By Jennifer M. Keeler
Young professional Nora Batchelder of Williston, Fla. (Region 3) has been coming to the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® almost every year since the event began in 2013. And lately she’s been a girl on fire, winning a multitude of titles in the open small tour division in both 2017 and 2018 with her talented mount Faro SQF, an 11-year-old Hanoverian (Fidertanz x MS Rose by Rotspon, bred in Florida by Jill Peterson, owned by Batchelder and Andrea Whitcomb) who is near and dear to her heart.
“Several years ago Faro came to me for training and to be sold,” noted Batchelder, who admitted she immediately fell in love with the big, easygoing gelding. “I said, ‘I just can’t let him go’, so called up my cousin and asked her if she wanted to buy him together. So here we are.”
Now Batchelder and Faro SQF have been honored yet again as US Equestrian recently announced their nomination to the U.S. Dressage Team for the Lima 2019 Pan American Games on July 28-31 in Peru. “It’s a dream come true! It’s hard to put into words just how much this means to me,” said Batchelder. “I am honored to be able to represent my country along with three amazing teammates on a horse I am incredibly fortunate to ride every day. Faro SQF really is the quintessential partner and I am forever grateful to my cousin Andrea Whitcomb for believing in us. For me, making a US Team was a lifelong goal I was usually too shy to say out loud. But, in the last couple of years, through support from family, friends, co-workers, owners, the USEF Developing Program and many others, I’ve grown bold enough to say it out loud, and now I’m actually part of Team USA! So, never be afraid to give voice to your dreams, they might actually come true.”
As she prepares for Peru, Batchelder credits the US Dressage Finals as playing an important role in helping her reach her goal. “Attending the Finals has had a major impact on Faro’s and my development,” she explained. “I’ve brought him to the Finals twice. The first time he attended was his first year at Prix St. Georges and he took home the Open Championship, which was my first time winning at Finals. Having my horse wear the cooler at a national championship was another big goal for me, and the Finals helped me make that one come true! Going to Lexington that first year was also a great way to bridge the gap and build confidence between doing the Developing Prix St. Georges in the spring and summer and heading into the CDI ring that winter.
“Then this past November, Faro SQF and I competed in the Prix St. Georges, Intermediare I, and Intermediare I Freestyle, earning two reserves and another championship,” Batchelder continued. “This time, the Finals were a perfect way to gear up for the CDI season in which we had to compete to qualify for the Pan Am Games. The Finals’ championship atmosphere, stiff competition, and great judges are excellent practice for the international ring! The goal realization process of aiming for US Dressage Finals and then following through by qualifying for Regionals and then qualifying for Finals at Regionals is also invaluable practice for Team qualification.”
Even as she embarks on the trip of a lifetime as part of Team USA, Batchelder hopes to once again return to the US Dressage Finals in the future. “I have returned time and again because I love so many things about competing at the Finals,” she said. “I think one of the best parts of the Finals is its national scope. I grew up in Region 8, so it is always a privilege to catch up with all the New Englanders I don’t get to see anymore, plus I have met wonderful riders from all over the country there. The regional camaraderie is also special and it gives us a taste of what it feels like to be on a team. The Kentucky Horse Park is gorgeous and the atmosphere is awesome, especially in the Alltech Arena, and the venue really lends itself to an inspiring championship feel. The Finals are always run smoothly and everyone involved is friendly and helpful, which makes things fun. And if that weren’t enough, the prizes at US Dressage Finals are fabulous!”
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.