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Christian Simonson and Son of a Lady Win Neue Schule/USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship on Day Four of 2023 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions

by Leslie Potter/US Equestrian | Aug 24, 2023, 11:00 PM

Wayne, Ill. – A busy day of competition took place at HITS Chicago at Lamplight Equestrian Center with seven classes across two rings for day four of the 2023 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions. The Neue Schule/USEF Intermediaire I division had its conclusion with the FEI Freestyle Test, culminating in the second national championship title of this year’s show.

Madeleine Bendfeldt and Lindholm's Quick Step
Madeleine Bendfeldt and Lindholm's Quick Step. ©SusanJStickle.com

Markel/USEF Five-Year-Old Dressage National Championship

The five-year-olds made their debut on Thursday morning with their FEI Preliminary Test in the Markel Arena. Madeleine Bendfeldt (GER) earned the top score of the day with Beth Noorthoek’s 2018 Danish Warmblood gelding, Lindholm’s Quick Step. The striking black gelding earned high marks across the board for an overall score of 89% from the judges.

Class Results

Current Overall Standings:

  1. Madeleine Bendfeldt (GER) and Lindholm’s Quick Step
  2. Sven Smienk (CAN) and Superior 9
  3. Adam John Steffens and Candoit’s Secret Weapon

From the Mixed Zone:

Tell us about Lindholm’s Quick Step’s background and breeding.

Madeleine Bendfeldt: Quick Step is by Quarterhit. I found him in Denmark at a friend’s place. That was so not what I expected but it turned out way better than I thought. He just came in February, so we did not have that much time. But he caught up on all the education and he was great, as he proved today. He’s fun every day. I love this horse. He has the right attitude. He’s my Black Beauty. He is amazing.

What qualities make him stand out from other young horses?

MB: He has the talent for everything that he needs to be an amazing grand prix horse. He has so much talent for collection. He’s willing to give you everything he has to give every day the same. He’s very talented and he has the perfect attitude for it.

How did you feel about your test today?

MB: It was so fun to ride. Ever since I’ve been doing this job, I feel like this is what it is, the pure fun experience where you never have one second where you struggled and thought, ‘Oh, this could have been better.’ It was seamless until my last turn on the centerline. I thought, ‘Okay, that could not have been any better.’ He gave me everything, and they rewarded him for that, and I really do appreciate the judges.

Codi Harrison and Katholt's Bossco
Codi Harrison and Katholt's Bossco. ©SusanJStickle.com

Neue Schule/USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship

Codi Harrison (Wellington, Fla.) and Katholt’s Bossco, her own 2007 Danish Warmblood gelding, repeated their victory from Wednesday, adding a blue ribbon from today’s FEI Grand Prix Special Test to the one they earned in the FEI Grand Prix Test earlier in the week. They’ll maintain their top spot on the leaderboard heading into Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Freestyle Test.

Class Results

Current Overall Standings:

  1. Codi Harrison and Katholt’s Bossco
  2. Lehua Custer and F.J. Ramzes
  3. Katie Duerrhammer and Paxton

From the Mixed Zone:

Tell us about your test today.

Codi Harrison: Today we were not mistake-free, but he still gave me a pretty great feeling throughout the whole test. He stayed with me. I had some rider errors; I gunned it a little too much in the twos and had a mistake and then I also messed up my walk tour. But overall, the passage felt better today. We still went out there and gave it our all.

Is Bossco affected by the heat at all?

CH: We’ve trained in Florida all summer, so I think he’s pretty accustomed to it. I’m excited for Saturday and the freestyle. He’s definitely a cold-weather horse, so I think a nice crispness in the air is going to be beneficial for him. But he’s fit, he doesn’t seem tired after a ride, so I think he’s coping pretty well with the heat.

What can we expect in your freestyle?

CH: I think it’s pretty fun. It’s a rock freestyle. We showed it all season and he loved it. He loves the music. There’s always a bit more energy inside of him when he hears it. It’s made for him. It’s my favorite test to ride.

What was your favorite part of your test today?

CH: The last centerline felt pretty good. It felt pretty good yesterday, too, but at the end of the test, you would expect that they’re more tired. But that last one, I think he lights up knowing he did a good job and it’s time to be done. The piaffe and passage are usually his highlights. The ones felt nice. Half passes felt quite easy today for him. They’re not one of his strengths, but even though he’s getting older, they’re getting better.

Quinn Iverson and Beckham 19
Quinn Iverson and Beckham 19. ©SusanJStickle.com

Adequan®/USEF Young Adult Brentina Cup Dressage National Championship

Quinn Iverson (Wellington, Fla.) and Bille Davidson’s 2009 Hanoverian gelding, Beckham 19, earned their second blue ribbon of this year’s Brentina Cup, scoring a 67.409% in today’s FEI Grand Prix 16-25 Test to maintain their lead on the overall leaderboard.

Class Results

Current Overall Standings:

  1. Quinn Iverson and Beckham 19
  2. Emily Hewitt and Fidens
  3. Emma Asher and Elegance N

From the Mixed Zone:

Take us through your test today.

Quinn Iverson: It’s a little warm here today and everybody’s a little tired, but he still put in a really good effort. We had a little bobble here and there, but overall, he really came to play and showed up.

What was your favorite part of your test?

QI: I was actually really happy with the pirouettes today. Sometimes he gets really fast, and so he actually kind of slowed down and let me turn him, so I’m very happy with that.

Willy Arts and Serupgaards Cezanne
Willy Arts and Serupgaards Cézanne. ©Leslie Potter/US Equestrian

Markel/USEF Four-Year-Old Dressage National Championship

The youngest of the young horse divisions completed their first of two USEF Four-Year-Old tests today, with 16 entries taking their turn in front of the judges. Willy Arts (Handford, Calif.) and Linda Nickerson’s 2019 Danish Warmblood stallion, Serupgaards Cézanne, earned the day’s highest score of 88.800%.

Class Results

Current Overall Standings:

  1. Willy Arts and Serupgaards Cézanne
  2. Madeleine Bendfeldt (GER) and Zapatero
  3. Lindsey Holleger and MW One More Dream

From the Mixed Zone:

What is Serupgaards Cézanne’s background and breeding?

Willy Arts: He’s Danish, by Torveslettens Sylvester and his mother is by [Blue Hors] Romanov. He’s a 4-year-old stallion that came to us as a 3-year-old. We started developing him and it’s been a steady pace.

How did you feel about your ride today?

WA: I was very happy. He was consistent, which was a really good gauge of his rideability. He had a nice, positive attitude in the ring, and he’s self-motivated. I think he’s a complete horse. Next year he’ll be a 5-year-old, but for this year, that’s all you can expect from a 4-year-old, and he definitely shows the mechanism and the technique and the ability in his body to be a very good FEI horse.

What makes a horse like him stand out from other 4-year-olds?

WA: I think it’s because of the way he shows ease of movement, and he’s very self-motivated. Everything looks relaxed. It’s natural talent. You can see he goes from a beautiful extended trot into a stretching circle, and he just carries himself and he’s relaxed. So everything is natural. I think that is the most important thing in a 4-year-old. It’s not so much how many tricks they can do, but that they can show the natural ability, and then next year, you have a little bit more, introducing full collection and if you do that correctly, then you have a horse that’s ready to move on to the 6-year-olds and FEI.

Allison Berger and Delacure
Allison Berger and Delacure. ©SusanJStickle.com

Adequan®/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship

The Junior division got started today with 12 entries completing the FEI Team Test in the Grand Prix Arena. Allison Berger (Chicago, Ill.) rode away with the day’s top score with Delacure, her own and Marianne Berger’s 2014 Hanoverian gelding, earning a 69.292%.

Class Results

Current Overall Standings:

  1. Allison Berger and Delacure
  2. Taylor Allen and Fleur de Lis
  3. Madison Sumner and Briar

From the Mixed Zone:

Walk us through your test today.

Allison Berger: Today was an absolute dream. Delacure tried so hard despite the heat. He did everything for me. He worked super hard for me. My favorite part was the extensions. The extended canter was so fun, and overall, it was a really fun day.

Talk about your partnership with Delacure.

AB: We got him from Hoff Kesselman about six months ago and we’ve been riding in Florida with the Ebelings and we’ve been really growing as a pair. He’s teaching me a lot and I’m so grateful for every ride I have on him.

Is there anything you’re going to focus on in your next test?

AB: We’re just gonna have the best tests we can have. We’re going to have a clean test and just try to show off where we can in the extensions and just try to have a fun time as well.

Sabine Schut-Kery and Sonnenberg's Jersey
Sabine Schut-Kery and Sonnenberg's Jersey. ©SusanJStickle.com

Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship

The Developing Prix St. Georges entries closed out the lineup for the Markel Arena, with nine combinations completing the FEI Prix St. Georges Test. Sabine Schut-Kery (San Diego, Calif.) and Sonnenberg’s Jersey, a 2014 Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Sonnenberg Farm, LLC, topped the leaderboard with a 71.666% in the first test of the division.

Class Results

Current Overall Standings:

  1. Sabine Schut-Kery and Sonnenberg’s Jersey
  2. Quinn Iverson and Gremlin 41
  3. Brian Hafner and Runehøjs Shiva

From the Mixed Zone:

Tell us about your horse’s background and breeding.

Sabine Schut-Kery: He’s by Vivaldi and then Pharaoh on his dam’s side. It’s a young partnership—this is our third show. The horse is incredible. He got out of quarantine at the end of April, and then I flew up to Oregon, tried him, and then he came down to me in Southern California. The horse has a heart of gold to take a new rider and let me start making him my horse, but at the same time being able to compete is pretty amazing. The character of this horse is that he doesn’t say no. He’s always a yes man. He’s amazing, and then obviously super talented, beautiful movement and great rideability, so I’m actually thrilled to have the ride on him for right now. He’s owned by Sonnenberg Farm, Gina and Dan Ruediger, and he’s a breeding stallion. This horse is solid and honest, so it’s exciting to have the bloodline as a breeding stallion in America.

Take us through your test today.

SSK: Again, it’s a young partnership. For me it’s always having him really in front of me. He has a lot of gaits, but I don’t want him to be ahead of me, or even behind me. In the second pirouette he came a moment behind me, but then I closed my leg and he was right back there. Other than that, it felt like jogging in hot weather. There was something that was hard on the ride for me to breathe and be fresh, and so that was tough. I think that’s what I had a lot of my mind. Other than that, going through the test, he was really super. The other thing that is really amazing with him is that I didn’t have to worry that I don’t have enough horse. It’s pretty incredible. With a lot of other horses that has to be managed, and yes, we took him straight over to the barn and hosed him off after but it didn’t cross my mind once that I didn’t have enough horse, and that’s amazing.

Christian Simonson and Son of a Lady
Christian Simonson and Son of a Lady. ©Leslie Potter/US Equestrian

Neue Schule/USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship

The Neue Schule/USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship came to its exciting conclusion with all 12 entries performing their FEI Intermediate I Freestyle Test. Charlotte Jorst (Reno, Nev.) and Zhaplin Langholt earned the highest freestyle score of a 75.610%, bringing the pair to the third place position overall. Christian Simonson (Ventura, Calif.) and Son of a Lady were second in the freestyle with a 74.015%, allowing them to maintain the top spot to win the national champion title. Nora Batchelder (Williston, Fla.) and Nova, Carol Glover's 2015 Oldenburg mare scored a 73.415, earning them the reserve national champion title.

Class Results

Final Results:

  1. Christian Simonson and Son of a Lady
  2. Nora Batchelder and Nova
  3. Charlotte Jorst and Zhaplin Langholt

From the Mixed Zone:

Tell us about your freestyle.

Charlotte Jorst: I have only done that freestyle once before because it’s not often you get to do the I-1 freestyle. I actually did it when I was with Christian on a Nations Cup team, and we were just reminiscing about that. I missed my twos back then, but today I got that, so I was very happy. It’s a really nice test. I’ve done that freestyle with another horse a long time ago, so I love that music.

Christian Simonson: The freestyle was funny because it was actually a brand new one. I’d never practiced it before, so we were just kind of going in, with the weather circumstances we just kind of had to wing it. He was tired, he’s been pushing all weekend. We had one little blip that I think was more my fault than anything else. The music, I’m really excited about. I like it a lot. It has some choreography that is more difficult than I’m used to and I think it really caters well to him. It was a good day. It’s been a good week.

Nora Batchelder: This was our first trying this freestyle. We’ve tried one other version at WEC and then we tried this new version, so we were also kind of winging it. But I was pretty happy with it. She was a little nervous about the speakers and the music, but she’ll get better at that. We need more experience.

Talk about your partnership with your horse.

CJ: I have had Zhaplin since he was five, so everything that he knows, I’ve kind of taught him, and it’s been such a fun experience for me. In the beginning when I got him he was so nervous and neurotic and he was spinning and doing all kinds of fun things with me. And now he’s such a sweetheart. Every time he goes in that ring he tries his best, so it’s been a great partnership. I can’t wait to have him for many, many more years and hopefully like Nintendo he’ll go into his twenties. That would be pretty amazing.

CS: I’ve had sonny for a year and a half. This was never his game plan, actually, to do the small tour. He was supposed to be a U25 horse for me, and he’s just kind of become the wonder horse that could and we’ve gone all over the world now and done from the Young Riders now to the small tour up with the adults and he’s just an incredible horse. He’s always going, always ready to give 110%, even on days like today when it’s almost 100 degrees. He feels like gold when you ride him.

NB: We’ve had Nova for about a year and a half. She’s only eight, so we’re excited for the future. We’re playing with the grand prix stuff and I’m just super grateful to her owner Carol Glover for letting me ride her. She’s amazing.

What does it mean to win this championship on top of everything else you’ve done this year?

CS: It means a lot. Adrienne (Lyle, Simonson’s trainer) won this championship back in the day, and so that also makes it really special. But I think this whole week has been really special. It was a Pan-Ams [observation event] and to have the boys do that well—this whole journey [working toward Pan-Am team selection] has been something totally new for me and a whole level of pressure I didn’t know if I was going to be good enough for. I think I’ve learned how to handle pressure through this process. But I really think the biggest part of this weekend was Adrienne and the crew. It was 100 degrees these past few days, and she’s eight months pregnant and she’s here coaching me and willing to support me along with the others. I think that’s kind of what made the weekend be more than the championship title as well. It’s so inspiring to watch her. She’s a true badass in every way.

Full Schedule and Results

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