Rebecca Blake and Emma Leestma Crowned Gold Medalists at the 2009 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals

Friday, July 24, 2009
Posted by Christy

Lexington, KY— The 2009 United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Dressage Seat Medal Finals presented by Dressage Today® concluded this weekend, July 17-19, in the beautiful setting of the Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL. Riders came from across the country to compete for the championship in two age divisions—13 & under and 14-18.  The purpose of the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Program is to promote and reward excellence in equitation, including correct seat, position, and use of aids in the sport of dressage. Junior riders in these finals qualified last year by competing in the Dressage Seat Medal Semi-Final classes held at each of the 2008 USDF Regional Championships, with the top competitors in each age division being eligible for the finals.  This year’s judging panel of Lois Yukins, Paula Lacy, and Charlotte Trentelman were given the difficult task of testing the riders and their skills, with each age division rising to the occasion and making the judges’ jobs even harder.

Photo: 2009 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals Champion (13 & Under Division) – Rebecca Blake, Enumclaw, WA

In the 13 & Under division, Rebecca Blake of Enumclaw, WA, topped the class of 10 riders with a score of 90.000% to take the Gold medal riding borrowed mount Socrates, owned by Kelly Kavanav.  Traveling all the way from Region 6 paid off, as Blake flew home with the Hart Trophy, a new Wintec 500 saddle and Kieffer snaffle bridle.

Winning the Silver medal was fellow West Coast rider Heather Anne Baine of Alamo, CA, with a score of 85.000%. Twelve-year-old Baine was also riding a borrowed horse, Lancieux, owned by Jean Cook.  Schenck qualified for the Finals in Region 7 and was awarded a silver trophy, Kieffer bridle, and Ariat garment and boot bags.

In third place with a score of 84.00% was Bobbie Kerr of East Aurora, NY, representing Region 8 and riding her own horse, Hooksiel. Along with the Bronze medal, Kerr also took home a silver trophy, engraved dressage halter and lead, and an Ariat helmet bag.

With a total of 16 riders in the 14-18 age division, the riders made choosing a winner very difficult, necessitating an additional ride-off to determine the medal placings.  When the dust settled, the championship title went to Region 2’s Emma Leestma of Grand Rapids, MI, riding her partner for the past three years, Polensio (owned by Tamsyn Sweetman), to a score of 88.000%.  After placing fourth in the nation at the 2008 Finals, 16-year-old Leestma was ready to tackle this year’s Finals, claiming the Gold medal, Hart Trophy, Wintec 500 dressage saddle, and Kieffer snaffle bridle.

Photo: 2009 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals Champion (14-18 Division) – Emma Leestma, Grand Rapids, MI

At only 14 years old, Leah Myers faced older competition in her division, but rose to the challenge and earned the Silver medal with a score of 87.000%.  Traveling from Carmel, CA (Region 7), Myers rode Ginna Frantz’s Bella Luna GP and took home a silver trophy, Kieffer bridle, and Ariat garment and boot bags.

The Bronze medal went to Region 4’s Kristina Wang riding borrowed mount Wellington, owned by Kristin Allen, to a score of 86.000%. A veteran of USEF National Championship competition, Wang was awarded a silver trophy, engraved dressage halter and lead, and an Ariat helmet bag as part of her third-place finish.

A unique aspect of this dressage program is that riders are allowed to compete on borrowed horses.  While several riders contested the Finals on horses they own and train themselves, the overwhelming majority of finalists chose to borrow a mount with which they had only been paired for a matter of days prior to the competition; in fact, this year four out of six of the Finals medalists were awarded their titles on a horse they had not met until arriving at Lamplight.  USEF would like to thank all horse owners for their generosity in loaning mounts for these Finals, and also to Yvonne Barteau and KYB Dressage for coordinating all arrangements for riders from around the nation to be able to be paired with a local horse to compete.

For more information about the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Program, please visit the USEF website, www.usef.org.

Both Photos Courtsey of www.fireandearthphoto.com

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