Day Two of US Dressage Finals: Results and Photo Gallery

Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 10, 2017 – On the second day of the US Dressage Finals eight championship titles will be earned at the Kentucky Horse Park. Hear from the rider’s from each of Friday’s divisions, as well as see photos and results! The article will be updated as more champions are crowned throughout the day.

Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship

Elma Garcia and Wenesa
Elma Garcia and Wenesa

Professional filmmaker and former barrel racer, Elma Garcia of Mill Spring, North Carolina, clinched the first win of the day with a score of 68.991 percent in the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship. She rode Wenesa, her 15-year-old Hanoverian mare and represented Region 1. Earning the reserve championship title was Terri Sue Wensinger on Valentino, her 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. The event planner and former stock seat equitation rider made the trip from Dallas, Texas, and they earned a score of 66.667 percent. Representing Region 1 from Crozet, Virginia, was Gardy Bloemers, a wealth management advisor, and her 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Crusedor. They received a score of 66.140 percent to finish in third place.

Terri Sue Wesinger and Valentino
Terri Sue Wesinger and Valentino

Results: Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship
Rider / Horse / Total Score
1. Elma Garcia / Wenesa / 68.991
2. Terri Sue Wensinger / Valentino / 66.667
3. Gardy Bloemers / Crusedor / 66.140
4. Alexandra Krosse / Damani / 66.009
5. Birgitt Dagge / Walk Of Fame / 65.395
6. Courtney Horst-Cutright / Trifecta / 64.430


Elma Garcia – US Dressage Finals Intermediate I Adult Amateur champion

About her ride:
“Wanessa and I have really kicked it up a notch this season. I was looking at the video tape and it looked as good as it felt which I was very happy about. We’ve been working on our pirouettes and making our changes more expressive. I’m very happy with that today.

About Wenesa:
“I bought her from Perry Thomas in Idaho where he sponsored Debbie McDonald. The horse had been bought for her but then Debbie retired from international competition. I had my eye on the horse and my husband said, “that’s the horse for you Elma.” Debbie said, “she’s a very technical horse, she’s not an amateur horse.” But I’ve brought Wanessa up from Third Level and we are moving up to Grand Prix soon, so I’m just incredibly proud of that horse and I really believe in what we are doing together. We’re finally connecting to the point where we’re really getting it together.”

Terri Sue Wensinger – US Dressage Finals Intermediate I Adult Amateur reserve champion

On her test:
“We had a good solid ride that was clean and had no mistakes. He’s always so willing so if anybody holds anybody back, it’s me holding him back which is a nice feeling. He was a Second Level horse when I bought him six years ago and we’ve worked our way up through the levels with a lot of help at many different places. Today was super fun – I am so happy to be here. And to come in right behind Elma is such an honor; I’ve been reading about her and watching her videos online so it was really cool.”

On her dressage beginning:
“When I was a kid I rode stock-seat equitation in AHSA. We came to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1979 and won the national championship. Then I didn’t ride for a really long time so this is a whole different thing for me. I [switched to dressage] when I was at a teachers conference and I saw a mom in riding pants and she said there was a group of moms and they all take lessons together in the morning. It was like I was finally able to breathe again and I told my husband I needed to start riding again. Three horses later this is who I am now!”

Third Level Open Championship

Lehua Custer and F.J. Ramzes
Lehua Custer and F.J. Ramzes

Though she originally didn’t plan on competing at the Finals, Lehua Custer made her journey from Hollywood, California, well worth it with a win in the Third Level Open Championship. She earned a 72.991 percent aboard Wendy Sasser’s F.J. Ramzes, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Representing Region 9, Kelsey Broecker and Molly Huie’s 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding Dreamcatcher, enjoyed their first national championships by earning the reserve championship title with a score of 69.444 percent. Anna Marek of Williston, Florida, rounded out the top three with a score of 69.403 percent on Maryanna Haymon’s 6-year-old Hanoverian mare Dinah Shore MF.

Kelsey Broeker and Dreamcatcher
Kelsey Broeker and Dreamcatcher

Results: Third Level Open Championship
Rider / Horse / Total Score
1. Lehua Custer / F.J. Ramzes / 72.991
2. Kelsey Broecker / Dreamcatcher / 69.444
3. Anna Marek / Dinah Shore MF / 69.402
4. Jovanna Stephan / Fuerstin Romanti / 69.402
5. Heather McCarthy / Au Revoir / 69.145
6. Angela Jackson / Femke Zarma Tf / 68.932


Lehua Custer – US Dressage Finals Third Level Open champion

About the ride:
“[It was so cold] I couldn’t feel my fingers. My coach, Hilda Gurney, came to warm me up and kept telling me to half halt and I couldn’t tell if I was or not. We think under 65 is pretty cold! We were frozen but he came through for me. He was frightened in the warm-up with all the horses but once we got in the show ring, he knew his job.”

About F.J. Ramzes:
“He is owned by a longtime client of mine and we looked online for about a year before we found him. He was bred by Cornell University from semen donated from Iron Spring Farm for the vet school. I took over the ride when he was about 3.5 years old with the intention that Wendy [Sasser] would begin to show him after I put a few miles on him. But this horse just keeps winning so she keeps insisting that I need to continue riding him. I’m just the luckiest girl that I get to do that! We won every class this entire season and I was not planning to go to our regional finals this year but Wendy said we had to do it. We went and he won. He loves to show.”

About the trip from California:
“It has been a whirlwind of planning and raising money to figure out how we could do this! We’ve never done a trip like this. I borrowed trunks and Alice stepped up and said we could stay with her and she has a barn. It was basically a group effort. The Go-Fund-Me was not anything I ever expected to do, but it all just happened so fast. I knew the only way to think about raising the money was just to go for it. We got everything organized despite the bumps along the road. One of my clients passed away about a week and a half ago so I’m really dedicating this to her. It definitely put a damper on things but I felt her with me this whole time and was thinking about the fact that she was supposed to be here cheering us on. It was really tough but we kept going. We finally arrived here but every step of the way was smoother than I thought it would be. This place is bigger and better than anything I would’ve expected it to be!”

Kelsey Broecker – US Dressage Finals Third Level Open reserve champion

About the ride:
“Our ride was at 8 a.m. so I had the pleasure of having a completely empty arena when we warmed-up which was good because my horse was mighty fresh. But it all turned out okay. He came together and I was just super happy. He was on my seat for a majority of the test which is all I could ask for out of that boy and I’m just really happy. It was our first ride in the arena and he really came through for me he was a really good boy.”

About competing at the Finals:
“Coming to this big of a show facility and it being the nationals was a huge deal! I really liked the atmosphere. Everything is so large, grand and different from the places I’ve shown previously so it’s the whole experience of being in a competition area with such elite names and great riders and have that as my scenery. It was a great learning experience.”

Training Level Open Championship

John Mason and Savannah SWF
John Mason and Savannah SWF

Representing Region 9, John Mason of Houston Texas, rode Mary Nuttall’s 5-year-old Danish Warmblood mare Savannah SWF to the win in the Training Level Open Championship with an impressive score of 75.076 percent. Martin Kuhn of New Berlin, Illinois, claimed the serve championship with a score of 71.515 percent on Kathryn Fleming-Kuhn’s Washburn SW, a 5-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding. Following closely behind in third place with a 71.288 percent was Heather Mason aboard Enlighteningh, a 5-year-old Canadian Warmblood gelding owned by Anne St. Martin.

Martin Kuhn and Washburn SW
Martin Kuhn and Washburn SW

Results: Training Level Open Championship
Rider / Horse / Total Score
1. John Mason / Savannah SWF / 75.076
2. Martin Kuhn / Washburn SW / 71.515
3. Heather Mason / Enlighteningh / 71.288
4. Lauren Chumley / Santa Barbara DASH / 71.758
5. Emily Donaldson / Bernardo OSF / 70.758
6. Michele Bondy / Bianca M / 69.318


John Mason – US Dressage Finals Training Level Open champion

On his test:
“She felt really great and it was a nice, clean test. This is the second time she’s ever left Texas and the first time for a competition. Everything is a little new and wild looking. This is our big show of the year so it’s nice to have a goal to work towards every year. Luckily, she is a bit insecure and when she’s nervous she looks to me. She was a little bit tense today but it was the second day of the show and she felt calmer than she had yesterday. She was really nice on the aids. She’s electric and I was working to keep her calm and relaxed and it worked out in my favor.”

About Savannah SWF:
“I work with her breeder and owner [Mary Nuttall]. We take all of her horses and do the sport horse classes and the breeding in-hand classes. So for [Savannah] she was in the show ring at a young age so she’s not too worried about some of the stuff the other young horses are worried about because she’s been there and done it a couple of times. She was a very late bloomer. She’s very delicate so we’ve taken our time with her and just taken it really slow.”

Martin Kuhn – US Dressage Finals Training Level Open reserve champion

About his ride:
“Washburn – our second born – my wife bred him. I think this is his sixth show so we are very pleased with him! We went to Regionals just for the heck of it only having done one show before so I’m very pleased with the job we did. We definitely had more juice in the tank than we needed. One canter depart was a little interesting but we settled pretty well, it brought a smile to my face in that canter depart instead of bucking me off so that was good!”

About what makes the show special:
“One of the great things about it is the incredible attention to detail and how year after year all of the little kinks are getting ironed out. It’s the logistics alone of operating a show at this scale and many people from different parts of the country and how they come in early and leave so late is pretty amazing. The facility is really world class and we are very fortunate to have them here. I’m also thankful that Nationals marks the last show of the year so we are looking forward to some downtime. We couldn’t ask for a better facility for our National show than here.”

Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship

Maia Barnes and Benvica
Maia Barnes and Benvica

Claiming the tricolor ribbon in the Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship with a 69.889 percent was Maia Barnes of Ringoes, New Jersey, on Benvica, her 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Earlier this fall, the pair won the division championship at the GAIG/USDF Region 8 Championship. Bonnie Canter of Hockley, Texas, and her 7-year-old Connemara mare, Fifinella GCF, followed closely behind and finished with the reserve championship with a 69.519 percent. Coming from Wellington, Florida, Amy Swerdlin earned a score of 67.556 percent on her 7-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Quileute CCW.

Bonnie Canter and Fifinella GCF
Bonnie Canter and Fifinella GCF

Results: Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship
Rider / Horse / Total Score
1. Maia Barnes / Benvica / 69.889
2. Bonnie Canter / Fifinella GCF / 69.519
3. Amy Swerdlin / Quileute CCW / 67.556
4. Holly James / Stiletto / 67.222
5. Kaitlynn Mosing / Petacchi / 66.926
6. Ashley Jarrell / Okidokie / 66.889


Maia Barnes – US Dressage Finals Fourth Level Adult Amateur champion

On her ride:
“My ride was very good today. He has been a little sluggish lately, so we went into the warm up in hopes he would be more up and ready to go, and luckily he was. The wind helped a little bit. He was a bit more there. He wasn’t looking, he was listening to me which was really nice. I think the test went really smoothly, we didn’t have any major mistakes. I was really happy with how it went.”

On Benvica:
“I got him just over two years ago in 2015. At that point, I was just starting dressage. I was going to start at Training Level with him. He was sold as a Fourth Level horse, but his basics weren’t all there. Since then it’s all gone pretty fast. Last year was our first regionals and we did Third Level. This is the first year he’s kind of started being there for me and really being a show horse. It went much more smoothly this year. Now we are here, something I never thought we would do. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s such a great learning experience for both of us.”

Bonnie Canter – US Dressage Finals Fourth Level Adult Amateur reserve champion

On her ride:
“It was good! We came from Houston and it’s hot down there, so it’s been kind of wonderful to be in the cold. It was really fun. I dreaded Fourth Level because so many things can happen. It’s such a long and involved test, so even if your horse is good at it you can always make a mistake. You have to be really careful with that test, so you’re always happy when you have that last trot.”

On Fifinella GCF:
“I’ve had her since she was two. She was here last year and won the Second Level Championship, so this year she is doing Third and Fourth. She’s a Connemara Hanoverian cross, and she’s just super. She’s seven this year, so she’s pretty green for the Fourth Level, but because it was cold, she was dancing. I’ve really enjoyed bringing her along.”

Second Level Adult Amateur Championship

Casey Blum and Eschaton
Casey Blum and Eschaton

Casey Blum, 22, of Lincoln, Nebraska, topped the leaderboard in the Second Level Adult Amateur Championship on her 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Eschaton with a score of 70.894 percent. The pair were the division champions in the GAIG/USDF Region 4 Dressage Championships. Blum recently graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in animal science. Ashlee Watts earned the reserve championship title after scoring a 68.618 percent on her 9-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Hampton. Watts balances her riding with her career as an equine orthopedic surgeon at Texas A&M. Rounding out the top three with a score of 68.333 was Sheila Buchanan of Snohomish, Washington and her 9-year-old Hanoverian mare Rising Sun #43.

Ashlee Watts and Hampton
Ashlee Watts and Hampton

Results: Second Level Adult Amateur Championship

Rider / Horse / Total Score
1. Casey Blum / Eschaton / 70.894
2. Ashlee Watts / Hampton / 68.618
3. Sheila Buchanan / Rising Sun #43 / 68.333
4. Lara Osborne / Florenza LJS / 68.049
5. Kristy Truebenbach Lund / Living Lucky / 67.967
6. Sara Stone / Gotham / 67.642


Casey Blum – US Dressage Finals Second Level Adult Amateur champion

On her ride:
“It was very cold, but I think it worked to our advantage. He felt really easy to move forward and to listen to my aids. He was right there with me my whole ride, so it was really nice. Yesterday we did a practice test and got some comments that we needed to be more uphill, and today I think he really showcased that. He felt like he was so easy to ride and ask every movement. I think that was the best part of it. It’s not always easy, but he pulled it all together today.”

On Eschaton:
“I got him when he was almost one year old from Jamie and Linda Smith. He was bred at Providence farm, the barn I ride at now. I broke him and with the help of Jamie, who is my trainer, five days a week for the last seven years, we’ve been doing lessons. He’s just a blast to come along with and see how he’s grown up. This was the first year that we were like ‘yeah, he’s a grown-up now.’ He’s been so much fun to work with, and he’s made me the person I am today.”

On her experience at US Dressage Finals:
“This was the first year that I was able to qualify for nationals, so it was a good year. It’s a blast. It’s a beautiful facility and Kentucky is gorgeous. We couldn’t have picked a better time of year to come here with all the leaves changing color. It’s just a great backdrop for such a perfect show.”

Ashlee Watts – Second Level Adult Amateur reserve champion

On her ride:
“I think the cold was a problem for us. It was cold, and he was very wild. Sometimes when he’s very wild I’ll over-ride the tempo and push him out of collection, so I really focused on being calm. I’m proud of myself for not over-riding him when he was still wild, and he was wonderful. He was perfect in the test. The best part of my test was the rein back.”

On Hampton:
“I have had Hampton for four years. We started with Training Level and have gone up each year. We’ve shown here for the past three years. He has changed a ton. He’s really become a show horse and really trustworthy. He can be wild in the warm-up, but as soon as we go down centerline he just goes right to work. I think he really likes his job.”

Intermediate I Open Championship

Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quaetro
Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quaetro

In the Intermediate I Open Championship, Heather Blitz from Wellington, Florida, rode away with the win on Praestemarkens Quaetro, her 8-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding. The qualified for the finals on a wild card and received a total score of 70.877 percent. Also qualifying from a wild card was reserve champion Kathy Priest of Versailles, Kentucky. Priest received a total score of 69.912 percent on Fredensdals Zig Zag, her 9-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding. Melissa Taylor of Wellington, Florida, rode Nicole Polaski’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Ansgar to a score of 68.728 percent and finished in third place.

Kathy Priest and Fredensdals Zig Zag
Kathy Priest and Fredensdals Zig Zag

Results: Intermediate I Open Championship

Rider / Horse / Total Score
1. Heather Blitz / Praestemarkens Quaetro / 70.877
2. Kathy Priest / Fredensdals Zig Zag / 69.912
3. Melissa Taylor / Ansgar / 68.728
4. Kelli Mardell / Hemmingway / 68.596
5. Betsy Steiner / Swiss W / 68.596
6. Jodie Kelly / Caymus / 68.553


Heather Blitz – US Dressage Finals Intermediate I champion

On her ride:
“I’m super pleased with my horse. He’s a real trooper. He’s learned a lot lately and every week he’s kind of a new horse and developing more. He gets more and more exciting. I thought the ride was supple, confident and flowing. Those are his strengths. A little bit of tension in some moments, but despite that and him being in an atmosphere he’s never been in before, he was great. He got a little bit nervous but he hung with me and still listened. He let me help him through it so I was really happy about that.”

On Praestemarkens Quaetro:
“This horse in particular is a strong personality, one that I haven’t had before in any other horses that I’ve trained. That can definitely work in my favor as long as he really understands his job. I had him for two years before I really got him out to show because I really wanted him to understand his job so he could feel confident and relaxed in the ring. Now that he does know his job, going in the ring is fairly easy, but I did have to take some time to make sure he fully understood every little piece of his job so he wouldn’t get stressed. Whatever he has in him, you definitely will know him and see it. This is his first time here. He’s been to one CDI in Tryon in April and he did well there, but this is the biggest show he’s done. I’ll probably keep him at this level for a little while longer to secure him even more in the ring before I start him with the big tour. He is working on ones, and piaffe and passage. He’s going to be nine next year so he’s still pretty young. He’s such a passionate horse – I just really want him to love his work because then you will see that in the ring.”

On her experience at US Dressage Finals:
“It’s a great venue. I was really happy to know I got the wild card because I competed here in 2014 with Ripline when he was the Third Level champion, and I was looking forward to when I could come back again. I was really happy to qualify this year. I love this venue, it feels like a European show. The show is run really well and we have great sponsors. We couldn’t do any of this without them. We are really grateful to have sponsors like that. It’s all been fantastic.”

Kathy Priest – US Dressage Finals Intermediate I reserve champion

On her ride:
“My horse is nine years old this year. I did some CDIs last year with him in Florida, then I had knee surgery this spring, so I didn’t really have much to do with him for a while. We went to regionals because we hadn’t been able to do any other shows for quite a while, and we qualified with a wild card so we decided to come. We are now working on much more of the grand prix. In some instances I had a had a little trouble in the twos today because we’ve been working on the ones lately. I had a one inside the twos, which is a good problem to have. It was fun, he was really good in there. He’s good in a big atmosphere like that.”

On Fredensdals Zig Zag:

“I found my horse as a coming 8 year old in Denmark. When I got him, he was a little bit behind in his training. His tempis were pretty green and his pirouettes weren’t there yet, but he had a nice presence and he was a nice ride. The biggest thing is getting him strong. He wasn’t very strong when I first got him, and he’s still not really strong. He still needs to get stronger, but he’s very confident in the ring and is not a spooky or tense horse. He really tries and always wants to please you. He’s very confident.”

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