By Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals
With chilly rain and a cold wind, it may have felt like a nor’easter blew into the Kentucky Horse Park on Thursday. But this phenomenon wasn’t just about the weather – it was in the form of Region 8 riders from the Northeastern states taking all three of the day’s championship divisions by storm at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, being held November 7-10 in Lexington.
In the comfort of the Alltech Arena, a field of 10 riders from across the country battled it out in the Intermediate II Open Championship, but it was New Jersey’s Heather Mason (Region 8) who rode her 14-year-old Oldenburg/Holsteiner gelding RTF Lincoln to the win with 72.157%. As the only combination to score above 70 percent, they were also awarded the unanimous victory under all three judges (watch her winning ride HERE).
“I’ve known Lincoln since he was a foal and sold him to a client, who then kept him in training with me. But he can be a tricky horse, so after his owner had double hip surgery she gave him back to me because she unfortunately knew she wouldn’t ever ride him again,” said Mason of her mount, which she presented in a snaffle bridle for the FEI-level test. “He was fantastic today and very rideable – a little more than usual. He’s usually very hot, but he actually let me use my leg today, which was nice! I like riding him in a snaffle even at this level because he’s always been light in the hand and I encourage more contact this way.”
Also kicking off the week on a great note was Kristin Wasemiller-Knutson, who traveled from Oklahoma City (Region 9) to ride at the Finals with her 10-year-old Trakehner/KWPN/Friesian cross mare Vashti (Nico x Thekla by Onassis, bred in the U.S. by Sherry Koella). The pair was rewarded with a score of 69.657% for Reserve Championship honors. “I had a really nice ride today – we had a few mistakes in the one-tempi’s which have been a little bit of our Achilles heel this year,” said Wasemiller-Knutson. “But I had a great time in there and a lot of fun. Interestingly, Vashti’s older sister is James Koford’s mount Adiah HP, and we hope to give them a run for their money later this week in the Grand Prix and Freestyle!”
Tarjan and Candescent Win Second Straight Intermediate II Adult Amateur Championship
With elegance and extravagant movement, it’s hard not to notice Alice Tarjan of Oldwick, N.J. (Region 8) and her nine-year-old Hanoverian mare Candescent (Christ x Farina by Falkenstern II), and the pair also caught the eye of the judges as the pair successfully defended their 2018 Intermediate II Adult Amateur Championship title with a hearty score of 73.824% (watch her winning ride HERE).
“With this being her second year now at the level, I’m not so worried anymore about trying to get the actual movements done. Now we’re working on consistency and harmony,” Tarjan explained. “I used to have to rely on trying to get her a little hot and use some positive tension to get everything done, but now she understands the movements better so I’m able to back off, ride a little quieter and trust the training and that she knows what I’m asking for. It’s a difficult sport and it’s always a work in progress.”
Jennifer Huber traveled 15 hours north from Wellington, Fla. (Region 3) to take reserve honors with her Danish Warmblood mare Madame Noir (Nobleman x Silke by Sherwood) with a score of 66.275%. “I had a super ride and I just loved every moment of it,” said Huber. “Madame gives you her heart on a plate every time and is very comfortable with this test – she likes how it flows around.”
Bragdell and SenSation HW Brave the Weather to Claim Third Level Open Championship
Carol McPhee’s six-year-old Westfalen gelding SenSation HW (Sunday x Donata by Dancier) has been a rising star from the very beginning, and on Thursday he once again proved he’s able to fulfill those expectations. A champion in the Young Horse ranks as well as last year’s First Level Open Champion at the Finals, SenSation HW returned to the Kentucky Horse Park to jump up the levels in the experienced hands of Michael Bradgell of Colora, Md. (qualified in Region 8) and claim the Third Level Open title with an impressive score of 73.083%.
“It was a little challenging with the conditions outside – I took him out for a hack this morning and he was a bit tense with the cold and the rain,” said Bragdell. “But as soon as I put my foot in the stirrup this afternoon to get on, it was the horse I wanted to have for the class. He felt great and the test flowed really well. I couldn’t ask for any more from him, and I was very happy with him.”
Finishing in reserve in the hard-fought field of almost 20 competitors was Karen Lipp of Ball Ground, Ga. (Region 3) with her six-year-old KWPN gelding Infinity (by Dreamboy) on the strength of a score of 71.292%. But initially she also wasn’t sure what was going to happen with the weather when it was game time. “I took him out to longe him this morning and he was wild, and when we came out to get ready for our ride he was still quite fresh. But we worked it out, and he gave me a hundred percent when we went in the ring,” said Ball. “I think our extensions and flying changes were highlights – he has fabulous height and self-carriage, and that makes it fun to ride.”
Watch archived streaming videos of Championship classes on the USEF Network HERE. Championship competition resumes Friday – follow the action through updates on the USDF Facebook page and the US Dressage Finals website, as well as watch live online streaming on the USEF Network. To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review day sheets and results, and read daily news releases, visit the official event website at http://www.usdressagefinals.com.
To see the coverage from the second day of competition click here.