Alice Tarjan (Frenchtown, N.J.) held her positions with the top two horses of the Markel/USEF Four-Year-Old Dressage National Championship, bringing home the championship title with the Hanoverian mare, Serenade MF (Sir Donnerhall-Duet MF, Don Principe), bred by Maryanna Haymon. She also earned reserve champion title with her own Oldenburg mare Fairouz. In the preliminary test on Thursday, Tarjan scored an 8.40 with Serenade MF, improving upon that score slightly in the final test with an 8.48. Serenade MF was also the recipient of the U.S.-Bred Horse Award, for the highest scoring U.S.-bred horse in the class.
Tarjan Knows Her Girls
"Serenade put in a really solid test the first day so it is hard to duplicate. If I could have duplicated that I would have been happy. For the most part, the canter was better. The judge thought she was tightened up, which I believe, so I'm going to have to work and be more aware of that. When I came up to the warm-up and went to go do a stretchy trot, she tried to buck me off and I thought, 'Woah, this is great, she's all hot and fresh.' I always worry with the young horses that they will be tired by Saturday. It's a lot of traveling for them. She felt great."
Tarjan and Fairouz also improved upon their preliminary test score of 8.0 to an 8.2 in the final test. Fairouz received the Oldenburg Award, as the top placing Oldenburg in this class. “Her canter work was better, so I was happy. The judges really liked her trot, so that was great. I thought I was giving away a lot of points on little things, but, luckily, the judges are forgiving because she is four, which makes sense. I was pleased [the horses] were happy. They were good with the environment, so mission accomplished. It was good for them – a good experience here,” said Tarjan.
Training Young Horses Like Christmas
With a passion for bringing young horses up through the levels, Tarjan said that the first three years of training a young horse is like Christmas every morning. "I love training young horses - it's what I live to do every day. It's fun when they are young because they come along so quickly. To start with a horse that is unbroke and then to walk, trot, and canter and teach them to go on the bit, it's like unwrapping a Christmas present. You never know what's inside. You train them up and every few weeks you are like, 'Wow, look at that step!' If they do it once, they can duplicate it. It's a matter of seeing it initially and then it's a matter of training it. I love the process. Between 3 and 6 years old, it's so fun. They make so much progress. Those three years is like Christmas every morning."
Kimberly Douglas Has Cause for Celebration
Kimberly Dougherty (Cazenovia, N.Y.) and her own Oldenburg mare, Celebration (Coer D'Amour-Rhythm-N-Blues, Rosenthal) held tight to their third-place position, but also improving their performance. Thursday’s preliminary test yielded a score of 7.9 for the combination, which they improved to an 8.0 in the final test, giving the combination an overall score of 8.02.
"I was worried she was going to come out today and be tired but she came out with more power and was actually fresh, which was exciting as I wasn't worried about her being lazy in there. I thought overall she was super today and I had more power than I had two days ago. She was rideable and I am really happy with her."
4-Year-Old Young Horse Dressage National Championship
Rider / Horse / Preliminary Test (40%) / Final Test Score (60%) / Total
1. Alice Tarjan / Serenade MF / 8.44 / 8.48 / 8.464
2. Alice Tarjan / Fairouz / 8.06 / 8.28 / 8.192
3. Kimberly Dougherty / Celebration / 7.99 / 8.04 / 8.02
4. Carlos Santos / Inferno M / 7.88 / 7.74 / 7.796
5. Michael Bragdell / Debonair MF / 7.5 / 7.82 / 7.692
6. Michael Bragdell / SenSation HW / 7.64 / 7.36 / 7.472