Wayne, Ill.—Aug. 27
A year ago, Tullymor’s Houdini was cantering around the Kentucky Horse Park at the U.S. Eventing Association American Eventing Championships. He came home with the win that weekend in the beginner novice junior, 14 & under division, and in the last year his rider Tessa Geven has turned her focus with the Connemara gelding to dressage.
Today, they came home with the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship, scoring a 70.13 percent in the Pony individual test.
“It was really good,” she said of her ride. “We had a little bit of a problem in our last trot extension, he did a little canter. He could have been a little more supple in my opinion, but he felt pretty good. I tried to get him a little more pizazz-y because last time it was a little boring.
“It’s exciting, especially because this is supposed to be my last show on this pony because I’m getting too tall. It’s a very emotional experience right now, so I’m really taking it in,” said Geven, who’s the daughter of Grand Prix dressage rider Marjolein Geven and Dutch eventer Werner Geven.
She’s been riding “Samson,” an 18-year-old Connemara (Fieldstream Riley—Kahlua, Connemara Persuasion) for about five years. He came to them as an unbroken 13-year-old.
“He tries his little heart out. He likes to do things. If you ask him to do something, he’ll try,” she said.
Now, Samson will be leased by another junior at the Gevens’ base at Poplar Place Farm in Georgia, while Tessa has a novice event horse and two Children’s horses, who are competing at Festival of Champions this weekend, to focus on for the future.
Coming off a good showing at the FEI North American Youth Championships (Michigan) two weeks ago, Kat Fuqua and Dreamgirl got their Festival of Champions off to a great start in the Adequan/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship, scoring a 70.95 percent in the Junior team test.
“I was really confident going in,” she said. “Dreamgirl was absolutely amazing, she was very on the aids, and I was happy with it.”
Fuqua’s been riding the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Spielberg—U-Vira, Goodtimes) for about a year and a half. Fuqua splits her time between riding hunter/jumpers and dressage.
“She’s very sweet; I have a lot of fun with her,” she said. “I love riding her bareback. I started in the Children’s division here last year, and we were third overall. We’ve just been playing around with the Juniors and having a good time.”
“Dream” had been doing small tour in the Netherlands before Fuqua got her.
“We watched the videos and just loved her, and knew she was the one,” she said. “I think that we have a good partnership; she really tries her best for me.”
Olivia Martz’s win in the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals, 13 & under division was a complete surprise to her, and an especially meaningful one.
“I never, ever expected that. I’m so happy to have all my family here and supporting me. I’m just a little, ‘What just happened?’ ” she said. “I feel like the pattern went pretty well today. I was so nervous. My heart was beating and I couldn’t hear anything. I think it was all a blur.”
Martz rode Norra, a 20-year-old German Riding Pony mare (Carlson—Nina).
“I have to stay relaxed because Norra is not exactly an easygoing horse,” she said. “If you’re not relaxed, she’ll bolt around the arena. She’s kind of a stinker that way, but I love her anyway. [She’s] is sweet and sassy. I love her so much. She’s such a caring horse, but she also has an attitude, and she’s not easygoing all the time, but neither am I! We have to make sure that we’re both soft and we don’t pull on each other, and we have to make sure we’re both working as a team and not working against each other.”
Martz rides with her mother, Brook Martz, and her aunt, Kelly Burris. Her mother was recently diagnosed with cancer, so to be able to have her at the show to coach and cheer her was thrilling.
“It was really important that everybody was able to be here supporting me because I don’t think I could have done it without my mom here, or my aunt,” she said.