Wayne, Ill. – Some of the finest evolving dressage horses received high praise during the first day of the 2017 Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships on Thursday. Alice Tarjan claimed both first and second place in the USEF Four-Year-Old Horse Test with Serenade MF and Fairouz, respectively. Alyssa Doverspike and Darius 555 have a slight edge in the five-year-old division, winning the FEI Five-Year-Old Horse Preliminary Test. Carly Taylor-Smith and Rosalut NHF rose to the top in the FEI Prix St. Georges Test (Developing PSG). Today’s tests counted 40% towards their overall scores.
USEF Four-Year-Old Test
Alice Tarjan (Frenchtown, N.J.) left her mark on the USEF Four-Year-Old Horse Test today, taking the first two spots and the lead in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championship Four-Year Old division. Riding her own Hanoverian mare, Serenade MF, Tarjan scored an 8.44. With lots of freedom at the walk and a beautiful, ground-covering trot, the judges were impressed with Serenade MF’s test.
“[Serenade MF] understands her job in the ring,” said Tarjan. “You cluck at her and she just goes. Her balance is really coming along, so I was really pleased with her. She was super. She is a good horse and she is super trainable. This horse is the whole package…she has no weaknesses.”
Placing second with her own Oldenburg mare Fairouz, Tarjan finished with a score of 8.06. The highlight of this combination’s test proved to be the trot, which was soft with good expression and elasticity, with positive comments from the judges for their future together.
“[Fairouz] is a very solid horse,” said Tarjan. “She just needs a little time to develop, but she will only get better and better.”
With a first-time visit to these championships, Kimberly Dougherty (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and her own Oldenburg mare, Celebration, placed third with a score of 7.99.
Complete USEF Four-Year-Old Horse Test results
FEI Five-Year-Old Preliminary Test
Alyssa Doverspike (Wildomar, Calif.) and her own Hanoverian gelding Darius 555 wowed the judges to win the FEI Five-Year-Old Preliminary Test and currently sit atop the standings in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championship Five-Year-Old division. The combination received high marks on their walk and self-carriage throughout the test.
“I can depend on the walk a lot if I just let him do his thing,” said Doverspike. “So that is what I tried to do and then keep the trot moving and forward. I was very happy with him in the test.”
Her first time at the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championships, Doverspike is also her own groom and feels that this creates a special connection between her and Darius 555.
“The young horses just change every day – that is the biggest thing,” said Doverspike. “They are forward and then they are back, and then you have these huge leaps forward with them. And working with them on the ground and knowing them and their funny little quirks and personalities, it really just helps you prepare.”
Angela Jackson (Henderson, Ky.) and Julie Cook’s Hanoverian gelding Sandeman had an impressive performance, tying for second place with Craig Stanley (Madera, Calif.) and his own KWPN gelding, Habanero CWS.
Jackson and Sandeman’s final score of 7.72 showed the quality of their well-balanced gaits and earned remarks on high trainability. Sandeman is Jackson’s first German-bred horse she has shown at the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championships, however Jackson herself is no stranger to the event.
“This championship is really special to me,” said Jackson. “I always feel like a winner even when I just get my invitation. It is a special show and I think it is a wonderful way for young horses to shine a little bit, so I am really thankful to have that. I was super happy with my horse. He gave me everything he had in that class, even though he was a little scared, and that just means the world to me. He trusted me and went in there and really worked for me.”
Stanley and Habanero CWS, Stanley’s winning ride in the 2016 Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championship Four-Year-Old division, also scored a 7.72 with high marks in the walk and trot. A familiar face at these championships, Stanley expressed his excitement about having such success with a home-bred horse.
“This was beyond my wildest dreams five or ten years ago, even though this is my sixth time here. To do it on a home-bred is even more special. It is amazing that you can even make it sometimes. I thought my horse did really well today. He was with me – you can always want a bit more of this or that, but in general, he did really well.”
Complete FEI Five-Year Old Preliminary Test results
FEI Prix St. Georges Test (Developing PSG)
Carly Taylor-Smith (Malibu, Calif.) and Nikki Taylor-Smith’s seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding Rosalut NHF took top honors in the FEI Prix St. Georges Test (Developing PSG), placing them as the current leaders of the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage National
Championship with a score of 7.04. Watch their test here.
Rosalut NHF carried Taylor-Smith to the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championship in the four-year-old division in 2014 and five-year-old division in 2015. After an absence in 2016 from the championships, Taylor-Smith returned this year thanks to the help of a fundraiser from family and friends.
“[Rosalut NHF’s] biggest quality is that he is a born performer and every time I take him out, he just loves to show off to people,” said Taylor-Smith. “I had a pretty good ride I thought. Overall, the quality of my work felt really good. He was really soft so we are on the road to hopefully having the end result be the grand prix. This is a great stepping stone – I am very, very happy.”
Nora Batchelder (Williston, Fla.) and her own eight-year-old Hanoverian mare Fifi MLW claimed second place with a score of 6.91 after holding the lead for the majority of the class.
“My horse is a little green at the Prix St. Georges level,” said Batchelder. “This is only the third time she has done it. She got in there and was a little nervous and kind of a little backed off by the atmosphere. I thought she got better as the trot work went on and she got through the canter work and I was really proud of her. For the next test, I want to get her a little more powered up and feeling a little more confident in herself and I think we will be in a really good spot.”
Endel Ots (Wellington, Fla.) and Lucky Strike, Max Ots’ seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding, were third with a score of 6.80. Lucky Strike carried Ots to the 2016 title in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championship Six-Year-Old division. Ots expressed that his horse has flourished under the USEF Young Horse and Developing Horse Program.
“It gives you goals for your young horse,” said Ots. “To compete against horses in a similar age group is a really nice thing. To be able to compare your horse to other peers and see where they are and where you are and what you need to work towards - the end result is trying for the Grand Prix. I am super happy to be here among great people.”
Complete FEI Prix St. Georges Test (Developing PSG) results
Find out more information about the Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships online.
The USEF Network will continue to live stream the Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships on Saturday, August 26 and Sunday, August 27. The live stream is only available to US Equestrian members; however, a special promotional code for viewing is available on the USEF Network.
The USEF International High Performance Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, USOC, and USEF Sponsors and Members.