With seven young horses hoping to qualify for the final at the Lamplight Equestrian Center CDI* Dressage show May 20-22, just two six year olds were left in the running to face the judges’ panel of Linda Zang, Jayne Ayers and Natalie Lamping for the Young Horse Finale; the Markel/USEF Selection Trials for the Central United States for the FEI World Young Horse Championships in Verden. Last year’s Five-Year-Old Champion Wake Up (8.23), the American Warmblood Stallion (Wagnis x Maiden Montreal by Macho) born in Kansas, was back as a six year old with Emily Wagner hoping to once again qualify for the trip to Germany August 7-3 where she gained invaluable experience in 2010 with the only US qualified horse in the international event. But it was not a done deal after the Preliminary Test where Wake Up uncharacteristically broke in the lengthen trot, among other moves dropping his score in submission. Wagner knew she would have to pull it together to make the Finale count.
In a nearly flawless performance which only had one late change, Wagner warmed up her stallion bred by Bev McLean under the watchful eye of US Young Horse Dressage Coach Scott Hassler and trainer Mom, Jana Wagner, and showed the judges what they were hoping for and Wagner showed what she was made of as a competitor. In a forward, fluid uphill test with just one late change, Wake Up was focused and relaxed as Wagner demonstrated all that the American program represents on an American bred horse. After a disappointing score of 7.74 on Saturday, Wake Up bested his result in the Finale with an 8.58 percent qualifying the pair in the first of three selection competitions. “I realized after Friday I needed to be one step ahead of him and not to take his normal behavior for granted.” admitted Wagner, and that she did impressing Linda Zang who will be attending all three competitions moving onto Flintridge in California next week.
Markel/USEF National Young Horse veteran Angela Hecker Jackson presented the lovely KWPN mare Allure S by Rousseau owned by Kerrin C Dunn and bred by Sonnenberg Farm. While Jackson who has just had the mare at her Kentucky Farm for 5 months knew there was still more to develop, the experience at the beautiful Lamplight Equestrian Center Facility which will play host to the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships in August was undeniably invaluable.
US Dressage Young Horse Coach Scott Hassler flew to the event to work with all prospects through out the duration of the show. Always on hand to explain the process, rules and to advise competitors on strategy, Hassler noted that while the national program continues to thrive, with more than 150 ranked horses in 2010, and over 70 to date in 2011, the draw to the shows specifically designated for the FEI World Championships is limited. With the number of qualifying classes across the country in national competitions, horse and rider combinations who do not aspire to test their skills on the world stage greatly out number those who do. “Riders know the judging for Verden with be tougher.” Hassler pointed out. “Concern over their average scores being affected along with other factors like travel and expense and the early qualifying dates required for the FEI World Championships are all factors.” Hassler added that he is having a conference call Monday with the Dressage Committee to discuss the program and its growth in depth. “In the United States, most of these horses are the horse for the future for the riders presenting them. And this is a good thing for us. It is different in Europe where there are sponsors, breeders and big business behind the program.”
Now that Wagner has qualified again, her work has just begun. Still paying for the $28,000 trip in 2010, Wagner knows the process is about to begin for support to make the trip in 2011. There is no funding for Young Dressage Horses in the USA to participate for their country in Europe. On her blog, Wagner kept friends, family and fans posted on her progress at emilywagnerdressage.
Next week will be the Western Selection at Flintridge in California, and in the first weekend in June the VADA/NOVA Dressage Spring show will host the eastern trial. As rumors swirled about the show grounds of the effect the EHV1 Virus, competitors who travelled from Texas were looking for a layover who would accept them as they headed home. Concern as to the status of the Flintridge CDI is being addressed at the Cornerstone Dressage website, organizers of that event as well as Dressage at High Prairie, Parker Colorado, June 3-5.