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Michele Bondy Takes Top Honors in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old Dressage National Championship

Friday, August 23, 2019
Posted by Dana Riddlemoser & Kathleen Landweh
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US DRESSAGE FESTIVAL OF CHAMPIONS   |   HIGH PERFORMANCE DRESSAGE   |   MARKEL

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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 (SusanJStickle.com)

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.”

Keep up with the 2019 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions on USA Dressage Facebook where you can find winning rides and daily photo galleries, USEF Network Twitter, and USEF Network Instagram featuring Instagram Stories. Use #USADressage and #FestivalofChampions.