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Bondy, Dupell, Manhard, Miles, Ots, Priest Take Second Set of National Titles at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions

by US Equestrian Communications Department | Aug 24, 2019, 11:29 PM EST

Correction: The original version of this release noted Mackenzie Peer's horse, Quantum MRF, as a stallion. He is a gelding.

Wayne Ill. – Six more national champions were determined at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions on Saturday: Jori Dupell and Fiderprinz 2, USEF Junior Dressage National Champions; Michele Bondy and Sonnenberg’s Kain, Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old Dressage National Champions; Emily Miles and Sole Mio, Markel/USEF Young Horse Five-Year-Old Dressage National Champions; Endel Ots and Lucky Strike, USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Champions; Kathy Priest and Damon’s Fantasy, Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage National Champions; and Claire Manhard and Wilfonia, USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Champions.

The event concludes on Sunday where national champions will be named in the final five divisions: USEF Children Dressage National Championship, USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals 14-18, USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship, Markel/USEF Young Horse Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship, Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship.

USEF Junior Dressage National Championship

Jori Dupell and Fiderprinz 2 (SusanJStickle.com)

Jori Dupell (Wilsonville, Ore.) and Fiderprinz 2 held on to her lead following the FEI Junior Individual Test to win the USEF Junior Dressage National Championship. She and her 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding earned a score of 72.059 percent in the Individual Test for an overall score of 71.004.

“[Winning the USEF Junior Dressage National Championship] means a lot. It's really rewarding to work so hard all season and continue to progress. [Competing at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions] and having a personal best was just really amazing,” said Dupell, who won individual silver in the Junior Freestyle at the Adequan® FEI North American Youth Championships presented by Gotham North [NAYC] earlier in the month. “For me [this] was the best he's ever gone in [the Individual] test … He was just really with me the entire time. I can't really fault him for anything.”

Mackenzie Peer (Overland Park, Kan.) and Quantum MRF, Nicole Helland’s 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, took reserve champion honors with an overall score of 69.627, and Isabelle Braden (Decatur, Ga.) and Dali De La Ferme Rose, Chris and Erin Braden’s 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, placed third with an overall score of 69.015 percent.

Complete Results

From the Press Conference

On what it means to be reserve champion:

Peer:“You try so hard, and you hope to come here and show your horse to the best of the ability, and when it works out like this then you feel on top of the world like, ‘Yay, we did it together’."

On continuing her success from NAYC:

Braden:“I'm just really proud of my horse and how he has put up with the traveling. He's really stayed with me so well, and I'm really grateful to the people that have gotten me to all these competitions and helped me toward all the successes and supported me: my trainer Anneliese [Vogt], my parents, USEF, USDF, and everyone that has supported the youth dressage program.”

Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championships: Four-Year-Old Division

Michele Bondy and Sonnenberg's Kain (SusanJStickle.com)

Michele Bondy (Wilsonville, Ore.) kept her lead following the USEF Four-Year-Old Test to earn the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Four-Year-Old National Championship. She and Sonnenberg’s Kain (El Capone x Girona T), Sonnenberg Farm LLC’s KWPN gelding, earned a score of 8.34 for an overall score of 8.38.

“When we got him in November [from Holland]. The goal was to do [the] four-year-old [division], but getting him there, going to the qualifiers, and to actually be here is just a huge a thing,” said Bondy. “It takes so much time and effort… and the horse has to be ready, too, but he has suppressed every single expectation I have had to bring him here. He has been really good, kind hearted, and fun. It’s a three day trip from Oregon, so he’s been a super star.”

Alice Tarjan (Oldwick, N.J.) and Summersby II (Sezuan x Summer Night), her Oldenburg mare, earned reserve title honors with an overall score of 8.18. Jackie Ahl-Eckhaus (San Luis Obispo, Calif.) and Kitalis MVS (Vitalis x Ember MVS), her KWPN gelding, placed third with an overall score of 8.07.

In addition, Ahl-Eckhaus, who bred Kitalis MVS, was presented with the division’s Highest Placed U.S. Bred Horse award.

Complete Results

From the Press Conference

On what makes Summersby II so special:

Tarjan: “I bought this horse as a foal. She is a very beautiful horse. She’s fun; she’s giant. It’s been fun bringing her along, and it’s been relatively easy. She can be a little hot and spooky sometimes, but she’s really not that bad. She has been super behaved all week so I’m really pleased with that.”

On the judge’s feedback:

Bondy: “The canter was just super. I was really happy to hear he got the nine because I feel like that’s what he really deserves. Today was a little hotter, and this is a long week, so you don’t really know how they are going to be every day. But the judges were great, I think their comments were spot on, and I couldn’t’ be happier. The judging was super this year. I knew what they were looking form and they were rewarding for really correct basics for the young horses.”

On today’s test:

Ahl-Eckhaus:“I’m excited about this horse every day that I ride him because he has such a good brain. He tries hard. As he gets stronger, everything gets better. He was really listening, and he didn’t look around. I really like all his gaits… and the highlight for me just being here.

On competing at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions:

Ahl-Eckhaus:“I would like to thank the USEF and Markel for having this every year; we really appreciate it. We come from California, so it’s a long drive, but it’s a lot of fun. The young horses get great exposure. As a rider, it keeps you on your toes. You get to see the top young horses in the country, and you want to step up a little bit more, so I like that about the program as well. I would like to thank [U.S. Dressage Young Horse Coach] Christine Traurig; she is great. We have a huge country, and I can usually meet with her every couple of months. I would also like to thank Kathleen Raine; she has been helping me more for the last 15 years, and I get to work with her regularly, and she is always there when needed. And my husband; I get to do this because he supports me 200%.”

Bondy:“The facility and location are gorgeous. It gives young horses a plan of where they should be … It gives you an idea of what [the judges] are looking for each year and what to work on. Then, you come to these championships and see the quality of the horses and the riding, and it really inspires you to keep going … It’s just a super venue. It’s far for us, but it’s totally worth it for us to come each year.”

USEF Children Dressage National Championship

Following the FEI Children Team Test, Lexie Kment (Palmyra, Neb.) and Manatee lead the USEF Children Dressage National Championship division. She and the 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned by Jami Kment earned a score of 71.026 percent.

Lexie Kment and Manatee (SusanJStickle.com)

“In the beginning [our test] was a little [off], but we got it under control, and it felt really good. I think we [did well], but I looking forward to next steps, we might want to work on our walk pirouettes a little bit more,” said Kment.

Carmen Stephens (Saratoga, Calif.) and Woldhoeve’s Silco, her 19-year-old KWPN Welsh Pony gelding, placed second with a score of 68.654 percent, while Justine Boyer (Wellington, Fla.) and Lentisco XVIII, Hampton Green Farm’s 18-year-old PRE Stallion, and Maren Elise Fouche-Hanson (Colbert, Ga.) and In My Feelings, her 24-year-old gelding of unknown breeding, tied for third with a score of 67.885 percent.

The FEI Children Team Test counts 50 percent towards their overall score. The national champion will be determined on Sunday following the FEI Individual Test, making up the remaining 50 percent.

Complete Results

From the Mixed Zone

On today’s test:

Boyer: “I think it went really well for the first time being at Festival and after three weeks of [vacation] not riding, so that's good, [but I would like to improve with] more collection so I can do the serpentine.”

Fouche-Hanson:“It was amazing. It was probably the best we've had so far. It was very consistent.”

McLaughlin: “I'm really happy with how it went. It was probably our best test we've done all season. It was just really smooth, and I'm happy with how well she handled the big atmosphere today.”

Sloan:“It was really good. She felt a little lonely being in the big ring, but she pulled herself together for the test. We did a very nice centerline to start and the bending lines were very good.

Stephens: “It was pretty good. The simple changes went pretty well. We definitely made a few mistakes, but overall, it was a solid test.

Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championships: Five-Year-Old Division

A perfect 10 trot score in the FEI Five-Year-Old Final Test helped solidify the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Five-Year-Old National Championship for Emily Miles (Paola, Kan.) and Sole Mio (Stanford x Donna-Rafaela). She and the Hanoverian stallion owned by Leslie Waterman earned a score of 9.16 for a final score of 9.05. Miles and Sole Mio won the Four-Year-Old title in 2018.

“You can't understand how awesome I think [Sole Mio] is. I just want everybody else to know how awesome I think he is, too! I am blessed to ride him. Last year, the [judges said] his trot was brilliant, but the canter still looked like a four-year-old canter. And for him to come out this year, and, yesterday, actually get a higher canter score than a trot score … that's where I think he's improved the most, is building the strength to really hold all that canter work.”

Rebecca Rigdon (Cardiff By The Sea, Calif.) and Jagger (Apache x Volumia), Ad Astra Collective’s KWPN gelding, earned the reserve title with an overall score of 8.35. Merita Hagren (Whitehouse Station, N.J.) and Jida Selly A (Zardando x Dyselly A), Cesar Parra’s KWPN mare, placed third with an overall score of 8.13.

Nadine Schwartsman (Eagle, Idaho), riding her own KWPN stallion Jhocolate R (Freestyle x Cleopatra), bred by Michael Seaver, was presented with the division’s highest placed U.S. Bred Horse award.

Complete Results

From the Press Conference

On competing at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions:

Hagren:“I'm here only the second time ever. I've been working with Cesar Parra at Performance Farms for five years now, so this is very new for me still. I'm just so grateful that he gave me the chance with this young five-year-old horse. She's amazing. I just love her. She's such a sweet thing … just love to ride him.”

Miles:“I would just like to thank [the U.S. Dressage Young Horse] program because I think it is so amazing to have a place to showcase young horses. I think it is really special to cultivate a broad base … I think that it's so important that the United States has this really great place to showcase our young horses… and then the fact that we're right next door to the big tour and the small tour horses and can look over and say, ‘maybe one day’. That's a really special thing, and I think it's amazing that we get to have both of these championships at the [U.S. Dressage] Festival [of Champions]. I thank the USEF for making that happen. It's an amazing program to be a part of.”

On Jagger’s future:

Rigdon: “I truly think he was meant to be a Grand Prix horse and that's the whole reason that I got him. He is... the way he's built, so uphill. He has three correct gaits. He might not be the best raw mover out of the starting gate, but he's so trainable that I think that is more important than anything is. Absolutely, I think he's going to be a really special horse for the future, for sure.”

On the judges remarks:

Rigdon:Yeah, I was super happy with them. The walk, trot, canter, I totally agreed with everything and the overall impression and submission. I thought it was fantastic and I was really happy with the judging today. It was so consistent and so concise, and you could really see how they were [deriving at] their placings, so I thought it was quite well done today.”

USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship

Endel Ots and Lucky Strike (SusanJStickle.com)

Endel Ots (Wellington, Fla.) and Lucky Strike added to their successful week with a great Freestyle performance to earn the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship. He and the nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Max Ots earned a Freestyle score of 74.810 percent for an overall score of 74.255 percent.

“This is a great way to end a year. It means a lot. My dad lives nearby, and to have him be here and see it, it has been a wonderful journey. To come here for [the young horses] and the development [classes], it has been wonderful and a dream come true,” said Ots, who won the 2018 Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges National Championship.

Rebecca Rigdon and La Fariah, the 10-year-old Rhinelander mare she owns with David Blake, earned the reserve national championship with an overall score of 71.476 percent. Sara Hassler (Chesapeake City, Md.) and Harmony’s Boitano, Leslie Maline’s 13-year-old KWPN gelding, placed third with an overall score of 71.476.

Ots was presented with the United States Equestrian Team Foundation (USET) Intermediaire I Trophy donated by Ivan Bezufloff, Jr.

Complete Results

From the Press Conference:

On earning the reserve championship:

Rigdon:“It’s absolutely fantastic coming here as a wild card [returning] from an injury after the first qualifier for the Pan [American Games] team. [It] was really hard, and I felt [we] were done for the year, so to be able to have the opportunity, I’m grateful to USEF. It’s pretty spectacular. I could not be happier with her. She has grown up considerably over the past couple of years, and she’s ready to move on from small tour.”

On placing in the top three:

Hassler:“It’s such an honor. He’s only a year and a half back from an injury, so just his victory in getting here is huge, and it’s such an honor to have a horse like that to learn from, and ride, and to allow me to be riding around such incredible people is very inspiring every day. It’s just inspiring to get here. I honestly did not expect to come here and have this happen. I’m so grateful to his owner for giving me this opportunity. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for me.”

On today’s freestyle:

Hassler:“I made the freestyle choreography and music. I had never ridden it before. I did some last minute tweaks on it on the way here, so I’m really glad it went okay. It was a really cool experience as it was only the third freestyle I have ever ridden. It was really fun and challenging … there were a few areas I could have done better, but I’m extremely happy that it went the way it did.”

Ots:“It was a good ride; I was trying to do everything nice, clean, and easy … I was very happy with him through the ride, since he had two weeks off, just slowly bringing him back with basic movements, so I was very happy with his performance today.”

Rigdon:“It was a bit last minute. I had never ridden that freestyle before because [I have] been focusing on the Prix St. Georges and the I-1 that the freestyle is such a bonus. I wanted something very easy, and I wanted to do that on purpose. She hasn’t shown since last February, so I wanted to make it an easy experience for her and try to get her as relaxed as possible.”

Markel/USEF Developing Horse Dressage National Championships: Prix St. Georges Division

Kathy Priest (Versailles, Ky.) and Damon’s Fantasy won the blue ribbon across all three tests to win the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Dressage Prix St. Georges National Championship. She and her eight-year-old Oldenburg mare earned a 72.500 percent in the USEF Developing Horse Prix St Georges Test for an overall score of 72.598.

Kathy Priest and Damon's Fantasy (SusanJStickle.com)

“[Winning the national championship] is very exciting. This mare is one I’ve had since she was four-years-old, so I was looking forward to doing this with her,” said Priest. “I was really happy that she had really good energy in [the ring], and that's what you have to have for the future, so I felt like even with a few little mistakes I could get her back and concentrated, and she wanted to go and work for it. I want a grand prix horse. I feel like she has that quality.”

Emily Miles and Java Dulce, Leslie Waterman’s eight-year-old Danishgelding, earned the reserve national championship with an overall score of 72.020 percent, while Barbie Asplundh (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and Gorgeous, her eight-year-old KWPN gelding, placed third with a score of 70.828 percent.

In addition, Lindsey Holleger was presented with the highest placed U.S. Bred Horse award for Fenomenal JW, bred and owned by Julia Whitfield.

Complete Results

From the Press Conference:

On competing at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions:

Priest: “The facility is so amazing, especially for the young horses and the developing horses, since you’re not leaving the warm up and going to an enclosed stadium. It’s also customer friendly for the people watching, and the stabling is nice. Everybody has been amazing, and we’re thrilled to be here.”

On competing with Jave Dulce:

Miles: “I was so thrilled with Java. I had absolutely no expectations for him this week. I was so excited for him to be here. It wasn’t the easiest road for him to be here. He’s a super awesome horse and easy to work with. He learns really fast … I have to give huge kudos to his owner Leslie [Waterman] because she 100 percent believed in him.”

On her training and being at Lamplight:

Asplundh: “My trainer Catherine Haddad Staller has absolutely rocked my world. She has worked with me for seven years … I credit her so much with helping me and my sports psychology coach who has turned my competition world around this winter, too. It takes a village; you’re not out there alone for sure. I felt like I was taking quite a few people on his broad back with me, so it was so much fun to be here. I’ve never been to Lamplight before, and I had no idea it was this fabulous. We’re definitely coming back.”

USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship

Claire Manhard and Wilfonia (SusanJStickle.com)

Following the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle, Claire Manhard and Wilfonia won the USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship. Joining the long line of prestigious winners of this division, Manhard and her 16-year-old KWPN mare earned an overall score of 68.236.

“[This is] incredible. I’m so surprised. It’s amazing to see how far I have come in a year. When I was here last year, I felt all over the place, and this year, I felt like I knew what I was doing. It’s crazy to be considered the national champion. I am so grateful for that experience and the title… and to be riding with great people like Hope [Cooper] and Anna [Buffini],” said Manhard.

Following a two-year hiatus from the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions, Anna Buffini and Wilton 11 earned an overall score of 68.189 to earn the reserve national championship. Buffini follows this reserve national championship after earning the ‘Brentina Cup’ national championship with Sundayboy and reserve championship with Wilton 11 in 2016. Hope Cooper and Hot Chocolate W placed third with a score of 67.647 percent.

Complete Results

From the Press Conference

On doing so well in this division:

Buffini: “It’s incredible to be back and riding Wilton, period. In 2017, he became unrideable, and he was in the field retired, forever. Then under Guenter Seidel’s teaching, he has been incredible. We have restarted him, and he has come back better than ever….and to come back and not just ride but get second is incredible … Just being here is a win, and there is no one I would rather lose to than Claire. We train together every single day, we get our nails done, we go to movies, we do everything [together], and I see how hard she works. We train right after each other, we push each other, and we make each other better under Guenter’s incredible training. To be back here, and to come in second with a horse that I thought I would never ride again is a dream come true.”

Cooper:“I still feel very new at this, and Chocolate is very new at this, too. But with my mom and Juan Matute’s help, it’s been amazing. To work through the season and to get to where we are is just a such a surprise. Chocolate is just an incredible generous partner to dance with, but he is super new to this, so whatever I can get in the ring I am proud with. It’s just incredible to be sitting next to two the most amazing U25 riders. It’s really honor.”

Complete Schedule

Keep up with the 2019 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions on USA Dressage Facebookwhere you can find winning rides and daily photo galleries, USEF Network Twitter, and USEF Network Instagramfeaturing Instagram Stories. Use #USADressage and #FestivalofChampions.