Complete Results for Four Year Old Championships on centerlinescores.com. Alyssa Pitts riding Melissa Mulchahey's Furst Fiorano laid down the gauntlet in the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championship 4-year-old division half way through the class which featured one top horse and ride after the next. The big chestnut Westphalan gelding (Furst Piccolo - Donna Lorenza by Donnerbube) travelled by trailer 3, 000 miles with Pitts and her Developing Horse entry Jil Sander from Snomish, Washington to the Lamplight Equestrian Center, home of the Young Horse Championships. The judging panel - composed of Janet Foy, Gary Rockwell and Anne Gribbons awarded Furst Fiorano a 9 for the trot, 7.8 for the walk, an 8.0 for the canter and an 8.7 for submission with an 8.8 for general impression. Mulchahey is no stranger to the Young Horse Championships, with this being her third year in the finals.
In 2009 Sir Rocco was fourth in the four-year-old test and in 2010 Sir Velo was sixth, so today’s victory proved perseverance, not to mention choosing a great rider and trainer, pays off. Mulchahey purchased Furst Fiorano at the Westphalen Elite Auction as a sponsored horse for Pitts. “It is a wonderful show each year, a chance to see other young horse enthusiasts and friends from all over the country.” An FEI rider herself with a full time career in the health care sector, Mulchahey’s experience as an owner goes back to 2003 with Donna Novella who won the Central Selection Trials, and was short listed to represent the USA in Verden. “I see the value of these competitions to highlight the future stars of dressage. It is clear to me that the FEI Young Horse classes are a terrific way to prepare and show these talented young horses as you prepare them for a future FEI career. It has been wonderful to see the progression this series has made since 2003 and the ever increasing quality of the horses and riders.”
Pitts made a breakthrough in her career after being invited to the USEF Talent Search with Debbie McDonald and the USEF Elite Rider Clinic with Morten Thomsen in 2010 with her Developing horse Jil Sander, and also credits a cowboy, cutting horse trainer Randy Leighton who “remains to this day one of my best mentors.” She currently works with Steffen Peters at every opportunity, and also thanks USEF Young Horse Coach Scott Hassler for the added dimension and guidance which helped to propel her to victory with the young Furst Fiorano." "I hope to be back here next year doing the 5-year-olds," Pitts said.
Finishing a close second was George Williams (Delaware, OH) with the talent Horizon (Hotline - Revue by Don Schufro) on a score of 8.48. Elizabeth Juliano owner of Havensafe Farm in Ohio is another owner who is deeply vested in the program and purchasing quality horses for America. An amateur rider, she has purchased most of her horses from the PSI Sales in Germany, sponsor with J.Tim Dutta for the USEF Develoing Horse Championships where Williams will also be competing with Pitts on Cleopatra. The elegant Oldenburg mare showed great elasticity in the trot and phenomenal reach in her walk, as well as scoring an 8.5 for her canter. Her very willing and trainable demeanor led to the highest score for submission in the class of an 8.8, and a 9.0 for a general impression mark from the judging panel.
Williams who competed for the US team on the fabulous mare Rocher “has an affinity for mares” and knew from the first time he rode her that he had a star for the future. "With Horizon, the first time I sat on her I had a real rapport. She is a dream to ride; very smooth and work comes easily to her." Williams, President of the USDF, who trains with Kathy Connelly on hand to guide him with the four horses he is competing was also quick to credit Young Horse Coach Scott Hassler, who was ringside throughout the entire warm up for the classes in this program.
Third-place honors went to Oldenburg, Germany, native Lientje Schueler and Regalo (Rosario - Dandiell by Nandino) who scored an 8.3 on the strength of a fabulous walk gait. Schueler, who has been based with Shannon and Steffen Peters in San Diego, CA, for six years starting as a working student, thinks the world of Pinky Robert's Oldenburg gelding. “This is the first opportunity for me on a horse that I chose to compete, and I greatly thankful to the owner Pinky Roberts for giving me the opportunity. "He's a very fun horse, he gives it his all all the time." Schueler was extremely impressed with Regalo's perseverance today. "He was tired today but kept trying; his heart was the high point today."
The highest U.S.- bred horse award in the 4-year-old division went to Casanova (Lauwersmeer Laka - Abolien by Indiaan) who is owned and ridden by Jocelyn Hamann, and bred by Deborah P. Harrison.
Judging panel member Anne Gribbons was ecstatic about the quality of horses seen in the 2011 the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championship and has great faith in the program, which is now in its 10th year. "It's been amazing, between the 6-year-olds yesterday and the 4 and 5-year-olds today, we did not have to cover up anything," Gribbons said. "It's been so exciting, fabulous. Stick with it long enough and it works out."