the horse so well and having a great partnership with him. He tried his heart out, and I’m pleased with how he came home.”

Overall, 11 pairs came home double-clear around Derek di Grazia’s course. Thirty-six horses finished the course, six with jumping faults. Three were eliminated and four retired on course.

Course designer di Grazia, who will design courses for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, was pleased with how his course rode, even though more made the time than he was expecting. “I’m generally very happy about how the course rode,” he said. “I think the faults were spread out, quite a number clean without jumping faults and I think all the combinations rode well and, at the same time, [the riders] didn’t have to do them all the same way. People did things differently and it still worked out for them. And, we didn’t have any horse falls or rider injuries, and, to me, that’s all a positive.

“I think that the ground ended up being quite fast today,” di Grazia continued. “[In part because] the conditions couldn’t be better. A little rain would have been different, but you never know. We also had a very good field of riders today. It may not have been a huge field, but the ones we had were good.”

For more information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, visit kentuckythreedayevent.com.

Edited Press Release from Classic Communications

Little Comes Up Big in Dressage at Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous (Photo by: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian)

Lexington, Ky. – It was no surprise that after the first day of dressage, reigning champions of the Kentucky Three-Day Event, Michael Jung of Germany and fischerRocana FST, were sitting comfortably in first place. However, the second day of dressage did hold some surprises, as American combination Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous took control by turning in a personal best to grab the lead with a 24.8, more than 2 points ahead of Jung’s 27.1. Australia’s Christopher Burton and Nobilis 18 are keeping pace in third with a 27.9.

In addition to her top placement on the international leaderboard, Little (Frederick, Md.) is also currently leading the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship. Her stunning score is believed to be the lowest in the history of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event.

“She gave me a great ride today,” said Little. “She was a little bit excited with the Friday afternoon atmosphere, which we are familiar with at Kentucky. I was excited to go on Friday afternoon and knew she could handle it well. She was very businesslike, and it was a great ride. She was looking to please and she did her job.”

Little calls the 13-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Jacqueline Mars, and Phoebe and Michael Manders, “Kitty.” Kitty served as Little’s mount for the Pan American Games in 2015, where the pair brought home two gold medals.

“She’s been with me for a while, but she’s changed so much,” Little said. “I knew she was capable of putting in a great test today. She’s been steadily improving. We haven’t competed much because we’ve been focusing on training, but I thought if she had a personal best she could be on top today.”

Kim Severson (Charlottesville, Va.) and Cooley Cross Border, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by The Cross Syndicate, sits in second in the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship on a score of 28.3. Boyd Martin (Cochranville, Pa.) and Tsetserleg, the 11-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Christine Turner, and Lauren Kieffer (The Plains, Va.) and Vermiculus, Jacqueline Mars’s 11-year-old Anglo-Arabian gelding, are tied for third on a score of 31.2.

For more information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, visit kentuckythreedayevent.com.

Edited Press Release from Classic Communications

Jung Rides to Early Lead at Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg (Photo by: Taylor Pence/US Equestrian)

Martin and Tsetserleg lead Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship after First Day of Dressage

Lexington, Ky. – Michael Jung of Germany has won the top prize at the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day-Event the last three years aboard fischerRocana FST, so it comes as no surprise that after the first day of competition he is sitting in the top spot on a score of 27.1 penalty points. Chasing him are two Americans: Boyd Martin in second riding Tsetserleg (31.2), who leads the Land Rover/USEF CCI4* Eventing National Championship as the top American combination, and Tamra Smith in third aboard Wembley (32.1).

Tsetserleg, a gleaming, black 11-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Christine Turner, is contesting his first four-star, but he has history in his blood as a son of the Olympic and Kentucky Three-Day competitor, Windfall. “Thomas” put in a clean test punctuated with his flashy gaits.

“I was very pleased,” said Martin (Cochranville, Pa.). “It’s his first four-star, and our first through the new (dressage) test. When you finish you always wish one part here or there was a little better, but Thomas did as well as he could do for where we are at the moment. I’m very pleased with him.”

Martin’s most famous mounts have been Thoroughbreds, so a Trakehner like Thomas is a new experience for him. “He’s the first I’ve had into the top of the sport. Ten years ago when I first came to America, I saw Windfall, and I’ll never forget watching his dressage. Who would have thought 10 years later I’d be riding a Windfall baby? Thomas’ personality is wonderful, like a big pony, very cuddly in the barn. At home he doesn’t try that much, and you wouldn’t think he could do a four-star, but then you get to a big competition and he grows into an 18-hand horse. The atmosphere perks him up.”

Tamie Smith’s (Murrieta, Calif.) horse, Wembley, is 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Kevin Baumgardner, an upper-level rider and a former president of the U.S. Eventing Association. Baumgardner purchased Wembley in England, originally as a competition mount for himself. Baumgardner trains with Smith, and last fall he handed over the reins to her.

“It’s been great,” Smith said. “I’ll never forget when we tried him – we took him cross-country schooling and he said, ‘You get on him first,’ and I said, ‘No, because if I ride him I’ll just tell you to buy him.’ They are huge supporters of me, and that’s what it’s all about, really. They’ve become family to me, so to be here is really great.”

The big, gray Dutch Warmblood is a powerful mover and a flashy presence, but Smith seemed a little surprised to find herself in the top standings. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect, because he can go in and be quite tense in the ring, but he was quite relaxed, and very workmanlike,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked him to go better. I think I did a little too much warm up, so he got a little tired, but I was thrilled. He was very good.”

All three riders expressed some trepidation about Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course.

“I think it’s really tough,” admitted Martin. “The first half is forward and gallopy and looks nice, but the second half gets much more difficult, and we know horses tire a bit in that second half. It’ll be hard to make up time on course. (di Grazia) usually gives us a nice, long gallop somewhere in the second half, but not this year. It’s as tough as I’ve ever seen.”

“It’s pretty technical,” agreed Smith. “The Head of the Lake will be quite influential, and the brush combination towards the end might catch out some tired horses.”

For more information about the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, visit kentuckythreedayevent.com.

Edited Press Release from Classic Communications

Hamilton and Makari Design Maintain Their Lead at Southern Pines CDE

Photo: Nifty Hamilton and Makari Design (Picsofyou.com)

Raeford, N.C. – The USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship continued on Saturday with the marathon phase at the Southern Pines Combined Driving Event (CDE). The athlete-and-horse combinations headed out on the Carolina Horse Park’s grounds to tackle Barry Hunter’s marathon track. Jennifer “Nifty” Hamilton and Makari Design held onto their lead to stay atop the overall leaderboard heading into the final phase on Sunday.

USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Defending national champions Hamilton (Alva, Fla.) and Makari Design continued their quest for back-to-back titles by blazing around the marathon course. The duo won the marathon phase with a score of 81.92 penalties, having the fastest times in two of the seven obstacles. Hamilton and the 10-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Milton Hamilton head into the cones phase with an overall score of 130.01 penalties.

“[Makari Design] was perfect,” Hamilton said. “It was a wonderful course; Barry Hunter is a great course designer. The course drove very smooth, but there were two water hazards, so it was a tough course.”

Hamilton also had high praise for the combinations in the national championship. “It is a great field of competitors. Today was a good effort on everyone’s part. We all work together studying courses and sharing routes; it is a great group to be a part of.”

Jacob Arnold (Snow Camp, N.C.) and Uminco moved up from third place to second place overall on the strength of a strong marathon round. Arnold piloted Leslie Berndl’s 17-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood gelding to the fastest times in four obstacles and finished the phase with 82.53 penalties. The combination heads into Sunday on an overall score of 135.42 penalties.

Barbara Chapman (Metamora, Mich.) and Meara Beval climbed from fourth place on the leaderboard to third following Saturday’ phase. With her 14-year-old American Warmblood mare, Chapman finished the marathon course with 88.34 penalties. She and Meara Beval sit on an overall score of 142.30 penalties.

Find more information on the Southern Pines CDE.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Hamilton and Makari Design Lead after Day One at Southern Pines CDE

Photo: Nifty Hamilton and Makari Design (Picsofyou.com)

Raeford, N.C. – The USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship at the Southern Pines Combined Driving Event (CDE) began Friday with the dressage phase. Thirteen athlete-and-horse combinations headed down centerline to perform their tests, but Jennifer “Nifty” Hamilton and Makari Design stood out to the Ground Jury. The defending national champions lead the field heading into Saturday’s marathon phase.

USEF Advanced Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Hamilton (Alva, Fla.) and Makari Design had a lovely test to impress the judges with well-executed movements and a nice flow. Their steady performances this year have set them up for success at the Carolina Horse Park. Hamilton piloted the 10-year-old KWPN gelding she owns with Milton Hamilton to a score of 48.09 penalties to take the early lead in the national championship.

“I thought [my test] was very good. [Makari Design] was strong and rhythmic today,” Hamilton said. “I am really happy with the way he is progressing; I wanted to bring him along slowly. He is just 10, so I think in another two years, he is going to be terrific.”

Gary Yeager (Ocala, Fla.) and Spring Brooks Galipso are in second place in the national championship after scoring 50.84 penalties in the dressage phase. Even though the duo only began competing at the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) level last fall, they have been consistent performers. Yeager and Sigrid Edwards’s seven-year-old American Dutch Harness gelding had a solid test in a strong field of competitors to position themselves well for the next phase.

Jacob Arnold (Snow Camp, N.C.) and Uminco round out the top three after receiving a score of 52.89 penalties. Arnold is coming off a win at Live Oak International with Leslie Berndl’s 17-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood gelding and aims to continue their momentum at the national championship.

The exciting marathon phase is up next for the competitors.

“The marathon course looks great,” Hamilton explained. “It is gated really smooth, and I found really good routes. Today, [Makari Design] was really in my hand, so I hope to pick up speed and do it again tomorrow.”

Find more information on the Southern Pines CDE.

From the US Equestrian Communications Department

Chester Weber Claims 15th USEF Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship Title

Photo: Chester Weber (Picsofyou.com)

Four Intermediate Champions Also Unveiled

Ocala, Fla. – The Live Oak International came to its exciting conclusion on Sunday with all five USEF Combined Driving National Championship divisions completing the cones phase. Chester Weber earned his record 15th USEF Four-In-Hand Combined Driving National Championship title with an overall score of 166.69 penalties, while four combined drivers earned inaugural USEF intermediate national titles. These included: Scott Adcox in the pair horse division with 185.39 penalties; Jennifer Keeler in the single pony division with an overall score of 144.70 penalties; Jennifer Thompson in the intermediate single horse division with 140.94 penalties; and Katie Whaley in the pair pony division with 140.29 penalties.

Advanced Four-in-Hand

USEF Advanced Four-in-Hand Combined Driving National Championship

Weber (Ocala, Fla.) added another championship title to his massive list of accolades on Sunday. With a big lead after the dressage and marathon phases, he was able to take it easy in the cones phase. He maneuvered his KWPN geldings, First Edition (eight years old), Boris W (11 years old), and Asjemenou (12 years old), along with Jane Clark’s Dutch Warmblood gelding Splash (14 years old) and knocked one minor ball, adding three penalties to his overnight total.

“I was very pleased with the horses in the warm-up. We have only driven this combination in one other competition. Live Oak is always a little confusing for them because they have the World Cup Qualifier [jumping course] with flowers and everything built in the arena, which isn’t typical in our sport. But they handled that. I think this is a team that can consistently go clear,” said Weber.

Commanding the same team in Thursday’s dressage phase, the unit performed a seamless test to start the competition with 40.11 penalties. Weber substituted Splash for Reno, his eight-year-old, for the marathon and the team earned the fastest time across all seven hazards adding 123.58 penalties to his score.

Weber, who serves as Co-President of the Live Oak International with his sister Juliet Reid, stepped up to add the intermediate USEF Combined Driving National Championships, and they were a resounding success.

“From an organizer’s standpoint, we were really pleased to [offer the intermediate championships]. To have them in this group has been great, and to see entries come from everywhere to support the championships has been well worth it for us as an organizing team. I’m really proud of all the people who came out and contested those medals,” added Weber.

Lisa Stroud (Kennett Square, Pa.) and her and Willow Star, LLC’s team of Dutch Warmblood geldings (Anesco 4, 12 years old; Ulco, 16 years old; Olando, 21 years old; and Enzo, eight years old) followed Weber as the division’s reserve national champion, despite an inconsistent cones test, accumulating 9.34 penalties. They began competition in third place following dressage with 53.15 penalties and jumped to second after marathon with 127.72 penalties.

“Cones was difficult today because of the atmosphere. I loved my team [at Live Oak]; this was my ‘A’ team, and I had a lot of fun,” said Stroud, who returned this team of horses to competition for the first time since June’s Bromont International CDE. “I’m really fortunate because I have really great people working for me, and we only have solutions. When you have that sense of confidence in the day it makes a big difference and reflects in the performance.”

Intermediate

USEF Intermediate Pair Horse Combined Driving National Championship

As the only competitor finishing in the intermediate pair horse division, Adcox (Myakka City, Fla.) earned the division’s national championship. Electing to continue with his KWPN gelding’s Nupafeed Auto Pilot (13 years old) and Pepe (six years old) for the cones phase, they added nine penalties to their overall score. Adcox borrowed Tom Warriner’s Harley, a 14-year-old Saddlebred/Friesian gelding, to help with the dressage phase. Along with Pepe, they finished with 60.88 penalties. The young Pepe stayed with the veteran Nupafeed Auto Pilot through the intimidating marathon course to add 105.07 penalties.

“It’s been great that we’re starting to recognize the lower levels and what they accomplish. We need to try and encourage the lower levels to move up and encourage more people into our sport, so we have a sport in the future. That’s key,” reflected Adcox. “So when you start to acknowledge the work everyone has to do to be here then people outside the sport start to realize that it’s a real sport and it’s tough.”

USEF Intermediate Single Horse Combined Driving National Championship

Despite 0.21 time penalties after the cones competition, Thompson (Lodi, Wis.) and her seven-year-old Funnominial C.G. retained their two-phase lead for the division’s national championship. She and her Dutch Warmblood gelding delivered a polished dressage test to take the lead early on Friday, collecting 53.84 penalties. Although they didn’t win Saturday’s marathon phase, their nice dressage start helped them maintain their lead, adding 86.89 penalties to their dressage score.

“To be in this position, with this horse who still is young, is just amazing and knocking my socks off,” said Thompson, who has only been to Live Oak as a spectator and volunteer. “We came this year for the experience, to learn what Live Oak is about, so that when we get in the ‘big time’ we know what we’re getting into. I never anticipated being in this position.”

Taylor Bradish (Windsor, S.C.) and Katrina Becker, owner of Bradish’s horse Katydid Duchess, decided to introduce the nine-year-old Welsh Pony Cross to intermediate competition at Live Oak. The decision paid off as they obtained the division’s reserve national championship title with 145.24 penalties. Sitting in second place after two phases, they dropped one ball on the cones course, adding three penalties. They began the competition in fourth place following dressage with 59.04 penalties. Although the youngest competitor in the national championship divisions, Bradish drove Katydid Duchess like a pro. She navigated the relatively inexperienced mare, quickly and efficiently, winning the marathon phase, adding 83.20 penalties.

“It feels good [to win the reserve championship] because it is at Live Oak, and you want to do well here. For [Live Oak] to serve as the national championships is even more exciting. Of course, I would have loved to win, but I am happy [as reserve] because this is her first intermediate,” said Bradish. “I thought we were going to have a lot of issues because of this atmosphere, but she went into today’s cones course ready to go.”

USEF Intermediate Pair Pony Combined Driving National Championship

Whaley (Paris, Ky.) chose to continue with her Welsh Pony Cob’s Tommy (14 years old) and Tanner (11 years old) for the cones phase. They completed a clean round to retain their overall lead for the intermediate pair pony title. She partnered Tommy with her youngest Welsh Cob Teddy (five years old) for Friday’s dressage test, collecting 61.76 penalties. After sitting in second following dressage, Tommy and Tanner blazed through the marathon course, adding 78.53 penalties.

“I’m so thrilled that USEF has decided to acknowledge [intermediate] levels on a national stage. It’s going to enhance the driving in this country. Everyone works hard on every level, and to be recognized in the intermediate is exceptional,” said Whaley, who usually doesn’t compete intermediate. “I have a pony that has never been in a three-day event, so I thought perhaps this would be a good start. It’s really exciting for the sport that [Live Oak’s organizing team] had the foresight to bid for [the intermediate] championships. This really shows good things to come for the sport of driving.”

Boots Wright (Ocala, Fla.), using Marko and Rio for cones added three penalty points in the cones phase. With only two entries in the intermediate pair pony division, she won the division’s reserve title with 146.37 penalties. She gave an amazing dressage performance with her German Riding Pony geldings Marko (11 years old) and Mista Q (11 years old) for the division lead on Friday with 50.64 penalties. She dropped to second place following marathon with 92.73 penalties after driving Mista Q and Rio, her 14-year-old Welsh ‘B’ Pony gelding.

“I remember when Live Oak was a tiny horse show and seeing [this show] evolve into what it has become has been quite spectacular. It’s really the best driving show in America, and a lot of thought has been put into it. The hazards [in the marathon] are wonderful,” said Wright, who has competed at every Live Oak competition since it began 27 years ago.

USEF Intermediate Single Pony Combined Driving National Championship

Keeler (Paris, Ky.) drove a clean and cautious cones course with Zeppo to win the intermediate single pony title. Her six-year-old Hackney gelding made the leap to the intermediate at Live Oak and showed his strong potential, delivering three exceptional phases. They started with a steady dressage test to finish third with 62.40 penalties on Friday. They shot to first place due to a flashy marathon round for 82.30 penalties on Saturday.

“I had always hoped that I would be in this position winning a national championship. I think it’s safe to say if you had asked anyone, they would have expected it to be with our other pony [Amazing Grace]. To say that it’s unexpected to win this with Zeppo, it’s the most incredible fairy tale possible,” said an emotional Keeler. “This is a pony who was too small, too afraid …. and it’s just incredible that he was able to do what no one thought he could do. I’d also like to thank Chester and everyone that makes Live Oak possible. I always say, ‘there’s no place like Live Oak.’ I’m so proud to win this here on the toughest stage in our country.”

Janelle Marshall (Williston, S.C.) and Kennebec Joyce, John Merritt’s 10-year-old Morgan mare, earned the division’s reserve national championship title with 145.89 penalties. They began dressage with 67.04 penalties and rebounded in the marathon with the fastest time on course, adding 78.85 penalties. Although, she drove a clean cones round, it was not enough to move to the division lead.

Complete Results

From the US Equestrian Communications Department