Experience led the way in the AGCO/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship as Barbara Davis (Bedminster, N.J.) and Rotano jumped out to an early lead after earning a 68.541%. Davis was the 2012 National Champion in the Pony division and looks to add another Championship title to her resume with the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Michael and Sarah Davis. The pair displayed an accurate and forward test highlighted by an accurate canter tour. "I had a really super ride," Davis said. "This is my first year in the Juniors, so I kind of came into this as it's my first year just to learn, so I am really excited to be doing this. I was very, very pleased with my test. It had some really nice moments." Davis was able to utilize her experience from previous competitions to produce one of her best performances when it really mattered today. "I would like to say my canter work was definitely a highlight. He was super, just really willing today. I could feel it that he was really with me and really paying attention."
Cassie Schmidt rode Leslie Schmidt's Velasquer into second position in the Team Test. The impressive 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding put forth an expressive performance to score 66.703%. Schmidt and Velasquer have bonded over the past year and are quickly building an affinity for each other.
"I was super happy with my test today," Schmidt commented. "Everything felt really good. He was so easy, he was so willing; he just did such a good job. This is my first year to come to the Festival of Champions. I have been in the Juniors for four years now and I was just so happy with everything. He was just so super."
Lindsey Holleger (Whigham, Ga.) trotted into third place riding her own Friedensfurst, an 11-year-old Trakehner gelding, to a score of 66.568%.
The AGCO/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship competition continues Saturday, with riders performing the FEI Junior Individual Test, which will count for the remaining 50% of the overall average.
The day concluded with all 11 entries in the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship being accepted at the Horse Inspection.
USEF Network will be streaming Friday's and Saturday's competition live at www.usefnetwork.com/featured/2013FestivalOfChampions/. Retired FEI 5* judge Axel Steiner will provide commentary during the broadcast.
Find out everything you need to know about the championships at http://www.usefconnect.com/festival/.