Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 22, 2019 – The U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions continued on Thursday, August 22, drawing some of the nation’s top youth dressage combinations to one of America’s most beautiful horse show facilities, the Lamplight Equestrian Center. Stiff competition made for an action-packed day as riders and horses made the next step in claiming national championship titles. Topping the first pony class of the week was Lucienne Bacon on Bonnaroo in the FEI Pony Rider Team Test, while Lauren Asher and West Side made quite the comeback from yesterday’s performance by winning the Grand Prix 16-25 Test.
In the FEI Pony Rider Team Test, it was 15-year-old Bacon and her very own Bonnaroo who topped the ranks. The Californian rode the 10-year-old Weser-Ems German Riding Pony mare to a score of 68.810% from the judges, a test she was very proud of. ‘Bonnie’ and Bacon have had a partnership for two and a half years now and with the help of trainer Hillary Martin, their success has come to fruition. Bonnaroo is no stranger to the winner’s circle at Lamplight as she won the 2015 USEF Seat Medal National Finals as well as the 2016 USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championships with her previous rider Julia Lee Barton.
Receiving the red ribbon with a score of 67.476% was Hannah Devine and Masterpiece, a 15-year-old Swedish Sport Pony gelding owned by Devine herself. After just over a year and a half together, the pair won the FEI Pony Individual Test CDIP during Dressage at Devon in 2018. The win is one of many on to Devine and Masterpiece’s ever growing record.
To complete the top three pony placings, Miki Yang and Garden’s Sam rode to a 67.190%. ‘Sammy’, a 12-year-old New Forest Pony gelding owned by Four Winds Farm. Yang claimed a national title last year during competition when they were named as the 2018 USEF Children Dressage National Champion and she has been focused on developing the more difficult skills required in the Pony division. Earlier in her riding career, Yang was the youngest member of the U.S. Vaulting Team at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. The young rider made the transition to dressage a few years ago and now also trains with Martin out of California.
Earlier in the day, athletes between the ages of 16 and 25 were the first to ride down centerline in the Kay Arena, starting the day off with the continuation of the U25 Grand Prix division. In the Grand Prix 16-25 Test, worth 45% of their total score, it was Asher who claimed the blue ribbon with a score of 69.026% aboard Select Equine International’s 16-year-old KWPN gelding West Side. Asher was determined to improve from her 10th place performance on Tuesday as she knows the quality of performance West Side is capable of laying down in the show ring. Although the pair are fairly new to the international ring, Asher, of Denver, Colorado, and West Side have shared great success since making their debut, even taking individual gold in the 2019 FEI Nations Cup U25 Grand Prix at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
Claire Manhard and her very own16-year-old KWPN mare Wilfonia took second in the Grand Prix 16-25 Test with a score of 67.564%, while Hope Cooper and Hot Chocolate W, a 14-year-old gelding owned by Mary Mansfield, captured third with a 67.103%.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Lucienne Bacon – FEI Pony Rider Team Test winner
On her test:
“I think through this year we have really been working on being a team in the arena and taking what we have from the warmup into the competition arena. To be able to go in and feel her with me and know that she is trusting what I am saying is incredible.”
“I have had her for two and a half years. She is a lot like me – we both have strong opinions about everything. She can be mare-ish and she tries to hide her affection sometimes but it is definitely there. I call her ‘Bonnie’ or ‘Bon Bon’ around the barn, she loves donuts so she gets a lot of those.”
On learning from Bonnaroo:
“I think having a horse that has so much experience means that you can really rely on them and I think because we really know each other I understand her the same way she understands me. We are a team and I can fall back on her just as much as she can fall back on me because I know she has been here and has had the experience.”
Hannah Devine – FEI Pony Rider Team Test second place
On her performance.
“I thought the canter portion was really good. He’s usually better in the canter. Some things in the trot were not as good … he started trotting in the walk before I was supposed to. [I would like to get the] half-passes a little better and getting him a little more round [for the next test]. There is definitely always room to improve and other tests to compare it to but I think for tomorrow especially we are just going to go in and do the best we can with what we have in the warmup. I will try to not compare it to anything and just give it all we have.”
On competing at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions:
“It’s fun that it is a bigger show, so it’s more important, which also makes it more stressful, but it is more fun when I do better because you’re competing against a lot more people. In smaller competitions there are not as many ponies [competing].”
Lauren Asher – FEI Grand Prix 16-25 Test winner
On her test:
“The test went so much better today, it had a lot of highlights I think. My piaffe passage work I was super, super happy with. Yesterday [West Side] was looking a bit and was super spooky so I had some mistakes but to come back from that and have the ride that I had today, I am thrilled.”
On the improvement from yesterday’s performance:
“He is definitely a bit of a looky horse in general and he just flew from Holland where I am based so it was a long trip and then to come into a new ring, a new environment without doing many shows over the summer, I think he was a bit impressed by the atmosphere. Today I was like ‘Come on, you have got to do it’ and he was there for me which was wonderful.”
On the Freestyle:
“It is a really special freestyle that is meaningful to me so I am looking forward to it. It will be fun to show on Saturday.”
Results: FEI Pony Rider Team Test
Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Lucienne Bacon / Bonnaroo / Lucienne Bacon / 68.810
2. Hannah Devine / Masterpiece / Christina Devine / 67.476
3. Miki Yang / Garden’s Sam / Four Winds Farm / 67.190
4. Jordan Osborne / Geralja’s Tobias / Tiffany Ramsey / 67.048
5. Megan Tursi / My Blew Angel / Megan Tursi / 66.476
6. Olivia Patton / Daisy / Celestine Theriot / 66.381
Results: FEI Grand Prix 16-25 Test
Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Lauren Asher / West Side / Select Equine International / 69.026
2. Claire Manhard / Wilfonia / Claire Manhard / 67.564
3. Hope Cooper / Hot Chocolate W / Mary Mansfield / 67.103
4. Anna Buffini / Wilton II / Anna Buffini / 66.590
5. Allison Gerlt / Sir Lommel / Jennifer Quirk / 65.846
6. Anna Weniger / Don Derrick / Dawn Weniger / 65.282