Dressage Olympic Selection Trials and the Dressage National Championships at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008
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A special thank you to our Californian reporting and photographic mother-daughter team Kathy and Christina Beal who have been our eyes and ears and those in the know for the first week of the Olympic Selection Trials for Dressage at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions

The Trials of the Trials

The two weekend stay is a real test for these twelve athletes. Horses and riders must be “ON” not only for competition and training, but athletes must be ever ready for interviews, and for every little or big interaction with any and all those people involved at the show.

They are being watched, as they are ambassadors for the sport of dressage. There were three clear leaders this first weekend, Peters, McDonald and King-Dye, who had pulled away from the pack with scores in the seventies, and there were six who followed them in the sixties.

Despite any disappointments after weekend one, these six basically must face the world with a positive attitude and continue through to next weekend’s second leg of the trials. As riders waited for Sunday’s awards ceremony, USET Dressage Coach Klaus Balkenhol circulated among them with words of encouragement and advice for improving performances.
Read Kathy Beal's insights and view Christina Beal's photos from week one....

Junior Rider Brandi Roenick First USEF National Dressage Champion to be Crowned in 2008

The USEF National Junior Dressage Championship got the morning started, and the Individual Test proved more challenging than the team test, including difficult canter serpentine work and a number of flying changes. Three-tenths of a percent separated Mackinzie Pooley and Brandi Roenick after Saturday's class and both put in16-year-old professional efforts again on Sunday. But by the end of the morning, Roenick prevailed as the most consistent of the group with a two-day average of 68.075%. “We are connected when I sit in the saddle,” said Roenick. “I know how to loosen her up when she gets tense. It's special to know that you have a really deep connection with your horses. “I'm feeling really, really good. I feel confident for the NAJC in Colorado. She put a lot of effort in today. I'm really proud of her. She's not the easiest to ride, you need to know her well. I've only been riding her since March of 2007.”
Read more and view complete results

Kassie Barteau and Gabriella Defend National Young Rider Dressage Championship with Gabriella

Twelve Young Riders went to task on the second and final day of the USEF National Young Rider Dressage Championship and Kassie Barteau held onto her lead with an excellent test on Gabriella. She made the trip from Gilberts, Illinois to California a winning one.

"Gabriella was ranked first in the country and even though it was a long drive I wanted her to have the chance to win the title again,” said Barteau. “I just love riding her every day.” Barteau rode Gabriella first after the break and improved on yesterday's winning effort to take the Championship with a score of 69.35% in the Prix St. Georges Test. “I'm just really proud of her,” said an emotional Barteau after her test with her beloved mare.
Read more....see results

Equestrian Olympic Trials in Dressage Continues as Steffen Peters wins Grand Prix Special
By Joanie Morris for USEF photos by Christina Beal

San Juan Capistrano, CA - Overnight leader Steffen Peters returned to the Oaks Blenheim ring with Ravel in the USEF National Grand Prix Dressage Championship and the USEF Selection Trial for Dressage, and made it quite clear that he was not going to relinquish his lead. Owned by Aikiko Yamazaki, Ravel, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding took some of the much more experienced horses to task and never looked in danger of making a mistake. The elegant combination looked relaxed throughout the test with excellent changes and powerful extensions. They finished with a score of 75.240%. “He's so ready to work and giving 100% all the time,” said Peters. “After the last piaffe on the center line I got a little choked up. I don't even think that this is quite where he maxed out. He is the kindest horse, it's unbelievable.”
Read More see complete results.......

Dressage Olympic Selection Trials Set to Begin2008 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions Kicks Off in San Juan Capistrano
By Kathy Beal for DressageDaily.com

The 2008 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions kicked off on Friday in San Juan Capistrano, California. This year's national championships also serves as the Dressage Olympic Selection Trials. America's top Grand Prix riders and horses have met to engage in the long awaited head-to-head competition for a coveted spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Dressage Team. Twelve Grand Prix horses jogged for the Selection Trials ground jury, and both riders and horses looked fit and ready to take on the challenges before them. They were followed by the country’s top FEI Young Riders and Junior Riders. The inspection began at 3 p.m. under sunny and warm skies with the temperature in the high 80s. Read More....

On The Scene with Kathy Beal, Lynndee Kemmett, and Mary Phelps, photos by Christina Beal and phelpsphotos.com

A special thank you to our Californian reporting and photographic mother-daughter team Kathy and Christina Beal who have been our eyes and ears and those in the know for the first week of the Olympic Selection Trials for Dressage at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions

USEF Reports from Joanie Morris

Preview and Profiles

It’s a Short Trip to the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions for Elizabeth Ball
By Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily.com

Cross country travel isn't cheap or easy, but for Elizabeth Ball, the trip to the 2008 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions is only an hour's drive away. And that's good news for Ball because she has two horses that have qualified to compete in this year's Intermediaire championships.

Early on Ball and Orion started up the qualifying phase ranked 2ndth in the country on the Intermediaire list, but slipped down to 10th in the final standings because of having no drop score. With De la Frontera she was 14th on the list but earned an invitation after riders ahead of her opted out of the championships. "We had to put a freestyle together for her rather last minute," Ball said. Read More....

George Williams and Gypsy Woods Farm's Rocher Making Their Olympic Bid at 2008 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions
By Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily.com

A humble, hard-working horseman may be an apt way to describe George Williams. It is a testament to Williams' horsemanship and skill as a trainer that he and Rocher earned themselves a spot on the top 12 list that received invitations to compete in the 2008 Olympic Dressage Selection Trials. The pair has only been back in competition together since last fall, prior to which Rocher had a long time off due to injuries.

Earlier this spring, Williams and Rocher traveled to Europe for two months of training and competing. He and the 17-year-old Westfalen mare owned by Chuck and Joanne Smith of Gypsy Woods Farm, then returned to the U.S., competed at the Paxton and Raleigh CDIs and then headed to California where they arrived at Epona Farm, the California base of friend Debbie McDonald.
Read More, and check out George Williams Update on HorsesDaily Who's Who....

With Wig Wam and Dominion Shelly Francis Doubles Her Chances of Victory at Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions
By Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily.com

Shelly Francis is the only rider to qualify for this year's Intermediaire Championships with two horses, thus doubling her chances for victory. She is going into the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions ranked seventh in the U.S. with Wig Wam and ninth with Dominion. Francis will be a force to be reckoned with because this is one seasoned and experienced competitor having represented the U.S. in international competition including the 1998 World Equestrian Games in Rome, Italy. Francis rode along on the plane that will took Wig Wam and Dominion from Florida to California.

Courtney King-Dye Says She's Ready for 2008 Dressage Olympic Selection Trials with Idocus and Mythilus
By Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily.com

Courtney King-Dye shares something special with Steffen Peters and Debbie McDonald – all three riders are going into the 2008 Olympic Dressage Selection Trials with two horses. Peters is competing for a spot on the U.S. Dressage Team with Ravel and Lombardi II. McDonald is currently ranked number one with Brentina, but she's also ranked fifth with Felix. Both Peters and McDonald have represented the U.S. in Olympic competition, but if she makes the team, this will be the first Olympics for King-Dye. She has represented the U.S. in international competition before, as recently as this year's 2008 Dressage World Cup. But she's clearly thrilled to be a serious contender for the Olympic Team. Right now she's ranked third in the country with Idocus and seventh with Harmony's Mythilus. Read More....

Legacy Farm's Melissa Taylor and Dacardo Make Quick Plans to Head West
By Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily.com

With her partner Lars Petersen opting out of this year's Olympic Games in Hong Kong, Melissa Taylor and Dacardo are packing up and heading to California. Taylor and the 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (by D-Day out of Azisterne) had qualified to compete at this year's Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions but had planned to skip the championships. "Up until the Wednesday after the Raleigh CDI, Lars was planning to go to Europe and I was going to stay behind and run the business with a trip to Europe to support him," Taylor said. But all of that changed when Taylor found herself and her longtime horse Decardo on the top 12 list for the Intermediaire Championships. Read More....

Sue Jaccoma and Wadamur Off to the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Intermediaire Championships Thanks to Fundraising Effort
By Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily.com

Northeasterners stepped up to a challenge issued by Robert Dover during his recent clinic for the New England Dressage Association. When Dover asked Sue Jaccoma, clinic demo rider for the Intermediaire Level with her Wadamur, why she and Wadamur weren't going to the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions despite being one of the top five Intermediaire pairs in the U.S., Jaccoma said simply, "I really can't afford it." That led Dover to turn to the audience of spectators and issue a challenge."Riders need support. Sue is a hard-worker with a world-class horse. They are very good representatives for your part of the country and it's a pity she can't go to San Juan Capistrano," Dover said. "I think all of you need to find a way to send her to California." Read More.....

Donna Novella Fulfills Melissa Mulchahey's "Wildest Dreams"
By Lynndee Kemmet for DressageDaily.com - Photos by McCool

Donna Novella, with rider Elizabeth Hendrix, has earned an invitation to the 2008 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions Intermediaire Championship.

In 2002, Mulchahey traveled to the Verden Elite Auction and spotted Donna Novella. "I was looking at her as an amateur horse for myself. I didn't have huge dreams. I was just looking for a lovely amateur horse to be regionally and national competitive with myself," Mulchahey said. "I thought if I could get her to FEI, that would be the icing on the cake, but it wasn't the plan."
Read More....

Michelle Gibson and Diamante Farms' Don Angelo To Compete in California For the First Time

Olympian Michelle Gibson has competed throughout Europe and the eastern part of the United States, based at Diamante Farms owned by Terri and Dick Kane of Wellington, Florida. But in all the years she has competed in dressage, she has never been to California. That will soon change as Gibson and Don Angelo, Diamante Farm's eight-year-old Oldenburg stallion and USEF 2007 Developing Horse Champion, get ready to head for Califonia and the 2008 USEF National Intermediaire I Championship during the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Festival of Champions. Gibson, a 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games Team Bronze Medalist, is head trainer at Diamante Farms owned by Terri and Dick Kane of Wellington, FL, and San Antonio, TX.
Read More....

Lisa Wilcox and Naomi Get Ready For Olympic Trials

Lisa Wilcox and Naomi had their last competitive outing before preparing to head to California for the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions. The pair continued their trend of earning scores in the 70s, bolstering Wilcox's belief that a spot on this year's U.S. Olympic Dressage Team is no longer an unrealistic goal.

"I'm really feeling like she would be a really strong team contender. My dream would be the number three rider. I know that's going to be a challenge because there are some good riders there. But when I look at how the mare has progressed and how consistent she has become, I get excited. I feel like that goal is more and more tangible. Things are coming together at the right time," Wilcox said. Read More...