Lexington, Ky. – Every year, the nation’s top dressage horse-and-rider combinations gather at the Kentucky Horse Park for the United States Dressage Federation’s (USDF) US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. Held November 7-10, the 2019 competition hosted more than 340 entries representing a 36 different states and traveling to Kentucky from as far as California.
Vying for national titles, competitors riding a variety of breeds competed in Training Level through Grand Prix in both Open and Adult Amateur divisions. On the first day of competition, riders from Region 8 swept the top spots across the divisions. US Equestrian Dressage Development Program participant Alice Tarjan (Oldwick, N.J.) and Candescent, her nine-year-old Hanoverian mare, won their second consecutive Intermediate II Adult Amateur Championship title with a score of 73.824%. Watch Tarjan’s winning ride. Heather Mason (Lebanon, N.J.) and RTF Lincoln, her 14-year-old Oldenburg/Holsteiner gelding, won the Intermediate II Open Championship with a 72.157%. Another Dressage Development Program member, Michael Bragdell (Colora, Md.), claimed the Third Level Open Championship with a score of 73.083% aboard SenSation HW, Carol McPhee’s six-year-old Westphalian gelding.
Angela Jackson (Henderson, Ky.) and Figaro H, her U.S.-bred nine-year-old Zweibrucker gelding, bested a field of almost 30 competitors in the Intermediate I Open Championship with a score of 72.157%. “This is definitely special for me, because he's family. He represents five generations of horses we've bred and ridden,” Jackson said.
Jocelyn Towne (Los Angeles, Calif.) and Bandini, her nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding, made the cross-country trip count with a win in the Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship on a score of 70.833%.
On day three, Ruth Shirkey (Livermore, Calif.) and Wyleigh Princess, her nine-year-old Hanoverian mare, won the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship on a personal best score of 73.900%. Watch their winning ride.
Crowd favorites James Koford (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Adiah HP, Sherry Koella’s 12-year-old Friesian Sporthorse mare, secured a top score of 75.108% to win the Grand Prix Open Freestyle Championship for the third year in a row. “She’s quite a performer. She loves the music and she loves the crowd. When I’m warming up, she keeps trying to go into the ring before it’s time. It’s so rare and so special to have a horse that loves to go into the show ring like that,” Koford said.
Music filled the air on the final day of competition as horses and riders danced their way to new freestyle national titles. Beth Parsons Bird (Southern Pines, N.C.) won the Third Level Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship aboard Fahrenheit, her 13-year-old KWPN gelding, with a score of 70.922%. "I was very nervous going in, since this is my first year doing a freestyle,” Parsons Bird admitted. “I initially wanted some happy, upbeat music, but it didn't fit my horse at all, so my freestyle designer Cynthia Collins picked out music from Power Rangers and Call of Duty. It's very dark, but it fits him well. It wasn't what I wanted at first, but now I love it."
Adding to the excitement of the final day, the top-scoring riders in various divisions competed on regional teams in the US Dressage Finals Regions Cup. Coming out on top was the Region 2 team comprised of Angela Jackson with Figaro H and Royal Heiress, Robert Jackson’s four-year-old Oldenburg mare, and Elisabeth Ritz (Pepper Pike, Ohio) with Fairmount, her nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Their winning average score of 72.007% just edged out reserve champions Region 8 with 71.343% and third-placed Region 4 finishing on 71.244%.
Catch every ride from the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan on demand with the USEF Network.
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Learn more about dressage by visiting the Learning Center video library where you will find tips on straightness exercises with Adrienne Lyle, visualizing your dressage test with Allison Brock, riding proper corners with Debbie McDonald, and much more.
Photos by: SusanJStickle.com