Wayne, Ill.—Aug. 26
Some people might say Alice Tarjan has a “type” of horse. Yes, she can often be found on stunning, big-moving black mares, but the amateur rider insists that’s not on purpose. She’s brought seven horses to compete at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions this week, and each one is different in their own way.
“It’s so interesting because people often say that I have a ‘type’ of horse, but if you walk through the aisle and you look in their stalls, they’re all completely different horses,” she said. “I think that they all have the ability to be expressive in their movement and have a lot of scope and volume, which I like, but they all have different mechanics, and they’re all different to train.”
She’s currently leading the way in the USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship on Candescent (73.67%) and is second on Donatella M (71.78%)—both stunning black mares.
“Both of the tests were clean; we basically got all of the movements, and that was a good thing that we could come out and get a clean test,” she said.
“These are drastically different horses,” she said when asked to compare them. “They are both very honest, but Candescent is not so easy, and has been very out-of-the-box to train. She’s got a lot of movement, so to try to balance it and keep her motivated is not always so easy. And to try to make it look harmonious and easy is a challenge. Donatella tries to be a perfect angel, and things are not always so easy for her, but she tries and tries, and gives me so much effort.”
Candescent, an 11-year-old Hanoverian mare (Christ 3—Farina, Falkenstern II) was named to the Tokyo Olympics shortlist with Tarjan this year, and they were able to compete at the final mandatory outing in Wellington, Florida, in June, which was a major accomplishment, though Tarjan said she doesn’t always believe she belongs in the top tier of riders. But watching Candescent’s impressive gaits and abilities in the collected work, it’s easy to see why she’s grabbed the attention of selectors.
“I feel like I’m way out of my league, and I don’t really belong!” Tarjan said with a laugh. “I feel like I am kind of rodeoing around and faking it, and it feels like no one has caught on yet! I’m just kind of waiting for them all to find out that I’m actually a rodeo rider, and I don’t belong!”
Tarjan also got another win in the young horse ring today when her Glory Day, a 5-year-old Danish Warmblood stallion by Grand Galaxy Win, won the FEI 5-year-old preliminary test with Marcus Orlob in the saddle, scoring a 9.1.
Emily Miles has been a longtime supporter of the Festival of Champions and the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Dressage National Championships, and she’s currently leading the Developing Prix St. Georges division on Leslie Waterman’s Daily Show, a 7-year-old Hanoverian stallion (Danciano—Schwedenlady, Stockholm) with a 73.13%. She’s also third with Waterman’s Sole Mio with a 70.63%.
“He felt great, a lot of my trot work he was right with me, he got a little tired in the canter work so we could add something more there, but he’s 7, he came out here and rocked in this environment,” she said of Daily Show. “He’s become such a workhorse for me, and I really feel like he tries his heart out for me; it’s such a wonderful feeling when you get that with a horse, when they’re like ‘Mom! Let’s do this!’ He’s so fun to ride—you go around the ring and feel all of this scope, but at the same time he’s so settled about it; it doesn’t come from tension. That’s such a lovely feeling, and I get goosebumps when he comes around the ring.”
She says both Daily Show and Sole Mio, a 7-year-old Hanoverian stallion (Stanford 9—Donna-Rafaela, Hardenberg Donnerschwee) are total opposites.
“ ‘Mio’ has been here and done great things, but ‘Daily’ is now really coming into his own; they’re so different!” she said. “Daily is the big, black beautiful stallion, while Mio is a short little punk with an ‘I got this!’ attitude, and they’re so fun to ride. You can’t compare them.”