Maestro Plays out his last Festival with Dressage Seat Equitation Win

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



USEF Dressage Seat Equitation Final 13 and Under
Eleven up-and-coming riders entered the ring for the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final for Riders 13 & Under. Judges evaluated the class as a group for rail work, followed by an individual pattern that tested each rider’s skill in arena geometry, gait transitions, and lateral work.

Grace Young (Cazenovia, N.Y.) teamed up with Hailey Kates’s German Riding Pony, Maestro, for the winning ride in the class. The victory was extra meaningful for Young, who said that it would be her last year showing the 20-year-old pony at Festival.

“I have had him for probably four years now, and he is such a blessing,” said Young. “He was an opportunity that I got to go try and I loved him so we brought him home. He’s been a challenge, but such a blessing and really incredible to work with.”

Kasey Denny (Hutto, Tex.) rode to a second-place finish in the class with Amy Denny’s 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Hemingway KW. Maren Elise Fouché-Hanson rounded out the top three with her own grade pony, In My Feelings.

From the Mixed Zone:

Tell us about your ride.

Young: “It’s very much an honor to be here and I’m very grateful. This is a super meaningful for me because this is my last year that my horse is allowed to be here. He’s going to age out. It was a very memorable and exciting ride today.”

Denny: “I’m extremely pleased with how we did. I’ve only been riding him for about seven months now. Despite all his bucks and spooks today he was awesome and very good and listening to me and I’m really happy with how he went. I’ll definitely remember my last year in this division.”

Fouché-Hanson: “I feel happy with my ride. He was a little stiff today but hopefully we can get that back by the weekend when I have my children’s division. I want to thank my mom. She’s my trainer, Christy Hanson. She has trained me since I was pretty little and worked on my seat. I just posted video on my Instagram from six years ago, and I could barely sit the canter. It was like, ‘Wow, I’ve really improved and now I’m here. I’ve made it really far.’”

What are your goals going forward after this?

Young: “I have recently been thinking more about my specific goals and what I want to do going long-term. Having a career in the equine industry and I’ve been recently thinking about going to try for the Olympics (in the future).”

Tell us more about your horse.

Young: “I have had him for probably four years now. And he is such a blessing. He was an opportunity that I got to go try and I loved him so we brought him home. He’s been a challenge but such a blessing. And really incredible to work with.”

Who do you train with?

Young: “Diane Brandau at Spruce Valley Stables.”

What did you focus on working on before this competition?

Young: “We have been focusing on a lot on my FEI test. I was preparing to come here as well for my FEI and equitation. I came here last year kind of by accident I got the scores and we were reading and saw that I was eligible to come here and so we came and now I’ve been qualified again and came this year.”

What did you think of today’s pattern?

Young: “It is a quite well put together pattern. We had been practicing them at home, so it wasn’t a complete and total surprise to me. But yeah, he definitely was kind of sticky with the leg yield to the canter, quite difficult.”

Have you done any other shows this year?

Young: “I have. I was able to get to two shows, one in Vermont and then one closer to my home at HITS in Saugerties, so that was very nice to be able to get a few in. There weren’t very many opportunities to go for shows.”

How does it feel to be back at a show?

Young: “It feels very nice! It’s really different not being able just to say hi to a fellow competitor that you only know through this show, like nationals. But it’s still being run, which is very nice to be able to still do something so wonderful and [to do] my sport.”

Kasey, can you talk to us about your partnership with your horse?

Denny: “My other one actually got hurt in January so he kind of popped up and then I was like, yeah, we’ll take him. He was rehabbing from jumping. I got him back strong and everything and then I decided to go to the show and I got qualified for FEI children’s, and then my other horse for equitation is retired so we used him instead, so it’s been a lot. But he’s been really good.”

You won a championship with your older horse, right?

Denny: “Yeah, so last year we were champion and then two years before we were reserve. I’m very lucky to be in top two every single year I come for equitation.”

What did you think of the pattern today?

Denny: “I liked it. I liked that it’s kind of one thing after another because he gets kind of distracted if he has a long break like when we have the whole long side and there’s nothing to do for stretches, so having the leg yield, canter, to trot leg yield again was really nice to keep him busy and thinking and on my aids.”

Tell us about your horse.

Fouché-Hanson: “My pony, Drake, I’ve had him two years now. I took him to Lamplight last year for Festival of Champions. We qualified in children’s. We didn’t really know what it was at first and we heard about it from my friend, and she was riding.

“So we qualified last year barely, on like, low 60s, so this year weren’t doing so well in the fall and then we got more together toward January. We were like this is going really well. In February we went to Wellington for the CDI and he was amazing and we pulled off our highest scores ever. It was a 73 average, 70 average, I’m not really sure. But, it was an amazing score, so we’re qualified in children’s, and Region Three Regionals. It was me and Alice Burley and we qualified together first and second, which was really exciting because we both qualified to come up here, so it was awesome.”

What are your goals for the future with him?

Fouché-Hanson: “For him, we might try ponies next year. We’ll see. We don’t really have really solid plan yet. I just got a new horse from Dressage 4 Kids. She’s a 2009 KWPN. She’s really awesome. So hopefully we can do Juniors next year”

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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.