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Six New National Champions on Day Six of the 2023 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions

by Leslie Potter/US Equestrian | Aug 27, 2023, 6:00 AM EST

Wayne, Ill. – The penultimate day of the 2023 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions crowned six new national champions in the developing Prix St. Georges, Grand Prix, 4-year-old, 5-year-old, pony rider, and young adult Brentina Cup divisions. The USEF Children Dressage National Championship also held the first of its two-round national championship, which will conclude on Sunday.

Sabine Schut-Kery and Sonnenberg's Jersey
Sabine Schut-Kery and Sonnenberg's Jersey. ©Leslie Potter/US Equestrian

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

The national championship for developing Prix St. Georges concluded today with the USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Test. David Blake (Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.) earned the top score in the class, a 73.240%, with Delilah, Leslie Allbright’s 2015 Hanoverian mare. That score brought them to the reserve champion position overall. Sabine Schut-Kery (San Diego, Calif) and Sonnenberg’s Jersey, a 2014 Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Sonnenberg Farm, placed third in the class with a 72.222%, maintaining their lead overall to win the championship. Quinn Iverson (Wellington) and Gremlin 41, a 2015 Oldenburg gelding owned by Bille Davidson, scored a 70.231% to finish in third place overall.

Class Results

Final Results:

  1. Sabine Schut-Kery and Sonnenberg’s Jersey
  2. David Blake and Delilah
  3. Quinn Iverson and Gremlin 41

From the Mixed Zone:

Tell us about your horse.

Sabine Schut-Kery: He’s owned by Gina and Dan Ruediger of Sonnenberg Farm. He’s a 9-year-old KWPN approved stallion by Vivaldi and dam’s side is Pharaoh, and he’s amazing.

David Blake: She’s an 8-year-old Hanoverian mare by Dr. Watson and [dam’s sire] Wolkenstein II. She’s owned by Leslie Allbright who found her in Germany as a 3-year-old.

Quinn Iverson: I have Gremlin, owned by Bille and Tom Davidson. He’s by Grey Flannel and is 8 years old.

How did your test go today?

SSK: It’s a really young, new partnership. I’ve only had him for three months. Just doing this, coming here, speaks volumes. I would rate him a 15 for his character, and rideability too. He obviously had good training before, and he’s super talented. I’m just thrilled with my two stallions, having them come here and do so well. I don’t know what more I could ask. He’s super fun to ride. I love his gaites, and I look forward to the future.

QI: I actually had a lot more gas than I was expecting. We had a few little bobbles, but overall we had some really brilliant moments and I’m very excited for the future with him.

Did the cooler weather make a difference in your test today?

DB: For sure. She ran out of gas [in the first test] but she was really with me today. I got to show off a little bit in the end. It was fun.

What’s next for your horse?

SSK: When you’re here, you’re just focusing on this, so he’ll be taking a breather. A big break for this horse. What they do is just amazing, and we forget that sometimes. I wouldn’t say take it for granted but I want to give him a good break on our beautiful grass pastures, and then see and go to the next step.

Codi Harrison and Katholt's Bossco
Codi Harrison and Katholt's Bossco. ©Leslie Potter/US Equestrian

Neue Schule/USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship

Lehua Custer (Wellington, Fla.) and F.J. Ramzes, Wendy Sasser’s 2010 Dutch Warmblood gelding, earned the top score in Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Freestyle Test, earning a 76.350% with their freestyle to pop and dance music and moving into the reserve champion spot. Katie Duerrhammer (Greenwood Village, Colo.) and Kylee Lourie’s Paxton, a 2011 Westphalian gelding, had the second-highest score in the class with her freestyle set to retro pop music, scoring a 75.775% and moving into third place overall. Codi Harrison (Wellington, Fla.) and her own 2007 Danish Warmblood gelding, Katholt’s Bossco, scored a 75.675% in the freestyle, maintaining their top spot to win the national champion title.

Class Results

Final Results:

  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 freestyle.

Codi Harrison: The freestyle is my favorite. When I did the U25 here in 2018, I had borrowed a freestyle from Lars which was a mix of country and rock and I think it matched ‘Bossco’ so well. He loves the high-energy, rock part of it, so when I made my own for him, I think I’ve had it for a year and a half now, I went with rock. I think it’s so fun with the different changes of tempo. It lights him up, gives him a little more energy in there. So I picked it for him and it’s fun because I get to highlight his good things, his piaffe and passage, and do things I don’t like one time.

Lehua Custer: I’ve only done this freestyle twice now. I rode it one time at a CDI. Ramzes’s owner and I were on road trips all the time together, and the music we like is kind of upbeat. It keeps us awake while we’re driving. Some Beyonce, some Sia, it’s really positive and kind of that strong, empowering feeling. He’s a big guy that kind of likes to rock it, so we went with that. I’ve done tons of freestyles on other horses at lower levels for years and years and I’d never really done a Grand Prix one until this. I just smiled through it and tried my best for him, and he’s a trouper. He always says yes, so I knew if I rode well, he’d be there for me.

Katie Duerrhammer: I’ve had my freestyle about a year and a half. Last year here was the first time I rode it and then rode it one time to qualify to come here. Terry Gallo made it, and we really want the floorplan to be stuff that really showcases his highlights. He can usually handle a pretty high degree of technical difficulty because when things come up faster, we don’t get to go as fast, and he likes to go really fast. So I think we’re going to make a few tweaks and kind of change the way we do the flying changes. But the rest of it I was really happy with. For the music, I wanted something that was fun. It can’t be too heavy because he’s super light, but it’s elegant. Also, it can’t add too much energy. We need easy, peaceful and calculated music out there, and I think she did a really beautiful job with that and it’s still really fun in the moment. I was really happy with his rideability today. He was very rideable, and we were slowly over the week adding a little more energy and a little more impulsion, and I think he was really good today.

What were some of the highlights of your test today?

CH: I always love that extended canter to piaffe turn. I don’t always nail it, but today he did a pretty good job. I love that last line in both the Grand Prix Special and in my last line in the freestyle. I love that passage-piaffe-passage finisher. And he was great. I had a mistake in the twos, but other than that, he was right with me the whole way. The ones felt great. This drop in temperature helped him. He did great in the heat, but it was nice today to just be able to kind of sit back and relax and he took me around.

Madeleine Bendfeldt and Lindholm's Quick Step
Madeleine Bendfeldt and Lindholm's Quick Step. ©Leslie Potter/US Equestrian

Markel/USEF Five-Year-Old Dressage National Championship

Madeleine Bendfeldt (GER) and Lindholm’s Quick Step, a 2018 Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Beth Noorthoek, posted a second win in 5-year-old division, clinching the national championship. Alyssa Doverspike Burkett (Murrieta, Calif.) and For Edition, the 2018 Westphalian gelding she co-owns with David Wightman and Kimberly Pribble, finished in third place in the FEI Five-Year-Old Final Test to move into the reserve champion spot. Adam John Steffens (Wellington, Fla.) and Candoit’s Secret Weapon, a 2018 Hanoverian mare owned by Candoit Stables, rounded out the top three.

The N2 Saddlery Award was introduced last year at the Markel/USEF Young Horse and Developing Horse Championships at Festival of Champions. The top finishers are placed into a lottery for the chance to win a N2 Saddle. Chris Hickey, who rode Saskatoon OMF to a fifth-place overall finish in the 5-year-old division, won this year’s N2 Saddlery Award.

Class Results

Final Results:

  1. Madeleine Bendfeldt (GER) and Lindholm’s Quick Step
  2. Alyssa Doverspike Burkett and For Edition
  3. Adam John Steffens and Candoit’s Secret Weapon

From the Mixed Zone:

How do you feel after winning the championship?

Madeleine Bendfeldt: Great! And I’m so incredibly proud of these young horses. It’s a lot, the entire week, to transport and shipping and everything. It’s a lot. But they did great.

How did they do in the atmosphere at FOC?

MB: Everything is new. There are so many things to see just right up front from the barns to the warmup is a lot to take in. But now I know that he could still perform.

What is your horse’s background?

MB: I rode his father [Quarterhit] a couple of times in Denmark when I worked there. And I loved him. So when I found [Quick Step] he was pretty green still, as a 4-year-old, but he gave me the feeling that there is something there. And every day we’ve gotten a little bit better in the last half of a year, and here we are.

Alyssa Doverspike Burkett: We bought him as a foal. He’s by For Gold out of a ??? mare. We bought him at two weeks on the ground and brought him over when he was 3 years old, and just started training there. He was here last year for the 4-year-old and finished third. I’m so proud of him that he’s moving his little way up.

What were some of the high points from your week?

ADB: I’m happy with his energy level considering the weather changed for us, coming from such a dry climate. But that’s just part of the sport. So I’m really happy that he shows such a motor. Such a willingness to go and just keep trying. I think it’s really for him a fine line between getting the most out of his trot and canter and keeping the walk and relaxing. That can be a challenge, so I’m super happy for sure.

MB: I think the highlight is that me and my boss, we had the idea almost exactly one year ago to start this together, to find good young horses together, and bring them here, maybe. And now being here in our first year as a business together and having a national championship, it’s so good.

Quinn Iverson and Beckham 19
Quinn Iverson and Beckham 19. ©Leslie Potter/US Equestrian

Adequan®/USEF Young Adult Brentina Cup Dressage National Championship

Returning 2022 Brentina Cup champions Quinn Iverson (Wellington, Fla) with Bille Davidson’s 2009 Hanoverian gelding Beckham 19 closed out an exceptional week, earning a 68.504% in their FEI Grand Prix Freestyle test to finish in second place for the class and maintain the overall lead and the championship title. Emma Asher (Greenwood Village, Colo.) and Elegance N , a 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Seeley Equestrian Ventures, earned the top score of the class, a 69.155%, with their freestyle test set to 1980s pop music, and finished in third place for the division overall. Emily Hewitt (Atlanta, Ga.) and Tammy Pearson’s 2010 Dutch Warmblood gelding Findens took the reserve champion title.

Class Results

Final Results:

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

From the Mixed Zone:

How does it feel to win the Brentina Cup two years in a row?

Quinn Iverson: I’m speechless right now. Very excited, very proud of him, and thankful to the owners who got us here and keep supporting us along the way, and trainers and farriers and everybody in between. We couldn’t be here without them.

What were some of the highlights of your week here?

QI: Today wasn’t quite our day, but the other tests were really solid. He was with me. And in the past we’ve had lots of bobbles here and there, and we’re finally starting to smooth it out, and I’m glad that we could show things that we’ve learned since last year.

Emily Hewitt: My horse, despite the heat and all the odds against us, he was really with me and really solid and he tried his little heart out. We came from NAYC and so having essentially a month-long show was tough on him, but without fail, he was always with me and so wanting to try.

Emma Asher: My highlight was definitely today, but also even though it was really hot on Thursday, we were still able to get going and show what we’ve been working on. I was extra excited about today, because I’ve never ridden that freestyle. So I was just excited that I was able to go out and really show him off.

What was your favorite moment from your freestyle today?

QI: I love the music. Thanks to Susie Dutta for letting me use it for the second year in a row. When it’s all there, it’s a really fun piece of music.

EH: My favorite part today was my music as well as just the good, happy energy. My horse was not really with it today. He was really tired, but [his energy] made me smile. The main point is to have fun and we did.

EA: My highlight was getting to do that choreography. My trainer Katie actually made the choreography specifically for him, so it was really special to get to perform it, and I really think it highlights him well.

Ben McWhorter and Littel Joe 2
Ben McWhorter and Littel Joe 2. ©SusanJStickle.com

Aspen Leaf Farm/USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship

Ben McWhorter (Baton Rouge, La.) and Jennifer Burts’s 1996 German Riding Pony gelding, Littel Joe 2, won their second class of the two held in the pony rider division to clinch the champion title. Mary Chapman Martin (Opelika, Ala.) and her own German Riding Pony gelding Cadbane H, took home the reserve champion title while Alexandra Garvey (Dallas, Texas) and Unscripted, a 2005 Dutch Warmblood pony gelding owned by Dressage4Kids, rounded out the top three for the overall standings.

Class Results

Final Results:

  1. Bennett McWhorter and Littel Joe 2
  2. Mary Chapman Martin and Cadbane H
  3. Alexandra Garvey and Unscripted

From the Mixed Zone:

Tell us about your pony.

Ben McWhorter: He’s owned by Jennifer Burts, who’s been super helpful and super supportive of me while riding Littel Joe, and it’s been such a great experience. He has a super fun personality. He does not act like he’s 27 years old. More like he’s 10, but it adds a super cute character to him.

Mary Chapman Martin: Cadbane H, or “Cooper,” is 7, so he still has a baby personality. He’s very silly. I kind of have to keep him from not looking at flowers in the ring or something because he might want to eat them. But he’s a very good boy. I’m very proud of him, because this is his first time ever being in an environment like this, and I’m very happy with him.

Alexandra Garvey: I rode Unscripted, or “Artie.” I really want to thank personally Lendon Gray for donating him from her donation program. She’s been amazing. She’s helped me in my training. And also Nancy Hinz, Jodie Kelly, and George Williams.

Tell us about your test today.

AG: It went really well. I did kind of go off course, which was definitely a bummer, but I’m super proud of him.

MCM: Just keeping him relaxed through the test, because he tends to tense up every now and then. I’m so proud of him for just keeping relaxed. I missed a few things but I’m proud of him for keeping his calm through it all.

BM: Probably just going for it today and just showing him off because this will probably be his last big show, and just having fun with it.

How did you and your pony first become partners?

MCM: So I got Cooper sight unseen. I got him from Yvonne [Kusserow] and thank them for giving him such a great beginning and passing him on to me where I can continue to do things with him. He’s been really great. I really love that pony.

BM: We were looking for a pony all over the U.S., but then Joey popped up in our backyard only about 40 minutes away from us. And Miss Jennifer Burts and Mr. Danny Burts were super kind to let me ride him and they’ve been super supportive. I couldn’t have done any of his training, getting him back to work, without Lendon Gray, Ben Ebeling, or Jody Kelly.

Madeleine Bendfeldt and Zapatero
Madeleine Bendfeldt (GER) and Zapatero. ©Leslie Potter/US Equestrian

Markel/USEF Four-Year-Old Dressage National Championship

After her championship win in the 5-year-old division, Madeleine Bendfeldt (GER) came back to win a second young horse national championship with her 4-year-old Hanoverian gelding Zapatero. Petra Warlimont (Evergreen, Colo.) was the reserve champion with her own Deambulo PWD, a 2019 Hanoverian gelding, while Lindsey Holleger (Middletown, N.Y.) placed third in the overall championship standings with MW One More Dream, a 2019 Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Jennifer Vanover.

Class Results

Final Results:

  1. Madeleine Bendfeldt (GER) and Zapatero
  2. Petra Warlimont and Deambulo PWD
  3. Lindsey Holleger and MW One More Dream

From the Mixed Zone:

How are you feeling after having two young horses win national championships today?

Madeleine Bendfeldt: I’m thrilled. It’s crazy. I did not really expect it.

Tell us about this horse’s background.

Petra Warlimont: I saw this horse a year ago from a friend of mine in Germany that I’ve worked with for over 10 years. I’ve done this since 2007 and I’ve always ridden horses that we found together. This is the best one we’ve had. He always showed me videos [of Deambulo PWD], and I said, “No, I can’t do this.” Then I went there to try out the other horses, and he said, “Just get on.” And I got on and I was like, well, now this has to happen. So I’m just so trhilled with this horse. He’s an amazing animal and the friendships that have been created through all his journeys are amazing. And all the help I’ve had was just amazing.

Lindsey Holleger: She’s owned by Jen Vanover of Maplewood, and she was found as a foal in the Netherlands. She bought her off an auction. It took maybe six months to start her. She was very reactive and it was tough. But you can feel it. The moment I sat on her I was like, “This is probably the best one that I’ve ever had the opportunity to ride. I just had a feeling of, “This is my horse.”

MB: I actually know the breeder. I know the guy where we found him in Germany. He’s a very good friend and I’ve known the horse since he was two. I was always thinking, “How can I get this horse under my saddle? It’s my dream horse.” I always wanted it, and here we are! Got it done. It took a while, but now I am in the saddle of my dream horse here. And [the judges] honored him, and we honored him the way that he should be honored and I’m just so thrilled. I think today was just 50% of what he can actually do. I’m sure about it.

Maryn Geck and Herr Karlson
Maryn Geck and Herr Karlson. ©SusanJStickle.com

USEF Children Dressage National Championship

The FEI Children Team Test was the first round of competition for the USEF Children Dressage National Championship. Maryn Geck (West Linn, Ore.) took the win in the class and the lead in the division riding Herr Karlson, Laura Geck’s 2015 Hanoverian gelding, scoring a 76.625%.

Class Results

Current Overall Standings:

  1. Maryn Geck and Herr Karlson
  2. Claire Tucker and Custom Made
  3. Sage Chacon and Apfelkorn

From the Mixed Zone:

How long have you been riding Herr Karlson?

Maryn Geck: He came to Oregon, where I live, in May. We’ve had him since March, so he’s really new.

Tell us about your ride today.

MG: It was absolutely amazing. I’m super thrilled with our walk-canter [transitions], but he absolutely nailed them and I’m so thrilled with him.

How did he do in this atmosphere?

MG: He likes it. He probably likes all the attention and all the treats he gets. I think he just likes showing in general because he gets to show off.

What’s his personality like?

MG: He’s so sweet. He just puts his head in your arms and he wants snacks and cuddles all the time. I love him so much.

Full Schedule and Results

2023 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions Livestream

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