On the Scene at Dressage at Waterloo Summer Finale
Grass Lake, Michigan – It's been a summer of firsts for Chelsea Allen. In July, she competed in her first North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. And now she's followed that up with her first Prix St. Georges win.
The 16-year-old Allen, who hails from Erie, Pennsylvania, was the winner of Friday's FEI Prix St. Georges at the Dressage at Waterloo Summer Finale. It was only her second Prix St. Georges ever. She rode her first Prix St. Georges just the day before, on Thursday, finishing with a score of 62.50 percent. She raised that to a 65.25 for her winning ride on Friday. Behind her in second was Colleen Haveman riding Warello 6 with a score of 60.50. Third went to Judy Kelly and Leonardo with 60 percent.
Allen earned her win with Foenix, a 16-year-old Hosteiner gelding owned by Regina Sacha-Ujczo. "He was really good," Allen said of Foenix. "He was just amazing. He enjoyed that test and he knew what he was doing."
'Amazing' is also how she described her first FEI-level ride. "I wasn't nervous. I was actually excited to try an upper-level test," Allen said. "It was a much more technical test and things came at me more quickly than in a lower-level test. But I really liked the challenge. Now I want to stay in the FEI levels."
But how long she'll have the ride on Foenix isn't yet known. She's been leasing the horse since January when Sacha-Ujczo offered her the lease opportunity so that Allen could aim for the NAJYRC, where Allen ended up finishing fourth individually. "The Junior Championships were absolutely amazing. The level of competition was really something," Allen said of her experience.
Aside from a pony that she has outgrown, Allen doesn't have another horse to ride. The high school junior is currently keeping her eyes open for a good horse that is young enough to take her through her final high school years and through her college years. Her career goal is to become a doctor, but she has no plans to give up her riding while going through college.
One thing Allen also discovered about moving up to the FEI level is that the change in outfit gives one a whole new feel. "I felt like I was a new rider being in tails rather than a show coat. The tails make you feel like you have more presence and honor." What she didn't have, however, was a top hat. "Since this was my first time doing Prix St. Georges, we didn't buy top hat. It was to make sure he didn't do something unpredictable. He can sometimes spook at something for no reason."
Allen trains with Nancy Smith, who was clearly proud of her young student. "She has certainly risen to the occasion," Smith said. "I think that it's pretty amazing for a 16-year-old girl to have that much composure. She's an outstanding young lady."
Allen is hoping that this weekend's show will earn her the scores she needs to qualify for the regional championships. She needs two scores at 60 percent or better from two different shows. With her Prix St. Georges win, she already has one score and because Dressage at Waterloo is technically two different shows, she'll qualify if she scores 60 percent or better in one of her Prix St. Georges rides on Saturday or Sunday.
"It's nice that they made this a double show. Thursday and Friday is one show and Saturday and Sunday is another so it counts as two separate shows. That makes it a lot more economical for people," Allen said.