Sunday, Mar. 3, 2024

National Young Horse Dressage Championships

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Four national champions are crowned on Saturday despite a rain delay that kept the competition going until near dark.
With the nation's top young horses on display at the Markel/U.S. Equestrian Federation Developing and Young Horse Dressage Championships at the Lamplight Equestrian Center, The Chronicle took the opportunity to track down some top riders and ask them about their general thoughts on working with their future stars.

On the first day of competition for the 6-Year-Old Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championship, Wakeup and Emily Wagner won the Preliminary test with an 8.88. In the Championship test today, Bon Chance and Caroline Roffman won with an 8.88. But that wasn’t the only similarity of scores between the two horses; they also managed to finish with exactly the same overall number—an 8.736.

Aug. 27, Wayne, Ill.

Even the panel of judges had to admit that an old adage held true in the 5-Year-Old Championship class at the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Championships. “It was absolutely amazing how the draw worked out,” said Janet Foy, speaking for herself, Anne Gribbons and Gary Rockwell. “They really saved the best for last.”

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It took him a few days, but Rigo finally recovered after his journey from Aiken, S.C. He did it just in time to win the USEF Developing Horse Championship today, July 25, at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Ill., with a large margin over Kassandra Barteau and GP Delano.

“We had a really long trip here so the first day he was good, he was trying, but today I had a lot better throughness,” rider Shawna Harding explained. “When it comes down to it, especially in a championship situation, he steps up to the plate and really works well for me.”

As far as omens go, Caroline Roffman got a bad one before heading to the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Championships. Though she hadn’t fallen off in nearly 10 years, Bon Chance bucked her off the day before they left Wellington, Fla., for Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Ill.

Caroline Roffman may only be 22, but her reserve championship in the 4-year-old division on Bon Chance proved that she knows how to ride with seasoned professionals.

“Everyone is so welcoming and helpful, and I’m so happy to jump up from young riders with such an amazing group of riders,” said Roffman, Wellington, Fla.

Bon Chance (Bellisimom—Wintersong, Weltmeyer) won the warm-up class with 85.00 percent and put in another great test in the final to finish in second with 86.40 percent.

Mikala Gundersen left the talented Pikko Del Cerro HU in Lisa Wilcox’s capable hands while she spent the summer competing Leonberg in Europe. And she credited Wilcox’s work with helping her win the 6-year-old division at the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Championships.

“I couldn’t have done this without her,” said Gundersen, Wellington, Fla. “She got him a little stronger and more collected. We have such a great working relationship.”

It’s not easy to win a national championship on a horse you haven’t ridden since June, but Mikala Gundersen made it look that way after piloting Pikko Del Cerro HU to the Markel/USEF National Young Horse 6-Year-Old Championship today, Aug. 23, at Lamplight Equestrian Center.

“He had great canter work, but a couple of the changes were a little tense,” said Gundersen, Wellington, Fla. “He’s got a great walk. I smile and sit there and let him do the work.”

But the championship test didn’t go as smoothly as Gundersen had hoped.

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