Sunday, Mar. 3, 2024

Tarjan’s Quartet Dominates At U.S. Dressage Festival Of Champions



Wayne, Ill.—Aug. 27

Dressage riders tend to strive for perfection, but sometimes you just have to brush off the mistakes and move on.

For Alice Tarjan, the Grand Prix Special today with Candescent wasn’t perfect, with some mistakes in her two tempis, a piroutte and a canter half-pass, but she chalked them up to honest mistakes on her part and moved on.


Alice Tarjan and Donatella M. Lindsay Berreth Photos

Even so, she and the 11-year-old Hanoverian mare (Christ 3—Farina, Falkenstern II) earned a 71.76 percent to swap places from yesterday’s Grand Prix, settling in to second place behind her other black mare, Donatalla M, who scored a 71.97 percent.

“I was really pleased with Candescent,” she said. “We had some big mistakes, which of course cost on the score, but we’re just here for the experience. I’m not too upset about that. It’s always disappointing to make mistakes, but I think the horse was really on and with me, so I was pleased about that.”

Tarjan said she’s been trying to push for more quality, but with that comes the risk of mistakes.


Alice Tarjan and Candescent.

“We’ve been working a lot on getting the horse quicker with more collection, so between all the movements, if you make a mistake, it’s ‘No, no, we go back and get you back in front of my leg and no big deal.’ The way I train, I don’t get after my horses if they make a mistake,” she said. “They can make as many mistakes as they want—it’s how they learn. It was basically all my fault, and I have to ride it better is what it comes down to!”

As for Donatella M, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare (Furstenball—Jamaica, Jazz Time), Tarjan noted she tries hard in the ring.


“There were a couple of moments; it’s like when you jump, and you totally miss the distance, and the horse just kind of carries you over, and you’re like, ‘Aww, that was really nice of you!’ That was good of her.”


Alice Tarjan and Serenade MF.

Tarjan’s also leading the Developing Horse Grand Prix in the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Dressage National Championships with Serenade MF, an 8-year-old Hanoverian mare (Sir Donnerhall—Duet MF, Don Principe) and is second on Harvest, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Connaisseur—Naomi, Ulft) after the Intermediaire II test, scoring 75.04 percent and 72.59 percent, respectively.

Because she was only allowed two horses per division, Tarjan chose to put the greener Harvest and Serenade MF in the Developing Horse division, which she feels comes with a bit less pressure than the full Grand Prix.

“She’s so funny. You walk up here and you feel like a kid on this little pony,” she said of Serenade, or “Shrimp.” “She wants to be a children’s hunter. There’s all these great, big horses with all this presence warming up, and then there’s Shrimp. It’s like, all right, whatever, we’ll go in. But man that horse just does her job. She fills herself up and off she goes. She put in a really good, clean test for what she can do right now, so I was thrilled with her.”

She bought the mare from her breeder, Maryanna Haymon, as a foal. “I wasn’t particularly fond of her as a young horse,” she admitted. “As a baby she was not so easy to break. She was quite difficult in fact. We finally got her broke, and her movement was nothing special, and she had this super laid-back attitude.”

Tarjan thought she might be able to teach the mare a better trot and sell her. “Every week I’d go [see her] and say, ‘Damn, the horse is getting better and better.’ By the time Devon came around it was like, ‘Wow, there’s a lot in there. You can actually train this thing.’ I kept her and it’s amazing how trainable that horse is,” she said. “She can really have all this scope and pep, but in the barn, you could put a kid on her, and she’ll take them through the Grand Prix or go for a hack. She’s so laid-back.”


Alice Tarjan and Harvest.

Madeleine Bendfeldt and Sonata MF topped the FEI 6-year-old preliminary test this morning, scoring an 8.4.

“The test was awesome,” said Bendfeldt, who rides for Germany. “I had such a good feeling, she was nice and supple and forward in the warm up, and I had a really nice time; it was not hard work, it was enjoyable. The judges said that she has a bright future, and I agree with that. The details they gave about the trot, the canter, the gaits, yes of course you always have something to work on, but I agree with almost everything said.”


“Dutchess,” a Hanoverian mare (Sire Donnerhall I—Duet MF, Don Principe) has been in training with Caroline Roffman, and Bendfeldt came from Germany two months ago to train her.


Madeleine Bendfeldt and Sonata MF won the FEI 6-year-old preliminary test.

“I am so thankful for Caroline Roffman’s work,” she said. “She did an amazing job; she educated her, she trained her, everything that we show here is made by Caroline. I am lucky to show her.

“She has a big personality, but never against you,” she said of Dutchess. “She always wants to work, and every day she’s the same. With some mares when they come into heat they are moody, but she is always happy, you can ride her, hacking, harder work, no matter what she is positive about everything. It’s easy to work with her.”


David Blake and Delilah finished second in the FEI 6-year-old preliminary test.


Wanja Gerlach rode the colorful Birdy in the FEI 6-year-old preliminary test.

Hot off a personal best at the FEI North American Youth Championships (Michigan) two weeks ago, Christian Simonson rode Zeaball Diawind to two more this week in the Horseware Ireland/USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship to win the overall title.

He credits help from coach Adrienne Lyle for his success, both at Festival of Champions and NAYC.

“Having Adrienne with me at NAYC and here is so wonderful,” he said. “Having her constantly talk to me and work on small things, as a rider has really helped me. Throughout the whole test I was thinking, ‘What would Adrienne do?’ And thinking about what she told me in the warm up—making sure his trot stays stable and in the right frame and just happy throughout the whole test.”


Christian Simonson and Zeaball Diawind.

He’s had Christina Morgan’s 9-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Furstenball—Zini Diawind, Zardin Firfod) for about two years and has brought him from third and fourth level to the Young Rider division.

“He’s like a hunter pony,” he said. “It’s really interesting because in the stall he hangs out and sleeps, and you would never think that when he comes into the arena, as striking as he is. You see him walking around and he looks like a hunter pony. We call it charging mode. Then he comes in the ring and he’s on active mode.”


Mackenzie Peer and Ansgar earned the reserve championship in the Young Rider division.

Full Results I COTH’s Coverage I Live Stream I Schedule



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