In the 5-year-old division Christian Hartung and Christiane Noelting's Oldenburg gelding Desario (De Champ - Rosaria, Rosario) were in the lead after the first test with an impressive score of 8.68. Hartung balances a full time job as a business analyst with riding several horses per day in California.
"He went in and he tried to show off," Hartung said. "He hasn't had a test like that before so I was quite happy."
While he has qualified horses in previous years this is his first trip to the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse Championships, and Hartung is pleased he made the three day trip
"The facility is great," he sad. "It's a great venue for this show to happen. The young horse program has the right process and policy in place, and I hope that we get some good horses out of it for the next big championships."
Sitting close behind Hartug in second place was Karin Persson and her own Giuliano B (Bon Bravour - Mondilia, Elcaro), a Dutch Warmblood gelding with a score of 8.52.
"I'm very happy with my test!" Persson said. "He was relaxed and energized, and I actually didn't have any complaints because he was perfect. He's such a competitive horse and he loves it."
Rounding out the top three was Cyndi Jackson and Sir Amour (San Amour - Dorina, De Niro) with a score of 8.02. The Hanoverian gelding is owned by Schuttler Stables and Jackson has only had the ride on him since the end of December. She was thrilled with her ride today as it was a personal best for the pair.
"I wasn't sure how he would take to the pressure of a big competition like this," Jackson said. "This was our best score at this test so far, so I was happy that he came out and knocked out his best score on this ride when it counted."
The 4 and 5-year-old horses, as well as the Developing Prix St. George horses, will return to the ring on Saturday for their final test. The first test will count 40% towards their overall scores, and the second test will count 60% for a combined score to determine the champions.