Wayne, Ill.—Aug. 18
Endel Ots is no stranger to the U.S. Dressage Festival Of Champions, and he came out swinging on Day 1 with his new ride Sonnenberg’s Everdance.
Ots topped the Intermediaire I championship last year with Lucky Strike, and he’s set himself up nicely today with Sonnenberg Farm’s homebred 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Johnson TN—Raindancer S, Zeoliet), winning the Prix St. Georges with 74.94 percent over Callie Jones on Don Philippo (71.82%).
“I was very happy with her,” he said. “She’s always very solid in the ring, and she tries very hard for me. I basically just have to pilot her around. Her canter work is always really nice, [and she has] a very clear trot and a nice walk. It’s really fun. I don’t have to think too much, just kind of plan and try to stay as accurate as I can. She really does all the work.”
Ots, Wellington, Florida, started riding the mare at the end of 2019, and they made their showing debut at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival during Week 5, winning both their CDI classes.
Ots’ interest in Sonnenberg Farm was piqued at last year’s Festival Of Champions when Sonnenberg’s Kain won the 4-year-old title in the Markel/USEF Young Horse National Championship with Michele Bondy.
He flew to the farm in Oregon to look at some of Dan and Gina Ruediger’s young horses, and he was impressed with Everdance, whom Bondy had showed through the small tour.
Since many horse shows have been up in the air due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ots has focused on keeping things playful with the mare at home, while still trying to prepare to compete. “Not a lot of test things, a lot of transitions, keeping her in balance, playing before movements,” he said. “Especially with the coronavirus and not knowing if this was going to happen or not, we just toned down the work a little bit. I was always planning on showing here, so I kept the idea that I wanted her to do well here and compete here, but I always want her happy with her work, so that was my main focus.”
Watch Ots’ winning test.