The highly anticipated 2022 US Dressage Finals, presented by Adequan® returns to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, on November 10-13. The competition includes classes for junior/young rider, adult amateur, and open riders from Training Level to Grand Prix and will award more than $120,000 in prize money. Don’t miss the chance to attend in person to watch or catch the competition live from the Alltech Arena on USEF Network.
Inspiring athletes and unique stories abound at the US Dressage Finals. Daily coverage of the show can be found at the USDressageFinals.com website.
News and Updates
Read more below about one competitor who rides an American-bred grand prix horse and hopes to rise to the top of the podium in 2022.
Competitor Spotlight: Abe Pugh
By Alice Collins for Jump Media
His barn name may be “Pistol” thanks to some rambunctious behavior as a young horse, but the now 16-year-old American Trakehner Elfenperfekt has mellowed with age. The talented horse will head to this year’s Finals as the current Open Grand Prix reserve champion, having finished second to Heather Mason on RTF Lincoln in 2021.
“In his younger days, he was very much a handful,” says Abraham “Abe” Pugh, who has been riding the son of Peron since he was seven. “I’ve heard stories of him being very difficult, but he was at Third Level when I took him over and he started his grand prix career at nine. He progressed very quickly and now he is just a really a wonderful horse to ride.”
The early progress the pair made was particularly notable, as he remained at his owner/breeder Alice Drayer’s farm, and she trailered him over for Pugh to ride a couple of times a week. Once Elfenperfekt was on the brink of Grand Prix, he moved to Pugh’s farm full-time and has lived there ever since.
The pair has travelled and competed extensively at the top level. Once, Elfenperfekt even went head to head with his twin sister. Drayer bred numerous foals from Elfenperfekt’s dam, her riding horse, Elfentraum. The mare produced twin embryos and, in 2006, both Elfenperfekt and Elfen String Of Pearls were born to surrogate dams.
Pugh, 43, is hoping that the pair may go one better this year in the Open Grand Prix championship at the US Dressage Finals, but his extensive experience between the boards has taught him that anything is possible.
“We’ve been to finals almost every year for the past five or so years,” says Pugh. “I’ve been in dressage a long time, so I’m just hoping we go out and have the best ride possible. I want to present a nice picture with a smile on my face. The Finals is a really fun atmosphere and a little bit nerve-racking.”
The Greencastle, Pennsylvania-based rider is harboring a not-so-secret wish for Pistol and Drayer.
“I’ve been hoping that Alice might do her Century Ride on him,” reveals Pugh, who trains with Lauren Sprieser. “She hasn’t said yes yet. He’s quite a powerful horse and a few times when she’s ridden him, she’s got stuck in piaffe because when you get tight that’s a signal to him for more and more power. But it would be really neat and fun and he’s usually very businesslike under saddle.”
That businesslike attitude is proven by the fact that he’s never spooky, and Pugh can ride through all the Grand Prix work bareback in a halter. Even his 10-year-old niece rides him.
“Occasionally he acts like a stallion and can be energetic once in a while at shows — we just get piaffe and passage and I sit there and wait for him to get it out of his system,” he adds. “But he needs that energy for the grand prix work.”
Pugh will be making the nine-hour drive with another horse on the trailer, Elaine Warner’s Friesian Rintse Van De Marne, whom he is showing at Intermediate I level.
To enjoy Elfenperfekt’s ride and all of the competitors at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, you can watch in person at the Alltech Arena at Kentucky Horse Park on November 10-13, 2022, or watch the live stream at USEF Network. Learn more at USDressageFinals.com.