The championship title was decided for the Young Adult "Brentina Cup" competition during the end of the morning session on Friday as the up-and-coming riders performed the FEI Young Rider Grand Prix Test. Twenty-five year-old Wagner (La Cygne, Kan.) rode her own Weltdorff to claim the prestigious title with an overall score of 65.578%. She and her own 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding had a rhythmical, harmonious test, displaying their eight-year partnership. “He was just so supple today and I loved that feeling,” commented Wagner. “My half-passes flowed and were really nice. The canter half-passes I really liked. We had a few shaky moments, but I know him very well so we recovered and really got out of it. We messed up our ones. Usually those are pretty solid, but what can I say.” After getting Weldorff as an unbroken three-year-old in Germany, Wagner as moved up the levels and learned alongside him. That fact made the championship title more meaningful.
“He has done so much for me because I have had him since he was a rascally three-year-old and because we have gone through so much together. There have been so many times where I’ve thought, ‘I don’t understand, he doesn’t understand, we are up against a wall, what are we going to do?’ And that makes this mean so incredibly much to me. So I’m thrilled,” said a delighted Wagner.
Genay Vaughn (Elk Grove, Calif.) rode Donarweiss GGF to Reserve Champion honors with an overall score of 64.646%. She and Starr Vaughn Equestrian, Inc.'s 12-year-old Hanoverian stallion made a solid effort with lovely canter pirouettes highlighting their test. “We had a pretty good test; we had a few mistakes but I am really happy with him,” remarked Vaughn. “I am even happier with how we did our first year out. I am excited to even be here, it’s an honor.”
Vaughn hopes to do some training in Europe next year, but would like to continue to compete in the USEF “Brentina Cup” Program.
Lauren Knopp (Wellington, Fl.) rode Rantaro, her own 17-year-old Holsteiner gelding, to a third-place finish, scoring a 64.294% overall. The pair had good flying changes and nice trot half-passes. “We did a shorter warm-up and he felt hot and great and wonderful. It actually felt too good since I went off course,” said Knopp of halting prematurely on the centerline. Their placing was quite impressive since Knopp has been sidelined with a herniated disc in her back.
“I’m very excited. I had two months off because of my back so I didn’t think I would get here,” said an emotional Knopp of the accomplishment. “I just started riding two weeks ago, so I’m very, very excited.”
AGCO/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship
The eleven Young Riders returned to the Rolex Stadium on Friday to perform the FEI Young Rider Individual Test, which would help determine the winner of the AGCO/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship. Uhlir (Kirkland, Wash.) added another title to her resume as she claimed top honors in the championship with an overall score of 68.211%. She and her mount for the past three years, Sjapoer, performed a lovely test that flowed from movement to movement to earn a 68.184%.
“He was a little bit quieter, he wasn’t so awake today. We only had mistakes in the walk and the halt-rein back, but we recovered for the rest of the ride,” commented Uhlir. “I felt that he was fairly consistent, and just a fairly decent and good ride. Our canter work was a lot better than our trot work. I felt like our tempis were very straight, jumpy, and overall good.”
Uhlir trains with USEF Youth Coach Jeremy Steinberg and has found much success with the help of his long term intensive training program. After winning the 2012 USEF Junior Dressage National Championship, Uhlir moved up to the Young Rider level and continued to improve with her own 14-year-old KWPN gelding.
“There’s this big list and it asks you all these questions about what you want to do with your riding goals, both short term and long term. It’s a guideline to help you follow that path. It’s definitely an amazing program and seems to be working quite well for me right now,” Uhlir said with a smile.
Rachel Chowanec (Columbia, Conn.) claimed the Reserve Champion title with Embrujado XI with an overall score of 66.356%. She and Lendon Gray’s 15-year-old PRE gelding made a solid effort in their test, which was highlighted by quality canter work. The test only had a minor mistake during the shoulder-ins, scoring a 67.237%
“He was better today, not as spooky,” said Chowanec. “I couldn’t get him to turn during the shoulder-in to go across the arena but after that he was really good.”
Kaitlin Blythe (Rougemon, N.C.) rode Daverden to a third-place finish with an overall score of 65.645%. She and the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding had nice tempis and extensions to earn a 66.237%.
“My test was much better today. I feel like the quality wasn’t as good as yesterday, but we had a lot less mistakes,” said a pragmatic Blythe. “He was a lot different today. Yesterday he was a lot more up, but today he was a little quieter.”
USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship
Redston (Needham, Mass.) collected a first-place ribbon in the FEI Pony Team Test with her own Tony 47. She demonstrated an accurate, energetic test with the 13-year-old German Riding Pony gelding to score 65.923%.
“I thought my ride was pretty good,” Redston said. “I think Tony feels at home in this big stadium; he’s realized that this is finally where he’s supposed to be.”
Redston views these Championships as an introduction to the top levels of Dressage in the U.S. “I got into ponies because I always thought that ponies were really compassionate and they were the sweetest little things in the world. I wanted to have a pony just for me, to take him around and show him and show what we can do.”
Standing in second place in the division are Nadine Orriss and Allegria. Orriss (Bellevue, Wash.) and her own 14-year-old Welsh/Dutch Warmblood mare presented a solid ride to score 64.026%.
“I thought I did pretty well,” Orriss commented. “It was kind of hot out so my pony was really lazy, so it was really hard to get her in front of the leg. But we tried our best. I know she always tries her best and puts on her game face whenever she goes in the ring, so I’m really pleased with how we did.”
Orriss enjoys riding ponies because she’s able to challenge herself among a level playing field. “I wanted to do it because it’s a pretty hard test and there aren’t a lot of ponies. It’s been hard the past few years competing against the big warmbloods, so finally having your own division where ponies are going against ponies is really fun.”
Savannah Rose Franklund (Boulder, Colo.) rode into third place with CF Godiva Chocolate. She and her own 13-year-old American Quarter Pony gelding scored 63.718%.
The USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship comes to a conclusion on Saturday as they perform their FEI Pony Individual Tests to earn the remaining 50% of the championship score.
USEF Network will be streaming Friday 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/.