Minor Decisions Result in Major Victory for Heather Mason

Heather Mason and Warsteiner were crowned Intermediate II Open Champions at the 2016 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®.

Heather Mason and Warsteiner were crowned Intermediate II Open Champions at the 2016 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®.  (Photo: Susan J. Stickle)

The day’s second awards ceremony at the US Dressage Finals was held for the Intermediate II Open division, where Heather Mason of Lebanon, N.J. (Region 8) rode Warsteiner to victory. Mason found the Dutch Warmblood (Riverman ISF x Welona by Roemer) as a two-and-a-half year old in Europe and purchased him as a resale project, but soon decided to keep the now 13-year-old gelding with the big personality for herself to develop through the levels.

And Mason’s brave decision to make a last-minute tack change and discard her double bridle for the Finals resulted in a winning score of 69.737%. “It’s the first time he’s shown in a snaffle bridle since Third Level,” Mason explained. “I decided to change it up after Regionals because he’s always gone well with it, even though I was having second thoughts this morning because he was jumping around! But I had made the decision so I stuck with it, and it paid off. He felt really good and elastic today, we just worked to keep the test steady and not too electric. He is the barn favorite and he’ll stay with me forever.”

Finishing with Reserve honors was Karen Lipp (Ball Ground, Ga.) of Region 3 with Kathleen Oldford’s 11-year-old Hanoverian mare Whitney (White Star x Grace by Grand Cru) on a score of 68.202%. “I showed her in the USEF Young Horse Program as a four-, five, and six-year-old, then the owner rode her for a while, and now we’re back together to work on the Grand Prix,” said Lipp. “She’s a hot, electric horse and I was a little worried about the atmosphere because it’s a lot for them to deal with, but she stayed with me in there and I was very happy with her.”

Also competing in the Intermediate II Open class was none other than USDF President George Williams, who finished sixth with Sara Anderson’s Dutch Warmblood mare Uniqa. “I have to say, from its inception I’ve wanted to ride in the Finals, but it just hadn’t worked out until now,” said Williams.

“I just started competing this horse this spring, and I find myself here. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s great to see everything from the competitor perspective, and yes, I had that same magical feeling that so many others have experienced. There is something exceptional about riding in the Alltech, it’s a great atmosphere here, and it’s even more special knowing all the hard work and vision it took to create this event in the first place.”

Wrapping up a busy first day, exhibitors enjoyed a Competitor Welcome Party and Trade Fair Kick-Off on the concourse of the Alltech Arena. Championship competition resumes Friday at 8:00am ET – follow the action through updates on the USDF Facebook page and the US Dressage Finals website, as well as watch live online streaming on the popular USEF Network. To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review day sheets and results, and read daily news releases, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com.




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