Wayne, Ill.—Aug. 27
A familiar face atop the podium at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions, Emily Miles added a third national title to Sole Mio’s long list of competitive accolades in today’s Markel/USEF Developing Grand Prix National Championship after earning a 70.09% in today’s Developing Grand Prix test.
“I was super happy with him,” Miles said. “I was worried about his energy level throughout this week. It’s a long week, and I felt like his energy level was great today. I was super happy with how much horse I still had.”
“Mio,” a 9-year-old Hanoverian (Stanford—Donna-Rafaela, Donnerschwee), and Miles have been partnered since his owner, Leslie Waterman, imported him as a 2-year-old. The stallion has lived at Miles’ Wally Woo Farm in Lacygne, Kansas, for most of his life.
“It’s been really interesting to see the progression of his own mentality towards the work,” Miles said. “As he’s learned, and as he’s figured out that [the Grand Prix] is all he ever needs to learn to do, he’s become more and more hot, more and more self-expressive, more and more ‘I’m so proud of myself!’ even if it means he sometimes gets a little bit ahead of himself.”
A graduate of the Young Horse program, Mio has had no shortage of success on his path to the Grand Prix.
Mio and Miles won the Markel/USEF Young Horse 4-Year-Old Dressage National Championship in 2018 and the 5-year-old championship in 2019, and he was selected to represent the U.S. at the 2019 Longines FEI WBFSH World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses in Ermelo, the Netherlands. At the Festival of Champions, Mio also contested the Developing Prix St. Georges division in 2021, and this is his second year competing at the Developing Grand Prix level. Along with winning today’s test, he topped the championship with an overall score of 69.64%.
“I am just so grateful to Markel for giving us this opportunity to showcase these young horses, for people to get to know them over the years, that’s always so sweet,” Miles said. “When people say ‘I remember them when,’ that’s a lucky thing we have here.”
As for her next steps with Mio, Miles is writing tomorrow’s plans in pencil, not pen.
“I think we all know with these horses, nothing is given. So we might have hopes and dreams for them, and I would love for Mio to do big, amazing, wonderful things, but I think it’s more important to stay in the moment and really appreciate the journey we have had today.”
Watch their winning test, courtesy of USEF Network and ClipMyHorse.TV:
Ali Potasky, Versailles, Kentucky, and Inxs, whom she co-owns with Kathy Priest, took home the reserve championship with a 69.39% in today’s test. Their cumulative score from across the week was 68.85%.
“He’s the only horse I own part of,” Potasky said. “We say I own the cheap half, as a joke, because when we got him, he was a little difficult in the beginning. It’s been a long journey of really getting to know him and get a repertoire with him. Once you’ve got him confident, he’s easy.”
The 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Everdale—Whinca, Harmony’s Rousseau) was Potasky’s second ride of the day. She also rode Priest’s mare Irintha (Everdale—Zwyrintha, Tenerife VDL)— who shares a sire with Inxs—to finish in seventh place. The two Dutch horses share an appearance and little else, Potasky said.
“Their temperament couldn’t be more different. Irintha, she’s very confident, very cool, but my gelding is very impressionable, very reliant on me, and insecure,” said Potasky.
Rounding out the top three overall, Karen Lipp and Infinity (Glock’s Dream Boy—Ultraster, Freestyle), her own 10-year-old Dutch gelding, improved on their score in the Intermediaire II on Friday to slide into third place overall with a 68.00% in today’s test and a cumulative score of 67.64% in the divisions.
Like Miles, Lipp contested the Developing Grand Prix division last year.
“[Infinity] wasn’t really ready for it back then, so I was glad to be back this year. I definitely feel like today I rode way better. It wasn’t a huge score, but I feel like I’ve never been so happy to be third, I thought we worked really hard for it,” said Lipp.
Geck, Yang and Roth Top Youth Divisions
After only a few short months of working together, Maryn Geck and Laura Geck’s 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding Herr Karlson (Hochadel —Delice, Dicaprio 8) had a mistake-free test to earn a 76.79% and the national title in today’s USEF Children’s Dressage National Championship.
“I originally got him in March, and he came to Oregon where I live in May, so we just had a few months to catch up my riding with his training,” Geck said. “We’ve come so far in the past few months. I’m so proud of him.”
This year was Geck’s second trip to the Festival of Champions. Last year, she went home with the reserve championship in the Pony division with with her late mare Whinny (Tide Creek Jack Frost—Lane’s Misty Lee, Gayfield’s Mastermind).
“She passed away in December so I’m just here to honor her,” said Geck, who hopes to return and contest the Junior division with “Karl” next year.
Watch their winning individual test:
Miki Yang made light work of the FEI Young Riders tests and took home the Horseware Ireland/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship aboard Grey C Carrus, a 9-year-old Oldenburg (Grey Flanell—Urone, Ips Krack C) owned by her family’s Four Winds Farm.
“I was really happy with my horse,” Yang said. “He’s only 9, so each show I do, I want it to be a confidence builder for the both of us, and it has been.”
Though they gained valuable experience in the ring this week, Yang was grateful for the time she spent out of the saddle, too.
“Seeing all these different classes, from the baby horses to the Grand Prix, has been very educational,” she said. “And being able to meet a lot of new riders, talk to a lot of new people, see familiar and new faces was amazing. Most of all, though, I loved having quality time with my horse. It was really just me and him this whole week. We’ve been spending a lot of time together each day, so I think our bond, if anything, got a lot stronger.”
In the final class of the 2023 Festival of Champions, and her final year eligible to compete in the division, Marin Roth claimed top honors in the 14-18 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals on her own 9-year-old gelding Erin Meadows Jägermeister (Rastede—Jade, Juventus) with an overall impression score of 88.00%. The equitation classes were appealing to Roth for several reasons.
“I think the main thing for me is that you don’t have to have the fanciest horse to do it, because it’s solely based on the rider,” she said. “You have to be a good rider to produce a good horse and have good tests so I think that’s what motivated me.”
Roth, 18, has been the Zweibrucker gelding’s rider since he was 3. He went to a cowboy for the first 30 days of backing, but since then Roth has trained the gelding herself with the help of a few trainers.
“We bought him as an unbroke 3-year-old because it was either get a young horse now, or wait three years until we can afford a schoolmaster,” said Roth. “Of course, 12-year-old me was like, ‘I want a horse now!’ so that’s what we did.”
See complete results here.