Kassandra Barteau is no stranger to blue ribbons—she’s won the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Young Rider Championship for two years in a row with Gabriella.
This year, however, the 20-year-old brought a new mount, GP Raymeister, and proved that she’s stiff competition aboard any horse with her winning score of 69.94 percent in the young rider team test over Meagan Davis with Bentley (69.21%) and Christine Stephenson with Markant (68.52%).
“He’s wonderful,” said Barteau, of the 9-year-old Holsteiner stallion. “He’s absolutely, totally opposite from Gabby. He’s a wonderful learning experience and a fabulous horse. I made a few little mistakes today, and I think I rode a little cautiously. I was going for a clean ride, but I can definitely push for more.”
Barteau, Maple Park, Ill., said “Ray’s” a much hotter horse than her previous mount, but she enjoys his energy, and riding a lot of horses at home has prepared her for the challenge.
“I’m excited to learn how to handle it all,” she said. “I’m happy that today went so well, and I’ll try my best for Sunday. He’s super fancy, so I’ll let him be a little bit more.”
Bentley, a former mount of Barteau and Endel Ots, who is competing in the Brentina Cup this weekend, put in a solid performance for Davis.
“Endel won on him at Dressage At Devon [(Pa.) in the Intermediaire I and Intermediaire freestyle last year],” said Davis, Stone Ridge, N.Y. “That was intimidating. Bentley and I have really developed a relationship, but it took us a while to meld together. He’s a phenomenal horse, and I learn from him every single day, I could not ask for a better teacher.”
Davis, 19, began riding the 16-year-old Danish Warmblood in October last year for owners Kelly Roetto and John Rocco.
Another new partnership found success at Gladstone today as well. Christine Stephenson, 21, and Markant put in a lovely test to finish third with a 68.52 percent.
“I was really happy with my test,” Stephenson, Mission Viejo, Calif., said. “I just got my horse in January, and I’ve been working with Steffen [Peters]. The whole combination is perfect. The biggest problem I have with him is his trot work, and I definitely need more trot [on Sunday]. We were a little western pleasure-ish out there.”
Markant previously contested Grand Prix with Tami Crawford.
In the junior team test, Lauren Knopp and Rho Dance emerged the winners (68.37%) over Riana Porter on Romax Foldager (66.48%) and Stephanie Nowak on Coriall (66.48%).
“I was really surprised [that I won],” said Knopp, Wellington, Fla. “I didn’t think I did as well, and when I saw the score I burst into tears. This is my first nationals show.”
Knopp, 18, trains with Sasha Newman, also of Wellington, and has ridden in several CDIs this spring in preparation for Gladstone.
“It was helpful knowing that I did all those CDIs and was aware of the judges and how they were going to judge,” she said. “But I was really nervous. I forgot my test in the warm-up, but as soon as I got down centerline I just said, ‘OK, calm down, it’s just another CDI in Wellington.' ”
Porter and Nowak, both 17, went off course in their tests, but their overall performances kept them high in the standings.
“It was the nerves,” said Nowak, East Greenwich, R.I. “I’ve ridden these tests multiple times—I know them like the back of my hand—but having nerves is so foreign to me that I didn’t know what to do. I knew I was [off course], I was just waiting for the bell. Things happen like that, and I was fortunate that my horse was with me the whole time.”
Porter’s error came in the beginning of the test, but her early mistake didn’t faze her, and she put in a solid test.
“I was focusing so much on my shoulder-in that I forgot my circle,” she said. “I’ve done it before so it was like, oops, go on. It was interesting, but I don’t really get fazed by those kind of things.”