Sophia Schults Wins Gold at USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 14-18 Championship

Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 26, 2018 – On the final day of competition at the Lamplight Equestrian Center, young riders battled it out in the arena for the title of national champion in the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 14–18 Championship. Following the competitive class, it was Sophia Schults of St. Joseph, Michigan, riding Samour M who took home the gold medal and was named the new national champion.

Sophia Schults and Samour M
Sophia Schults and Samour M

In this division, judges asked the riders to demonstrate specific gaits and movements, while evaluating their equitation and the efficiency of their aids. After the riders had ridden around the arena in a large group for the walk and trot requirements, and then two smaller groups for their canter work, they performed a short pattern individually. In the work-off, riders were asked to leg yield in the trot and complete three changes of canter lead through trot on the diagonal. While several riders had smooth tests, it was Schults riding the 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Samour M, whose skill most impressed the judges to receive a high score of 9.5.

Sophia Schults and Samour M
Sophia Schults and Samour M

In addition to competing in the Medal Final class for the 14–18 age group Schults competed in the USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship as part of the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions aboard Idolo Americano HGF, a 15-year-old PRE stallion. She has accumulated a long list of achievements in her career since she began riding her first pony at the age of 4, a Shetland named Creampuff. She dabbled in saddleseat and reining before settling on the sport of dressage.

Championship Ride: Sophia Schultz and Samour M USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 14-18 Champion

Sophia Schultz is the 2018 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 14-18 Champion scoring a 95%! She won the test aboard her own Samour M, an 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding at the U.S. Dressage #FestivalofChampions! Congratulations!

Posted by USA Dressage on Sunday, August 26, 2018

Schults, a USDF bronze and silver medalist, has competed successfully at the Adequan/FEI North American Youth Championships four times on multiple horses and placed fifth in 2015 in the Medal Seat Under 13 Final. Most recently, during the 2018 Adequan Global Dressage Festival, Schults competed in Junior and Young Rider CDIs with both Samour M and Idolo Americano HGF in Wellington, Florida.

Receiving the silver medal was Maya Miller of Charleston, South Carolina, riding Beringer, a mount she borrowed from her trainer. Miller was given a score of 9.2 on Ginny Crawford’s 12-year-old KWPN gelding and she was thrilled to accomplish one of her dreams.

Maya Miller and Beringer

Rounding out the podium in the bronze medal position was Brynne Varvel aboard her 9-year-old Morgan pony, Big Indian Creek, with a score of 9.0. This is her second year qualifying for the division and she contributes her success to her fitness regime with a personal trainer.

Brynne Varvel and Big Indian Creek


Sophia Schults – USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 14–18 champion

On her preparation:
“To help prepare I have taken a lot of lunge lessons. I feel like those have really benefited how I sit and how I’m able to control the horse without just using my hands and my legs. I was able to do a lot of stretching. I tend to be very tense and tight, so I tried to get as loose as I could before showing today and I think that really helped.”

On Samour M:
“Today, I was able to ride my own horse Samour. I’ve had him for almost two years. We’ve shown a little bit in the FEI with some success. I’m hoping to really keep the training going and get him to where we’d like to be. We did a lot of practice coming into the equitation — no stirrups and things like that. I was just really happy with how he performed today. We had a few little bobbles but I’m really proud of him.”

Sophia Schults and Samour M

On her expectations going into the championship:
“I just wanted to have a really good experience with my horse. He’s still fairly green so getting in the ring was really good for him. It was really fun. Going forward, it will have given him good practice, and it’s given me a chance to see what he’s going to do in an environment like this.”

On winning the championship:
“For me, it’s a huge honor to be here. I’m grateful. It’s the second time I’ve been able to do this competition and it turned out super well this year. It’s great to be able to see everyone else competing in all of the different divisions from the Young Horse to the Young Riders and it’s a great learning experience watching all of the professionals with their horses and trying to learn from them.”

On her previous equitation finals experience:
“I learned I can be fairly rigid in my riding rather than staying with my horse. These past couple of years, among other things, that’s something I’ve really tried to work on — to be more one with my horse rather than just a rider on a horse. It was eye-opening doing that and I really thought it helped me today.”

Maya Miller – USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 14–18 reserve champion

On her preparation:
“I’ve worked all summer with my trainer riding horses of all levels — FEI to Training Level. I have been working on position and using my body instead of my hands — learning to ride each movement and each horse the best I can. I think that’s really been the most helpful.”

Maya Miller and Beringer

On Beringer:
“I borrowed a horse from my trainer Jimmy Crawford. I have been riding him starting this summer doing Second Level. We showed here and he’s been great. I just wanted to do the best that I could and hope everything went well, which it did. I’m really happy with how it turned out.”

On participating in the championship:
“I’ve always dreamed of being able to come here and see all of the other professionals and how well they ride. Being in the equitation class, it’s a really good foundation class as a rider so that you know how to ride properly going into the upper levels. It really makes you stronger.”

Brynne Varvel – USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 14–18 Championship third place

On her preparation:
“At the beginning of the summer, I started with a personal trainer in the gym because I wanted to improve my core and back strength. I ride a lot of young horses, which is part of the reason for that. Then I went online and found some of the possible patterns and started working on those about a month ago. My horse likes to do flying changes instead of simple changes and changes through the trot so that helped me prepare.”

Brynne Varvel and Big Indian Creek

On Big Indian Creek:
“I’ve had my pony for four years now. I’ve taken him from being just started when I got him to now schooling Fourth Level and he’s showing Second and Third Level at the moment. He’s quite the character. I really didn’t know how I was going to do. My horse and I have been up and down at the open show here this weekend so I was a little nervous coming into it.”

On participating in the championship:
“This is the second year I have qualified for dressage seat equitation. I think equitation is so imperative coming up the levels as well as proper training for the horses. I think it’s really awesome that it’s here at Lamplight Equestrian Center with the Festival of Champions because you get to see all of the top horses. It’s a really cool environment.”

Results: USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 14-18 Championship
Rider / Horse / Owner / Score
1. Sophia Schults / Samour M / Sophia Schults / 9.5
2. Maya Miller / Beringer / Ginny Crawford / 9.2
3. Brynne Varvel / Big Indian Creek / Brynne Varvel / 9.0
4. Mackenzie Peer / Quantum MRF / Nicole Helland / 8.5
5. Shana Cohen / Zanzibar / Gany Lalo-Cohen / 8.3
6. Riley Reardon / Air Count / Riley Reardon / 8.2

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