Though most riders would find a win in the USEF/Markel Young Horse Dressage Eastern Selection Trial for 5-Year-Olds, held June 5 and 6 at Morven Park in Leesburg, Va., meaningful, it was exceptionally so for Inga Janke. She started Suntreader, and she even bred his dam and rode his granddam in Germany years ago.
“He’s really near and dear to our hearts,” Janke, Warrenton, Va., said. “He has a super temperament, and I can’t say enough nice things about him.”
Suntreader, an Oldenburg (Sandro Hit—Rivage, Rubirando) gelding owned and bred by Pamela Erdman, finished first in yesterday’s FEI 5-Year-Old Preliminary test with a 7.9. In the FEI 5-Year-Old Finale test, the judging panel of Gary Rockwell, Jeanne McDonald and Natalie Lamping awarded Suntreader with an 8.6 for his walk, a 7.6 for his trot, a 7.5 for his canter, a 7.4 for submission and a 7.6 for his general impression, leaving him with a 7.74 for the Finale test and a 7.80 for his overall score. Though the horse scored a bit higher in the Preliminary test, Janke said he was better in the Finale.
“He was a little insecure in there yesterday,” Janke said. “You could literally feel him holding his breath. He still got a 9 on his walk but his trot and canter weren’t as strong. Today, without any more schooling, he got in there and did a super test.”
Janke didn’t back Suntreader until February of last year. Because of his relatively late start, she’s still working on improving his strength.
“He’s still very immature,” she said. “He looks like a real young horse. Strength is the big thing right now. He goes trail riding a lot. He goes out galloping with the race horses for strength and stamina just because he’s a little behind the other horses who were started at 2 and 3.”
Next, Suntreader will head to the USEF/Markel Young Horse National Dressage Championships, held July 23-25 at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Ill. For Janke, the FEI 5-Year-Old tests are the perfect introduction into competition for her young horses.
“I’ve been participating in this since 2005,” she said. “I’ve had a horse at Nationals pretty much every year. It’s a natural for us with the young horses. I don’t believe that a 5-year-old needs to be doing first level, second level, third level. This is a much better way to develop them. They are judged age appropriately.”
De Facto Dances To First In 6-Year-Old Division
Another young horse that improved over his ride from yesterday was De Facto, who finished first in the USEF/Markel Young Horse Dressage Eastern Selection Trial for 6-Year-Olds with rider Christopher Schruefer, over Zandor and Laura Wharton-Mero. De Facto, owned by Martha Singh, earned a 7.74 in the FEI 6-Year-Old Preliminary test yesterday and a 7.76 in the FEI 6-Year-Old Finale test today for an overall score of 7.75.
“I thought he showed a lot higher degree of connection and collection today,” Schruefer, Southampton, N.J. and Jupiter, Fla., said. “I think that was clear to the judges. They made a comment on that. It’s nice to get feedback on what you were working and striving for. I think yesterday might have had a little more brilliance. It’s the third day, and he was a little tired today."
The judges were most impressed with De Facto’s walk and trot, giving him a 7.8 for each, and a 7.7 for his canter. The elegant black Oldenburg (Don Rubin—Fuerstenstern, Rouletto) gelding also received a 7.8 for his general impression.
Schruefer has had the ride on De Facto since January of this year. He started working with Scott Hassler, coach for the United States young horse program, and decided the young horse tests might be a good fit for his new charge. He is also aiming De Facto for the USEF/Markel Young Horse National Dressage Championships in July.
"I thought it would be interesting to try,” Schruefer, 36, said. “Scott’s very good at coaching us with the young horses and with his support and Martha’s, I thought we could do this.”
No matter how De Facto does at the National Championships, Schruefer knows he has a bright future ahead of him.
“I think his steadiness, his connection, his willingness and his ability are all his strengths,” he said. “He’s very capable and he’s a joy to ride.”
USEF/Markel Young Horse Dressage Eastern Selection Trial For 5-Year-Olds
1. Suntreader/Inga Janke/7.80
2. Aesthete/Karen Monks-Reilly/7.76
3. Somerhall/Ashley Wimmer/7.71
4. Sabati/Ulla Parker/7.60
5. Devotion/Nadine Schlonsok/7.39
6. Fernando/Nadine Schlonsok/7.26
7. Zaubeffuf/Darren Chiacchia/6.87
USEF/Markel Young Horse Dressage Eastern Selection Trial For 6-Year-Olds
1. De Facto/Christopher Schruefer/7.75
2. Zandor/Laura Wharton/Mero/7.44