U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions Names WinnersAugust 10, 2020
By Kathleen Landwehr & Leslie Potter/US Equestrian Communications
The 2020 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions, running August 18-23, at HITS Chicago at the Lamplight Equestrian Center hosted 175 combinations to fourteen national championships.
This month will feature the remaining Championships. Last month we covered the USEF Youth and Junior Dressage classes.
USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship
Twelve combinations headed down the centerline to perform their FEI Intermediate I Freestyle Test, the third and final test in the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship. Endel Ots (Wellington, FL.) and Sonnenberg’s Everdance put on a stellar performance for the judges to earn a score of 77.645%. Ots and Sonnenberg Farm LLC’s 11-year-old KWPN mare led the national championship division from start to finish, earning the title with an overall score of 75.572%.
“I was very happy with it,” said Ots of his freestyle. “Yesterday, I just took her on hand walks and let her sleep in the stall. She basically slept all day. Then, we did just a nice little short warm-up so she had a lot of energy. I was very happy with her. She carried me through the test and was nice and forward. It was really, really nice to be able to ride the freestyle in competition. I haven’t been able to ride it in competition. I was planning on doing it in Florida before COVID, so this was the first time I did it and I was very happy with it.”
David Blake (Cardiff by the Sea, CA) and Heide Spirit, his 10-year-old Oldenburg mare, earned the reserve national champion title with an overall score of 72.368%. Callie Jones (Henderson, KY) and Don Philippo, her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, finished third in the national championship with an overall score of 71.055%.
Markel/USEF Young Horse 4-Year-Old Dressage National Championships
The Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old Dressage National Championship division closed out today with 15 exceptional youngsters having a second go at the USEF Four-Year-Old Test in front of the four-judge panel.
Alice Tarjan (Oldwick, NJ) rode her own Danish Warmblood mare, Gjenganger, to a score of 8.54, which was enough for second place in today’s class and a first-place finish overall for the division. The striking chestnut mare is by Grand Galaxy Win, and the judges believe she has strong potential for the future.
“I think this horse has got three solid gaits, and she’s quite rideable,” said Tarjan. “I think she’s a really good horse for the future.
“I think she was a little bit tired, so she got a little bit curly and the judges noticed that,” Tarjan explained. “I’m really happy; she still went in and did her job. That’s all you can ask of them.”
Tarjan is also the owner and breeder of the winner of Saturday’s USEF Four-Year-Old Test, Glory Day. Glory Day is also by Grand Galaxy Win and was ridden to an 8.84 by Marcus Orlob. He finished the division as Reserve National Champion.
Markel/USEF Young Horse 5-year-old Dressage National Championships
In the Five-Year-Old Division of the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championships, it was Cristina Danguillecourt and Yeguada Des Ymas S.L.’s black Rhinelander gelding, Easy Di Fonteabeti Ymas, taking the National Champion title with rider Pablo Gomez Molina (Wellington, FL)
“It’s the first big trip that we’ve done with him, and today I felt him a little bit tired,” said Gomez Molina. “The ride was a little bit more trying to keep him together and trying to get a lot of power. But even if he felt tired, he was with me all the time and I’m really proud of him because he was a pretty good boy today.”
Alice Tarjan (Oldwick, NJ) added another success to her long list of Festival of Champions accomplishments, riding her own Summersby II, an Oldenburg mare, to the Reserve National Championship title in the division.
Markel/USEF Young Horse 6-Year-Old Dressage National Championships
Sunday’s schedule kicked off with the FEI Six-Year-Old Final Test for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship. Thirteen combinations entered the arena for their second test before the four-judge panel. For the second time this week, the judges were most impressed by Marcus Orlob (Annandale, NJ) and Spirit of Joy’s performance. The dark bay Westphalian gelding earned high marks across the board to win the class and the National Champion title.
“I had a good lead, so I didn’t have to put so much pressure on the horse,” said Orlob. “I rode a little bit more conservatively than the first day, but I knew, going around the ring, that the horse was with me and I had a feeling I could pull off a clean test. And it was pretty much clean, so I was very happy with him. He was actually a little bit more rideable than the first day.”
Jennifer Schrader-Williams (Olympia, WA) took home the Reserve Champion title with Joppe Partners, LLC’s KWPN gelding, Joppe K.
“When I was going around the outside, the cheers went off for Marcus right before me and my youngster isn’t used to hearing that, so he got a little excited,” said Schrader-Williams. “But I thought he came back together quite nicely. He went down centerline to put in a pretty mistake-free test.
“There were moments of tension today,” Schrader-Williams continued. “I would really like to make him just a little bit softer in the contact, but he is such a willing, athletic horse and I thought he gave a really nice performance. He tried very hard to keep his focus in the electric environment today.”
USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship
The USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship concluded on Sunday with the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle Test. Jennifer Schrader-Williams (Olympia, WA) and Millione held on to their lead following Saturday’s FEI Grand Prix Special Test to win the USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship with an overall score of 70.824%. Schrader-Williams and Millione Partners, LLC’s 17-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding performed a freestyle with dramatic music from the television show Vikings. They impressed the judges with their freestyle to earn a score of 75.355%.
“I wanted to come out feeling like I rode it well. The score was amazing; that was really a cherry on top,” said Schrader-Williams of her freestyle, which she was only performing for the second time after debuting it in Florida. “I just felt like we were in unison. We were together. He was relaxed. There was enough power. He just was really with me. It was just one of those days where I could relax and smile between the movements. We just really enjoyed ourselves.
Nora Batchelder (Williston, FL) and WGangster Girl, Sally Seaver’s 17-year-old KWPN mare, claimed the Reserve National Champion title with an overall score of 69.105%. Katie Poag (John Island, SC) and Zonnekoning, her 16-year-old KWPN gelding, finished in third place with an overall score of 67.121%.
Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship
Closing out Saturday’s competition, 15 combinations in the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship completed the USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Test before a panel of three judges.
Christopher Hickey (Wellington, FL) and Cecelia Stewart’s Danish Warmblood gelding, Stenagers Wyatt Earp, repeated their win from earlier in the week, earning a score of 71.958% to win the class and the National Champion title.
“He was a little more electric [today],” said Hickey. “When he gets really electric and tight, he can be hiking his hind legs up and being a little crazy-legged, and there was a little bit of that. He is a horse that gets hot, and for a grand prix horse, to still be going at the end of a test, you need to have a horse that’s got some spice, so I really love that about him.”
Jennifer Wetterau (Mission Viejo, CA) had a spooky moment in her test with her own KWPN, Hartog, but the talented pair still scored a 70.042%, which was good enough to earn fourth place in the class and a Reserve National Champion title for the division.
Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship
The Developing Grand Prix horses closed out competition in the Young and Developing Horse Arena on Sunday afternoon. Twelve entries completed the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Test, and in the end, one owner/rider took home both the National Champion and Reserve National Champion titles from the division.
Alice Tarjan (Oldwick, NJ) and her nine-year-old Oldenburg mare, Donatella M, added another win to their resume, scoring a 71.708% to earn place first in the class and the division. With Harvest, her eight-year-old KWPN stallion, Tarjan was second in the class and reserve in the division. Even with her decisive victories, Tarjan was pleasantly surprised to find herself sweeping the top two spots.
“I’m thrilled,” said Tarjan. “It’s not what I was expecting at all. They’re both pretty green. It’s been a good week. We’ve had our ups and our downs, but that’s horses for you.”
Tarjan first came to the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions 10 years ago, and she reflected on how her program has developed through the decade.
“I came the first time on a four-year-old, so it’s really fun to come back to try to build up the horses,” said Tarjan. “You start from the bottom and you get them trained to the top, so that’s kind of exciting. 🎠