Fodor and Hassler Earn Championship Titles on Third Day of U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions

Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 21, 2020 – Competitors in the Pony Rider and ‘Brentina Cup’ divisions returned to the arena at the U.S. Dressage Finals at the top of their game Friday for the final phase of their respective championships. Taking the stage first, the top three pony riders battled it out for the national title of the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship. Keeping her lead from the first day, Abby Fodor came out on top at the end of the class with her mount Slip and Slide. 

Abby Fodor and Slip and Slide
Abby Fodor and Slip and Slide

Fodor and Slip and Slide, Marie Fodor’s 17-year-old Haflinger and PHR cross gelding, won their first national title with the inaugural 2017 USEF Children Dressage National Championship, and went on to be reserve champions of the Pony Rider division in 2018. Fodor explained that it has been an exciting journey with Slip and Slide from the beginning as he got his start with a western saddle.

“He used to be a western pony and came from an auction,” Fodor said. “We bought him from Canada. His owner in Canada taught him a little bit of dressage, then I added more to his knowledge when he came to the U.S. 

Abby Fodor and Slip and Slide
Abby Fodor and Slip and Slide

“It’s nice to come back to Ponies because I took a year of doing regular shows,” she continued. “It feels good to win because it’s my last year of doing it before aging out. I think I will probably work on the upper level things with him and move him up a little bit. I thought yesterday’s test was better than todays; he was a little tired. I was still happy with it. I think his lateral work and shoulder-ins were a lot better today, and I think my serpentine was good too.” 

Carmen Stephens and Woldhoeve’s Silco, a 20-year-old Dutch Welsh Pony gelding, secured the reserve championship after riding the highest scoring test of Friday’s class, a 67.027%. Stephens was excited to have a reserve championship under her belt with the gelding before she searches for a new mount and leases him out to allow a new rider to learn the ropes.

Carmen Stephens and Woldhoeve's Silco
Carmen Stephens and Woldhoeve’s Silco

“My test went really well today and my simple changes were a lot better than yesterday,” Stephens said. “He was more on my aids but he was getting a little bit tired. I could tell in the trot work I had to push him a little bit more, but I’m really happy with how the test went. I’m starting to get a little big for him, so this is my last year with him. I’ve had him for five years and we’re going to look for someone to lease him and do the lower levels. I’m going to look for a horse and will eventually do the Juniors and Young Riders.” 

Olivia Brown and Balthazar, an 18-year-old Belgian Riding Pony gelding, finished the championship in third place, taking second for the day with a score of 66.306%. Maya Ilada received the ‘Best Turned Out’ Award presented by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. 

Olivia Brown and Balthazar
Olivia Brown and Balthazar

The final class of the day in the main arena, the Grand Prix Freestyle 16-25 for the USEF ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship, was highly anticipated by the riders hoping to earn the top placing in the final phase. Sara Hassler was able to maintain her lead from the first day of competition and take home the title, earning a 73.06% for their freestyle performance.

Hassler and Leslie Malone’s 14-year-old KWPN gelding Harmony’s Boitano put down a consistent test to dazzle the judges on Friday evening. The pair placed third in last year’s USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship and have worked diligently to gain the needed experience and sharpen their skills.

Sara Hassler and Harmony’s Boitano

“This is actually the first time we’ve ridden through this freestyle. Marlene Whitaker did an incredible job with it, we actually called last minute to have it thrown together, which is kind of funny because that’s how it went last year too. I was so proud of him. We struggled with the changes all week getting the right aid in the test because we really are so green still. I spur of the moment decided to do the twos then the ones and see what would happen, I was so proud it actually worked and he seemed to like it. I was trying not to cry the whole time and I still did.”

Sara Hassler and Harmony's Boitano
Sara Hassler and Harmony’s Boitano

I love this horse so much. I truly did not think that was going to happen, I was just so grateful that the judges have rewarded what they see as a future for him. That meant so much and he always tries two million percent in that arena, it’s just the greatest feeling. Just to get here we were pretty emotional and excited, but to win, I don’t have words yet.”

Kerrigan Gluch and Vaquero HGF, Hampton Green Farm’s a 13-year-old PRE gelding, took home the reserve championship. Although they earned third place for their freestyle performance, their score of 68.425% was enough to earn second overall.  Partnered together for five years, Gluch and Vaquero HGF have an impressive resume full of medals earned for Youth Nations Cup teams and several youth championships. Gluch was pleased with Vaquero’s energy in the arena even though she had to manage the power he offered a little more than normal today.

Kerrigan Gluch and Vaquero HGF
Kerrigan Gluch and Vaquero HGF

“Vaquero was super fresh today which was honestly amazing going off of two tough competition days,” Gluch said. “The third day of competition he was the most fresh he has ever been. Today he was unfortunately a little too fresh and he reacted a little bit to the music and the arena, but I was really proud of him. When he did the movements I asked, they were amazing. He was very hot and for him that is a very new thing to go through. Normally I need to create as much energy as possible.Today I was just able to sit there and ride, so I had an amazing feeling underneath me. I honestly couldn’t be happier with him. 

“Our piaffe and passage at the end was amazing, nice one-tempis today and pirouettes. I’ll thank Marlene Whitaker again for doing my freestyle, I think it really highlighted him as a horse and what he can do. Our music was from video games with Super Mario. We wanted something fun that showed lightness and elasticity with him, and I’m really happy with it.”

Rebecca Roman and Ultimo
Rebecca Roman and Ultimo

Rebecca Roman and Ultimo, a 19-year-old KWPN gelding, finished in third place after their freestyle performance which earned them a score of 70.245%. 

Competition will resume on Aug. 22, 2020, at 8 a.m. with the USEF 4-Year-Old Test. 

Results: USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship

Rider / Horse / Owner / Team Test / Individual Test
1. Abby Fodor / Slip and Slide / Marie Fodor / 70.238 / 66.216
2. Carmen Stephens / Woldhoeve’s Silco / Carmen Stephens / 68.286 / 67.027
3. Olivia Brown / Balthazar / Olivia Brown / 66.81 / 66.306
4. Daphne Glenn / Squirtel / Daphne Glenn / 66.143 / 64.189
5. Iselle Longman / Hidden Midnight Shadow / Michelle Hargreaves / 66.667 / 63.649
6. Paydan McLaughlin / Lily of Chincoteague / Paydan McLaughlin / 64.429 / 65.406

Results: USEF ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship

Rider / Horse / Owner / Grand Prix Score / Grand Prix Freestyle Score
1. Sara Hassler / Harmony’s Boitano / Leslie Malone / 67.487 / 73.06
2. Kerrigan Gluch / Vaquero HGF / Hampton Green Farm / 68.744 / 68.425
3. Rebecca Roman / Ultimo / Nancy Roman / 64.154 / 70.245
4. Emily Smith / Quantum Jazz / Emily Smith / 64.026 / 69.27
5. Emily Smith / Dublin / Emily Smith / 62.744 / 67.035
6. Kaylee Christensen / Chateau 28 / Kaylee Christensen / 62.897 / 63.655
7. Mary Fischer / Xama Dos Pinhais / Mary Fischer / 62.559 / 63.8



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