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Alice Tarjan Holds Top Two Spots in First Test of Grand Prix Division

Saturday, August 22, 2020
Posted by Kathleen Landwehr and Leslie Potter
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US DRESSAGE FESTIVAL OF CHAMPIONS

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Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championships
The Markel/USEF Developing Horse Dressage National Championships for Grand Prix is a show case of some of the brightest rising stars in American dressage. Twelve combinations performed the FEI Intermediate II Test on Friday, the first of two tests they’ll complete to determine the national champion.

Alice Tarjan (Oldwick, N.J.) brought two developing grand prix horses to compete, and they both rose to the top of the leaderboard. Tarjan’s 9-year-old Oldenburg mare, Donatella M, took first place in the class with a 72.696%.

“Donatella put in a pretty good test,” said Tarjan. “It was basically clean. It’s about what we can do at home, so I’m thrilled with her. She’s a good horse; just goes in and does her job.”

Tarjan and her 8-year-old KWPN stallion, Harvest, placed second in the class with a 67.647%. James Koford (Raleigh, N.C.) and Mary McKenna’s 10-year-old Hanoverian stallion, Flavius MF, finished in third place with a score of 67.157%.

From the Mixed Zone

How long have you been working with her?

Tarjan: “I got her at the beginning of her four-year-old year. So she actually came here and did four year olds. I had a little trouble keeping her sound, so she had two years off and had a baby. She came back at the end of her six-year-old year. She’s not really had much training, so she’s a little green still, but we’re working on it.”

Did you expect to go first and second?

Tarjan: “I say she can reliably get to the test and you make a couple of mistakes, but she’s pretty reliable in the ring. She definitely tries for you, so I figured we could hopefully put in a halfway decent test. Harvest is incredibly green at this level. We just brought him to get the experience. I think it’s just good for him to get in the ring and get experience. He has some super qualities, so I guess the judges rewarded that, which was nice. He needs another two years before he’s very reliable. We’ll take what we’ve got.”

How do you switch your headspace to ride both of them in the same class?

Tarjan: “Both these horses are very willing and they really help you out in the ring for the most part. They’re both green, but they both want to play along. The other grand prix mare, Candescent, she’s a little bit of a handful and is not always going to be so cooperative. These horses are kind of easier to ride than she is. They’re both more consistent in the contact and they fight for you a little bit more. Candescent will fight for you once you get her on your side, but you have to negotiate. These two, you don’t. You can just ask and they’ll give you the answer every time. They really try.”

Was there anything specific that you really want to work on for the second test?

Tarjan: “I think the test basically showed what she’s able to do right now. I think going forward for sure the changes swing so that’s something that we’ve got to work on. The rhythm in the piaffe and passage needs a lot of strength yet. But, I’m not going to fix that in a day. If I can get the same thing I got out of her today, that’s what she can do at home so that’s what I can hope for.”

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Competition continues Saturday with classes in the Young & Developing Horse Arena beginning at 8 a.m. CDT and the Grand Prix Arena at 9 a.m. CDT.

Keep up with the 2020 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions on USA Dressage Facebook and Instagram featuring Instagram Stories. Use #USADressage and #FestivalofChampions.