Wayne, Ill.—Aug. 25
After an unforgettable ride on Thursday, Heather Blitz came into today’s freestyle for the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship at the U.S. Dressage Festival Of Champions with the goal of just having fun.
But horses are horses, and Praestemarkens Quatero had a few small moments of resistance during his test that made the ride not quite what Blitz had hoped.
While circling the ring before the bell he shook his head, and then again during the test, which Blitz believes was due to his sensitivity to the flies. But despite that, he still scored a 74.04 percent to finish second behind Jennifer Baumert and Handsome (75.53%) and win the championship.
“It feels amazing,” said Blitz. “I am going to live on this high for a little while now. I’m glad it’s over because I was really nervous about it. I had some tough competition. I think we had a really competitive small tour, and I’m really proud to have ridden to the top of that. It never gets old winning—I love it. Congrats to [Baumert] on your win. I’m super glad I came, and it went as well as it did.”
“Quatero,” a 9-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Quaterback—Rohvia, Rohdiamant), suffered from hives after shipping from Wellington, Florida, and between the heat and the third day of competition, Blitz said he wasn’t quite himself, but because of his character, he still tried.
“I think everybody was commenting on their horses being a little bit tired on the third day, even though we had a day in between,” she said. “My horse was the same. It was hotter this afternoon than the other two days, and maybe he gave too much in the Intermediaire and didn’t leave enough for today. With the heat and him being a little tired and his annoyance with the flies and his huge personality—that’s how he is. When he has an argument he lets you know. He’s not a subtle horse. I know him really well, and I know what he needed in the test, and I said, ‘OK, we’ll just do it a certain way, that’s OK,’ and I got through the test like that. I was happy it was still clean, but I know he wasn’t his most happy self today.”
Watch Blitz’s test , courtesy of USEF Network.
Blitz’s freestyle music was composed by Marlene Whitaker. “She’s a genius,” she said. “She heard some music and immediately thought of my horse. I always take her advice. He’s a very high-powered, high energy moving horse, and my music is the same—it’s high energy, and it’s on, and I love classical, but I didn’t want to go too classical. The energy matches, and it encourages more and more forward ground cover.”
Blitz, who last competed at Grand Prix internationally in 2015 with her prolific partner Paragon, is excited to get back to the level with Quatero. He can go through the whole Grand Prix test, so she’ll look to competing at the level next season.
“Whatever comes my way I’ll take it,” she said of working towards riding on a U.S. team again. “Wherever my horse is capable of going I’ll take it. I don’t cut any corners to try to get somewhere I shouldn’t get. He’s a nice horse, and I think he’s got team potential. I hope I can keep doing the right thing by him and get him there. If that happens that’s great. If not I’ll keep enjoying the process and keeping him happy and strengthening him and trying to be a good rider for him.”
Codi Harrison swept the USEF Young Adult “Brentina” Cup Dressage National Championship when she won the Grand Prix freestyle aboard Katholt’s Bossco, an 11-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Don Schufro—Katholt’s Farceur, Michellino).
“I was really happy with it,” she said of her freestyle, which was a borrowed piece from her trainer and employer Lars Petersen. “It’s only the second time we’ve done it, so for him to be with me and not be completely off course was a win! He stayed right with me. I’m so proud of him this weekend.”
Harrison has enjoyed competing among her peers in the Brentina Cup division this year.
“I think it’s a really good transition from the young riders to the Grand Prix because you have all the Grand Prix elements without the degree of difficulty,” she said. “It’s fun to have a division of people your own age, and it’s fun that this year’s so competitive.”
Watch Harrison’s test, courtesy of USEF Network:
Harrison, 22, Loxahatchee, Florida, has worked for Petersen and his wife Melissa Taylor for three years. She found “Bossco” in Denmark.
“I had sat on so many horses, and I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going to get on and say, this is it; this is the one.’ I hadn’t even trotted off yet—my smile was so big. Melissa was getting mad, like I’m never going to be able to negotiate if you don’t stop smiling! I knew he was the one the moment I sat on him.”
Harrison described Bossco as a happy horse. “He loves to be loved on,” she said. “He loves attention without being demanding. I get on him bareback in a halter and hack around. The only time he gets a little spiced up is at awards, but other than that he’s calm, cool and collected.”
For full results, click here.
For more coverage from the weekend, click here.
USEF Network is live streaming the competition each day.
For more from the U.S. Dressage of Festival of Champions and the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse Dressage National Championships check out the Sept. 24 print edition of The Chronicle of the Horse.