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Day One at 2021 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions Begins Exciting Week of Competition

Friday, August 27, 2021
Posted by Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications
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US DRESSAGE FESTIVAL OF CHAMPIONS   |   MARKEL/USEF NATIONAL YOUNG AND DEVELOPING HORSE CHAMPIONSHIPS

Cover-Dawn White-O’Connor and Hudson M-FOC-2021.jpg

Combinations from three divisions headed down centerline on Wednesday to begin an exciting week of competition at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions. Dawn White-O’Connor and Hudson M won the FEI Prix St. Georges Test for the first class of the day. Chase Shipka and Gladstone Zee T were the next combination to claim a blue ribbon in the FEI Intermediate II Test, then Christian Simonson and Zeaball Diawind took top honors in the FEI Young Rider Team Test.

USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship

Photo - Dawn White-O’Connor and Hudson M (SusanJStickle.com)

Nine combinations in the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship started the competition off with the FEI Prix St. Georges Test in the morning. Dawn White-O’Connor (San Diego, Calif.) rode Hudson M in his Festival of Champions debut to take the top spot in the class. She has been riding Four Winds Farm’s 2012 KWPN gelding for a year and a half, and they showed off a successful partnership with a lovely test to score 74.117%.

“The pirouettes definitely were [a highlight] because that is something that is a little bit of a weaker spot at the beginning of the season, so I was happy with that,” explained White-O’Connor of her test. “It was pretty consistent all the way through; nothing that was a major mistake.”

Kundrun USEF Dressage Development Program members Lindsay Holleger (Middletown, N.Y.) and MW Ave Maria, Jennifer Vanover’s 2013 Oldenburg mare, placed second with a score of 73.087%. Stephen Birchall (Newberg, Ore.) and D’Amore, Joyce Ryder and Stephen Birchall’s 2008 KWPN mare, were third with a score of 69.235%.

The FEI Prix St. Georges Test counts for 40 percent of the overall score, while the FEI Intermediate I Test on Thursday counts for 45 percent. The division will conclude on Saturday with the FEI Intermediate I Freestyle Test, which counts for 15 percent.

From the Mixed Zone:

Tell me about your test.
White-O’Connor: “I was really happy with it. No big mistakes, so I was happy with that.”

Is there anything you want to improve upon for your next test?
White-O’Connor: “I think I would be happy to have another consistent test all the way through. If I could have things be similar in the I-1, I would be very happy.”

Was your horse competing at this level before you got him?
White-O’Connor: “He had done the young horse classes in Spain when we got him.”

What is your horse like to ride?
White-O’Connor: “He is awesome. He is kind of a perfect combination of everything. He is very sensitive, but he doesn’t really get nervous or tense. He was the hottest that he has been going in the ring this morning, but he settles pretty quickly. He is just a really good combination of everything—forward but not nervous or spooky, a very happy, confident horse. I think he really likes to work and likes to do his job, so he is fun to ride. He pretty much likes anything to do with people.”

USEF Young Adult Brentina Cup Dressage National Championship

Chase Shipka
Chase Shipka and Gladstone Zee T (Photo: SusanJStickle.com)

Eight combinations took their first step toward the Adequan/USEF Young Adult Brentina Cup Dressage National Championship title by competing in the FEI Intermediate II Test. Chase Shipka and Gladstone Zee T won the class in their Festival of Champions debut. Shipka (Wellington, Fla.) and her 2011 KWPN gelding, who are Kundrun USEF Dressage Development Program members, had a smooth test to score 70.411%.

“It went really well,” said Shipka of her test. “I had a really super warm-up. Normally he gets a bit jazzy in the ring, but he stayed extremely focused. I’m so proud of him. I think it is one of our best tests that he has done at this type of venue.”

McKayla Hohmann (Georgetown, Mass.) and Numberto, Elisabeth Austin’s 2001 KWPN gelding, were second with a score of 66.970%. Rosemary Julian-Simoes (Barrington, Ill.) and Rankrado, Rankrado LLC’s 2004 German Sport Horse gelding, placed third with a score of 66.705%.

From the Mixed Zone:

What were your highlights from your test?
Shipka: “I would say number one highlight would probably be my final centerline. I think it is one of his favorites, just going down the middle, passaging as big as we possibly can. It is definitely one of the highlights. His passage tour, for sure, and the changes. I thought everything went really, the pirouettes especially, I was happy with those.”

Is there anything you want to improve upon in your next test?
Shipka: “He does get quite tight so the extended movements can be a little bit tough for us. I would love for him to be more out and open, not so tight, and have a little bit more reach in the canter. Probably carrying himself a bit more in the trot work. Overall, I’m really happy.”

Tell me about your partnership with your horse.
Shipka: “I have had him since he was seven, so he didn’t know the Grand Prix and I didn’t know the Grand Prix. We both learned together and kind of developed an interesting partnership. He is pretty emotional when it comes to a lot of things. I have had to learn how to be sensitive. His neck can be a little hard to work with because he can be very jazzy. We have learned a lot together, and it has been an honor to develop him to this point.”

Is this your first time at Festival of Champions?
Shipka: “This is his first time, my first time, so it is really special. It is my last year [in the Brentina Cup division].”

Is there anything special about being here?
Shipka: “My entire family is here this weekend. I have only been doing dressage for not a long time. This is the first time pretty much all of my family is actually seeing me compete in a dressage competition, so I’m so happy to have my 90-year-old grandparents here, who are watching for the first time. Everyone has flown in from everywhere. It is really special.”

USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship

Christian Simonson
Christian Simonson and Zeaball Diawind (Photo: SusanJStickle.com)

Twelve combinations rode the FEI Young Rider Team Test for the Horseware Ireland/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship to close out the first day of competition. Christian Simonson and Zeaball Diawind claimed top honors in the class just two weeks after winning three gold medals at the FEI North American Youth Championships. Simonson and Christina Morgan’s 2012 Danish Warmblood gelding, who are members of the Discover Dressage USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program, scored 73.774% after having an excellent performance.

“He was a very, very good boy today. It was a clean Prix St. Georges,” Simonson said of his test with Zeaball Diawind. “It is very, very hot today. I think the heat is a 101 degrees feel and really, really humid, but Zeaball dug deep. He gave a really nice, clean test in a new environment. This is my first time competing at Lamplight, and, all in all, it was a good day.”

Mackenzie Peer (Overland Park, Kan.) and Ansgar, Mackenzie and Lane Peer’s 2005 KWPN gelding, placed second with a score of 69.950%. Allison Nemeth (Flemington, N.J.) and Tiko, Karen Nemeth’s 2011 Danish Warmblood mare, were third with a score of 68.774%.

From the Mixed Zone:

What were the highlights of your test?
Simonson: “I think some of the highlights were the clean changes. The changes on the first day in the Prix St. Georges are always something that, maybe not him, but I have a struggle with. So to have clean changes [were a highlight]. For the canter pirouettes, he really kept it together. He got a little hot in the beginning, and then he managed to keep it down and stay calm, which was really, really nice.”

Is there anything you want to improve upon for your next test?
Simonson: “Just give him a nice, relaxing day tomorrow, then hopefully have a little bit more cadence and impulsion in the trot and maybe a little bit calmer in the canter work. All in all, I’m still very happy with him.”

What do you think of the venue?
Simonson: “The venue is beautiful. The flowers, the way the judges’ stands are set up, the advertising boards are really well done. It really does feel like an American show. We have a lot of American flags around. It’s all in all a very nice venue.”

All horses passed the initial veterinary inspection for the Markel/USEF Young Horse and Developing Horse, Adequan®/USEF Junior, USEF Pony Rider, and USEF Children Dressage National Championship divisions on Wednesday afternoon.

Competition continues Thursday with the first class in the Lamplight Young Horse/Developing Horse Arena, the FEI Prix St. Georges Test for the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship, beginning at 8 a.m. CT. The first class in the Lamplight Grand Prix Arena, the FEI Grand Prix 16-25 Test for the Adequan®/USEF Young Adult Brentina Cup Dressage National Championship, begins at 8:15 a.m. CT in the Lamplight Grand Prix Arena.

Watch the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions live stream presented by Adequan® this week on USEF Network.

Complete Schedule
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