By Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals
“We had an uneventful trip, and that’s the best kind!”
More than 2,000 miles of continental United States once again couldn’t keep a die-hard group of West Coast dressage riders from attending this year’s US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, being held November 7-10, 2019 in Lexington, Ky.
Traveling both by land and by air, a dozen competitors who call California home brought their horses, friends and family all the way to the Kentucky Horse Park to join 345 competitors from across the country representing all nine USDF regions and 36 states plus the District of Columbia at this week’s US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, where open and adult amateur exhibitors from Training Level to Grand Prix will compete for national titles and $100,000 in prize money across 30 different divisions (watch an exclusive video interview with Region 7 riders below).
When they attended their first US Dressage Finals last year, Kevin and Ericka Reinig learned firsthand just how far a drive it is from Rancho Murieta, Cal. to Kentucky. Despite that knowledge, they couldn’t wait to come back. “We had such a wonderful experience last year and it’s an incredible facility, so this time we brought four horses and two students and we’re all looking forward to having another great time,” said Ericka Reinig. Her husband Kevin did the majority of the driving on the trek. “It takes a lot of organization to make a trip like this happen, but with good planning comes a good trip. It took us four days but we had great layover facilities, and the horses both traveled and rested well,” he explained.
Completing the road trip with the Reinigs was Finals first-timer Ruth Shirkey and her husband Eric Drew of Livermore, Cal. Shirkey, who was featured in this fall’s Why I Love the Finals series on YourDressage.org (read her story HERE), will compete in the Adult Amateur small tour classes with her mare Wyleigh Princess, and as preparation the pair had the opportunity to school in the Alltech Arena on Wednesday afternoon. “The initial experience walking into the Alltech is both impressive yet surprisingly welcoming,” said Shirkey. “My mare felt great in there and got right down to business, so I was very pleased and am looking forward to a great week of competition.”
Fellow Region 7 riders Elena Flaharty of Clayton, Cal. and Jaclyn Pepper of Santa Rosa were also encouraged to attend their first US Dressage Finals thanks to the Reinig’s previous experience, but they chose the express route to Lexington and flew their mounts with equine air transporter Tex Sutton. “One of the coolest things is that we got to actually fly with the horses on the plane, and the flight had a bunch of Breeders’ Cup horses including several winners like Four Wheel Drive, a son of American Pharoah,” Flaharty noted. Pepper was also pleased with how her Finals experience was going so far. “The horses traveled great and are handling the big atmosphere here well,” Pepper added. “I competed here at the Horse Park as a young rider multiple times at the NAJYRC, but it’s my first time as a professional and I’m excited and honored to be here.”
The group will also be rooting for fellow riders participating on the Region 7 Team in the Fifth Annual Regions Cup Team Competition. With a regional team of three athlete/horse combinations representing each USDF region, competitors show their regional pride and compete for bragging rights as the top scoring eligible open and adult amateur rider/horse combinations from Training Level through FEI Regional Championships classes make up each regional team. The winning team is determined by averaging the highest final scores achieved by each athlete/horse combination in their respective US Dressage Finals class.
Once again, dressage fans around the world can follow the action from the US Dressage Finals via live-streaming on the USEF Network at www.usef.org/network, with coverage beginning Thursday, November 7 with the first round of national titles presented in the Alltech Arena (see the entire live streaming schedule HERE).
To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review entry lists, purchase tickets to special events, and sign up to receive news and updates, visit the official event website at http://www.usdressagefinals.com.