Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 7, 2019 – 345 competitors from across the country representing all nine USDF regions and 36 states plus the District of Columbia traveled to the Kentucky Horse Park this week to vie for national titles at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. During the seventh annual event which is the highlight event of the year for many U.S. riders, open and adult amateur exhibitors from Training Level to Grand Prix compete for national tricolor ribbons and $100,000 in prize money across 30 different divisions. On the opening day of competition, only three championship classes were held. Taking place in the Alltech Arena, Alice Tarjan won her second consecutive Intermediate II Adult Amateur Championship title aboard Candescent, while Heather Mason and RTF Lincoln rode away with the Intermediate II Open Championship. Braving the rain and chilly temperatures outside in the Stonelea Ring, Michael Bragdell won the Third Level Open Championship on SenSation HW.
It may seem like deja vu this year as Tarjan of Oldwick, New Jersey, earned a back-to-back win aboard her 8-year-old Hanoverian mare (Christ–Farina, Falkenstern II), Candescent with a score of 73.824% in the Intermediate II Adult Amateur Championship. In 2018, the pair won the same division with a 69.069% and Tarjan was pleased with the 4.755% score improvement. Bred in Germany by Willi Helms, Tarjan originally purchased the expressive mare as a jumper prosper until she noticed her talent for collected upper-level work. At the end of summer at Lamplight Equestrian Center, the pair competed in the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix National Championship where they won the Intermediate II test and finished with the reserve championship after their Developing Grand Prix test, the exact same results as 2018.
Jennifer Huber of Wellington, Florida, earned the reserve championship ribbon in the Intermediate II Adult Amateur Championship with a 66.275% on Madame Noir, her 15-year-old Danish Warmblood mare (Nobleman–Silke, Sherwood).
In the Intermediate II Open Championship, Heather Mason of Lebanon, New Jersey, earned the top placing with her own 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding RTF Lincoln. Mason has known the gelding since he was a foal in the Cornell University Breeding Program, and has developed a strong bond with him over the years. While she did not typically show him, she took over the ride on RTF Lincoln recently due to her client’s double hip surgery. Mason was over the moon thinking about the gelding’s progress over the years, as he won Fourth Level Championship just a few years ago. She explained that although he is generally a hot horse, he remained rideable and light in the hand in the ring, helping them earn a score of 72.157% to take home the championship honors.
Claiming the reserve championship was Kristin Wasemiller-Knutson of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, riding her own mare Vashti (Nico—Thekia). Wasemiller-Knutson and the 10-year-old Trakehner, who happens to be a younger sister to Jim Koford’s crowd favorite ride, Adiah HP, gave Wasemiller-Knutson a smooth ride to help them earn a score of 69.657%. The siblings will face off in Saturday night’s Grand Prix Open Championship in the Alltech Arena.
Bragdell and SenSation HW (Sunday–Donata, Dancier), a 6-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Carol McPhee and bred in Germany by Alfons Bergjohann, are no strangers to the winner’s circle. SenSation HW has raked up multiple national titles in his young career including both Markel/USEF 5-Year-Old and the 6-Year-Old Dressage National Championships, as well as winning the US Dressage Finals First Level Open Championship in 2018. On Thursday, they added another tricolor to their resume by sweeping the Third Level Open Championship with a 73.083%. Earning the division’s reserve championship title with a 71.292% was Karen Lipp on Infinity, her 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding.
Once again, dressage enthusiasts around the world can follow the action from the US Dressage Finals via live-streaming on the USEF Network at www.usef.org/network, with coverage beginning Thursday, November 7 in the Alltech Arena. See the entire live streaming schedule HERE.
US Dressage Finals Intermediate II Adult Amateur Championship
Rider / Horse / Total Score
1. Alice Tarjan / Candescent / 73.824 2. Jennifer Huber / Madame Noir / 66.275 3. Kristine Pinto / Slawo / 66.078 4. Hannah Hewitt / Fidens / 65.098 5. Lucy Tidd / Ellert HB / 64.755
6. Mystere Moyes / Conan Star / 62.01
US Dressage Finals Intermediate II Open Championship
Rider / Horse / Total Score
1. Heather Mason / RTF Lincoln / 72.157
2. Kristin Wasemiller-Knutson / Vashti / 69.657 3. Erika-West Nece / Zoe / 67.5 4. Kimberly Kobryn-Callaway / Donatella CF / 65.735
5. Brian Hafner / Dream Catcher / 65.539
6. Martin Kuhn / Rapson / 65.294
US Dressage Finals Third Level Open Championship
Rider / Horse / Total Score
1. Michael Bragdell / SenSation HW / 73.083 2. Karen Lipp / Infinity / 71.292 3. Karen Lipp / Flavius WCF / 69.417 4. Brandi Benedict / Song of Fire JSD / 69.083
5. Marta Renilla / WEC’s Senor Ru / 69
6. Lauren Chumley / Santa Barbara DA / 67.875
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Alice Tarjan – Intermediate II Adult Amateur champion
On her progress with Candescent:
“I’m not so worried about the movements with her anymore. I’m really trying to work on consistency and harmony in the ring. That part is a little bit difficult, it is always a work in progress I guess.”
On her training:
“I used to have to rely a lot on trying to get her hot with a little bit of positive tension to get everything done, and now the horse knows the movements better so I’m trying to back off and let her ride it much quieter. The training is there and she understands what I’m asking for. This sport is really difficult and it’s always a work in progress. I used to rely on working on getting her more hot or positive tension and I’m working on trusting the training more. I’ll train down there [to continue in the Developing Grand Prix]. It’s way better than last year but I need to work on getting it more relaxed.”
Jennifer Huber – Intermediate II Adult Amateur reserve champion
On her ride:
“I had a super ride. I just loved every moment of it. Madame gives me her heart on a plate and says ‘what can I do for you?’ It’s really fun. She’s super comfortable with this test, she really likes the way it flows around. Our piaffe wasn’t as good as it can be but our pirouettes were better than they’ve ever been. I get some things, miss others and it’s set a matter of stepping everything up together.”
Heather Mason – Intermediate II Open champion
On her partnership with RTF Lincoln:
“I’ve known him since he was a foal, I got him from Cornell University’s breeding program. I then sold him to a client of mine who had him for a number of years with me training him. She needed double hip surgery and she ended up giving me the ride on him three years ago.”
On her ride:
“He was actually fantastic today. Very rideable. I had a couple little glitches which were my fault because he was more rideable than he normally is. He’s usually very hot, but he let me use my leg today which was nice. Almost halted into the second canter pirouette which was unfortunate but he was very good today.”
On riding in a snaffle bridle:
“He has already been very light in the hand and I’ve been encouraging more and more contact. As a Third Level horse I showed him in a double bridle as we were prepping for the FEI competition and they are required there. He’s back in a snaffle now and goes well in it.”
Kristin Wasemiller-Knutson – Intermediate II Open reserve champion
“Her older sister is Adiah HP with Jim Koford and hopefully she will give them a run for their money in both the Grand Prix and the Freestyle.”
On her ride:
“I had a really nice ride. I had a few little mistakes, the one tempis have been my achilles heel all year. She is still young and hopefully we can have a cleaner test tomorrow. I had a great time and it was a fun ride, I was very pleased with it.”
Michael Bragdell – Third Level Open champion
On his ride:
“It was a little challenging with the conditions outside, but he felt great and everything flowed really well. The transitions in between movements, I really couldn’t ask any more from him. It was a good ride, I was very happy with him.”
On preparing for the day:
“I started this morning, took him out for hack and exercised him very lightly. I could feel this morning he was a little tense with the sudden cold and rain, but I was hoping the preparation this morning would pay off this afternoon. As soon as I put my foot in the stirrup this afternoon, it was the horse I wanted to have for the class and I was quite happy with that.”
Karen Lipp – Third Level Open reserve champion
On her ride:
“I decided to take him out this morning and lunge him and he was wild, so I put him up because I was scared he was going to hurt himself. When I took him out he was quite fresh to start with but he worked out really nicely. He went in the ring and I felt he gave me 100 percent. For a young horse he did everything I asked him to do so I was thrilled. The extensions and flying changes were great, he was beautiful height and self carriage and it was fun to ride. If it feels good it must look good!”