As a 4-year-old Somer Hit competed last year with his owner Alice Tarjan at the Markel/USEF National Championships for Young Dressage Horses placing fourth. This year with a wedding, her own, just two weeks ago, Tarjan handed the reins to her Frenchtown, NJ neighbor 26-year-old Lauren Chumley who skillfully presented the young Sandro Hit stallion, a fourth generation product of Mo Swanson’s Rolling Stone Farm. With the guidance of USEF Young Horse National Coach Scott Hassler, the lovely and lanky duo performed “the best canter we have seen” noted the judges scoring a 9.0 in the final class with an 8.376 total making the pair the only combination of young horses presented to earn a score of 8.2 or higher to qualify for the F.E.I. World Breeding Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Verden, Germany August 3-7. In a heartbreaking fractional shortfall the six-year-old leader Aesthete ridden by Silva Martin narrowly missed the needed 8.2% scoring an 8.148 average over two days of competition. However, it is important to note that all 10 horses who made the grade for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Eastern Selection Trial earned the needed scores to compete at the National Championships to be held in Illinois, at the Lamplight Equestrian Center, August 25-28 making the eastern qualifier the best so far since the program began.
Sunday’s Young Horse Finale Pumped Up the Volume
Although some horses were showing the strain of the 3 days of competition which began Friday with the warm up class, there was a clear sign of progress in all tests as competitors benefitted from the direction in the warm up of USEF National Young Horse Dressage Coach Scott Hassler, and the verbal direction unique to the Young Horse classes which came from the judges’ panel including Linda Zang, Natalie Lamping and Jane Ayers. At the conclusion of each class over the microphone, riders and spectators gained the added perspective of not only the marks of each movement, submission, and overall impression, but why and how the results were determined.
While Chumley and Somer Hit struggled with the counter canter in the finale, the judges only penalized her in the submission scores with a 7.7, but still gave the canter a 9.0, the walk an 8.3, and the trot which “needed more power and connection” still an 8.5. As five-year-old strength and stamina are a factor in development and this too was taken into consideration by the panel, giving them room to bloom for their goals the rest of the year.
Somer Hit has been trained primarily by Alice Tarjan with the help of Silke Rembacz and Chris Hickey, and in Leesburg VA, it was up to National coach Hassler to fine tune the product. “Scott was exceptionally helpful to me this weekend,” Chumley told DressageDaily, “I hadn't participated in the young horse classes in over two years, and never in the selection trial, so having a helpful and friendly set of eyes on the ground was imperative. My goal was to show Somer to the best of his ability and Scott was extremely helpful. He had never seen the two of us together but was able to offer very usable tips to tweak our performance or my way of riding Somer without being overwhelming.” Owner Alice Tarjan plans on keeping “Trouble” her nickname for Somer Hit with Chumley for the Markel/USEF National Championships and Dressage at Devon where she won the inaugural Dressage at Devon Young Horse Championships with her 4-year-old stallion. But for now the trip to Verden is not on the radar.
For Chumley who recently has gone on her own as a trainer and rider participating in the Young Horse program with such a beautifully trained horse was a privilege she gave full credit to Tarjan, Rembacz, and Hickey who brought the young stallion to the level required for a successful weekend. “I've really enjoyed working with the Young Horse Program because it helps to identify young talent and offers opportunities to work with people to help best develop it ” said Chumley. “I know it's not for every horse, but it offers a pipeline to the advanced FEI levels for horses with exceptional ability. There exists certain camaraderie between young horse riders; we're all just trying to show our horses to the best of our ability while staying right side up!” Tarjan who performed grooming duties for the pair reiterated her feelings for the weekend that went their way. “Lauren and I just had a really good time this weekend and were just happy that ‘Trouble’ went well. We were hoping to maybe qualify him for the Markel Finals at Lamplight so he obviously did more than we were hoping for! I want to be sure to thank the breeder Mo Swanson and Rolling Stone Farm for a dream come true. When I bought Trouble from her she said that she sells dreams, which has certainly turned out to be the case!”
A Quality Class of Horses For America’s Future
Ulla Parker riding Nancy Holowesko’s happy Oldenburg mare Biscaya (Johnson x Argentinus bred in Germany by Claus Hueppe) made a mistake of course in the preliminary test which haunted the overall results. Parker, a new Mom with her 4 month old daughter in tow has only been back in the saddle a short time was able to crank out an 8.02 result in the finale earning the Reserve Eastern Markel/USEF Young Horse Championship with a 7.996.
Holowesko’s passion for all things Oldenburg have established the American based breeder who for years lived in the Bahamas and got hooked after being a horse show Mom on the Hunter Jumper scene.
Now knowledgeable on the bloodlines she makes frequent trips to Germany heading out soon for the magical mare show in Rastede west of Verden near Hamburg. Parker also competed in the six-year-old division with Holowesko’s gelding Sabati a Sandro Hit out of her own mare Roselea by Rubenstein I, finishing fourth with a 7.676. By the Markel/USEF National Championships in late August both rider and horses will be formidable contenders.
The panel gave a lot of credit to third placed rider Christine Vinios who aboard her own 17.3 hand Oldenburg gelding Folkestone improved each day from the warm up and preliminary test to reach an 8.02 score in the finale with an overall average of 7.932. “It is clear to us you have improved over the last three days and worked very hard. ” announced Linda Zang, commentator on Sunday for the Finale.
The panel awarded the striking bay horse for the future an 8.2 for the trot and an 8.0 for the canter which they commented needed “more jump from behind” they lost a fraction in submission scores and improves their average from the preliminary test which scores a 7.8.
Rounding out the class were Christopher Schruefer and the lovely Oldenburg chestnut Stallion by Florestan I, De Feiner bred in the USA by Elizabeth Dorsett and owned by Greg Strait and Melinda Brown with a 7.656, and Wanja Gerlach on the Trakehner stallion Elfenperfekt by Peron owned and bred in the USA by Alice and Peter Drayer.
DressageDaily’s Mary Phelps, an agent for Markel Equine Insurance made the trip to Virginia to represent Markel at the East Coast Finals has been passionate about the program since attending the first World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in 2009 where she witnessed Sandro Hit and Dr. Ulf Moeller earn the Championship. “This program makes a lot of sense for our sport and the United States.” Phelps noted. “With dedicated breeders, riders, trainers and a program which has now produced a pipeline for horses of the future under the guidance of Scott Hassler, we are now seeing graduates competing successfully across the country at the FEI Levels. “Markel is not only a great company to work for but truly lives up to their tag line ‘The Insurance Company with Horse Sense’. In fact just after finishing covering the Preliminary test in the warm up getting ready for her class in the open show was Markel Claims representative Heidi Gayle on her own Somethingtoharbor. Markel shares a passion for horses throughout the company and it is an honor to represent them.
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