Alyssa Doverspike (Wildomar, Calif.) and her own Hanoverian gelding Darius 555 (Don Darius-Barcelona, Boss) wowed the judges to win the FEI Five-Year-Old Preliminary Test and currently sit atop the standings in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championship Five-Year-Old division with a 7.76. The three-day trip from Wildomar, California was well worth it after winning Thursday's 5-year-old preliminary test in a tough division with seasoned Young Horse riders.
A full time groom for her trainers David Wightman and Kathleen Raine of Adventure Farms and Doverspike attributes her success to knowing Darius' personality inside and out as she is very hands-on in his daily care. The pair earned the highest mark of 8.8 for their walk from the judges who were pleased with his clear rhythm and shoulder freedom. The combination received high marks on their walk and self-carriage throughout the test.
“I can depend on the walk a lot if I just let him do his thing,” said Doverspike. “So that is what I tried to do and then keep the trot moving and forward. I was very happy with him in the test.”
Her first time at the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championships, Doverspike is also her own groom and feels that this creates a special connection between her and Darius 555.
“The young horses just change every day – that is the biggest thing,” said Doverspike. “They are forward and then they are back, and then you have these huge leaps forward with them. And working with them on the ground and knowing them and their funny little quirks and personalities, it really just helps you prepare.”
Angela Jackson of Henderson, Kentucky, and Craig Stanley of Madera, California, tied for second place in the 5-year-old preliminary test with a score of 7.72. Jackson rode Julie Cook's Hanoverian gelding Sandeman (Sir Donnerhall I-Flora, Florencio I). Stanley returned to Lamplight Equestrian Center on his homebred KWPN gelding Habanero CWS (Idocus-Caliente DG, OO Seven) as the pair won the 4-Year-Old Young Horse National Championship in 2016.
Angela Jackson (Henderson, Ky.) and Julie Cook’s Hanoverian gelding Sandeman had an impressive performance, tying for second place with Craig Stanley (Madera, Calif.) and his own KWPN gelding, Habanero CWS.
Jackson and Sandeman’s final score of 7.72 showed the quality of their well-balanced gaits and earned remarks on high trainability. Sandeman is Jackson’s first German-bred horse she has shown at the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championships, however Jackson herself is no stranger to the event. “This championship is really special to me,” said Jackson. “I always feel like a winner even when I just get my invitation. It is a special show and I think it is a wonderful way for young horses to shine a little bit, so I am really thankful to have that. I was super happy with my horse. He gave me everything he had in that class, even though he was a little scared, and that just means the world to me. He trusted me and went in there and really worked for me.”
Stanley and Habanero CWS, Stanley’s winning ride in the 2016 Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage National Championship Four-Year-Old division, also scored a 7.72 with high marks in the walk and trot. A familiar face at these championships, Stanley expressed his excitement about having such success with a home-bred horse. “This was beyond my wildest dreams five or ten years ago, even though this is my sixth time here. To do it on a home-bred is even more special. It is amazing that you can even make it sometimes. I thought my horse did really well today. He was with me – you can always want a bit more of this or that, but in general, he did really well.”