Two exciting young U.S.-bred horses topped the leaderboard in the Training Level Open Championship at the 2017 US Dressage Finals, with John Mason of Conroe, Texas (Region 9) earning the highest score of 75.076% with the five-year-old Danish Warmblood mare Savannah SWF (Blue Hors Soprano x Nicolette by Diamant) to win the title for owner/breeder Mary Nuttall.
“This is only the second time Savannah has left Texas and everything’s still a little bit new for her. She’s somewhat delicate and a late bloomer, so we’ve taken our time with her and it’s paid off – even though she was a little bit tense today, she still felt great and we had a clean test,” Mason explained. “We have an 18-hour drive to Lexington so it’s a big commitment to come here, but it’s our fourth time coming and in my mind you can’t beat this facility for a national event like this. It’s unbelievable going into the Alltech Arena for awards and makes for a special moment.”
Reserve Champion with 71.515% was Martin Kuhn of New Berlin, Ill. (representing Region 4) who was also pleased with his mount Washburn SW, a five-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Wolkentanz II x Opal by Opus) owned and bred by Kuhn’s wife, Kathryn. “We went to Regionals for the heck of it and here we are,” he chuckled. “I definitely had a little more juice in the tank than perhaps we needed – one canter depart was a little interesting – but I just smiled and it worked out.”
Just two years ago, Maia Barnes of Ringoes, N.J. (Region 8) had never ridden dressage when she purchased her now 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Benvica (Sandreo x Renieta by Jazz), but the pair started at Training Level and moved up together, and on Friday claimed the Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship with a score of 69.889%. “It’s come together really well, really fast. I never thought I’d be here like this, but it’s been a lot of fun and a terrific learning experience for both of us,” Barnes said. “My horse has been a little sluggish lately, so we went into the warmup with the hopes that he would be a little more ‘up’ and ready to go with the cold and the wind. Luckily he was, so he was very good in the ring and we didn’t have any mistakes.”
Last year’s Second Level Adult Amateur champion Bonnie Canter of Hockley, Texas (Region 9) and her 15.1-hand Connemara/Hanoverian cross mare Fifinella GCF (Fred Astaire x South Ridge Bliss by South Ridge Duncan’s Honor, bred in the U.S. by Sharon Garner) made the jump up to Fourth Level look easy as they claimed reserve honors with 69.519%. “It’s usually hot in Houston so it’s kind of wonderful to be a little cold,” she laughed. “I dread Fourth Level because it’s a long and involved test with so many things that can go wrong, but she was super. I’ve really enjoyed bringing her along.”
Competition resumes today at 8:00am ET with 12 additional championship divisions – 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 at this link
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