SenSational Finish in the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship

Friday, August 26, 2022
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The USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship came to a close with the exciting freestyle portion of the competition. Laura Graves (Geneva, Fla.) and SenSation HW, Carol and Scott McPhee’s 2013 Westphalian gelding, performed a masterful freestyle to finish second in the class with a score of 76.005%. The week’s performances from Graves and SenSation HW, members of Kundrun USEF Dressage Development Program, earned high marks from the judges and clinched the National Champion title with an overall score of 75.104%.

Photo - Laura Graves and SenSation HW (SusanJStickle.com)

“It was the second time I have ridden this freestyle and the first time in this big atmosphere, big for him anyway, he certainly thought so,” said Graves. “It is just the beginning. I’m super proud of him for the test he put in at the beginning of the week. I’m moving forward and excited about it.”

Kundrun USEF Dressage Development Program members Emily Miles (Paola, Kan.) and Daily Show, Leslie Waterman’s 2014 Hanoverian stallion, won the FEI Intermediate I Freestyle with a score of 77.300% and earned the Reserve National Champion title with an overall score of 73.301%. Rebecca Rigdon (Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.) and Iquem, her 2013 KWPN mare, scored 69.710% in the freestyle and were third overall with an overall score of 71.350%.

Overall results

From the Mixed Zone:

How does it feel to be a national champion?

Graves: “I’m always so excited to stand in the top three with women because I just think it is so amazing for us to support each other. It is such a difficult industry, and just to see smiling faces and people who are really supportive of you. That, for me, has topped this week so far.

Talk about your freestyles.

Graves: “We put it together last minute because that’s how I roll. I don’t like to ever count my eggs before they hatch, so when we were kind of seeing that I was in a good place to qualify for this, I decided I better put together a freestyle. I always go to Terry Gallo who lives right nearby me in Florida. She is able to come and see my horses and help me pick out music that I like, the owners are happy with, and suits the horse. It was also in our mind to pick music that could be morphed into something bigger so we can use pieces of it moving forward to hopefully to become a Grand Prix horse.

Miles: “To be able to ride that freestyle tonight and to put pedal to metal and say, ‘Come on, buddy. Let’s do this!’ And he was like, ‘Cool. Let’s do it!’ That’s an amazing feeling. It is a really special freestyle for me because it is [her former mount] WakeUp’s freestyle and the music is the music that I got my first dance with my husband, so there’s a lot wrapped up in that freestyle. The first time I rode it [recently], I pretty much broke down and cried the entire test and it was terrible. So, I’m very proud that I did not do that today. But [Daily Show] lived up to that and I’m sure WakeUp is looking down here and thankful tonight. Erin Boltik designed it, and she is a schoolteacher from Minnesota.”

Rigdon: “Today wasn’t our best day. But that’s okay. The music was loud. It is only the second time I have done a freestyle and the first time in this environment. She is a very, very hot mare, and I have had her since she was coming four [years old]. This is, honestly, the most confident she has ever been at a show, so I am beyond proud of her. She has really put her big girl pants on and she’s doing it. We got ahead, and then all of the sudden, our gaits were three times bigger than normal. Anyway, it is what it is, but I was very happy with the I-1 and Prix St. Georges.”

Competition continues Friday at 8 a.m. CT in the Markel Arena with the FEI Six-Year-Old Preliminary test of the Markel/USEF Young Horse Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship, while the Grand Prix Arena starts at 8:30 a.m. CT with the FEI Pony Rider Team Test of the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship.

Watch the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions live stream this week on USEF Network.

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