Endel Ots Sweeps All Three Days to Take I-I Championship Title

Saturday, August 22, 2020
Posted by Kathleen Landwehr and Leslie Potter



USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship
Twelve combinations headed down the centerline to perform their FEI Intermediate I Freestyle Test, the third and final test in the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship. Endel Ots (Wellington, Fla.) and Sonnenberg’s Everdance put on a stellar performance for the judges to earn a score of 77.645%. Ots and Sonnenberg Farm LLC’s 11-year-old KWPN mare led the national championship division from start to finish, earning the title with an overall score of 75.572%.

“I was very happy with it,” said Ots of his freestyle. “Yesterday, I just took her on hand walks and let her sleep in the stall. She basically slept all day. Then, we did just a nice little short warm-up so she had a lot of energy. I was very happy with her. She carried me through the test and was nice and forward. It was really, really nice to be able to ride the freestyle in competition. I haven’t been able to ride it in competition. I was planning on doing it in Florida before COVID, so this was the first time I did it and I was very happy with it.”

David Blake (Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.) and Heide Spirit, his 10-year-old Oldenburg mare, earned the reserve national champion title with an overall score of 72.368%. Callie Jones (Henderson, Ky.) and Don Philippo, her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, finished third in the national championship with an overall score of 71.055%.

From the Mixed Zone:

Tell us about your ride.

Blake: “That was the first freestyle with her so I was a little nervous in the beginning, but it worked out really nicely. I stayed on my music, which was pretty impressive for her because she can really, really go so the worry was, ‘Am I going to get ahead of my music?’ I was so happy when I walked at C. It was good. There is a lot of blood in that horse. She kept her act together so I am very proud of her.”

How did you come up with your freestyle?

Ots: “The choreography is actually the same as I had with Lucky for his freestyle, but I wanted something a little bit more powerful in the music. I always liked Edward [Gal’s] freestyles and the powerful music he has, but not so pop-y and super boring classical music. That is what I talked to Karen Robinson about, something a little bit powerful, a little bit Edward Gal-esque, like what he has. I was very happy with how it turned out.”

Blake: “My wife actually came up with the freestyle for her horse. She does a bunch of them yearly and I said, ‘Do you think I can use that and make my own choreography to it and then change the tempos a little bit?’ I like ‘Shut Up and Dance with Me’ for her. It is really good, upbeat, and works for her.

“The choreography is simple for her because she is not very experienced. The trickiest part was when I got done with my pirouette and realized I needed to do my two [tempis] and not walk. I broke it up a little bit so I could take two walk breaks for her to calm her down. The only bummer was not really realizing when to start my twos. Other than that I thought it went great.”

What is it like to be the national champion?

Ots: “I would say this year is really great because it is a new partnership. She is an old soul of a mare. She is very uncomplicated to ride. It is just a nice feeling. It took us a little bit of time to get to know each other and speak the same language. Once we got on the same page, now both of us understand each other. When maybe one of us is not 100% there, the other really helps. Maybe she is a little tired, then I will help her a little bit. Maybe when I am a little maybe not 100% on, she turns up everything. It is really a comfortable feeling.”

What are your goals for the future with your horse?

Ots: “I really haven’t thought too much of it right now. When I met with Dan and Gina [Ruediger of Sonnenberg Farms], the goal I gave them in October [2019], I said, ‘I want to win the I-I championship with her. I want to qualify first and I want to win all three days. I think that is possible with her.’ Past that I haven’t thought of it too much. We have played around with some of the grand prix things. She can play with all the grand prix movements, but for me, I try to have one set goal on there. With every horse-and-rider combination, I try to set goals where they have to stretch and reach them, not over face them. For her, she can play with all the grand prix movements and it is nice but I want everything to be fun and happy for everybody so that it doesn’t over face them and everybody is happy with the results.”

Blake: “I think we are going to have to get the grand prix finished up. She is very close already, but that horse can’t be rushed. Everything is on her terms, but I think she is going to get there. She has a lot of talent.”

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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.