Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 11, 2018 – Twenty-three years ago, Sherry Koella was traveling the world as a stage magician and illusionist. Around two decades later, little did she know her Las Vegas show music would contribute to her horse, Adiah HP, becoming a two-time Grand Prix Open Freestyle champion.
In a field of 19 competitors, Jim Koford rode Koella’s 11-year-old Friesian Cross mare to their second consecutive national freestyle title with a score of 71.767 percent. The pair has seen their fair share of success together in the show ring and they are coming off a win in Friday’s Grand Prix Open Championship.
While their previous western-themed freestyle music was well-loved by the audience, Koford and Koella felt it was time to perform a fresh routine. As quite the fan favorites, the crowd enthusiastically clapped along to the beat and cheered throughout their performance, though it caused a bobble in their one-tempis.
While Adiah HP’s unique breeding makes her stand out in the crowd, coincidence has it that she competed against one of her sisters, Vashti, ridden by Kristin Wasemiller-Knutson, in the Grand Prix Open Freestyle,
Only around .2 points behind Koford with a score of 71.542 percent, Heather Mason of Lebanon, New Jersey, earned the reserve championship title on Warsteiner, her 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. In 2016, Mason and Warsteiner also won the division’s red tricolor and topped the leaderboard in the Intermediate II Open Championship.
Making the drive from Clarkston, Michigan, Judy Kelly finished in third place on Benise, her 14-year-old Hanoverian mare, with a score of 69.967 percent. Earlier in the week, the duo took home the reserve championship in the Grand Prix Open Championship. Kelly acquired Benise as a 3-year-old and has had the help of her coach Jan Ebeling in developing her skills along the way.
Results: Grand Prix Freestyle Open Championship
Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Jim Koford / Adiah HP / Sherry Koella / 71.767
2. Heather Mason / Warsteiner / Heather Mason / 71.542
3. Karen Lipp / Whitney / Kathleen Oldford / 69.967
4. Judy Kelly / Benise / Judy Kelly / 69.125
5. Jodie Cressman / Upendo / Gina Atton-Thomas / 68.792
6. Michael Bragdell / Qredit Hilltop / Hilltop Farm Inc. / 68.658
7. Marta Renilla / Gamarro Font / Marta Renilla / 67.533 8. Missy Gilliland / Samaritano IX / Sandra Luebbe / 67.317
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Jim Koford – Grand Prix Freestyle Open Champion
On his freestyle:
“This was a new freestyle and the music was from the owner’s Vegas show when she was an illusionist. We had a miscommunication at the beginning because I was chucking my whip and he thought I was signaling to start so I had to catch up a bit in the beginning. It’s so funny. The crowd loved it and she loved it. I do [enjoy when the crowd cheers]. Her ones are a little vulnerable and she can be a little more sensitive during those. The cheering helps during the piaffe, not the ones. As a whole, I’d much rather have them into it. When she hits the piaffe, she’s like “these are my people!”
On winning the division championship two years in a row:
“I don’t know what to say because these are my friends. We have all been playing tag all year; one weekend I win, the other they win. I’m so happy to be playing the game and this is icing on the cake.”
Sherry Koella [Adiah HP’s owner]:
“I saw [Adiah] pop out when she was born and I cried. I was a little bit nervous tonight because we were going to use the same freestyle music from last year but I thought ‘You can’t go do it again with the same one!’ This was very last minute thrown together. It was a fun thought. When we were listening to music last minute and I was listening to old music from my show. I was a magician for 23 years, traveling the world. I had a great time. I did stage magic and illusions. I met my wonderful husband and we have a farm and breed horses. Thanks to Jim we are winning.”
Heather Mason – Grand Prix Freestyle Open Reserve Champion
On her freestyle:
“I did 22 one tempis — I stopped counting the twos! He was really good, in general. The music was called “Sparkles.” I have an ex-client that I know very well that does all my music for me — Kevin Whitney. She’s wonderful. She makes my life very easy picking great music.”