Lauren Sammis and Sagacious HF ended the Zada Enterprises, LLC WEF Dressage Classic CDI-W CDI Y with a bang, winning the FEI Intermediaire Freestyle CDI.
In the first freestyle of her career, Sammis rode first in the class of eleven and earned a 72.100 percent with the 8-year-old Dutch gelding. Although she is an experienced competitor, she said that she hadn’t been paired with a horse for enough time to warrant making a freestyle.
“My main business has always been sales, so I don’t always have a horse that I’m competing long term,” Sammis explained. “If you’re going to work on your music and all that stuff, it’s a monetary investment and a time investment, and I think you need to have a long-term goal there. This is the first horse that I’ve been able to have a long-term relationship with.”
As far as today’s outcome was concerned, Sammis said she was thrilled. “I think it went really, really well. It went so much better than I could have thought, and it’s a good beginning. Today was one of the best days I’ve ever had on him. He was waiting on me and was patient – he was awesome.”
The highly technical parts of her choreography include two-tempi changes on centerline, a half-pass sequence that appears at the grand prix level and pirouettes on centerline. Her music, which she had decided on before the kur was designed, is a variety of Billy Joel tunes. The trot work is accompanied by “Only the Good Die Young” and “Pressure,” the canter follows “In the Middle of the Night” and the walk is “New York State of Mind.”
“I wanted to do Billy Joel. I wanted to do one artist and a collection of their songs,” Sammis described. “When you watch a freestyle that people really like, it’s the songs they know, so it was really important that people knew the music. I then got in touch with Terry Gallo, and she worked on the music with me and she helped me with the choreography…We just got it finished two days ago. Today was the first time I actually rode through it and heard the music and everything.”
She added that one of her favorite parts of the test is a series of two-tempis across the diagonal that “was just written for him – the music hits it every time.” Sammis also joked that “Pressure” is especially good for the extended trot down centerline.
“There’s a little bit of pressure when you’re coming down centerline with six judges standing there! So, I thought that was kind of fitting,” she laughed.
While Sammis has had an outstanding winter in Florida, she and Sagacious HF are not yet qualified for the Pan American Games selection trials in Gladstone, NJ. However, she noted that she will compete at a few more qualifiers, but her main goal is to bring the young horse up to the top level as “a great grand prix horse.”
Canadian Ashley Holzer and Jornello finished just behind Sammis with a 71.400 percent. Another native of Canada, Simone Williams, piloted Wunder Ein to third place and a 69.400 percent in the Intermediaire Freestyle.
In the FEI Young Rider Freestyle CDIY, Hannah Holland Shook rode Cape Town to a first place finish and a 68.150 percent. The pair’s music included La Bamba, Summer Love and Salsa Bonita. Ana DiGironimo and Cadanz danced to second place with a 67.100 percent, and Devon Kane and Douwe rounded out the top three spots with a 66.700 percent.
FEI Intermediaire Freestyle CDI
(E) McMullen, (H) Holler, (C) Rockwell, (M) Ransehousen, (B) Maurel
1 Lauren Sammis Sagacious HF 72.100%
2 Ashley Holzer Jornello 71.400%
3 Simone Williams Wunder Ein 69.400%
4 Shannon Dueck Control 67.800%
5 Marco Bernal Halbgott 67.600%
6 Susan Jaccoma Donatella 66.500%
7 Theresa Siess Grande Celeste 65.900%
8 Jessica Rattner Partouche 64.650%
9 Lisa Payne-Hyslop Jordan 63.550%
10 Kelley OShea Duncan Lutz 62.100%
11 Laine W. Hills, DVM Hertog 59.450%