Wellington, Fla.—March 22
Anna Buffini was last to trot into the ring aboard Sundayboy in the CDIO U25 Nations Cup, but she led the U.S. team’s charge to the top of the podium with a score of 70.50 percent, good enough for second in the class behind Juan Matute Guimon on Don Diego Ymas (71.02%).
“To be together and compete as a team and then be able to win against stiff competition, it was really incredible,” said Buffini, 22.
A second U.S. team took the red ribbons, and Canada placed third. Guimon was riding as an individual for Spain in the U25 competition.
This week’s competition at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival marks 18-year-old Sundayboy’s final show of his career before retirement, and Buffini loved how the gelding performed in this first of their final appearances.
“I’m just so proud of Sundayboy; I’m so proud of how harmonious our test was,” Buffini said. “I think above all else if you have harmony with your horse out there that’s the most important thing, and that’s beautiful to watch. There are little things to pick at here and there, but I’m just proud of how he performed today.”
Sierra Keasler logged the other winning score for the three-woman team (the lowest score is dropped before totaling) aboard Lux Stensvang with a 67.26 percent.
“He was a little tenser today than he usually is, and there maybe wasn’t anything in the test where I was like, ‘Oh that was really great,’ but I was more happy with how he handled himself through the whole ride,” said Keasler, 24. “I know him extremely well, and he was a little tense in the warm-up and into the ring, and he handled himself and kept himself together well.”
Kerrigan Gluch was the team’s drop score for the day when her stallion HGF Brio got a bit too excited and tense in the ring, throwing in a number of unplanned movements.
“Every test I go into, I don’t exactly know what to expect,” said Gluch, 20, with a smile, eliciting laughs from onlookers. “Some days he’s really focused; some days he’s not. Today we started a little tense, but after the test went on he settled in a little bit, and we had some really nice piaffe moments, and our changes were super. Every day is a learning experience with him. He’s extremely humbling, and he’s a really great learning experience, especially for a young rider.”
This was Buffini and Keasler’s first time competing on a Nations Cup team and Gluch’s second.
“We set a goal to come here,” Buffini said. “My dad always says, ‘A goal is a dream with a deadline,’ so we set this goal, and we achieved our dream today.
“The only other time I’ve experienced this kind of team environment was at [the North American Junior and Young Riders Championships,” Buffini continued. “Just having that support and being in the same barn aisle, you know it’s not just about yourself. They’re counting on me, and I’m counting on them. It’s a different experience, but I love it. It’s preparing us for the future. Hopefully this experience will help us someday compete for the U.S. on open teams.”
The U25 Grand Prix event will take place Thursday, with the freestyle on Friday. Click here for full results from the day’s class and make sure to read the April 17 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse for more in-depth coverage.