A Friesian for Finals


By Macy Clark

If you would have asked me a year ago if I thought I’d be taking a Friesian to the US Dressage Finals Presented by Adequan®, I would have laughed! 

Exactly one year prior to the 2022 US Dressage Finals, Tanja and Scott Hodges contacted me to see if I could ride, and continue to develop, their newly imported Friesian dressage mare, Hilde fan Seldsum SPORT (known affectionately as Tamina around the barn). She is located at their beautiful Pond View Farm, just outside Collierville, Tennessee. They initially fell in love with the Friesian breed years prior when Scott acquired his gelding Rocco, a retired dressage schoolmaster, and had been searching for an accomplished Friesian mare to continue to pursue dressage competitively with for several years. They finally partnered with Janna Weir of Black Sterling Friesians in California, who specializes in matching riders with their dream Friesians, in the fall of 2021. Tamina, who holds the coveted Sport Predicate in Dressage from the Netherlands, was a perfect match and made the journey to North America to continue her competitive dressage career as part of the Hodges family. 

She is truly a lovely mare; the first ride was very pleasant but very different from anything I had experienced before. I knew immediately that I was eager to ride her again and figure her out! Getting correct and continued training was going to be instrumental in learning how to get the most out of Tamina, so we asked Heather Kennedy to join the team. This was an excellent decision because Heather not only has experience herself with the Friesian breed in the dressage arena, but has also earned her USDF Gold Medal. The resulting combination of knowledge and great teaching benefitted us greatly as we slowly acclimated Tamina to her new home.

As part of our training program, I also took virtual lessons with Heather, since she is currently based out of Oxford, Mississippi. As we progressed, she would travel to Collierville to teach us onsite or travel to shows with us. The combination of lessons, great horse care from Scott and Tanja, and consistent riding combined with a very consistent, rideable horse yielded great results at our first couple of horse shows. 

Our US debut with Tamina was at the springtime two-day recognized show series hosted by the Midsouth Dressage Academy in Hernando, Mississippi. We opted to enter her at Training Level, and scored 72% and 74% with ease, earning us qualifying scores for the Great American/USDF Regional Dressage Championships, while also earning us the Friesian High Point award at our very first recognized event. We were very happy with such a successful outing, which was encouraging our team to keep going to competitions. Next, we set our sights on attending the Ole South Dressage Show series in Murfreesboro, Tennessee during the summer, where we attempted to get a Regionals qualifying score at First Level. Again, Tamina rose to the occasion winning both classes with a 70.0% and 70.4 %. In addition to winning both classes, she was also High Point Champion both days of the Ole South show in the Open division. 

After these positive experiences at both shows, and especially since we confidently qualified, “Team Tamina” decided to head to GAIG/Region 3 Championships in Conyers at the Georgia Horse Park. During the competition, Tamina earned Reserve Champion at Training Level Open with 71.293 %, thus qualifying us for US Dressage Finals in Lexington, Kentucky this year. As an added bonus, she also secured a Top 10 placing in the First Level Open Championships with a score of 67.708 %. Both results were achieved with the help and expert coaching from Heather Kennedy. Once again, Tamina blew our expectations out of the water and inspired all of us to keep moving forward and prepare for US Dressage Finals! 

Macy Clark (mounted) with Hilde fan Seldsum SPORT and owners Tanja and Scott Hodges at the 2022 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®

The entire team was beaming with excitement to head to Kentucky, as this would be the first time experiencing US Dressage Finals for the rider, horse, and the proud owners. Sadly, our coach Heather Kennedy was unable to make the trip with us due to some unforeseen personal circumstances, but I had ridden with Brian Haffner previously during a stay in Florida, and reached out to him to see if he could coach us in her absence. I thought he would be a great match because he is very experienced himself with a vast dressage background involving horses of all types at Championships. Brian was a huge help to us and gave us the confidence to go in the big, scary ring with three judges and show them what we had! 

Tamina and I ended up placing in the Top 5 at our very first US Dressage Finals together with a 4th place overall in the Training Level Open Championship class with a score of 70.517 %. Riding into the Alltech Arena on Tamina for the prestigious Awards Ceremony was a surreal feeling! 

I feel so lucky to be given this opportunity to ride, learn, and grow with Tamina. Tanja and Scott have been the most helpful, supportive, and enthusiastic owners. Their attention to detail in her care, show preparation, and schedule planning has truly set the whole team up for success time and time again. 

We are looking forward to taking Tamina to Ocala, this winter to work with Brian at his facility and to figure out how Tamina would like to progress in 2023. This horse is very special to all of us, and we all feel so blessed to have had the outstanding competition year we did with her. 

Cheers to a very successful 2022 and a world of opportunity in 2023!

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