Michele Bondy and Sonnenbergs Kain Earn Top Honors in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old Dressage National Championship

Friday, August 23, 2019
Posted by Dana Riddlemoser & Kathleen Landweh



Michele Bondy (Wilsonville, OR.) rode Sonnenberg’s Kain to top honors in the USEF Four-Year-Old Test of the Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old Dressage National Championship. Bondy helped display the lovely movements of Sonnenberg Farm, LLC’s four-year-old KWPN gelding to earn a score of 8.46 from the judges. “We had a super nice, supple, soft ride,” said Bondy. “He was just great. Really there was nothing I could complain about. He just went in there and did his job, which is the most I can ask for him. He was super.”

Photo - Michele Bondy and Sonnenburg's Kain (

Alice Tarjan (Oldwick, NJ.) and Summersby II, her four-year-old Oldenburg mare, were second with a score of 8.18, while Jackie Ahl-Eckhaus (San Luis Obispo, CA.) and Kitalis MVS, her four-year-old KWPN gelding, were third with a score of 7.92.

Thursday’s USEF Four-Year-Old Test counts for 40 percent of the overall score. The championship concludes on Saturday with the FEI Four-Year-Old Final Test, which counts for the remaining 60 percent of the overall score.

Complete division results

On the championship atmosphere:
Bondy: “Going around [the ring] with people clapping he got a little excited, but then he went in right to work and had no problem. He was like a champion. You just never know how the four year olds are going to be – if they are the going to be wild, if they are going to be tired. He just was perfect. I can’t wait until Saturday to see what we will get.”

On developing young horses:
Tarjan: “I got her as a foal. She did the material last year and I brought her to Devon to qualify for this championship this year, so I got her out for a little exposure.”

Ahl-Eckhaus: “He has changed a lot from three to four. Now he has a body. He was not a very pretty yearling but he is really blossoming this year. He is getting stronger; there is a lot of power in there, and now and then you can really feel it. I am really excited for him. He has a great temperament, three good gaits, good balance, supple, elastic, so I think he is the whole deal.”

Craig Stanley: “That was really good for her. It’s [emotional] just because she is your own and you bred her. Earlier I didn’t think she had a chance to be here, I didn’t think she was going to be good enough but to be third is kind of unbelievable.

Nadine Schwartsman: “I have owned her since she was a weanling. I raised her on my farm. Today has kind of been an emotional day because her breeder, Michele Seaver, passed away very unexpectedly this year. I feel like this is her legacy and it is really important to me. She also bred my five year old, Jhocolate R, who I am going to compete later today, so it just makes me feel good to see her horses out here. I hope she is watching from above.”

On her horse’s performance:
Ashlyn Dodge: “First of all, I love that horse. He was very steady and he always in all of my tests really tries really hard. He is one of those horses who has a lot of presence to him. He always tries for you. You hardly have to give him any aids and he is right there for you, so it is a really cool feeling to have, especially on a four year old. I have to pinch myself to remind me that he is only four.”

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