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Freestyles Fun Rules the Third Day of Competition at the 2021 US Dressage Finals 

Monday, November 15, 2021
Posted by Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals
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US DRESSAGE FINALS

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Music filled the air across the Kentucky Horse Park as freestyle competition was a highlight of the third day of the 2021 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, being held November 11-14 in Lexington, Ky. From Juniors and Young Riders to U.S. High Performance veterans, huge fields of competitors from across the country pursued top honors from Training to Grand Prix in this unique national dressage showcase.

Storybook Ending for Tidd in Grand Prix Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship

Photo - Lucy Tidd and Ellert HB cantered to victory in the Grand Prix Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship at the 2021 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. (Susan J. Stickle)

When the US Dressage Finals first debuted in 2013, Lucy Tidd of Poolesville, Md. (Region 1) was one of those competitors who couldn’t wait to be a part of the brand new event. Taking a break from her busy practice as a small animal veterinarian, she traveled to Kentucky with her then four-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Ellert HB (Johnson x Alanda-B by Sydney) and came away with both the Training Level and First Level Adult Amateur titles. “I look back at the photos from that year and I just can’t believe how he’s changed – he was such a baby back then,” she remembered.

Tidd has come back to the Finals every year since as her horse grew up and rose through the levels, and this time the story came full circle when the pair found themselves in the winner’s circle for the Grand Prix Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship as the only combination in the hard-fought class to earn 70% and claim the Calaveras County Perpetual Trophy (presented by Olva Stewart Pharo). 

After a fifth-place finish in the previous day’s Grand Prix class, Tidd was determined to improve on her performance for the freestyle. “I was super excited about today and wanted to get him to be a little bit sharper and more expressive, and just really go for it out there,” Tidd explained. “And he rose to the occasion and was just a super good boy. I feel like his collected work and piaffe are very strong, plus he’s a solid citizen and really does not have any big holes.

“He’s my first Grand Prix horse and he’s so talented,” Tidd continued. “We’re learning all of this together and now I’m just trying to fine-tune things and get out of him what he is truly capable of. I remember thinking on the drive here that it would be such a wonderful storybook ending for us to win this year, and here we are. Plus he’s only 12 which is relatively young for a Grand Prix horse, so hopefully we have a long way to go and many more trips back to the Finals.”

Kristin Wasemiller-Knutson and Vashti
Kristin Wasemiller-Knutson and Vashti (Photo: Susan J. Stickle)

Family Tradition for Vashti in Winning Grand Prix Open Freestyle

The Grand Prix Open Freestyle Championship was a fight to the finish as 23 of the country’s top horse and rider combinations sought to have their names engraved on the Jazzman Perpetual Trophy (presented by Donna Richardson). As one of the last exhibitors to enter the Alltech Arena, Kristen Wasemiller-Knutson of Oklahoma City, Okla. (Region 9) brought the crowd to its feet aboard her 12-year-old Friesian/Warmblood cross mare Vashti (Nico x Thekla by Onassis, bred in the U.S. by Sherry Koella) as the pair earned 74.275% for their “The Grinch That Stole Christmas”-themed freestyle.

Watch their winning ride HERE, and watch the entire class on-demand from the USEF Network HERE.

The victory was the continuation of a family tradition in the Finals Grand Prix Open Freestyle division as Vashti’s half-sister Adiah HP won the last three editions (2017-2019) with rider James Koford. After finishing second to Adiah HP in 2019, this year was Vashti’s time to shine.

“It is a fantastic feeling to win this and I have not stopped smiling.  Everyone is sending me texts and emails and it’s so exciting,” said Wasemiller-Knutson. “Over the last year with COVID, we really worked on polishing our basics to get a solid, clean test. She is a great showman in the arena, but in the beginning of the year she would get a bit tense going into the arena. Now we’ve gotten over that and she really gets into the performance, staying soft and happy while still having that feeling of a little extra excitement. Tonight she was super with the crowd and the atmosphere of the arena, and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Watch archived streaming videos of Championship classes on the USEF Network HERE. Results Here