Ben Ebeling won the first qualifier for the 2024 FEI Dressage World Cup Final (Saudi Arabia) when he an Indeed topped the FEI World Cup Grand Prix freestyle under the lights Saturday night at Dressage at Devon (Pennsylvania).
Ebeling, 23, Wellington, Florida, rode Indeed, owned by Vantage Equestrian Group II, LLC, to a winning score of 77.32% with a freestyle set to a medley of pop hits from female singers including Gwen Stefani and Rhianna.
The field of 10 competitors for the CDI-W Grand Prix freestyle included some of the top ranked riders on the FEI Dressage World Cup North American League Standings: No. 8 Evi Strasser of Canada; No. 9 Michael Bragdell of the U.S., as well as top young competitors like Ebeling and Hope Cooper, and the return of Tokyo Olympian Yvonne Losos de Muñiz of the Dominican Republic and her long-time partner, Aquamarijn, who won Friday’s FEI World Cup Grand Prix class.
Ebeling praised Indeed, a 15-year-old Danish Warmblood mare (Hofrat—Gorklintgards Indeera—De Niro 6) who also finished second in Friday’s class, after the freestyle.
“She speaks for herself, we have developed a great partnership and we have spent a lot of time together, trying and failing—and failing is really part of the journey to get to successes like these,” he said. “The freestyle is made up of all strong female diva roles, which really suits her, it’s all for her, and she knows it.”
Indeed has been with Ebeling’s family for five years, and he took over the ride from his father Jan Ebeling two years ago and has worked since to develop a bond with her.
“I feel that really spending time with her in the stables before the ride continues to develop the partnership,” Ben said. “I don’t want to just shake hands with her and get on, I want to really be in the know with her and have that deep conversation, sometimes I sing to her, sometimes I dance in her stall—she is a special horse, and she needs that connection with someone.”
Joining Ebeling at the top of the freestyle results were two other “new guard” riders: Tanya Strasser-Shostak, daughter of Canadian Olympian Evi Strasser, and her mom’s mount, Fidelis Tyme claimed the second-place position on a personal best score of 74.28%, qualifying her for a spot on her country’s team for the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, later this fall, and another young rider, Hope Cooper, 26, Concord, Massachusetts, was third aboard her and Jane Karol’s Flynn PCH (74.11%).
Watch Ebeling’s winning freestyle, courtesy of Horse & Country TV:
See complete results here.