Youth Athletes Shine on Day Three at 2021 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Posted by Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian
The third day of competition of the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions was packed full of excitement. Seven divisions competed on Friday with three national championships on the line. Victors were crowned in the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship, USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals - 13 & Under, and Horseware Ireland/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship divisions.
Photo - Tessa Geven and Tullymor’s Houdini, USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Champions (SusanJStickle.com)
USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship
Ten pairs rode their FEI Pony Individual Tests in the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship. Tessa Geven and Tullymor’s Houdini won the class with a score of 70.135%. Geven (Cataula, Ga.) and her 2003 Connemara gelding’s strong test moved them to the top of the overall leaderboard with a score of 70.424%.
“It’s exciting, especially because this is supposed to be my last show on this pony because I am getting too tall,” Geven said of being a national champion. “This is a very emotional experience right now, but I’m really taking it in.”
Maren Elise Fouché-Hanson (Colbert, Ga.) and In My Feelings, her 1995 gelding, collected reserve-champion honors with an overall score of 69.587%. Aislin Falasco (Little Rock, Ark.) and Unscripted, her 2005 KWPN gelding, placed third overall with a score of 68.850%.
From the Mixed Zone:
How was your test?
Geven: “It was really good. We had a little bit of a problem in our extension and our last extension he did a little bit of a canter. He could’ve been a little more supple in my opinion, but pretty good. Today I tried to get him a little more pizazz-y because last time it was a little boring. I wanted to get him a little more hot kind of.”
Fouché-Hanson: “Today we did have some bobbles. It was definitely not the same test we had yesterday, but as well as he did yesterday and as well as he did in the warm-up, I’m super proud of him. He is probably just getting tired. He is going to have some nice rest days while I ride my other mare in Children’s.”
Falasco: “It was really good. I could probably be a little more prepared myself, but he was so good. He had my back the entire time. I was super proud of him; he was great.”
What is Tullymor’s Houdini like?
Geven: “He is really fun. He tries his little heart out. He likes to do things. If you ask him to do something, he will try.”
USEF Junior Dressage National Championship
Eleven pairs completed the FEI Junior Team Test of the Adequan®/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship to start the path toward a title. The scores were close at the top of the leaderboard, but Kat Fuqua and DreamGirl claimed the win. Fuqua (Atlanta, Ga.) and her 2008 KWPN mare have developed a solid partnership in the last year-and-a-half and delivered a lovely test to score 70.959%.
“I was really confident going in,” said Fuqua of her test. “We just came back from [the FEI North American Youth Championships], so I was confident with the test. DreamGirl was absolutely amazing; she was very on the aids, and I was happy with it.”
Lexie Kment (Palmyra, Neb.) and Montagny Von Der Heide, Laureen Van Norman’s 2004 Trakehner gelding, placed second with a score of 70.807%. Julia McDonald (Byron Center, Mich.) and Lehndorff Van de Vogelzang, her 2011 Belgian Warmblood gelding, were third with a score of 70.757%.
The FEI Junior Team Test counts for 50 percent of the overall score, while Saturday’s FEI Junior Individual Test counts for the remaining 50 percent.
From the Mixed Zone:
What is DreamGirl like?
Fuqua: “She’s very sweet. I have a lot of fun with her. I love riding her bareback. I started in the Children’s division here last year, and we were third overall. We’ve just been playing around with the juniors and having a good time.”
What was DreamGirl doing before you got her?
Fuqua: “She was doing Prix St. Georges/I1 in Holland. My trainer went to go try her there, and we watched the videos and just loved her, and knew she was the one. I think that we have a good partnership, she really tries her best for me.”
USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals - 13 & Under
Ten youth athletes came to demonstrate their equitation in 13 & Under division of the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals. Following group rail work and individually performed patterns, Olivia Martz was declared the winner. Martz (Gig Harbor, Wash.) showed off her skills with Norra, her 2001 German Riding Pony mare, to earn a score of 86.000%. Martz trains with her mom and aunt, Brooke Martz and Kelly Burris.
“[It’s] pretty insane. I never ever would’ve expected that,” Martz said of her win. “I think that I am so happy to have all of my family here and supporting me. I’m just a little like, ‘What just happened!?!’”
Virginia Woodcock (Atlanta, Ga.) earned reserve-champion honors with The Safari Party, her and Elizabeth and Richard Woodcock’ 2009 gelding, scoring 84.000%. She trains with Anneliese Vogt-Harber. Ruby Lewis (Elgin, Texas) placed third with Pickles, Marsha Lewis’s 2011 Pony of the Americas gelding, scoring 81.999%. She trains with her mom, Marsha Lewis.
From the Mixed Zone:
How did your pattern go?
Martz: “I feel like the pattern went pretty well today. I mean I was really nervous, my heart was beating, and I could not hear a thing. I think it was all a blur. I will just tell you that.”
What have you been practicing for the Final?
Martz: “I have to stay relaxed because Norra isn’t exactly an easy-going horse. … I think that it was really important that everybody was able to be here supporting me because I couldn’t have done it without my mom here and my aunt.
Woodcock: “My horse can be a bit feisty sometimes. Calming myself down and making sure we are working together well as partners because that is what the sport is all about. I think just having him be my family has been so important to me. He is, he is such a sweetie, but like I said he can be a little feisty. We have been doing a lot of Second Level. We have been training him up through the levels, which has been an amazing experience for me. I’m so thankful to my trainer, Anneliese Vogt-Harber, and both my parents for everything they have helped me with.”
Lewis: “I have been working a lot on keeping my toes in because I tend to point my toes out. … Really calming myself down is something I have been working on. My mom is my trainer; her name is Marsha Lewis.”
USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship
Eleven combinations rode the FEI Young Rider Individual Test for the Horseware Ireland/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship to close out the third day of competition. Christian Simonson and Zeaball Diawind claimed top honors in the class to clinch the national championship title. Simonson and Christina Morgan’s 2012 Danish Warmblood gelding, who are members of the Discover Dressage USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program, scored 75.489% after having a lovely test. The pair’s overall score was 74.632%.
“It feels really good,” Simonson said of being a national champion. “We had a really long week with NAYC two weeks ago, and then to have ‘Zeaball’ come to this competition and performing just as well, hitting another two personal bests for me; it just feels really amazing. It was a whole team effort getting him here though, making sure he stayed happy and great. It was a whole team effort.”
Mackenzie Peer (Overland Park, Kan.) and Ansgar, Mackenzie and Lane Peer’s 2005 KWPN gelding, took home reserve-champion honors with an overall score of 69.558%. Allison Nemeth (Flemington, N.J.) and Tiko, Karen Nemeth’s 2011 Danish Warmblood mare, were third with an overall score of 69.166%.
The FEI Young Rider Individual Test counts for 50 percent of the overall score, while Wednesday’s FEI Young Rider Individual Test counted for 50 percent.
From the Mixed Zone:
How did you prepare for Festival of Champions after NAYC?
Simonson: “Young Riders was about 5.5 hours from here, so after NAYC we gave him a nice break, hanging out with the hunter ponies there, trail riding, making sure he got as much time outside of the arena as possible. And then, after a nice full week of light work, we just slowly brought him up, but he has such a great brain that it doesn’t really take much to get him back into competition mode.”
What have you learned from your busy summer?
Simonson: “I feel like the experiences of going to Europe and competing, and then going to NAYC, which is a fun environment, does make me more experienced, but having [trainer] Adrienne [Lyle] with me has been so wonderful. Constantly talking to me, working on small things; it’s really helped.
“Throughout the whole test I was thinking, ‘What would Adrienne do?’”
Talk about your rides today.
Peer: “I am just over the moon to be here at this competition. I love Lamplight, so to be here with all of these incredible riders makes you step up your game and appreciate the fact that you can be here. And that I am here with a happy and healthy, sound horse and surrounded by healthy friends, and the fact that we can just share a great week together.”
Nemeth: “I was so proud of Tiko today. We have issues sometimes with our confidence. She was really good, and felt that she was really good and that we could relax a bit in the test, especially in the walk, and I was just happy to have a clean test.”
Competition continues Saturday with the first class in the Lamplight Young Horse/Developing Horse Arena, the USEF Four-Year-Old Horse Test for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old Dressage National Championship, beginning at 7:45 a.m. CT. The first class in the Lamplight Grand Prix Arena, the FEI Junior Individual Test for the Adequan®/ USEF Junior Dressage National Championship, begins at 8:00 a.m. CT.
Watch the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions live stream presented by Adequan® this week on USEF Network.