By Jennifer M. Keeler

Laura enters the Alltech Arena (SusanJStickle.com)

When Laura Maloney won the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Intermediate II Adult Amateur title in Burbank last September, the last thing she was thinking about was traveling 2,000-plus miles across the country to attend the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. But immediately after returning home from Regionals she received an email with a special invitation, and it got her thinking. With newfound confidence from her victory, she took a chance on stepping onto the national stage – and accepted.

“Not only did [winning at Regionals] give me the confidence to do this, but it gave me the wild card to come because I hadn’t declared for the Finals – I hadn’t even thought about it being a possibility,” said Maloney after arriving in Kentucky last November. “It’s been a great year for me and my horse, and it all kind of came together for us to be here. I just wanted to experience this – none of us are getting any younger, so you have to do it when you have the chance. My husband supported me and yes, it’s expensive and difficult, but I’m thrilled to be here and am so glad I did it.”

Down center line (SusanJStickle.com)

So Maloney made the long journey from her home in Rancho Santa Fe, Cal. to her very first US Dressage Finals for just one ride. And her leap of faith paid off as she rode her Dutch Warmblood stallion Winsor Rox (San Remo x Para Lady by Julio Mariner) to claim Reserve Championship honors in the Intermediate II Adult Amateur division on a score of 61.275%. In addition to winning prize money, Maloney received another check by taking advantage of the US Dressage Finals Travel Grant Program, which helps competitors from western states offset some of their travel costs.

So despite the distance, Maloney hopes to return to Kentucky again in the coming years. “I would love to, even though it won’t happen this year because my horse is out with an injury which happened one week out from our very first Grand Prix. But hopefully he is in good shape next year so we can go back,” Maloney explained. “The atmosphere in Kentucky was fantastic and it’s a great place to test yourself and your horse, stretching yourself in a place that isn’t always your ‘home turf.’ So yes, I would encourage other Adult Amateurs to go, even if they’re from a far-away region like mine. The distance is definitely something to consider but if you can manage the cost and you think your horse will manage the shipping, it truly was a wonderful experience and the highlight of my showing year.”

(SusanJStickle.com)

Don’t miss your chance to compete! The US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® is a unique national head-to-head competition which offers a wealth of championship titles and over $100,000 in prize money, all while showcasing adult amateur and open riders from across the country in Training Level to Grand Prix. This year’s event will be held November 7-10 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, declare and nominate for the Finals, and sign up to receive news and updates, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com.

This is the second story in a series, read the first story

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