Hagen, Germany – The U.S. Young Rider Dressage Team capped a month’s long tour in Europe with a team finish in the Hagen CDIOY, taking eighth place. The team, led by USEF Youth Coach and Chef d’Equipe George Williams, saw improved rides from Erin Nichols, Mackenzie Peer, and Christian Simonson throughout the course of the competition. Hosted at Future Champions in Hagen, Germany, the competition saw 10 countries and 26 talented combinations compete in the CDIOY division, showcasing future dressage talents.
“After a bit of a rocky start in the Team Test, I was proud and happy with how our riders came back with strong performances on Friday for the Individual Test. It was exciting to see Christian prove how competitive we can be by improving on last year’s performance, earning the highest scores ever for a U.S. rider in this show and placing fifth in the Individual and fourth in the Freestyle,” said Williams. “Future Champions has become an important part of our program. It is such a great experience for our young athletes, not only do they go head-to-head against the other top countries, they do it on the Europeans’ home turf.”
The first day of team competition featured athletes competing in the FEI Young Rider Team Test with Simonson (Ventura, Calif.) and Son of a Lady, receiving a 67.794%, the highest mark for the U.S. combinations. This is Simonson’s second appearance on the U.S European Young Rider Tour, having competed in 2021 with his mount Zeaball Diawind. Nichols (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and Handsome Rob AR earned a 67.206% to count towards the team score, with Peer (Leawood, Kan.) and her mount Ansgar, receiving a 65.981%. In CDIOY competition, the two highest scores count towards the overall team total, with the team finishing on a total of 135.00 as their overall score following the first day of competition.
In the FEI Young Rider Individual Test, Simonson and Son of a Lady, a 12-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, owned by Christina Morgan and Clifton Simonson, were the highest-placed U.S. combination finishing in fifth individually and earning a 73.168%, to improve on their performance from the day prior. Nichols and Handsome Rob AR, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Diane Nichols, took 12th with a score of 69.265%, and Peer and her own Ansgar, a 17-year-old KWPN gelding, placing just outside of the top 15 on a 68.627%.
Simonson and Son of a Lady again impressed in their FEI Young Rider Freestyle, earning a personal best 75.875% to finish fourth overall in the class. The pair’s freestyle showcased the gelding’s extravagant and balanced trot and canter work, giving them the highest mark of any U.S. combination to compete at the Hagen CDIOY in the team’s history. Nichols guided Handsome Rob AR to a 69.642% in their freestyle to cap off a successful week for the pair in their first appearance for the team in Europe. In the FEI Young Rider Freestyle Small Final, Peer and Ansgar took third place with a score of 70.667%, continuing to improve on their marks over the continuation of the weekend.