Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse National Championships
WakeUp has advanced all the way through the Young and Developing Horse Program, making his debut as a 4-year-old and winning multiple championships and reserves along the way. Now, in his final year of eligibility, he is graduating with the highest honors: the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix National Championship.
WakeUp, a 10-year-old American Warmblood stallion (Wagnis-Maiden Montreal, Macho) bred in the U.S. by Beverly McLean, and Emily Miles, his owner and rider throughout his career, earned a score of 68.458 percent in Sunday's USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix test to clinch the championship on an overall score of 69.934 percent. For the Young and Developing Horse Championships, the first test counted as 40 percent of the overall score, while the second test contributed the remaining 60 percent.
|Emily Miles and WakeUp. Photo by Mary Adelaide Brakenridge.
"For so many reasons, this is a fantastic event, and it's been really good to us," Miles said. "I know I would not be where I'm at without this program. I wouldn't have the exposure, and WakeUp wouldn't get this exposure, so I'm very, very thankful. This was an excellent way to finish."
She added, "I love Lamplight. The footing is unbelievable. This feels like home to me, and I love the people here. They're all cheering for WakeUp; it's like he's their kid too, and they've watched him come up. The program is a blessing. At home in Kansas, how would WakeUp ever get any instruction from Scott Hassler throughout the years, or Debbie McDonald now? I hope the program only grows and gets bigger and more robust, and I hope people know how important it is and help support it."
Marcus Orlob and Equestricons Et Voila held on to their second place spot, scoring 67.333 percent on Sunday and finishing on an overall score of 67.628 percent to take the reserve championship. Equestricons Et Voila is a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Earl-Manjana, Matcho AA) bred by Britta White and owned by ET Adventure LLC.
"I think I gave him a little too much fire today," Orlob said. "He was really burning and willing to go. Otherwise he did really a great job; I couldn't have asked for more. He's a great horse, and I'm happy with him."
Both Orlob and Miles took advantage of the opportunity to get some input from USEF Developing Dressage Coach Debbie McDonald while at the Championships, and they found her advice to be very helpful. Miles is planning to head to Wellington, Florida, for the winter season there to compete WakeUp at CDIs, bring along her other horses and train with McDonald.
"This was the first time I'd ever worked with Debbie," Miles said. "Scott Hassler has helped me in past years, giving me pointers. I was very nervous about it, but I really wanted Debbie to see him. She was fantastic. She gave me some hints about helping him passage a little better and making him quicker. She's seen so many horses and so many different things. It was great to get her feedback, and I'm really excited about working with her in the future."
Along with the more seasoned WakeUp, Miles has several promising younger horses moving up through the ranks. She rode Floretienne, an Oldenburg gelding (Florestan I-Tamarande, Jazz) bred in the U.S. by Judy Yancey and owned by Leslie Waterman, to reserve champion honors in the Markel/USEF Six-Year-Old Young Horse Championship.
|Emily Miles and Floretienne. Photo by Mary Adelaide Brakenridge.
"He's the type that I think will really be more of an upper level contender," Miles said. "I'm super thrilled with how he did here. He's a fantastic young horse, obviously. But he is 6, and he can do the two-tempis, the piaffe and the passage really super. He's so talented for that. I think he's going to be fun, and I feel so lucky to have him."
Capturing the championship in the division was Gallant Reflection HU, a Zweibrucker stallion (Galant du Serein-Rohmanie, Rohdiamant) bred in the U.S. by Horses Unlimited Inc. and owned by the breeder. Lisa Wilcox rode the stallion to the top score of 8.04 in Friday's preliminary test and stepped it up a notch to score 8.2 in Sunday's final, giving them an overall score of 8.136.
The panel of judges - Jayne Ayers, Jeanne McDonald and Louise Koch - awarded Gallant Reflection a score of 8.8 for his trot in Sunday's test, commenting that it had "a really lovely cadence" and was "uphill, soft, fluid - all the things you look for."
|Lisa Wilcox and Gallant Reflection HU. Photo by Mary Adelaide Brakenridge.
Wilcox said she was very happy with her ride and especially pleased that she was able to improve the canter score from the first test to the second. At home, Gallant Reflection is schooling more advanced movements in preparation to move up to the Developing Horse Prix St. Georges, and Wilcox predicts a bright future for him.
"He's way ahead of himself; he's already a little bored with this particular test," she said. "He's a Grand Prix horse. I am very confident saying that because he does piaffe/passage at home and he does ones. These are things that he has offered. You can see the piaffe/passage is built in the gait; it's very natural for him."
U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions presented by The Dutta Corp.
The Festival of Champions wrapped up with two ends of the spectrum: the Brentina Cup for Under 25 Grand Prix competitors and the Pony Rider Championship for the youngest riders of the Festival. Chase Hickok and Sagacious HF posted a score of 69 percent in Sunday morning's FEI Intermediaire II test to secure the USEF Young Adult "Brentina Cup" National Championship presented by Dressage Today with an overall score of 68.093 percent. For the Festival divisions, each test contributed 50 percent of the final score.
"I'm so pleased to be sitting here, especially with Sagacious, who is such a wonderful, perfect horse," Hickok said. "We had a rocky beginning, so to look back now a year and a half later and be here in the company of such amazing pairs as well is just really humbling and really exciting. It's another chip in his long, long history of success and another trophy in his trophy case. I'm proud to have been able to achieve that for him especially."
|Debbie McDonald congratulates Chase Hickok and Sagacious HF on their Brentina Cup victory. Photo by Mary Adelaide Brakenridge.
Hickok leases Sagacious HF from Al Guden of Hyperion Farm. Now that Hickok has won the Brentina Cup, she is aiming to keep moving up and learning from the 16-year-old KWPN gelding.
"Hopefully we will be making another big leap into the normal Grand Prix," Hickok said. "I'm really excited they have an adult amateur division now, so we're thinking about starting out there and then hopefully moving into the open later on. It's another test for Sagacious to teach me and show me the ropes. I'm looking forward to any future with him."
Sierra Keasler, who leases her mount Lux Stensvang from Caroline Roffman, didn't have quite the test she'd hoped for on Sunday but still finished out with an overall score of 65.535 percent to take the reserve championship over third-placed Melanie Montagano and Ga Deva.
"I did what I could with my horse," Keasler said. "He was a little tense, and I was a little tense. There were some better parts of it - he was very forward thinking - but still we had a couple bobbles. But I'm still here, and that's good enough for me. We're going to keep on this road and see where it takes us."
USEF Pony Rider National Championship
Allison Nemeth and Pablo S, her 19-year-old Weser Ems German Reit pony, captured the USEF Pony Rider National Championship with an average score of 70.165 percent.
"I am super happy and thankful to be here, and this entire experience has been amazing," Nemeth said. "I feel so lucky that I got to be a part of it."
Nemeth worked to improve her trot work from Saturday's FEI Pony Team test, and she was pleased with her simple changes in Sunday's FEI Pony Individual test.
|Allison Nemeth and Pablo S. Photo by Annan Hepner.
Mckenzie Milburn earned the reserve championship with a 65.525 percent on her 21-year Westphalian gelding, Darius. The blustery weather caused tension in her test but Milburn managed to hold on to her second place.
"He was really hot and spooky during the canter work," she said.
Nemeth and Milburn both have long-term goals of qualifying as Juniors for the North American Junior Young Rider Championships.
USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals
The USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals, held Sunday at Lamplight, tested youth riders on their dressage equitation. Judges scored riders' position and the effectiveness of their aids, and the horses' performances were only considered as they related to the riders' aids. Julia Lee Barton won the gold medal in the 13 and Under division, while Alexander Dawson earned the gold in the 14-18 division.
Dawson, 14, was the gold medalist at the 2013 Finals in the 13 and Under division, and he showed he could take on older, more experienced competitors, winning the 14-18 division gold medal with a score of 85 percent. Dawson, who trains with Patricia Becker, rode a borrowed horse: Shamrock H, a KWPN gelding.
"I am so grateful Lynda Chesser allowed me to ride him because he is such a nice horse. He is really calm and a total gentleman," Dawson laughed. "He will eat sugar and not even slobber you!"
|Alexander Dawson and Shamrock H. Photo by Annan Hepner.
Asia Ondaatje Rupert, 15, won the silver medal with a score of 84 percent on her own Dutch Warmblood mare, Twelfth Night.
Rupert said of her test, "I thought I did a nice job keeping my hands quiet and reins a good length, but I really need to work on following more."
Stella Leitner, 17, earned the bronze medal with Amanda Johnson's Hanoverian gelding, Pip, scoring an 80 percent. This was her first year competing in dressage seat equitation, and she said has been working on having Pip listen to her seat more in the downward transitions.
Barton, 13, clinched the title in the 13 and Under division of the Dressage Seat Medal Finals with an impressive score of 88 percent. She rode Bonnaroo, her 6-year-old Quarter Horse/German Riding Pony whom she has been competing at First and Second Level.
"I wasn't expecting that high of a score, and I am very excited," Barton said. "I really liked my individual pattern, Bonnie was very responsive, and I could focus on myself and my aids."
|Julia Lee Barton and Bonnaroo. Photo by Annan Hepner.
From lunge lessons to no stirrup work, the top three riders worked hard in order to stand out in a large class of 13 youth riders. Barton was thrilled for the opportunity to compete at the Dressage Seat Medal Finals and has high goals for the next year.
"I am going to do a couple local shows later this season, and I hope to get Bonnie up to the FEI Pony level, so hopefully we can be back here next year!" she said.
Silver medalist Tillie Jones, who recently turned 14 and is from Lincoln, Nebraska, earned a score of 87 percent. Jones, who borrowed her Dressage Seat Medal Finals mount Flavio from Samantha Kenik, also placed fourth in the AGCO/USEF Junior National Championship on her own Boegely's Mauricio. Camille Molten, 11, earned the bronze medal on Mom's Little Lulu, owned by Robb Prichard, with a score of 85 percent.