Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 27, 2021 – Closing out competition Friday at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions, Young Riders returned to the arena at Lamplight Equestrian Center for their final performance to decide the USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship. At the conclusion of two days of hot competition, it was Christian Simonson and Zeaball Diawind who maintained their dominating lead and came out on top, continuing their winning ways to take home the gold medal with a final score of 74.632%.
Simonson of Ventura, California, and Zeaball Diawind jumped up to the top of the leaderboard after Thursday’s Young Rider Team Test with a score of 73.744%, nearly four percentage points ahead of their closest competitor. The duo brought their A-game back to the arena on Friday afternoon, wowing the judges in the Individual Test to score 75.489%; more than enough to keep them in the lead and secure the gold medal.
The pair has had an immensely successful summer together, most recently shattering records and claiming triple gold medals at the North American Youth Championships (NAYC) in Traverse City, Michigan. First helping USA’s Region 7 take the team gold and securing their first individual gold medal in the FEI Young Rider Individual Test, they also went on to surpass the previous NAYC record for the highest score in the FEI Young Rider Freestyle Test, receiving a 78.935% to take their third gold-medal performance.
Simonson and the 9-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Christina Morgan have solidified their relationship over the past few years with the help of Olympian Adrienne Lyle, gaining much experience during the U.S. Dressage Young Rider European Tour as part of the Discover Dressage™ USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program earlier this year.
No stranger to the winner’s circle at the U.S. Festival of Champions, the reserve champion tricolor was won by Mackenzie Peer and her 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Ansgar, after laying down two consistent tests. Back in 2019, Peer took home gold in the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 14 – 18 Championship, as well as the reserve championship honors in the USEF Junior Rider Dressage National Championship with Quantum MRF. In Wednesday’s Young Rider Team test, the pair received a 69.95% and on Friday, they returned to the ring to lay down a 69.166% performance in the Individual Test. Ansgar is a relatively new mount for Peer as they made their competition debut together in March at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival and have continued to improve their scores over the summer in Florida.
Rounding out the top three was Allison Nemeth aboard Karen Nemeth’s Tiko, a 10-year-old Danish Warmblood mare. It was only two weeks ago where Nemeth stood on the podium beside Simonson to earn an individual silver medal at the FEI North American Youth Dressage Championships in Traverse City. This week in Illinois, Tiko and Nemeth earned a 68.774% in the Young Rider Team Test and improved their score to a 69.558% in the Young Rider Individual Test to finish the championship in third place overall. Nemeth is keeping herself very busy this week at Lamplight Equestrian Center grooming for her boss, Alice Tarjan. A college student at Villanova University, Nemeth has spent her summer balancing her personal riding in the evenings after working for Tarjan and learning the ins and outs of running a successful training operation.
Competition at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions will resume Saturday, Aug. 28, with the FEI Junior Individual Test for the USEF Junior Dressage National Championship at 8 a.m.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Christian Simonson – USEF Young Rider Dressage National Champion
On his win:
“It feels really good. We had a really long week with NAYC two weeks ago, and then to have Zeaball come to this competition and perform just as well, hitting another two personal bests for me, it just feels really amazing. It was a whole team effort getting him here though, making sure he stayed happy and great.”
On what they did between NAYC and Festival of Champions:
“Young Riders was about 5.5 hours from here, so after NAYC we gave him a nice break, hanging out with the hunter ponies there, trail riding, making sure he got as much time outside of the arena as possible. Then after a nice full week of light work we just slowly brought him up. He has such a great brain that it doesn’t really take much to get him back into competition mode.”
On his recent experiences contributing to his success:
“I feel like the experiences of going to Europe and competing, and then going to NAYC which is a fun environment does make me more experienced. Having Adrienne [Lyle] with me has been so wonderful. Constantly talking to me, working on small things, it’s really helped. Throughout the whole test I was thinking ‘What would Adrienne do?’”
Mackenzie Peer – USEF Young Rider Dressage National Reserve Champion
On her experience at Festival of Champions:
“I am just over the moon to be here at this competition. I love Lamplight, so to be here with all of these incredible riders makes you step up your game and appreciate the fact that you can be here. I am here with a happy and healthy, sound horse and surrounded by healthy friends, and we can just share a great week together.”
On what’s next:
“He is going to go get a well deserved break, and then after that we will reassess where both of us are, and see where we can both go together.
Allison Nemeth – USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship Third Place
On her ride:
“I was so proud of Tiko today. We have issues sometimes with our confidence but she was really good. I felt that she was good and that we could relax a bit in the test, especially in the walk, and I was just happy to have a clean test.”
USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / Team Test Score / Individual Test Score / Total Score
1.Christian Simonson / Zeaball Diawind / Christina Morgan / 73.744 / 75.489 / 74.632
2. Mackenzie Peer / Ansgar / Mackenzie Peer & Lane Peer / 69.95 / 69.166 / 69.558
3. Allison Nemeth / Tiko / Karen Nemeth / 68.774 / 69.558 / 69.166
4. Caroline Garren / Bell Angelo / Caroline, Michele and Charles Garren / 66.578 / 70.195 / 68.387
5. Katherine Matthews / Soliere / Peridot Equestrian LLC / 67.94 / 67.009 / 67.475
6. Tillie Jones / Qi Gong TF / Tillie and Tish Jones / 66.911 / 67.892 / 67.402
7. Averi Allen / Superman / Jonni Allen / 67.646 / 67.156 / 67.401
8. Tillie Jones / Apachi / Tillie & Tish Jones / 67.989 / 66.568 / 67.279
9. Leah Tenney / Enghavegaard’s Tebaidi / Leah Tenney / 66.421 / 66.470 / 66.446
10. Nicholas Beck / Campari / 62.303 / 67.009 / 64.656
11. Reagan McCool / FHF Rockstar / Jennifer Kaister / 64.509 / 63.97 / 64.24