Dressage World Cup League Finals at the Festival of the Horse CDI***-W

by Charlene Strickland

Brentina Rocks Burbank

Burbank, California - Debbie McDonald dropped a hint Saturday about her Sunday freestyle, and she and Brentina delivered a dynamite performance. Set to music from Motown, the choreography impressed judges and dazzled the audience in the LA Equestrian Center.

Brentina showed her reliability and accuracy in the movements, as described by judge Hanna Valentine, Denmark: “The transitions are beautiful, piaffe and passage very nice and harmonious and supple. The turning in the piaffe was perfect.”

The degree of difficulty—and McDonald's success in matching Brentina's strides to music like Aretha Franklin's “Respect”--earned her the top score of 77.975. She had only practiced this new freestyle a few times, and debuted it at this US Freestyle Championship and US League Final for the World Cup.

“I was dead nervous when I started,” she said afterwards. “I told Klaus [Balkenhol] I heard his voice many times during my ride: 'You have time, Debbie.' “I tried to compose myself, then I settled into the program and started to have a lot more fun. The first couple movements I was a little bit off. Then I picked it up and I was in sync.”

She added that she did the choreography and suggested the music. Terri Gallo put together the freestyle for Brentina.


by Charlene Strickland

Debbie McDonald and Leslie Morse Set for The World Cup Final in Las Vegas

The first- and second-place finishers in the League Final—McDonald on Brentina and Leslie Morse on Kingston—are confirmed entries for the Dressage World Cup in three weeks. Morse went first in the class, earning a 75.775 on her stallion. “We performed really well today,” she said. “I loved the feeling of the freestyle.”

She rode last on Tip Top, and commented, “The horses went well, and I am really proud of them.” Tip Top was fourth, with 72.95. Morse added, “I'm really excited about going. Everyone I've talked to is so excited about the jumping being mixed with the dressage. For it to be on TV is going to be fabulous!”

Just returned from her trip to Florida shows, she said that both Kingston and Tip Top will have a break before traveling from California to Nevada. Guenter Seidel won third place on Aragon (74.425). Riding Nikolaus 7, he also finished fifth (72.125). USEF will submit him as a third US rider, with Robert Dover as a wild card.

Seidel recently returned from showing in Germany. “It was beneficial for Aragon, because Klaus helped me. The horse got used to the indoor atmosphere. It was good preparation.”


by Charlene Strickland

North American Riders Prove Their Quality

About the overall level of riding, judge Elizabeth McMullen from Canada said, “You should be proud. I think you will be well-represented in Las Vegas.” She was also on the panel for the CDI Grand Prix Freestyle, contested by top Canadian riders Leslie Reid and Evi Strasser. Reid finished first on Mark, with 75.85—a score slightly higher than Morse on Kingston.

She performed a demanding routine to tango music, using her horse's strength and power. The freestyle—the one she'll perform in Las Vegas as Canada's representative—also showed Mark's grace and lightness.

The afternoon of freestyles began with the Intermediare I. Charlotte Bredahl-Baker and Eskada completed their weekend with first place, scoring 69.725. In all, in the three classes on Sunday, spectators watched 18 freestyles.

Judge Valentine said of the Freestyle Championship rides, “All were more relaxed today. Also, you had six horses scoring above 70 percent.” (Besides McDonald, Morse, and Seidel., Steffen Peters and Floriano earned 71.975.) The judge from Norway, Trond Asmyr, agreed: “The quality matches with any country in the world. You have developed more top quality horses.”

Horsesdaily.com 'On the Scene' at the Festival of the Horse CDI***-W




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