Wayne, Ill. - The spotlight is on the rising stars of dressage this week at Lamplight Equestrian Center, and five champions to watch in coming years were crowned Saturday during the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse National Championships and the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions.
Young Rider Bebe Davis and Junior Jenna Upchurch earned Festival of Champions titles, while 4-year-old Habanero CWS (ridden by Craig Stanley), the 5-year-old Desario (Christian Hartung) and the Developing Prix St. Georges horse Horizon (Adrienne Lyle) won championships in their respective Young and Developing Horse divisions.
The Young Rider Championship came to a nail-biting finish with the FEI Young Rider Individual test results shaking up the leaderboard on Saturday, Aug. 27, at Lamplight Equestrian Center. Bebe Davis, of Wellington, Florida, was trailing in fourth place after the first day of the AGCO/USEF Young Rider National Championship, but when she cantered down the centerline on Saturday, she was determined to improve. She earned a score of 71.447 percent in the Young Rider Individual test to jump to the win on her 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding Feivel Mousekewitz.
"I'm over the moon happy and I couldn't be prouder of him," Davis said. "Yesterday was more for me to get my confidence and get back into the mental mindset of competing. I had a really clean ride and I was really happy with it. Today had a little more extravagance and a little more brilliance that was lacking yesterday."
Davis, 18, had a busy summer representing the United States in the Young Rider Nations Cup in Hagen, Germany, and Compiegne, France.
"It's been such a great year and I don't really know what could top this!" Davis continued. "The European tour was such a great experience and I feel like I learned so much from there that I was able to bring here."
Davis will be starting her first year of college next week at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, which will give her the opportunity to continue her riding while pursuing a major in fashion marketing and entrepreneurial studies. Though she is excited about starting classes, Davis was thrilled that she made the decision to compete at the Festival of Champions. Davis also placed sixth in the Young Rider Championship on the 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding Rotano.
"I love Lamplight," Davis explained. "The venue is beautiful, the stabling is great and the footing is awesome. I've never experienced a championship with the young horses as well so it's great to have the up and coming rider along with the up and coming horses."
Rachel Robinson and Indira, a 12-year-old Westphalian mare owned by Jeff Robinson, improved from their third place position after the first day of competition to finish as reserve champions. The pair earned a 70.307 percent in their Young Rider Individual test.
"Today we put in a much cleaner test than yesterday," Robinson explained. "She was pretty tired yesterday so we had a 20 minute warm up. We had a lot more energy, which definitely carried through especially in the canter work and again we had really great pirouettes today so that was a highlight."
Robinson is an aspiring veterinarian studying behavioral neuroscience and chemistry at the University of San Diego. This is her first year competing in the Young Rider division and she plans on competing in it one more year before she moves up to the U25 Grand Prix.
Nicholas Hansen, the triple gold medalist at the 2015 Adequan/FEI North American Young Rider Championships, lead after the first day of competition, but finished the division in third after earning a 69.342 percent on his own 15-year-old Westphalian gelding Ritter Benno.
"I thought the test today was a lot better than it was yesterday," Hansen said. "It flowed a little better and the trot work had a little bit more energy and impulsion coming from behind than he did yesterday. Overall I was able to get a really good test out of him today."
Next week Hansen will also be heading to begin his first year at Bloomsburg University where he plans on studying finance with a minor in anatomy and physiology.