Wayne, Ill. – The third day of competition of the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions was packed full of excitement. Seven divisions competed on Friday with three national championships on the line. Victors were crowned in the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship, USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals - 13 & Under, and Horseware Ireland/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship divisions.
USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship
Ten pairs rode their FEI Pony Individual Tests in the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship. Tessa Geven and Tullymor’s Houdini won the class with a score of 70.135%. Geven (Cataula, Ga.) and her 2003 Connemara gelding’s strong test moved them to the top of the overall leaderboard with a score of 70.424%.
“It’s exciting, especially because this is supposed to be my last show on this pony because I am getting too tall,” Geven said of being a national champion. “This is a very emotional experience right now, but I’m really taking it in.”
Maren Elise Fouché-Hanson (Colbert, Ga.) and In My Feelings, her 1995 gelding, collected reserve-champion honors with an overall score of 69.587%. Aislin Falasco (Little Rock, Ark.) and Unscripted, her 2005 KWPN gelding, placed third overall with a score of 68.850%.
From the Mixed Zone:
How was your test?
Geven: “It was really good. We had a little bit of a problem in our extension and our last extension he did a little bit of a canter. He could’ve been a little more supple in my opinion, but pretty good. Today I tried to get him a little more pizazz-y because last time it was a little boring. I wanted to get him a little more hot kind of.”
Fouché-Hanson: “Today we did have some bobbles. It was definitely not the same test we had yesterday, but as well as he did yesterday and as well as he did in the warm-up, I’m super proud of him. He is probably just getting tired. He is going to have some nice rest days while I ride my other mare in Children’s.”
Falasco: “It was really good. I could probably be a little more prepared myself, but he was so good. He had my back the entire time. I was super proud of him; he was great.”
What is Tullymor’s Houdini like?
Geven: “He is really fun. He tries his little heart out. He likes to do things. If you ask him to do something, he will try.”
Markel/USEF Young Horse Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship
Fourteen combinations competed in the FEI Six-Year-Old Preliminary Test of the Markel/USEF Young Horse Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship. Madeleine Bendfeldt of Germany (Davie, Fla.) and Sonata MF earned the top spot in the class. Bendfeldt (Davie, Fla.) rode Pegasus Equestrian Davies, Inc.’s Hanoverian mare (Sir Donnerhall I x Em Duet MF, Don Principe) to a score of 8.400.
“The test was awesome. I had such a good feeling; she was nice and supple and forward in the warm-up, and I had a really nice time. It was not hard work; it was enjoyable,” said Bendfeldt. “The judges said that she has a bright future, and I agree with that. The details they gave about the trot, the canter, the gaits, yes, of course, you always have something to work on, but I agree with almost everything said.”
David Blake (Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.) and Delilah, Leslie Allbright’s Hanoverian mare (Dr Watson x Warina, Wolkenstein II), placed second with a score of 7.880. Dr. Cesar Parra (Whitehouse Station, N.J.) and Fanta 4, Parra and Gina Raful’s Hanoverian gelding (Finest x Fleur Noir, Sir Florencio I), were third with a score of 7.840.
The FEI Six-Year-Old Preliminary Test counts for 40 percent of the overall score for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship. Sunday’s FEI Six-Year-Old Final Test counts for the remaining 60 percent.
From the Mixed Zone:
What kind of horse is Sonata MF?
Bendfeldt: “She has a big personality, but never against you. She always wants to work, and every day she’s the same. With some mares when they come into heat they are moody, but she is always happy. You can ride her, hacking, harder work, no matter what she is positive about everything. It’s easy to work with her.”
What are your future plans with her?
Bendfeldt: “For me, next is Sunday! Ride the final, see how that goes and if she will be fine, there are so many things that can happen in two days, but in the future as a seven-year-old, she can already do most of what she will need to do as a seven-year-old competitor, so we will just keep her happy and healthy and see how it goes.”
Talk about your partnership.
Bendfeldt: “Dutchess is her barn name. I came two months ago from Germany to train her, so I am so thankful for Caroline Roffman’s work. She did an amazing job; she educated her, she trained her, everything that we show here is made by Caroline. I am lucky to show her.”
Adequan®/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship
Eleven pairs completed the FEI Junior Team Test of the Adequan®/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship to start the path toward a title. The scores were close at the top of the leaderboard, but Kat Fuqua and DreamGirl claimed the win. Fuqua (Atlanta, Ga.) and her 2008 KWPN mare have developed a solid partnership in the last year-and-a-half and delivered a lovely test to score 70.959%.
“I was really confident going in,” said Fuqua of her test. “We just came back from [the FEI North American Youth Championships], so I was confident with the test. DreamGirl was absolutely amazing; she was very on the aids, and I was happy with it.”
Lexie Kment (Palmyra, Neb.) and Montagny Von Der Heide, Laureen Van Norman’s 2004 Trakehner gelding, placed second with a score of 70.807%. Julia McDonald (Byron Center, Mich.) and Lehndorff Van de Vogelzang, her 2011 Belgian Warmblood gelding, were third with a score of 70.757%.
The FEI Junior Team Test counts for 50 percent of the overall score, while Saturday’s FEI Junior Individual Test counts for the remaining 50 percent.
From the Mixed Zone:
What is DreamGirl like?
Fuqua: “She’s very sweet. I have a lot of fun with her. I love riding her bareback. I started in the Children’s division here last year, and we were third overall. We’ve just been playing around with the juniors and having a good time.”
What was DreamGirl doing before you got her?
Fuqua: “She was doing Prix St. Georges/I1 in Holland. My trainer went to go try her there, and we watched the videos and just loved her, and knew she was the one. I think that we have a good partnership, she really tries her best for me.”
Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship
Twelve combinations rode in the FEI Intermediate II Test to kick off the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship. Alice Tarjan (Oldwick. N.J.) claimed the top two spots in the class with Serenade MF and Harvest, respectively. Though Serenade MF has a quiet personality, Tarjan is always impressed with how her 2013 Hanoverian mare (Sir Donnerhall x Duet MF, Don Principe) puts on a show in the ring. The pair earned a score of 75.048%. Tarjan and Harvest, her 2012 KWPN stallion (Connaisseur x Naomi, Ulft), scored 72.597%. Tarjan is a member of the Kundrun USEF Dressage Development Program with both horses.
“She’s so funny; you walk up here and you feel like a little kid on this pony,” Tarjan said of Serenade MF. “She wants to be a children’s hunter, and I wonder how I get her through a grand prix! We’re warming up with all of these horses with a great, big presence, and there is ‘Shrimp.’ Man, that horse knows her job though, she fills herself up and off she goes. She put in a really clean test for what she is capable of, so I was thrilled. She’s a neat little horse.”
Emily Miles (Paola, Kan.) and Java Dulce, Leslie Waterman’s 2011 Danish Warmblood gelding (Jazz x JJ Dolche Gabbana, Deemster), were third with a score of 70.979%
The FEI Intermediate II Test counts for 40 percent of the overall score, while Sunday’s USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Test counts for the remaining 60 percent.
From the Mixed Zone:
What is Serenade MF’s background?
Tarjan: “I bought her as a foal from Maryanna Haymon. She is full sisters with Sonata MF who won the six-year-olds today, and they’re both bred by Maryanna. I wasn’t particularly fond of her as a young horse. As a baby she was quite difficult to break. I didn’t think I could give the horse away if I wanted to.
“But every week she got better and better, and by the time Devon came around I saw that there was a lot in there. So I kept her. It’s amazing how trainable that horse is because she can really have all this scope and pep, and in barn you can put a kid on her and she will tote them around the grand prix or go on a hack with them, she’s so laid-back and easy-going.”
What is Harvest’s background?
Tarjan: “He is a stallion, and he’s a year older. The quality is very good, but it just needs more time to develop. He is a little spooky and less secure, and, for sure, more bigger and powerful. It takes me longer to fix it on him than on Shrimp. Shrimp kind of trained like a dog, and Harvest trained fine, but it’s just a little green. It’s just a matter of getting it consistent in the ring.”
Why do you like bringing horses for the Markel/USEF Developing Horse divisions?
Tarjan: “It’s a fantastic show and I think that it’s exactly what they need. Because Harvest can be a little spooky, I think he just needed to go at it a little bit, and be able to settle in the arena. The self-carriage on all of these horses is good, but it’s one thing to do it well at home and then you can go to a show and it all falls apart. It keeps you honest about where the horses are in their training.”
USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship
Twelve combinations rode the FEI Grand Prix Special of the USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship. Alice Tarjan (Oldwick. N.J.) maintained her control of the top of the leaderboard, taking the top two spots. Her horses swapped places on Friday, with Donatella M placing first and Candescent placing second. Donatella M, Tarjan’s 2011 Oldenburg mare, tried hard for Tarjan, and the pair secured a score of 71.978%. Tarjan and Candescent, her 2010 Hanoverian mare, had a few bobbles in their test, but still scored 71.765%. Tarjan is a member of the Kundrun USEF Dressage Development Program with both horses.
“I was really pleased,” Tarjan said of her test with Donatella M. “She really tried for me in the ones, and there were a couple moments where I was like ‘I don’t know if we’re going to be able to hold it’ and ride her through, but she knew her job. It’s a little like in jumping when you miss a distance and a horse carries you over the fence anyway; it was really nice of her.”
Mikala Münter (Wellington, Fla.) and Salsa Hit, her and Cara Broderick’s 2009 Oldenburg gelding, were third with a score of 67.680%.
The FEI Grand Prix Special counts for 40 percent of the overall score, while Thursday’s FEI Grand Prix Test counted for 45 percent. The division will conclude on Sunday with the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle Test, which counts for 15 percent.
From the Mixed Zone:
How was your test with Candescent?
Tarjan: “I was really pleased with Candescent. We have a few big mistakes that cost a higher score, but we’re just here for the experience so I wasn’t too upset over that actually. The horse is really on with me, so I was pleased about that.”
How do you carry on when you have a mistake in a test?
Tarjan: “We have been working a lot on getting the horse quicker and with more collection, so you make a mistake and then try to get back the collection in front of the leg, and then off you go again. The way I train, I don’t get after my horses when they make mistakes. They can make as many as they want, that’s how they learn.
"The twos were unfortunate, but they were my fault, so I have to ride it better, that’s what it comes down to. I think that they were honest mistakes, and not something that puts me off in a test too much. It’s one thing if the horse is really spooky, or being disobedient, but I don’t think that that was the case at all, I think they are really honest horses, and [Candescent] got a little behind me and I tried to turn the pirouette too tight. That’s my fault so no big deal, stuff happens."
How has Donatella M been improving?
Tarjan: “The self-carriage and the frame are ongoing issues in the passage, but it’s getting better. Now, she comes back, so it’s going in the right direction.”
USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals - 13 & Under
Ten youth athletes came to demonstrate their equitation in 13 & Under division of the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals. Following group rail work and individually performed patterns, Olivia Martz was declared the winner. Martz (Gig Harbor, Wash.) showed off her skills with Norra, her 2001 German Riding Pony mare, to earn a score of 86.000%. Martz trains with her mom and aunt, Brooke Martz and Kelly Burris.
“[It’s] pretty insane. I never ever would’ve expected that,” Martz said of her win. “I think that I am so happy to have all of my family here and supporting me. I’m just a little like, ‘What just happened!?!’”
Virginia Woodcock (Atlanta, Ga.) earned reserve-champion honors with The Safari Party, her and Elizabeth and Richard Woodcock’ 2009 gelding, scoring 84.000%. She trains with Anneliese Vogt-Harber. Ruby Lewis (Elgin, Texas) placed third with Pickles, Marsha Lewis’s 2011 Pony of the Americas gelding, scoring 81.999%. She trains with her mom, Marsha Lewis.
From the Mixed Zone:
How did your pattern go?
Martz: “I feel like the pattern went pretty well today. I mean I was really nervous, my heart was beating, and I could not hear a thing. I think it was all a blur. I will just tell you that.”
What have you been practicing for the Final?
Martz: “I have to stay relaxed because Norra isn’t exactly an easy-going horse. … I think that it was really important that everybody was able to be here supporting me because I couldn’t have done it without my mom here and my aunt.
Woodcock: “My horse can be a bit feisty sometimes. Calming myself down and making sure we are working together well as partners because that is what the sport is all about. I think just having him be my family has been so important to me. He is, he is such a sweetie, but like I said he can be a little feisty. We have been doing a lot of Second Level. We have been training him up through the levels, which has been an amazing experience for me. I’m so thankful to my trainer, Anneliese Vogt-Harber, and both my parents for everything they have helped me with.”
Lewis: “I have been working a lot on keeping my toes in because I tend to point my toes out. … Really calming myself down is something I have been working on. My mom is my trainer; her name is Marsha Lewis.”
Horseware Ireland/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship
Eleven combinations rode the FEI Young Rider Individual Test for the Horseware Ireland/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship to close out the third day of competition. Christian Simonson and Zeaball Diawind claimed top honors in the class to clinch the national championship title. Simonson and Christina Morgan’s 2012 Danish Warmblood gelding, who are members of the Discover Dressage USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program, scored 75.489% after having a lovely test. The pair’s overall score was 74.632%.
“It feels really good,” Simonson said of being a national champion. “We had a really long week with NAYC two weeks ago, and then to have ‘Zeaball’ come to this competition and performing just as well, hitting another two personal bests for me; it just feels really amazing. It was a whole team effort getting him here though, making sure he stayed happy and great. It was a whole team effort.”
Mackenzie Peer (Overland Park, Kan.) and Ansgar, Mackenzie and Lane Peer’s 2005 KWPN gelding, took home reserve-champion honors with an overall score of 69.558%. Allison Nemeth (Flemington, N.J.) and Tiko, Karen Nemeth’s 2011 Danish Warmblood mare, were third with an overall score of 69.166%.
The FEI Young Rider Individual Test counts for 50 percent of the overall score, while Wednesday’s FEI Young Rider Individual Test counted for 50 percent.
From the Mixed Zone:
How did you prepare for Festival of Champions after NAYC?
Simonson: “Young Riders was about 5.5 hours from here, so after NAYC we gave him a nice break, hanging out with the hunter ponies there, trail riding, making sure he got as much time outside of the arena as possible. And then, after a nice full week of light work, we just slowly brought him up, but he has such a great brain that it doesn’t really take much to get him back into competition mode.”
What have you learned from your busy summer?
Simonson: “I feel like the experiences of going to Europe and competing, and then going to NAYC, which is a fun environment, does make me more experienced, but having [trainer] Adrienne [Lyle] with me has been so wonderful. Constantly talking to me, working on small things; it’s really helped.
“Throughout the whole test I was thinking, ‘What would Adrienne do?’”
Talk about your rides today.
Peer: “I am just over the moon to be here at this competition. I love Lamplight, so to be here with all of these incredible riders makes you step up your game and appreciate the fact that you can be here. And that I am here with a happy and healthy, sound horse and surrounded by healthy friends, and the fact that we can just share a great week together.”
Nemeth: “I was so proud of Tiko today. We have issues sometimes with our confidence. She was really good, and felt that she was really good and that we could relax a bit in the test, especially in the walk, and I was just happy to have a clean test.”
Competition continues Saturday with the first class in the Lamplight Young Horse/Developing Horse Arena, the USEF Four-Year-Old Horse Test for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old Dressage National Championship, beginning at 7:45 a.m. CT. The first class in the Lamplight Grand Prix Arena, the FEI Junior Individual Test for the Adequan®/ USEF Junior Dressage National Championship, begins at 8:00 a.m. CT.
Watch the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions live stream presented by Adequan® this week on USEF Network.
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