In the Markel/USEF Developing Grand Prix Championship, Jane Karol and her 9-year-old Oldenburg mare claimed the tricolor ribbon with an overall score of 66.91 percent. The pair placed second in the Intermediaire II on Friday, and came back to win the Developing Grand Prix test with a 68.75 percent.
"It's a surreal feeling. It's wonderful, incredible," Karol explained. "We all work so hard, and when something like this happens, it's wonderful. I did think we had a chance [to win], but I also knew there were wonderful horses and riders competing alongside us. She was so wonderful today, that we did."
Karol of Concord, Massachusetts, placed third at the Dutta Corp./USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship in Wellington, Florida, in December. She has been focusing on maintaining balance in the halfpass zigzag as well as building on energy throughout her tests.
"We've been working on getting the activity and expression, along with the relaxation," Karol said. "I tend to go for the relaxation before the power because I don't want to lose the relaxation."
The pair plans on competing at their regional championships next month in the Intermediaire II and Grand Prix before heading to compete in their first open Grand Prix CDI in Wellington during the winter season.
Holger Bechtloff and Clapton JP, a 9-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Peggy Mill, led the division on the first day, but after placing second in the Developing Grand Prix test with a 66.50 percent, the duo was named the reserve champions.
"Today's ride was very much the same [as our previous ride]," said Bechtloff. "We are in the funny stage where we're either under-reacting or over-reacting. We need a certain quickness for certain things, and then more relaxation for other things. We don't have this on or off switch really down yet. We are really electric at moments, and then we are a split second behind in other moments. But where he is as a 9-year-old, I'm very happy with him."
Clapton JP has competed throughout his young horse career at the national championships, and Bechtloff of Wellington, Florida, explained how spookiness caused issues when he competed in the 6-year-old and Developing Prix St. Georges divisions in previous years.
"He is now mature enough that he is now focusing on me, so outside things do not register with him anymore," Holger said. "He was listening all the time. He's an overeager pleaser and he tries his heart out."
Petra Warlimont rounded out the top three on Susan Alvey's 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding Highschool MCF. The duo came into the final day of competition in fourth place with a score of 62.061 percent from the Intermediaire II, and their score of 64.875 percent on Sunday improved their placings.
"I got a piaffe at X; that was the first time in two years, so I'm really proud of him," Warlimont laughed. "Usually we go splat! He was very with me and he has a huge heart."