Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 9
Jim Koford and Adiah HP are the king and queen of Grand Prix freestyles, and they followed up their open Grand Prix championship at the U.S. Dressage Finals with their third consecutive open Grand Prix freestyle championship (75.01 percent) on Saturday night, but they had Vashti, who’s by the same sire as the flashy mare, and Kristin Wasemiller-Knutson nipping at their heels.
“Wasn’t that great? She was so fun,” said Koford. “Their sire [Nico] has produced so many Grand Prix horses, and he had a short breeding career because he died in a fire. It’s just amazing to see, in his short career, the horses that he created that have such talent.”
Both mares were bred by Sherry Koella, and she still owns Adiah (Nico—Marije Ant, Anton 343), a Friesian cross.
Riding to music from “Pirates Of The Caribbean,” Adiah is always a crowd pleaser, and she earned the biggest cheers of the night.
“It’s such a privilege to ride her, and this is such an amazing competition,” said Koford. “I made a couple of bobbles tonight, but she just sort of goes in the ring and is on fire. She just kept firing, so it all worked out in the end. I finished and was like, ‘Oh, I handed it to someone else.’ But at the end of the day, she goes in, she lights up and goes for it. She loves the music and loves the crowd. She’s quite the performer.
“When I’m warming up, she keeps trying to get in the ring before it’s time. ‘Is it my turn? Is it my turn?’ It’s so funny,” he added. “She loves to be in the show ring. It’s so rare and so special, and it’s so funny when you take her back to the barn. It humbles me. I guess I’m daddy protective. She’s everything that’s good in life. She’s kind, she’s sweet, she’s altruistic. It’s so fun to be part of her life and her journey.”
Wasemiller-Knutson rebounded from a disappointing Grand Prix to finish as reserve champion (72.35 percent) on her 10-year-old Friesian/Trakehner mare (Nico—Thekia) that she bought from Koella when the mare was 2.
The pair rode to a “Grinch” themed freestyle that had the crowd cheering.
“I’m super proud of her tonight. We came back from a pretty not-great ride the night before, so I cannot have been more pleased with her,” she said. “We ended up getting pretty much all of our movements clean; I know there’s always improvements to be made, but I could not have been more pleased with how we were pretty much right on with the music.”
Based in Oklahoma, Wasemiller-Knutson has enjoyed growing her partnership with Vashti and the sibling rivalry that goes along with her mare.
“It’s so much fun. We’ve talked about it for years just jokingly,” she said. “Adiah’s got such a huge following, and Jim is such a crowd pleaser. We were kind of like the little sister coming in to fill some big, big shoes. We’ve been in constant contact. Jim will come occasionally to Oklahoma to give clinics and is always giving me pointers and tips on how to improve, so it’s been a really positive rivalry, pushing each other forward.”
We‘re on site at the Kentucky Horse Park for the U.S. Dressage Finals! Check back at coth.com all weekend for more news and stories. If you’re at the show with a cool story, let us know by emailing Lindsay at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look out for the Dec. 2 print edition of the Chronicle for more from the show.