Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 14
It’s been a trying year for the riders at J.J. Tate’s Team Tate Dressage.
Tate was diagnosed with breast cancer over the summer, and has been battling it through the fall while still riding, teaching and competing.
Her assistants Ashley Perkins and Jessica Davis have been by her side, helping ride her horses while she underwent a double mastectomy.
Tate was strong enough to compete and win at the GAIG/USDF Region 1 Championships (Virginia) and came to the U.S. Dressage Finals with Perkins to compete, finishing with ribbons in the open Grand Prix and open Grand Prix freestyle championships.
This weekend it was Perkins’s time to shine, and she took home the open fourth level freestyle championship with Barbara Bezpa and John Roblin’s Eastpoint JS, scoring a 72.30 percent.
Perkins keeps busy riding several horses at Tate’s, but hasn’t had a horse to make it to Finals since the inaugural one in 2013 where she rode her Grand Prix horse Veredus. Her win this weekend was especially emotional because she lost the gelding this year due to a progressive and irreversible lung disease.
“It’s been a rough summer between losing him and my old dog, and then J.J.’s health problems. It’s been an incredibly tough year with what [Tate’s] been going through with her health, and she’s been so inspiring to all of us to make the best of it and enjoy each day, and this weekend was really special to be able to share the championships with her and be here together,” she said.
Perkins had been riding “Easy,” a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Westpoint—Anouque) gelding, on and off for his owners until she got to keep him in her barn full time a year ago.
The pair rode their test to music from the musical “Hamilton,” put together by Vefele’s Equine Partnerships.
“He was just spot on today,” she said. “He tries so hard in the ring. He really seemed to be relaxed but energetic in the environment. He rose to the occasion. He is an incredibly willing horse that tries so hard in the ring. I feel really grateful to get the opportunity to ride him and compete him because he never holds anything back on you. He’s always willing to give you 199 percent in the ring. Sometimes it can lead to a little bit of tension since he tries so hard, but I feel like with all the competing we got to do this summer, we’re really getting to know each other and have a really specific warm up that gives him confidence and relaxation. It really came together for us in the fourth level freestyle.”
Kevin Kohmann rode in the worst of the Sunday weather with gusty winds and rain, but Five Star didn’t let it get to him, scoring a 74.41 percent to win the open Prix St. Georges championship. The pair also topped the open Intermediaire I championship (74.06%) on Saturday.
“The horse makes it look very easy,” he said. “He’s awesome. He’s helped me so much. It’s one of these horses where you go from the warmup arena to the real arena and nothing changes. It’s always like that with him. [Saturday] was maybe a little bit more tension, but he was still very much himself.”
Kohmann, who’s originally from Germany, just became a U.S. citizen this winter, so he was “very proud and very happy” to qualify to compete at his first U.S. national championship.
He shares the ride on Five Star, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Amazing Star—U-Padoeska PB) with amateur rider Olga Hartsock.
Five Star is an active breeding stallion and has several offspring in Europe. Kohmann’s been partnered with him for two years. Kohmann’s been based at Diamante Farms in Florida since 2014.
He’s hoping to move Five Star up to national Grand Prix level this winter.
“He just absorbed everything. We’re waiting for our first Grand Prix,” he said.
Taryn Anderson only bought Furst Romanov in February, but they’ve formed a quick partnership and bond.
She and the 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding (First Choice—Florell) topped the adult amateur third level freestyle, scoring a 71.35 percent.
“It was a little interesting because he was terrified of the scoreboard, so I had to make some little tweaks in the freestyle because we couldn’t hit that corner, but he was a good boy, and I felt like I finally got him to be where I needed in the show ring,” said Anderson, Boulder, Colorado. “His forward isn’t always there, but I felt like I got the forward today.”
“Enzo” came from Helgstrand Dressage in Florida. Anderson was able to spend some time training there last winter with George Williams and Susan Martin and is hoping to get to some CDIs this winter.
She works for her father’s residential home framing company doing accounts and budgets and works at a bar on the weekends to be able to support Enzo and her other two horses Addison and Romulus.
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