A Long Journey Pays Off on Third Day of 2019 US Dressage Finals

Monday, November 11, 2019
Posted by Yellow Horse Marketing for the US Dressage Finals



Every day, people make a multitude of small decisions that in the moment may seem relatively insignificant, but sometimes the culmination of those choices can be life changing. As was the case for Ruth Shirkey when she made the fortuitous decision to purchase a Hanoverian foal in utero, and again nearly a decade later to pack up a truck, camper and horse trailer and drive four days across the country from California with her husband to chase a dream in Kentucky.

Photo - Ruth Shirkey (Region 7) & Wyleigh Princess cantered to victory in the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship at the 2019 US Dressage Finals (Susan J. Stickle)

Now competing with the nation's best at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, held November 7-10 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, the former Navy fighter jet pilot turned tax accountant and two-time cancer survivor rode that now nine-year-old mare named Wyleigh Princess to the biggest victory of their career in the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Freestyle Championship. Riding for Region 7, they finished on a top score of 73.900%, a personal best for the pair (watch their winning ride HERE, and read more about Shirkey and her mount in the Why I Love the Finals series on HERE).

"It was a bit inauspicious this morning because she was not in a big mood to come out and play," said Shirkey of her U.S. bred Hanoverian (Weltmeyer x Heiress B by His Highness, bred by Cheryl Johnson). "When we started the warm-up I was not quite sure what we were going to get, so I was very careful. I thought 'whatever we do, I will keep my fundamentals together,' and sure enough, we started the canter work and it paid off. I felt I had a sufficient amount of confidence in Wyleigh that she would stay with me during the experience and she was, so I thought 'let's go now' and she took off. It's just so exciting. It was a wonderful ride and she loves that Alltech Arena."

Bonnie Canter of Hockley, Texas (Region 9) and her Connemara/Hanoverian cross mare Fifinella GCF (Fred Astaire x South Ridge Bliss by South Ridge Duncan’s Honor, bred in the U.S. by Sharon Garner) earned their second Reserve Championship title in as many days with a score of 72.333%. "I wasn't even going to do the freestyle, but because she's spooky I needed to get her in the Alltech Arena before my Prix St. Georges test tomorrow," Canter laughed. "My husband Doug has been extremely supportive through all of this, and this freestyle thing was his idea. I'm not at all musically inclined but we took a suggestion for an Aladdin score and my husband spliced it all together, so it was a homegrown project and funny enough it paid off."

Watch an interview with both riders on HERE.

Watch archived streaming videos of Championship classes on the USEF Network HERE. Championship competition resumes Sunday – follow the action through updates on the USDF Facebook page and the US Dressage Finals website, as well as watch live online streaming on the USEF Network. To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review day sheets and results, and read daily news releases, visit the official event website at