Wayne, Illinois – Elizabeth Ball and Selten HW took the win in Saturday's Five-Year-Old Championship Test during the USEF/Markel National Young Horse Championships being held at Lamplight Equestrian Center. And they did it with only two months preparation. Ball and Selten scored 86.80 to take the win. Coming in second were Louise Koch and the Westfalen stallion San Shivago with a score of 82.2.
Because she didn't have the right kind of set up for a stallion, Ball sent Selten off to Michael Bragdell at Hilltop Farm as a three-year-old. Bragdell and Selten, a Hanoverian gelding by Sandro Hit out of High Princess, were a successful team, becoming last year's national champions in the Four-Year-Old division.
Third was Emily Gershberg, of Hudson, New York, with her KWPN gelding Zatino H with a score of 81.20.
Selten was scheduled to return to California this year to rejoin Ball, but the timing was such that she wouldn't get him back early enough to compete him in qualifying classes out West.
Hence, Ball had Bragdell compete him in Five-Year-Old competition. So, Bragdell got Selten qualified for the national championships and Ball took over the ride just two months ago when Selten returned to California. "It says much about how good Michael's training was that I was able to come out here today and win," Ball said.
Although a successful FEI rider and trainer, Ball, who is based in the San Diego area and trains with Guenter Seidel, admits to having little experience with the young horse classes. And so, she turned to someone with more experience for guidance – Louise Koch, who won Friday's Five-Year-Old Preliminary Test with San Shivago and finished second on Saturday. Koch happily shared her experience and in doing so, might just have given Ball the help she needed to place ahead of Koch in the championship class.
"My horse is magnificent, but I knew we had to work hard to ride above Louise and her incredible horse today. So, we really went for it," Ball said. "Louise is really a dear woman to have helped me. She's a judge and we see each other at horse shows. I knew that she had experience with the five-year-old tests both from the view of a judge and a rider and trainer. So, I called her and picked her brain about these tests because I knew that she knew them well. I had never ridden the preliminary or final test for the Five-Year-Olds. I was just reading them and trying to get ready. Louise was very helpful."
Selten HW was bred byin Florida and also received an American-bred award during the championships. Ball, whose Cadence, LLC of Carlsbad, California owns Selten, called it "an honor for our country to bred the top horse for this year." Ball describes her life as "fortunate and blessed." And not just because she has a promising young star in Selten, but also because she recently relocated to a phenomenal new facility owned by the Eckstein family, which also owns Ball's Grand Prix partner Orion. "It's very private. It has a beautiful, Tuscan-style, 10-stall barn and a ring with the most incredible footing," Ball said.
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