Wayne, Ill. – August 29, 2021 – It’s only been a few months since Madeleine Bendfeldt first swung her leg over Sonata MF’s saddle, but their future looks bright based on their performance in the prestigious Markel/USEF Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship. Hosted at Lamplight Equestrian Center, the championship invites the best of the best to vie for the title and Sonata MF (Sir Donnerhall I–Em Duet MF, Don Principe) came to Illinois as the number one ranked competitor based on qualification scores.
Owned by Next Level Performance Center and bred by Maryanna Haymon in the United States, Sonata MF’s performance over the weekend earned her an impressive overall score of 8.148 to take home the tricolor and she was the highest scoring US-bred horse in the division.
“It feels amazing and unexpected [to win the championship], “Bendfeldt said. “I am super satisfied with the test. Of course you always have something that you’d like to do better, but she was really good and I had a nice feeling, so I am super happy. The judges said that she has a bright future, and I agree with that.”
Earning an impressive 8.4 in Friday’s Preliminary Test, Sonata MF received 8.7 for her canter, 8.6 for her trot, 8.2 for the walk, 8.0 for submission due to her lovely flying changes and an 8.5 for the general impression. In Sunday’s Six-Year-Old Final test, the pair received an 8.2 for an elastic, cadenced trot, an 8.0 for a ground-covering walk and an 8.1 for general impression.
“Sonata is quite uncomplicated! I think that her favorite thing to do is eating — that is more important than anything else!” Bendfeldt laughed. “She has such a fun personality. You can always tell when she is relaxed and comfortable because she will stretch before you put the saddle on. She is pretty even keeled all of the time. There are not really ups and downs with her. She is consistent in her work without being boring.”
“She has a big personality, but it’s never against you,” Bendfeldt continued. “She always wants to work, and every day she’s the same. With some mares when they come into heat they are moody, but she is always happy. You can ride her, hack, do harder work, no matter what she is positive about everything. It’s easy to work with her.”
A former trainer for Helgstrand Dressage, Bendfeldt partnered with Next Level Performance Center, a brand-new training and boarding facility being built in South Florida, which caters to both dressage and jumping athletes, only a few months ago. As their dressage trainer, she gained the opportunity to present the talented youngster who Next Level Performance purchased from Caroline Roffman, and will campaign their other youngsters as they develop their program.
“I came two months ago from Germany to work with Sonata for Aaron [Goldsmith of Next Level Performance Center] and I am so thankful for Caroline Roffman’s work. She did an amazing job educating and training her. I am very lucky to have the privilege to show Sonata.
“I like working with the young horses more than the older horses, it’s more exciting for me,” she concluded. “You have something new — a new way to train, a new discovery about the horse, everyday it’s exciting. It’s exciting to train young horses and educate them yourself.”
Next Level Performance Center is a brand new, innovative training and boarding facility with locations in Southwest Ranches and Wellington, Florida. Seeking to provide a boutique environment to a select number of both dressage and show jumping clientele with the luxury, European experience, the professionals, including Bendfeldt, behind Next Level designed the state-of-the-art facility with the serious competitor in mind. The innovator and owner of the facility, Aaron Goldsmith, aspires to provide equestrians of both disciplines the tools and environment to ‘take their riding to the next level.’
“I have been in the industry for almost 20 years, mainly in jumping and I am just beginning with dressage, but thank goodness I have such a great team behind me,” Goldsmith explained. “The first day that I saw Sonata, my gut was telling me that this horse was amazing. I am very thankful for the breeder, Maryanna Haymon, and I am proud that we can showcase such a nice horse that was bred in the United States. Caroline Roffman of course did an amazing job in developing her. I thank Lene [Madeleine Bendfeldt] for her amazing job this weekend and I am thankful to everyone supporting us!
“Sonata is a special horse and my next goal is to see her represent the U.S. in the World Championships next year,” he continued.
Earning the reserve championship tricolor in the six-year-old division was David Blake on Delilah (Dr Watson–Warina, Wolkenstein II), a Hanoverian mare owned by Leslie Allbright. Bred by Hans-Henrich Plate, Delilah topped Sunday’s class with an 8.024 but it was not enough to overcome Bendfeldt’s lead from Friday. They ended the weekend with a total score of 8.024. Trotting around the victory lap in third place was Alice Tarjan on Summersby II (Sezuan–Summerr Night, Sandro Hit) with an overall score of 7.912. The Oldenberg mare was bred by Nicole Wanning.
Markel/USEF Six-Year-Old Dressage National Championship
Rider / Horse / Preliminary Test (40%) / Final Test (60%) / Total Score
1. Madeleine Bendfeldt / Sonata MF / 8.40 / 7.98 / 8.148
2. David Blake / Delilah / 7.88 / 8.12 / 8.024
3. Alice Tarjan / Summersby II / 7.72 / 8.04 / 7.912
4. Michelle Gibson / San Raphaelia LS / 7.57 / 8.04 / 7.852
5. Cesar Parra / Fanta 4 / 7.84 / 7.74 / 7.78
6. Jan Brons / Fellowship CCW / 7.32 / 7.48 / 7.416