Wayne, Ill. – Aug 27, 2021 – The U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions at Lamplight Equestrian Center continued on Friday, Aug. 27, seeing several of the championship’s fourteen divisions crown new victors. First to take to the Grand Prix Arena for the day were the Pony Riders, eager to show off their best performances in the Individual Test that would account for 50% of the division’s final placings along with the previous day’s Team Test. At the conclusion of the division, it was 13 year-old Tessa Geven of Cataula, Georgia, who took home the tricolor ribbon with Tullymor’s Houdini.
Geven and Tullymor’s Houdini, her own 18-year-old Connemara gelding, started out strong with their first performance on Thursday, earning a score of 70.713% to sit in second place after the first half of the competition. Returning to the ring determined to put their best foot forward on Friday morning, the pair earned high marks for their canter tour and simple changes, with many 7s given by the judges throughout their test. Securing an Individual Test score of 70.135%, Geven took over the top position on the leaderboard with a final score of 70.424%, earning a new championship title.
Geven, a multi-discipline rider who also will also compete in the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) next week at the Kentucky Horse Park, was thrilled to go out of her final competition season with Tullymor’s Houdini, also known as “Samson,” with a victory. Balancing her goals as both a Novice event rider and a dressage competitor, Geven will look forward to competing in the Junior division with her younger horses in next year’s season.
Finishing with the reserve championship honors was Maren Elise Fouche-Hanson of Colbert, Georgia, and In My Feelings, her own 26-year-old gelding. Fouche-Hanson and her longtime partner “Drake” led the division after their Team Test performance on Thursday that earned them a score of 72.237%. Due to a couple of bobbles in their canter tour with the simple changes and counter canter, the pair dropped down the leaderboard of the Individual Test, earning a score of 66.936%. However, thanks to her strong performance in the Team Test, they were able to clinch the reserve championship ribbon with a final score of 69.587%.
Fouche-Hanson and In My Feelings have seen frequent success at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions, also earning the reserve championship title in last year’s USEF Children Dressage International Championship and third place in the Dressage Seat Medal Final 13 & Under. Fouche-Hanson explained that although she is working on Third Level work with “Drake,” this year will likely be her last at the national championships with her trusty mount.
Finishing in third place was Aislin Falasco of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Unscripted, her own 16-year-old KWPN gelding. The combination started out the division sitting in third place with a score of 69.952% in the Team Test, and maintained their placing on Friday after earning a score of 67.747% in the Individual. Their final score of 68.85% was good enough to hold off the other competition and help them finish with the yellow ribbon. Falasco and Unscripted swept the National Dressage Pony Cup and Small Horse Championships just last month in the Pony and Second Level divisions, giving them good momentum going into the Festival. She noted that the pair is also practicing their Third Level work in hopes of competing in the near future.
Youth competition at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions will continue Saturday, Aug. 28, with new champions being decided in the USEF Junior Dressage National Championship and the USEF Children Dressage National Championship beginning at 8 a.m.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Tessa Geven – USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Champion
On winning the championship in her final year as a Pony Rider:
“It’s exciting. This is going to be my last show on this pony because I am getting too tall so it’s a very emotional experience. We are really taking it in. I’ve been riding him for a few years now since I was eight. He’s really fun and tries his little heart out. He likes to do things and when you ask him to do things, he tries. My test was really good today. We had a little problem in our last trot extension breaking into the canter and he could have been more supple in my opinion. Today I tried to add more pizazz because our first test was a bit boring – we wanted to add more pop.”
On her plans for next year’s competition:
“I have other horses I plan on riding for the Juniors. We want to get passports for our horses so we can do FEI. I event, so I want to move up to training in eventing and heading to AEC’s in Novice. I used to event [Samson] at Beginner Novice and won AECs. He was a really good boy.”
Maren Elise Fouché-Hanson – USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Reserve Champion
On her test:
“Today we did have some bobbles and it was definitely not the same test or as well as he did yesterday, but I’m super proud of him. He’s probably getting tired so he will have some nice rest days while I compete my mare in the Children’s division. I don’t think I’ll be taking Drake back to Festival again but my plan is to work on flying changes and try for Third Level because he has been offering them.”
Aislin Falasco – USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship third place
On her test:
“My ride today was really good, he really had my back the entire time and I was very proud of him. We plan on trying out Third Level and I’m excited to work on that. We’ve looked at the changes a little bit and it looks like he’s going to have fun with them so we’ll see!”
USEF Pony Rider National Dressage Championship
1. Tessa Geven / Tullymor’s Houdini / Tessa Geven / 70.713 / 70.135 / 70.424
2. Maren Elise Fouche-Hanson / In My Feelings / Maren Elise Fouche-Hanson / 72.237 / 66.936 / 69.587
3. Aislin Falasco / Unscripted / Aislin Falasco / 69.952 / 67.747 / 68.85
4. Sophia Beck / Bonnaroo / Sophia Beck / 67.713 / 68.377 / 68.045
5. Finley Peterson / Mystic Max / Finley Peterson / 67.952 / 66.17 / 67.061
6. Caroline Grosso / SPS Divine / Kristin Grosso / 65.856 / 62.296 / 64.076
7. London Morin / Laurel / London Morin / 65.571 / 61.576 / 63.574
8. Santina Hackett / Fierro L’oasis / Santina Hacket / 61.142 / 64.774 / 62.958
9. Abigail Taft / My Merry Way / Janine Fierberg / 59.475 / 57.567 / 58.521
10. Caylin Blue / Freckle Juice / Caylin Blue / 56.285 / 58.197 . 57.241