Correction: The original version of this release noted Mackenzie Peer's horse, Quantum MRF, as a stallion. He is a gelding.
Wayne – Ill. – Three national champions were unveiled at the U.S. Dressage Festival Champions on Friday. Lucienne Bacon and Bonnaroo won the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship; Kayla Kadlubek and Perfect Step earned the USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship, and Kasey Denny and Feyock earned the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals 13 & Under Championship.
USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship
Lucienne Bacon (Atherton, Calif.) and Bonnaroo claimed the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship after two back-to-back days of competition. While Bacon had some bobbles with her 10-year-old Weser-EMS Pony mare in the FEI Pony Rider Individual Test, the strong partnership was able finish strongly to earn a score of 67.252 percent and thus claim the national championship title with an overall score of 68.031 percent.
“It feels good,” said Bacon of being a national champion. “Bonnie is very personable, so to know you can have a friendship outside the ring and take that inside the ring and do well is really incredible. She’s won before, so it’s continuing her legacy.”
The 2018 USEF Children Dressage National Champions Miki Yang (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) and Garden’s Sam moved up the Pony Rider level and saw success yet again. Yang and Four Winds Farms 12-year-old New Forest Pony gelding took home the reserve champion title with an overall score of 67.627 percent. Pony Rider veteran Jordan Osborne rode Geralja’s Tobias, Tiffany Ramsey’s eight-year-old New Forest Pony gelding, to a strong third-place finish with an overall score of 66.948 percent.
From the Press Conference
On being the USEF Pony Rider Dressage Reserve National Champion:
Yang: “I’m so happy and so proud of Sammy. Transitioning from children’s was a huge step for both of us, but the help from my trainer Hillary Martin, support from my mom and family, and everybody who helped me get here, I’m really grateful for all the work and dedication that went into it.”
On being friends and competing at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions:
Bacon: “It’s a little complicated because we are competing at the same time, so throughout the year we would be back-to-back, but because our friendship came from horses and bonding over the moments that were and weren’t as great. It’s incredible to be standing [here] together.”
Yang: “We have been close friends for a really long time. We spend a lot of time together and riding. We’re close through riding, but really close outside [of riding], so just being here with one of my best friends is really special and we can just support each other.”
On returning to the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions:
Osborne: “It was fun coming back. I wanted to come here and ride for my family and make them proud. I have been riding Tobias since about March, but didn’t start consistently since April, so just to get out and qualify with him meant the world. To come here and do that well with him means a lot to me and his owner.”
Markel/USEF Young Horse Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship
Melissa Fladland (Griswold, Iowa) and I’m All In (Jazz x Tavita) got off to the early lead following the FEI Six-Year-Old Preliminary Test for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship. She and the KWPN gelding she owns with Caphri Dressage earned a score of 8.86.
“We had just gotten him about seven or eight months before last [year’s Festival of Champions]. He had come from Europe and was trying to gain muscle and get stronger. Over the winter, my main coach Katherine Bateson-Chandler and I worked really hard to strengthen him, got him ready for this, and I think it showed today,” said Fladland. “When I went down centerline, it was like he said, ‘Hey, I got this,’ and I am like, ‘Okay.’ I just kind of went with him. He just did his thing; it is really awesome. He is a pretty cool horse.”
The 2018 Markel/USEF Young Horse Five-Year-Old Dressage National Champions Michael Bragdell (Colora. Md.) and SenSation HW (Sunday x Donata), Carol McPhee’s Westphalian gelding followed with a score of 8.56. Pablo Gomez (Wellington, Fla.) and Servus Ymas (San Amour I x Romana), Yeguada De Ymas S.L. and Christina Danguillecourt’s Hanoverian gelding, placed third with a score of 8.52.
The FEI Six-Year-Old Preliminary Test counts 50 percent towards their overall score. They will finish on Sunday with the FEI Six-Year-Old Final Test, making up the remaining 50 percent.
From the Mixed Zone
On SenSation HW’s progression:
Bragdell:“It’s a big step from the five-year-old division to the six-year-old division … It’s a bit more technical. Like most horses, you have to take your time and see where you’re at and feel them out to see how the development is going, whether they are going to be ready or not to make this jump. As the year progressed, I felt better and better about it, and here we are.”
On today’s test:
Bragdell:“I was really happy with how steady he was. He felt super relaxed through the back. I felt that he did everything for me. I had a little bobble in the second change, but that was totally me. I relaxed a little too much. I think cleaning it up a little bit for the last day, and we’ll be good to go. There’s so many good horses here; it’s such a tough competition. You really have to ride for every inch, but it’s great for the competition. It’s fun and eggs us on.”
Caitlin Hamar:“I was first to go, so I felt a little bit of pressure, but he was right there with me the whole time. I think I had my top ride that I have ever had on him, so that was really special. He’s a super horse; he gives me a 110 percent every time I sit on him. I was super happy with my ride; there’s a lot of really good horses in this class, and I felt we were right there with them, and that was really special.”
Marta Renilla:“I became a U.S. citizen last year, so I was very excited to have the developing young classes. I think I have much more horse than he gave to me. Maybe I was too conservative and very correct … I could have shown more horse, but he did everything I asked. He’s a superstar. He’s always with me in the ring.”
On I’m All In’s Personality:
Fladland:“He likes to play; he likes to eat and be loved on all the time. He likes you to play with his tongue. He is a people horse; he just loves to have you in his face. If you are cleaning his stall, he tries to bite the rake, or if you are sweeping he tries to bite the broom. He is quite the character.”
On returning to the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions
Gomez:“I really enjoy this show. It’s amazing what the United States is doing for the competition of young horses. We wanted to come back and have a great experience.”
USEF Junior Dressage National Championship
Jori Dupell (Wilsonville, Ore.) and Fiderprinz 2 lead the USEF Junior Dressage National Championship following the FEI Junior Team Test. She and her 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding earned a scored a 69.949 percent.
“I was really happy with [the test]; it was pretty steady. It was a bit conservative and we did have one mistake, but I was happy with it, overall. [We are] just coming off of the North American [Youth Championships], so it’s been a bit rushed coming back and forth, but we had a really nice opportunity to stay with Patty Becker in between the two shows, so that’s been really nice. We did that last year, but everything has been so much easier this year with him. I’ve had him for a year-and-half now, so we have really gotten to know each other a lot better… it’s been a lot easier and more fun.”
Mackenzie Peer (Overland Park, Kans.) and Quantum MRF, Nicole Helland’s 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding placed second with a score of 69.596 percent. Annelise Klepper (McCutchenville, Ohio) and Happy Texas Moonlight, Shannon Klepper’s 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, followed with a 69.495 percent, placing third.
The USEF Junior Dressage National Championship wraps up on Saturday with the FEI Junior Individual Test. Both tests count 50 percent towards their overall score.
From the Mixed Zone
On the personality of their horse:
Duppell:“[We call him] Phil. He is really goofy. He is really fun and loves food; he is the most food motivated horse I have ever met. He can be a bit silly on the ground, so we have to be really careful with him not hurting anybody, but he’s happy horse and he just wants food.”
Klepper:“I love my horse. My horse and I have the best connection… and it’s really nice to see how far we have come in such a short period of time… and I feel like this show is measure how hard we have worked and that’s a really cool thing.”
Peer:“I have been riding him for about three years now, and he is the sweetest horse I have ever worked with… he is like a giant teddy bear. I kind of think of him like a lap dog. I think he would be if he could….he is super willing and he tries. If I make a mistake asking for something he’s kind of like “what do you want lady?” then we figure it out together, so I think it’s a super partnership between us.”
On competing at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions:
Isabelle Braden:“I’m excited to be here and super grateful for everyone who helped get me here. This is my first time at Lamplight, so it’s really special, and it’s been a fun competition watching the best horses in the nation.”
On today’s test:
Peer:“I thought our test was super, and I’m really happy with him. He gave me his all… we had a couple of mistakes… I asked for a little too much here and there, but we figured it out, so I’m excited for tomorrow to work that out and balance it a little more to see what he needs for tomorrow. But I’m super happy with how it went.”
USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship
Nick Wagman and Don John kept their lead for the USEF Grand Prix Dressage Dressage National Championship following the FEI Grand Prix Special Test. Wagman (San Diego, Calif.) and the 11-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Beverly Gepfer earned a score of 72.957 percent.
“Today felt like it was one of my best tests to date. He felt fantastic! In the warm-up, I already knew that I had him. He was entergetic but not as fresh as yesterday so I could ride a little more honestly, said Wagman. “It was one of those tests where you come out and can’t wait to see the video because I hope it looks as good as it feels. I was really pleased with it.”
Anna Marek (Williston, Fla.) and Dee Clair, Diane Morrison’s 11-year-old KWPN mare, placed second in the test with a 69.000 percent while Jennifer Scrader-Williams (Yelma, Wash.) and Millione, Millione Partners LLC’s 16-year-old Danish gelding, followed with a 68.468 percent, placing third.
The USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship will be decided on Sunday following the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle.
On today’s test:
Schrader-Williams: “I was really happy with his test. Overall, the rideability is there. It was a relaxed, yet a powerful test. I felt like I really articulated everything I wanted to do in the movements … I really can’t see anything negative about his effort today.”
Marek:“Anne [Gribbons] told me to get more energy in the piaffe, so I went for a little bit more today. Clair and I haven’t done the [Grand Prix] Special nearly as much as we have done the Grand Prix, so we both had to get on our toes, doing changes off the other diaginol and the piaffe from the walk. Clair was great; she was a really good girl. Everyday she comes out and she’s like ‘let’s go’!”
Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship
Alice Tarjan (Oldwick, N.J.) and Candescent, her nine-year-old Hanoverian mare, lead in the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship divisions following the USEF Intermediate II Test with a 70.931 percent.
“The horse is a bit of a monster, so I was really happy she played well for the majority. It was an improvement from last year but still a work in progress of course,” said Tarjan. “The connection is slowly improving bit-by-bit. It's far from perfect, but we're working on it. Everything’s getting more reliable; she’s getting more confirmed. [In] the passage, I was able to bring her back and get her hind legs almost from the beginning. Last year, it was kind of a hail mary. The piaffe is not quite on the spot, but it's much less ground covering than last year.”
Emily Miles (Paola, Kan.) and Floretienne, Leslie Waterman’s 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding, placed second with a score of 68.480 percent. Bridget Hay (Flemington, N.J.) and Faolan, her 10-year-old Oldenburg stallion, earned a score of 68.235 percent, placing third.
The USEF Intermediate II Test counts 50 percent towards their overall score. The Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship will be determined on Sunday following the USEF Developing Grand Prix Test, rounding out the remaining 50 percent.
From the Mixed Zone
On today’s test:
Miles:“I was super happy with [Floretienne]. It was a clean test with just a few bobbles here and there, but that is way they are developing grand prix horses. He’s gotten so much stronger, and it’s been really exciting to see his progression. I was really happy with [Quantum Jazz] because he tends to get strong on me, and this test I felt like I could use my corners, use my half halt, so it’s wasn’t the most brilliant test we ever done, but I felt like I [got what] I wanted to achieve, like I could really get the half halts and put him where he should be; that really came through today, and that was the biggest thing to me. So the fact they both ended up in the top five was [great].”
Kristin Wasemiller-Knutson:“I am ecstatic with how she finished today. It wasn’t the cleanest test; we had some bobbles, but overall I could not have been more proud of her. I am really pleased with her piaffe and passage. We worked really hard over the summer to improve that, and I think she did well, and I am very proud of her. This is a big and beautiful venue, much bigger than what we have done before; [I’m] so absolutely ecstatic.”
On goals for the rest of the week:
Hay:“On Sunday, I would like to not have mistakes; I kick myself for the mistakes in the twos. Just to put in a cleaner test… and also still have some horse left on Sunday because he gets a little tired.”
Miles:I just want them to put in good solid, consistent tests; that would be awesome. It would show they know their job, their confident in the ring, and [if] they keep that consistency up, that would be amazing. It would be great for them.”
USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship
After competing at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions for the past several years, Kayla Kadlubek (Fairfax Station, Va.) now as a national title to her name. The Discover Dressage USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program member and her 18-year-old Hanoverian Gelding earned a score of 72.647 in the FEI Young Rider Individual Test, claiming the USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship with an overall score of 71.422 percent.
“[This] has [not] sunk in yet… it’s something you dream about for years, then to make it actually happen is incredible. I couldn’t do this without my horse; he has been with me every step of the way. Lendon Gray and Suzanne Dansby, I am so grateful for them and for allowing me to ride to this horse. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. He has opened so many doors like this for me, and I am so grateful to have him as my partner,” said a proud Kadlubek.
Quinn Iverson (Wellington, Fla.) and Black Diamond CL, Billie Davidson’s 13-year-old KWPN Gelding earned the reserve title with an overall score of 69.314. Bianca Schmidt (Edina, Minn.) and Lou Heart, Eliana Schmidt’s 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, placed third with an overall score of 69.167 percent.
From the Press Conference
How the Discover Dressage USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program and competing in Europe helped lead to a national championship:
Kadlubek:“It’s such a huge confidence booster. It’s such a power house of young riders who are scoring in the [mid-70s], and I am just now reaching that level, which is great, but it’s really exciting to watch them go for it in their test. It helps you say, ‘oh, I can actually push for a little more and achieve those higher scores’. But it’s really helpful to go there then come here and have this confidence boost.”
On their future plans:
Kadlubek:“I still have one year left of Young Riders, so I am hoping to keep this horse going and try for Europe again over the winter. I’ll be down in Florida, and I am currently not in school. I am taking a couple of years to focus while I have this horse to go out there and do the best I can now.”
Iverson:“This was my first and last year [competing at Festival] as I’m aging out of young riders, so hopefully, afterwards he gets a vacation and some time outside to lay low. After that, hopefully [I’ll] try to bump him to the U25 to see if we can get that under our belt. It would pretty cool because I have known [Lou] since he was six-years-old, but I got the ride on him when he was 10 or so. I was a jumper before so I’m trying to figure dressage out… but it would be really cool to finish him in the Grand Prix. I am taking some time off school and will continue to work with Debbie [McDonald] and Adrienne [Lyle] in Florida and see where we can go from there. “
Schmidt: “I am going off to college, but I will continue to ride Lou. I am taking him to college and will continue training with my trainer Sarah Larson and hopefully [compete in] the young rider [division] again at NAYC and Festival.”
USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals 13 & Under Championship
After earning the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 13 & Under Championship in 2017 and 2018, Kasey Denny (Hutto, Texas) got the gold medal placed around her neck. With the help of Feyock, Amy Denny’s 22-year-old Westphalian gelding, the combination scored an 89.000%.
“It’s really emotional knowing that I’ve been reserve two years in a row, and being able to go up another place is really amazing. Since my horse is 22 [years-old], and this is his last national show, it’s amazing to get the gold medal,” said an emotional Denny.
Abigail Taft (Traverse City, Mich.) and Whisper, Janine Fierberg’s seven-year-old American Warmblood mare, earned the silver medal with a score of 87.000%. Joslyn Allen (Pleasant Hills, Mo.) and Lady Lilliana, Mary Adams’s 10-year-old Freisan Sporthorse mare earned bronze with a score of 86.000%.
From the Press Conference
On what they have been working on:
Taft:“I have been focusing on the equitation and fixing the little things. I felt like I was really able to focus on myself and keep my equitation nice on Whisper. She really did her job.”
Joslyn Allen:“I have been working on my seat, reaction to the aids, and keeping my chin up. I tried for this a couple years ago, and I didn’t make it, so it’s really exciting that I finally made it. This is my last year, so I was really excited to get third.”
On their future goals:
Denny:“I want to place in the top three of the FEI Children’s [division] and then, hopefully, get on the junior team for Region 9 and do well at the [FEI North American Youth Championships]. My long-term goals are to be a professional trainer in the sport and, hopefully, be in the Olympics. That’s way up there; that would be amazing.”
Taft:“My goals are to try and make the 14-18 [Medal Seat] division next year and, eventually, the junior young rider team, and be a trainer.
Allen:I’m going to try out for the [FEI North American Youth Championships] next year. I hope to make it and do well.”
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