Thursday, Sep. 28, 2023

Bendfeldt Makes A Big First Impression At U.S. Dressage Festival Of Champions



Wayne, Ill.—Aug. 29

Madeleine Bendfeldt only arrived in the United States two months ago from Germany for a new job at Next Level Performance Center, and she’s made huge strides with Pegasus Equestrian Davie LLC’s Sonata MF.

They won the 6-year-old preliminary test on Thursday in the Markel/USEF Developing Dressage Horse Championships, and finished fourth today in the final test to take home the championship.

Bendfeldt said the win was “unexpected. I’m super satisfied with my test. Of course you always have something you want to do better, but the mare was really good, and I had a really nice feeling, so I’m super happy.”


Madeleine Bendfeldt and Sonata MF won the 6-year-old championship. Lindsay Berreth Photos

Bred by Maryanna Hamon in the United States, the Hanoverian mare (Sir Donnerhall I—Duet MF, Don Principe) was formerly trained by Caroline Roffman.

“Sonata’s quite uncomplicated,” said Bendfeldt. “I think her favorite thing to do is eat! That’s more important than anything else. I think right now she’s quite annoyed with me because it was pretty long for her [this week], and she’s tired.”


Bendfeldt worked for Helgstrand Dressage for three years in Germany, then took a break to gain some perspective. She went back to work for Helgstrand in Wellington, Florida, this year for four months and decided she wanted to come back to the U.S.

“I like [working with young horses] way better than training older horses because it’s more exciting for me,” she said. “Every day there is something new you can train on and you discover about the horse. Every day is exciting. You start to see quality where you didn’t think there is some. That’s the best part of it. It’s really exciting to train young horses and to educate them.”

David Blake and Delilah earned the reserve championship in the 6-year-old championship.

David Blake and Delilah earned the reserve championship in the 6-year-old championship.

Tessa Geven picked up her second championship of the weekend when she topped the USEF Children Dressage National Championship on Carden Burdette’s Sir Frederico, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding. She’d already earned the Pony Rider championship with Tullymor’s Houdini.

“I would like to thank [Burdette] for letting me ride her horse,” she said. “He’s very good. He can get sometimes a little lazy in the ring especially without a whip. But he can also get too hot. He is very sweet. He likes to get fancy sometimes. He gets very fancy up front and not as nice in the hind so it is not necessarily correct.”

Geven shares the ride with Burdette at home. He’d been imported by Geven’s parents, Marjolein and Werner Geven, for Burdette, and she offered the ride to Tessa.


Tessa Geven and Sir Frederico won the Children championship.


Sienna Rowe and D’Augustino finished as reserve champions in the Children championship.


Alice Tarjan and Candescent won the Grand Prix championship.

Alice Tarjan barely had time to let her feet touch the ground all weekend with seven horses to compete. But in the end, it was all worth it as she came home with the Grand Prix championship on Candescent and the reserve championship with Donatella M. She followed that up with the Developing Horse Grand Prix championship on Serenade MF and the reserve championship on Harvest.


“It’s a little surreal,” she said. “I’ve been so busy all week just riding, so I haven’t had time to just process anything yet! I think when I get home I’ll be able to. It’s been jumping from horse to horse and trying to ride each test and making sure I know how to ride each horse for each test.”


Alice Tarjan finished as reserve champion in the Grand Prix with Donatella M.

Candescent, an 11-year-old Hanoverian mare (Christ—Farina, Falkenstern II) performed her freestyle today to win with a 77.16 percent. She’ll head to the Aachen CHIO CDI4* in September, which will be Tarjan’s first European Grand Prix experience.

“I’m excited, I’m terrified,” she said. “I don’t think we belong there at all. I think we should stay at home and train a lot more, but I got outvoted on this one! I think at some point you have to listen to the people who coach you. They give you their advice, and it’s your job to listen, and that’s what I’m doing.”


Alice Tarjan and Serenade MF won the Developing Horse Grand Prix, and Tarjan finished as reserve champion with Harvest.

Serenade MF, an 8-year-old U.S.-bred Hanoverian mare (Sir Donnerhall—Duet MF, Don Principe) won her class today on a 75.83 percent.

“I’m pretty happy,” said Tarjan. “There’s still a lot of things we could improve yet, but she just goes out every time and does the job. She put in two clean tests and she’s 8 years old. I don’t know what more you could ask for.”


Kasey Denny and Hemingway KW won the Medal Final, 14-18 championship.


Riders had a picturesque warm up arena at the Lamplight Equestrian Center.


Full Results I COTH’s Coverage I Live Stream I Schedule



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