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Six More Champions Named at 2018 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions

by Kathleen Landwehr & Dana Rossmeier, US Equestrian Communications Department | Aug 26, 2018, 12:09 AM EST

Wayne, Ill. – The list of national champions at the 2018 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions continued to grow on Saturday, including Emma Asher and Traneenggaards Akondo, Emily Miles and Sole Mio, Michael Bragdell and SenSation HW, Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quatero, Endel Ots and Lucky Strike, and Codi Harrison and Katholt’s Bossco. One division performed their first tests of the championship, while the final five titles will be decided on Sunday.

USEF Junior Dressage National Championship

Emma Asher and Traneenggaards Akondo (SusanJStickle.com)

Emma Asher and Traneenggaards Akondo won the FEI Junior Individual Test to clinch the USEF Junior Dressage National Championship. Asher (Greenwood Village, Colo.) and Seeley Equestrian Ventures’ 16-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, delivered a strong test to score 71.029%. Melanie Doughty (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) and Fascinata, a 10-year-old Rheinlander mare, were the reserve champions, and Mackenzie Peer (Overland Park, Kan.) and Daquan, Beth Nay’s 10-year-old KWPN mare, were third overall.

Overall Results

Emma Asher and Traneenggaards Akondo – 70.944%

Melanie Doughty and Fascinata – 68.512%

Mackenzie Peer and Daquan – 67.492%

Results: FEI Junior Individual Test

Emma Asher and Traneenggaards Akondo – 71.029%

Melanie Doughty and Fascinata – 68.235%

Allison Nemeth and Dafoe – 67.451%

Quotes from the Press Conference

On being the national champion:

Asher: “It’s really gratifying. I competed all season in Wellington, so it really shows a lot of progress [for me] and for the whole sport and the division competing against real competition.”

On their rides:

Asher: “‘Akondo’ felt really good today. He was really up in front of my leg and listening and much more supple than yesterday. He really improved from the warm-up because in the warm-up he was a bit fiery and wasn’t listening very well, but he really came back and stayed with me for the test, which was great.”

Doughty: “My mare was a bit tired, but she really listened to me and was on it in the arena. I am really proud of her.”

Peer: “My ride felt super. Obviously there are always a couple little mistakes, but I am just really proud of her for holding it together. This was our first big show so I am just really proud of her for trying her best and being with me.”

Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old Dressage National Championship

Emily Miles and Sole Mio (SusanJStickle.com)

Emily Miles (Paola, Kan.) and Sole Mio (Stanford x Donna-Rafaela) capped off their 2018 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions experience by winning the Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old Dressage National Championship. The Hanoverian stallion owned by Leslie Waterman exhibited his strong, steady, natural flowing gaits and smooth trot work to solidify the title following their win in the USEF Four-Year-Old Test on Thursday. Rebecca Rigdon (Cardiff By The Sea, Calif.) and Jagger (Apache x Volumia), her KWPN gelding, earned the Reserve National Championship, and Sarah Lockman (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) and Jupiter (Jazz x Twinkle R), Gerry Ibanez’s KWPN gelding, placed third overall. The U.S.-Bred Award went to Davos CF (Dante Weltino x Roselea), an Oldenburg stallion ridden by Anna Keenan and owned by Nancy Holowesko.

Overall Results

Emily Miles and Sole Mio – 8.57

Rebecca Rigdon and Jagger – 8.32

Sarah Lockman and Jupiter – 8.14

Results: USEF Four-Year-Old Test (Saturday)

Emily Miles and Sole Mio – 8.68

Rebecca Rigdon and Jagger – 8.44

Emily Miles and Daily Show – 8.30

Quotes from the Press Conference

On success in these championships:

Miles: “We riders, horses, and owners work all year long and it comes down to two seven minute tests, so it’s a blink in time, but it’s something you’ll never forget. This means so much, but everyone has worked really hard to get here, and it worked out really well for me today. I have a fabulous horse, so it feels pretty good.”

Rigdon: “It’s absolutely fantastic; I couldn’t have asked for more. I have had him a [less than] five months. Every experience I have had with him has been a new one, and he’s never put a foot out of place. It’s such a great environment … it’s a super experience for the horses’ development.”

On the importance of owner’s in young horse development:

Miles: “It’s so important to support the owners in this process. There isn’t enough credit to how much [investment] owners all over the United States [give] and how much investment is made to horses who didn’t make it here. It takes a lot of things to get here, and it’s the owners that have to stand behind it. In the end, they are responsible for taking care of their horses, and they are just as emotionally invested as the trainers and riders. We need to take a step back and thank those owners, even the ones who didn’t make it here.”

Rigdon: “Christine Traurig has done a phenomenal job with this program and USEF for making this all happen. To have such a large country, the training has become so systematic; therefore, the quality of horses is going up because the training and riding quality is getting better.”

Lockman: “We really want to encourage this young horse program and appreciate the people who support our careers and horses. We have super owners who care about horses and their well-being, and we’re lucky that this gets us here.”

On plans for the rest of the year:

Miles: “I plan to give them a two good weeks of lunging, maybe some cavalettis; I don’t plan to sit on them for two weeks. They’ll have some nice, easy down time coming up. They have to do a Hanoverian approval in November. I want to solidify the strength and connection, the suppleness, and build on the foundation of quality gaits to make it to the five-year-old division.”

Rigdon: “We will go home and do some cavaletti work and have a couple of weeks off. Gradually, we’ll get to where we are working on the five-year-old, but my horse has grown quite a bit lately, so he needs to get stronger but needs a good break.”

Lockman: “We have been building their strength up to this point. I do a lot of trail riding and hill work that they don’t know is work, and it’s fun. He will spend a lot of time out in the field, a little jumping. We have regional championships coming up in a month, and then he’ll get some well deserved time off.”

USEF Children Dressage National Championship

Miki Yang and Garden's Sam (SusanJStickle.com)

Miki Yang and Garden’s Sam took the lead in the USEF Children Dressage National Championship by winning the first of two tests. Yang (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) and Four Winds Farm’s 11-year-old New Forest Pony gelding had a smooth test to score 68.397% to win the FEI Children Team Test. Averi Allen (Pleasant Hill, Mo.) and Lady Lilliana, Mary Adams’s nine-year-old Friesian Sporthorse mare, placed second, while Kylee Kment (Palmyra, Neb.) and Manatee, Jami Kment’s 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, placed third.

Results: FEI Children Team Test

Miki Yang and Garden’s Sam – 68.397%

Averi Allen and Lady Lilliana – 67.885%

Kylee Kment and Manatee – 67.756%

Quotes from the Press Conference

On their tests:

Yang: “I was really happy with how it went. ‘Sam’ usually gets a bit tense inside the arena but today I felt like he was there for me and I was there for him. He was just really honest, and it was a really clean test and I was really happy with it.”

Allen: “I was thrilled with how she handled everything. We have had troubles in the past; she gets a little lazy and can’t keep the canter. I felt like through the test she was pretty good; we have been working on keeping the canter through the whole thing. She was just really good.”

Kment: “He was amazing today. His contact today was so consistent; I was so proud of him. We just went in there and did our best. I’m so blessed to be here.”

On the national championship experience at Lamplight Equestrian Center:

Yang: “I am really, really happy to be here. Everything is just so well put together; everybody is so nice and welcoming. I am just really, really happy to be here.”

Allen: “This is my third year here and every year I come here, I love the facility, everyone is so nice, it is so beautiful here. It is just really nice to be here.”

Kment: “It is amazing. It is so beautiful. I am very thrilled because my horse, who is a Thoroughbred, can sometimes get a little hot, but everyone is like, ‘It is okay, you will be great.’ It is so encouraging.”

Markel/USEF Young Horse Five-Year-Old Dressage National Championship

Michael Bragdell and SenSation HW (SusanJStickle.com)

After placing second in the USEF Five-Year-Old Preliminary Test on Thursday, Michael Bragdell (Colora, Md.) and SenSation HW (Sunday x Donata) placed first in the USEF Five-Year-Old Final Test to win the 2018 Markel/USEF Young Horse Five-Year-Old Dressage National Championship. Placing sixth overall in the 2017 four-year-old division, the Westphalian gelding owned by Carol McPhee, showed his exponential growth over the past year, scoring an 8.71 overall. Alice Tarjan (Oldwick, N.J.) and Fairouz (Frazoslis x Diva), her Oldenburg mare, earned the Reserve Championship followed by Rebecca Rigdon and Iquem (Charmeur x Tres Bien Sijgje), her KWPN mare. The U.S.-Bred Award went to Flash Dance (Furstenball x Solar Eclipse), an Oldenburg mare owned and ridden by Kathy Priest.

Overall Results

Michael Bragdell and SenSation HW – 8.71

Alice Tarjan and Fairouz – 8.54

Rebecca Rigdon and Iquem – 8.46

Results: USEF Five-Year-Old Final Test

Michael Bragdell and SenSation HW – 8.72

Rebecca Rigdon and Iquem – 8.44

Alice Tarjan and Fairouz - 8.38

Quotes from Press Conference

On the progression of SenSation HW from last year:

Bragdell: “Thank you to the facility and staff who works hard to make this happen. Everybody does such a tremendous job of putting this together and making it such a fantastic event. It’s so exciting to come here. I want to thank Carolyn Scott and her entire family … this year has really solidified the training behind him. He has grown more and more; almost every week he surprises me. I thought we had a fabulous trot coming in, but I felt we kicked it up a notch in the championship classes. He really tries for me and puts his heart out for me, and that feels great when I’m in the ring.”

On aspiring to bring a young horse to these young horse championships:

Bragdell: “As you train them up [through the levels], it is good markers where we would like the horses to be at that age. It will not necessarily work for every horse at that age. You have to pay attention to what the horses are telling you; where are they physically and mentally, and are they ready to be at this level … you stick with your program and believe in it, and I think that’s important.”

Rigdon: “Follow the training scale and listen to the horse. Some horses are meant to do this and some are not. Take your time; the whole point is that these horses end up being international grand prix horses … so if that’s what you really want and expect and that’s the quality that lies potentially within your horse, then you have to have these challenges like the five-year-old test, and then know when to back off so you don’t put too much pressure [on them].”

USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship

Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quatero (SusanJStickle.com)

Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quatero held on to the lead from day one and maintained their form to win the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship. Blitz (Wellington, Fla.) and her nine-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding had an up-tempo freestyle that clinched the win in the national championship. Jennifer Baumert (Wellington, Fla.) and Handsome, Betsy Juliano LLC’s 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, were the reserve champions, followed by Jodie Kelly-Baxley (Destin, Fla.) and Caymus, Beth Godwin’s 11-year-old KWPN gelding, placed third. All of the top-three finishers in this division are members of the USEF Development Program supported by The Red Husky Foundation.

Overall Results

Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quatero – 73.336%

Jennifer Baumert and Handsome – 72.794%

Jodie Kelly-Baxley and Caymus – 70.689%

Results: FEI Intermediaire I Freestyle

Jennifer Baumert and Handsome – 75.530%

Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quatero – 74.045%

Nick Wagman and Ferano – 73.915%

Quotes from Press Conference

On winning the title:

Blitz: “It feels amazing. I am going to live on this high for a while now. I am glad it is over because I was really nervous about it. I had some tough competition here, not only [Baumert and Kelly-Baxley] but the rest of the class. We had a really competitive small tour and I am really proud to have ridden to the top of that. It never gets old winning; I love it.”

On their freestyles:

Blitz: “I use Marlene Whitaker for my freestyles and she is a genius! She heard some music and immediately thought of my horse. I always take her advice, and he is a very high-power, high-energy horse, and my music is the same – it is high energy and it is on. I love classical [music] but I didn’t want to go to classical. You just kind of hear what you see when you hear that music and when you see that horse, the energy matches and it just encourages more and more forward and ground-covering movement.”

Baumert: “Terry Gallo did my freestyle. She came out with the trot music, which is Titanium, and I instantly knew that was the song; it adds a lot of power like Handsome does and it just has a lot of energy. Like Heather, [the music] just kind of makes me ride his trot to the best trot it can be.”

Kelly-Baxley: “My music is from the movie The Greatest Showman. This past fall leading up to me needing a freestyle, I had been listening to a lot of music. I heard a lot of suitable music for him but nothing spoke to me. I am not super musical, but Marlene Whitaker also does mine and she is a magician because I don’t hear the change in music very well. It really has to hit me over the head and really speak to me; I went to see the movie and I was sitting in the movie like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is it!’”

On who they want to thank:

Blitz: “Definitely the USEF for all the organization and effort that goes on behind the scenes, I don’t even know how much it takes but I am sure it is much more than I think. My groom Angel Bucca and my assistant trainer Ariane Martinelli are always there for me, and I don’t worry about my other horses when I am away and that is huge, so I can do things like this. My husband Rob is always supportive and I couldn’t do it without him, all of my friends and family, and Inger Recht, the breeder of ‘Quatero.’ I have some super sponsors with Animo, Tucci, Grand Meadows, Custom Saddley, and Samshield that help me perform the way I want to. Also, thanks to the event sponsors and the Lamplight Equestrian Center.

Baumert: “I just want to share an extra special thanks to my sponsor, Betsy Juliano, who made this all possible and provides me with everything to be as prepared as I could possibly be coming into an event like this. I just feel very lucky to be in that position.”

Kelly-Baxley: “I really need to give a shout-out to The Red Husky Foundation because I am a new member of the Development Program and it really has made a huge difference in me being able to be here and accomplish what I have accomplished. And then, my coaches, Anne Gribbons and Toine Hoefs, have been with me every step of the way. Anne really held my hand through today and it means a lot.”

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

Endel Ots and Lucky Strike (SusanJStickle.com)

Endel Ots (Wellington, Fla.) and Lucky Strike (Lord Laurie x Heidi) increased their accolades at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions. With a 2017 Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage Reserve National Championship and 2015 USEF Six-Year-Old National Championship to their names, they added a Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship on Saturday. He and the eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Max Ots earned an overall score of 73.264%. Christopher Hickey (Wellington, Fla.) and Straight Horse Zackonik (Blue Hors Zack x Romanik), Cecelia Stewart’s eight-year-old Danish gelding, earned the Reserve title followed by Heather McCarthy (Prairie Grove, Ill.) and Au Revoir (Ampere x Lara), Sandi Chohany’s seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding. The U.S.-Bred Award went to Sternlicht Hilltop (Soliman de Hus x Rhapsody GGF), an eight-year-old Hanoverian stallion ridden by Michael Bragdell and owned by Hilltop Farm Inc.

Overall Results

Endel Ots and Lucky Strike – 73.264%

Christopher Hickey and Straight Horse Zackonik – 71.039%

Heather McCarthy and Au Revoir – 70.608%

Results: USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Test

Endel Ots and Lucky Strike – 73.578%

Heather McCarthy and Au Revoir – 71.569%

Melissa Jackson and Domani – 71.520%

Quotes from Press Conference

On the horses’ development:

Ots: “He’s such big horse … I think he needs to develop even more and get stronger. I have a good relationship with him; I’ve shown him here enough times that I know how he thinks. I usually don’t have to school through a bunch of the different movements.”

Hickey: “She’s a very special mare. She comes out and works; she has a wonderful mind … [preparing] for this show, I’ve been working horses outside and getting them acclimated to the heat because I didn’t know what the temperatures would be like … I was very glad that my horse was fit to the heat. I think it is important to have the consistency of help all year. I trained with Anne Gribbons and being able to have that consistency and have eyes on the horse makes a major difference. It’s easy to get low thinking it’s better than it is if nobody is keeping eyes on you and honest, so I’m very thankful to my sponsor that enables me to get regular help.

McCarthy: “He is a very special horse. He was a late bloomer physically and mentally. He did pretty well in the five-year-olds. Last year as a six-year-old he was too immature to compete against some of the others. This winter was a big for him as far as maturity and finding himself. He grew up; he’s a big boy now. He looks so mature, finding his balance and power.”

On the horses’ plans moving forward:

Ots: “He will get a little bit of time off. We’ll start playing with the I [Intermediate] One and getting a Freestyle for him, and we’ll do some CDI’s in the Florida season, but he’ll get to be a horse for a couple months.

Hickey: “She’ll have some time hacking and trotting over some cavalettis. She is quite close to doing I-1, so she’ll do the Florida CDI’s. She’s started some piaffe passage. My goal is do some [Prix] St. Georges and I-1. The Pan American [Games] are next year, so we’ll see how that all shakes out.”

McCarthy: “He is going to regionals and then hopefully nationals. My goal will be Florida, not this winter, but next winter and start a CDI circuit with him. He’ll have a break after regionals before legging him up to get him ready for nationals.”

USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship presented by Dressage Today

Codi Harrison and Katholt's Bossco (SusanJStickle.com)

Codi Harrison and Katholt’s Bossco lead from start to finish to win the USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship presented by Dressage Today. Harrison (Loxahatchee, Fla.) and her 11-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding performed an entertaining freestyle to country music to win the class and the championship. Molly Paris (Charlotte, N.C.) and Countess, her 16-year-old Danish mare, were the reserve champions, while placed second, and Discover Dressage™ US Equestrian/United States Dressage Federation Emerging Athlete Program member Kerrigan Gluch (Wellington, Fla.) and HGF Brio, Hampton Green Farm’s 13-year-old Andalusian stallion, placed third.

Overall Results

Codi Harrison and Katholt’s Bossco – 72.622%

Molly Paris and Countess – 68.743%

Kerrigan Gluch and HGF Brio – 67.584%

Results: FEI Grand Prix Freestyle (Brentina Cup)

Codi Harrison and Katholt’s Bossco – 74.075%

Kerrigan Gluch and Bolero CXLVIII – 70.325%

Kerrigan Gluch and HGF Brio – 69.525%

Quotes from the Press Conference

On being the national champion:

Harrison: “I am very excited. I am so proud of him. I had no idea to expect coming in, so I am thrilled. For him to give me every ounce that he had and to stay so with me for the show, it is great because it is one of the first times we have really had that. I am so happy and we had such a competitive field; I am honored.”

On the ‘Brentina Cup’ division for up-and-coming athletes:

Harrison: “I think it is a really good transition from the Young Riders to the Grand Prix because you have all the Grand Prix elements without the degree of difficulty, kind of a modified division, and it is fun to have a division with people your own age and that this year is so competitive. I think it is a great ease into the Grand Prix and a middle step rather than a big jump.”

Paris: “I have been doing this for two or three years now and every year it gets better and better. You learn from it so much by progressing in it, learning the movements, and learning how to actually ride a Grand Prix test without the stress of being against your Olympic team, which is kind of scary. It has been super good for me, a good stepping stone to Grand Prix, so I think that is a really important thing for all of us.”

Gluch: “I think the youth programs in general for the U.S. have gotten much bigger in the past few years. Over the years, it brings more and more riders, which then makes our division even bigger. I think having that pipeline of kids that keep coming is really special and crucial for having young people on the senior teams or Olympic team.”

Live coverage of the 2018 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions will continue on the USEF Network beginning at 8:00 a.m. EST on Sunday.

Find out more information about dressage seat equitation and the 2018 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions. View the ride times and results.

Keep up with the 2018 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions on Facebook (@USADressage and @USEFNetwork), Instagram (@USEFNetwork), and Twitter (@USEFNetwork) for all the latest from the ring and behind the scenes.