Lexington, Ky.—Oct. 12
Often riders feel like they “win” the warm-up, but then they don’t necessarily win the competition. Tonight, in the Grand Prix freestyle for the Dutta Corp/USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship, Steffen Peters did both. He topped the class on a 79.45 percent with Legolas 92, also securing the USEF Dressage Festival Of Champions title (76.47%) in the process.
“It was the best freestyle we’ve done so far,” he said. “He felt fantastic in the warm-up, and I kept telling Jo Hinneman, ‘I hope we can keep this in the ring.’ It can change very quickly in there with him when the music kicks up. He felt just as supple in the ring as he did in the warm-up. He felt very energetic, and we stayed right with the music the entire time.”
This is Peters’ third consecutive national title—he won in 2012 with Legolas, an 11-year-old Westphalian gelding (Laemedon—Furstin, Florestan II) owned by Akiko Yamazaki’s Four Winds Farm, and in 2011 with Ravel—but it’s his seventh overall, a fact he’s holding over U.S. Dressage Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover.
“It sounds really obnoxious, but that’s one more than Robert,” Peters, San Diego, Calif., joked. “Both Robert and I had six, but now I have seven.”
Guenter Seidel and Coral Reef Wylea’s freestyle had only a mistake in the two-tempis, earning them 76.45 percent for the class and a combined championship score of 72.40 percent. (The championship total takes 45 percent from Wednesday’s Grand Prix, 40 percent from last night’s Grand Prix Special and 15 percent from tonight’s freestyle.)
“I just changed my freestyle because I tend to have some mistakes in the tempis, and now I have room where I can redo a line if I need,” said Seidel, Cardiff, Calif. “When I had the mistake in the twos I was like, ‘OK, if I have a mistake in the ones too then I’ll have to make a decision if I should redo the twos or the ones.’ It all worked out great though. She definitely felt good.”
While Kathleen Raine had her hands full with a hot Breanna for the freestyle, earning fifth (70.22%) with some mistakes, she still accepted third overall on 71.21 percent. Shelly Francis and Doktor were third (72.22%) tonight and fourth overall (70.61%).
Caroline Roffman topped today’s Intermediaire I freestyle with a 75.70 percent, but the lead Kimberly Herslow accumulated by winning the Prix St. Georges and Intermediaire I prevailed. Herslow and Rosmarin earned the Dutta Corp/USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship on a score of 75.70 percent. Freestyle winners Roffman and Her Highness O finished second on 73.50 percent, and Emily Wagner and WakeUp moved up from fourth overall before the freestyle to finish third (69.61%).
“I went easy on my horse yesterday and did a basic ride in the snaffle,” said Herslow. “Today I wanted to have more horse, and I had a little more than I’ve had for a little while. But I have to learn how to ride that tension. I had him more up in the shoulders and in a more expensive frame, but it was a little on edge because we haven’ t really been going there.”
This is the last Intermediaire I for Roffman and “Hannah”; the pair is eyeing a move up to the Grand Prix next season.
Bebe Davis added another national title to her name this year by winning the 2013 AGCO/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship aboard Rotano. Davis, 16, was last year’s USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Champion with Poldy 10. Rotano won both the Junior Team test and the Junior Individual test to finish with an overall score of 68.77 percent over Lindsey Holleger on Friedensfurst (67.32%) and Mallory Kent on Okidokie (66.21%).
“My ride this morning was really amazing,” said Davis, Wellington, Fla., who rides with Cesar Parra and Katie Riley at Piaffe Performance. “I couldn’t be more thankful for my amazing horse. It’s moments like this that really make all the training and riding worth it. He was really trying and really on my aids. It was an incredible experience.”
Alison Redston also made a clean sweep of her division, topping both pony tests on her way to the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship with Tony 47 on an overall score of 66.30 percent. Madelyn Guthrie was second on Jordy, and Savannah Rose Franklund third with CF Godiva Chocolate.
Redston, 14, Needham, Mass., has been riding “Tony” for nearly two years, moving up from training level to the FEI Pony tests in that time.
“When I’d ask for trot, he’d start piaffing or something,” she said. “But after about a half a year of doing training and first levels, I got him training me.”
Festival Of Champions results available online.