Royal Prince Reigns Supreme at the 2004 USEF/Markel Young Horse Dressage National Championships

By Amber Heintzberger

In the USEF/Markel Championships for Five-Year-Old horses held September 12 in Lexington, KY, Hilltop Farm's Royal Prince was untouchable. His overall score of 9.14 was never approached by the other contestants, despite a downpour of rain that cleared shortly after his test. Even second placed Dorie Addie-Crow, riding Iron Spring Farm's Sir Sinclair, was nearly a full point behind with her nevertheless impressive score of 8.26.

Royal Prince, by Rohdiamant out of the Prince Thatch xx mare Piri Piri, is the rising star of Hilltop's stallion collection, having already proved himself by narrowly missing third place at the World Championships in Verden, Germany over the summer. As a three-year-old, owned by Bernhard Schaefer of Germany, he was reserve champion at the German Bundeschampionat (National Championships) and repeated that honor as a four-year-old.

Bloodlines that complement the breeding program at Hilltop were only one reason that Royal Prince now resides in the US. Resident trainer and breeding manager Susanne Hassler, whose husband Scott also rides and trains at Hilltop Farm, needed a horse of her own to compete.

Susanne has been riding Royal Prince since January and will now focus on preparing him for the FEI tests for six-year-old horses. "His attitude is 100 per cent all of the time," she said. He likes to do his job."

World Championship Preparation

No doubt Hassler’s experience both watching at and participating in the World Championships was to her benefit as well, since these tests are not scored in the same way that typical dressage tests are scored. Rather, the importance is placed on the horse’s potential as a dressage competitor, with emphasis on its gaits, submission and general impression more important than precision and accuracy in the test, or the correctness of the rider. Still, it is without a doubt that Hassler’s educated seat and exacting ride played a huge role in presenting the horse to his best.

Differing from other dressage tests, the panel of three judges sits together at “C” and collectively gives only one mark at the end of the ride. These judges commented, in the short summary following Royal Prince’s performance, “This horse has a beautiful connection and is soft in the bridle and swinging in his back.”

The United States Equestrian Federation developed its Young Horse Program in 2001 to promote the importance of selective breeding and professional training of horse in the United States. It encourages breeders, riders and trainers to follow a system modeled on similar, successful European programs to develop young horses to their highest potential and prepare them for the highest level of FEI competition.

This year, the program now has the added support of the sponsorship of Markel Insurance, for which’s Mary Phelps is an agent.

Awards Photo;Jennifer Keeler, USEF Sport Manager, Dressage, John Seger and Mary Phelps - Markel, Judges Axel Steiner, Jayne Ayers, and Gary Rockwell. Susanne Owen Hassler and Royal Prince.

Related Links
Scoresource: View Complete 2004 National Y.H. Championship Scores
Royal Prince and Revolution Win 2004 USEF/Markel Young Horse Dressage National Championships
A Little Bit of History Made by Susanne Hassler and Royal Prince