For the last three years, Melissa Rogers and Kristine Hegglin have been on the same dressage trajectory with their respective mounts, each taking turns earning championship titles as they successfully rose through the levels. And on the final day of the 50th Anniversary California Dressage Society (CDS) Championship Show, September 21-24 in Rancho Murieta, the two competitors shared the spotlight as each earned both Champion and Reserve Champion Fourth Level Adult Amateur honors.
In the $1,000 CDS Horse of the Year division for Adult Amateurs at Fourth Level, Melissa Rogers of Sonoma, Cal. got the winning edge with her eight-year-old KWPN gelding Empire to earn the Fox Run Perpetual Trophy with combined two-test average of 68.042%. While the pair also earned CDS Horse of the Year honors at Second Level in 2015, Rogers’ ride on her talented eight-year-old mount hasn’t always been easy. “He came over from Europe as a stallion and he was a lot of horse,” said Rogers, who works as a vice president of engineering in the software industry when not in the saddle. “Now that he’s gelded, he’s still a handful, but it’s fun – I like them spicy. He was kind of hot today, and I think the judges were holding their breath a little bit, but it worked out. I believe the best ones need to have some fire. He’s got talent for piaffe and passage, so it’s exciting for the future and I look forward to moving him up to the small tour next year.”
But in the Great American/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Region 7 Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship class, Kristine Hegglin turned the tables for a chance to lead the victory lap ahead of Rogers with a winning score of 67.389% aboard her eight-year-old German Riding Pony gelding Holsteins Harlequin, who doesn’t let size get in the way of success: he impressively also won the Region 7 Adult Amateur title for Second and Third Level in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
“He’s just phenomenal,” Hegglin exclaimed, who also works for a software company when at home in Danville, Cal. “I keep thinking that the judges might think or say something about his size, but so far they seem completely indifferent to it and even seem to love him, writing comments like ‘power pony’. He’s brave and talented and is ready for Prix St. Georges too so I hope next year we’ll be back…my husband will need to get something for me for Christmas so maybe I’ll ask for a shadbelly!”
Additional CDS Horse of the Year titles were presented at Training Level, where Hayley Buckingham of La Habra Heights, Cal. topped the Open division with Susan Ortiz’s four-year-old Hanoverian mare Donna Rubina (72.434%), while Margaret Young of Clovis, Cal. and her lovely four-year-old Oldenburg mare Cremona scored a combined average of 72.059% to win the perpetual trophy for Adult Amateurs.
For more information about the 50th Anniversary California Dressage Society Championship Show, including news, schedules, ride times, and results, visit the CDS website and follow along with behind-the-scenes updates and photos on the CDS Facebook page.