Verden, Germany - The only American showing at the FEI World Breeding Championships for Dressage Young Horses, Endel Ots did the Team USA proud finishing 11th in the world in a field of 48 young five-year-olds in the electric atmosphere of the Young Horse World stage in Verden, Germany. Ots finished 11th in the Five-Year-Old Final with Lucky Strike Hanoverian gelding (Lord Laurie x Heidi/His Highness) owned by his father Max Ots, from De Pere, Wisconsin.
USEF Young Horse Coach, Christine Traurig, was ecstatic with the week's results stating, "It was a big, long week, and overall a great success for Endel and his horses. Lucky Strike gave his all in every test, and because he is such a big horse, he was maybe a bit tired on this last day, but he was truly remarkable. The horse's consistency over the three days was unbelievable and something to really be proud of.
Ots went from strength-to-strength over three days of competition. In the preliminary test on Thursday, which served as the first qualifier for the Final, Ots and Lucky Strike scored an 8.600 to tie for 15th in a field of 48 horses, and moved forward to the Small Final on Friday. With incredible determination, the pair executed a beautiful test in the Small Final to place third on 8.680, landing them a coveted spot in today's Final. Featuring 15 world-class five-year-olds, today's Final showcased brilliant performances including that of Ots and Lucky Strike, who placed 11th on 8.100. The gelding continued to display his expressive trot work, earning an 8.300, and also collected high marks for his submission, an 8.500, and general impression, an 8.200.
"He tries his heart out - every day, every test," said Ots of Lucky Strike. "When I wanted to change something, he was so adjustable and really stayed with me. He always gave me everything he could this week and I am super happy. We had a little bobble towards the end of our test today, but placing 11th in the world, it was incredible."
"The last 5 weeks have been the best of my life so far. I have learned so much, and am the most blessed guy I know to be able to represent my country, my horses, my family, and everyone who has helped me in my first World Championship show," added Ots I am humbled by all the kind words from all over the world. Thank you! I am so thankful for all the sacrifices people had to make to help my horses and I here. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Endel Ots with Samhitas (Sir Donnerhall I x Heidebluete/Abanos), a six-year-old Oldenburg gelding, co owned with Gary Vander Ploeg
Also representing the U.S. in the Six-Year-Old division, in his fourth show of his life, Ots expertly guided his own and Gary Vander Ploeg's Samhitas (Sir Donnerhall I x Heidebluete/Abanos), a six-year-old Oldenburg gelding, to respectable finishes in both the preliminary test and in the Small Final, 23rd in the world out of a large field. In Friday's first qualifier to the Final, the pair scored 7.540 to place 24th. The judges praised the gelding's trot tour, scoring it an 8.800. In this morning's Small Final, the graceful gelding continued to impress in his trot work, scoring an 8.400, but a low overall mark for the walk, 6.800, led to an overall score of 7.600 for an 11th-place finish.
"Today was a really fantastic test for Samhitas," said Ots. "This horse has super potential for international competition and this was only his fourth show here at the World Championships. We did have a little mistake in our test, but all our other tests were clean and it just makes me want to come back next year and ride that much better. I have to thank Gary Vander Ploeg & Jeannie Vander Ploeg for giving me the opportunty to ride their super horse and represent not only the USA but also Canada here." Ots had a great support team during his duration in Germany living and training with Kathrin Meyer Zu Strohen & her husband. In addition to Gary Vander Ploeg's coaching all season, Canadia Dressage maestro Evi Strasser flew over earlier in the week to help with fine tuning. The new incoming USEF Young Horse coach Christine Traurig, a native to the region near Verden was back in her own back yard, helping to elevate the talented Ots to a world class level.
Speaking to the importance of this international championship, Traurig noted, "In the U.S. we have a wonderful National Championships for young horses, and this World Championship is also incredibly important, as it is our first opportunity to showcase our horses on the international stage and see how they compare to the rest of the world. This World Championship is so vital for our breeders, owners, and riders to be able to represent the U.S. and see how the other countries are developing their young horses."