Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 10, 2016 – The 2016 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan kicked off on Thursday at the Kentucky Horse Park with competitors traveling from around the United States to compete for the top honors. Championships were awarded on Thursday in the Intermediate II Open and Adult Amateur divisions.
Amy Leach and her own 18-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Radcliffe, of South Elgin, Illinois, successfully defended their title in the Intermediate II Adult Amateur Championship earning a score of 67.982 percent. The pair rose to meet the challenge after a difficult year and a broken foot sustained just minutes before leaving to make the drive to Kentucky.
Leach, who had trained Radcliffe since he was 3-years-old, had originally intended to compete Radcliffe in both the Intermediate II and Grand Prix again but he struggled with an immune response illness earlier this year.
“I lived with him everyday in order to treat him because he is my family,” Leach explained. “He was out of work from December to June. When he was feeling well, we starting riding for fun and he felt really good. I went to a few shows in August and regionals was the fourth time we went down centerline this year. I couldn’t get him Grand Prix fit in that time.”
After overcoming the challenge of Radcliffe’s illness this year Leach was thrilled to be making the trip back to Kentucky. Little did she know she would have to conquer another hurdle before heading down the centerline at the national championships.
Amy Leach and Radcliffe
“About 15 minutes before getting on the trailer while wrapping the quilt on his left, he broke my foot!” Leach explained. “We drove seven hours, I hacked him and then headed to the emergency room. This would not be possible without so many people helping me, including my mom, my friends and the show officials. I didn’t think I would be able to get my foot in the boot until late last night.”
Though Leach was worried able to fitting her swollen foot in her show boot, she was able to squeeze it on and put in a solid test to defend her championship.
“I was really happy with the canter half passes today and his ones are always a highlight,” said Leach. “We’ve had a difficult year so we’ve been taking it a day at a time. My goal for the year was to work on enjoying the moment. It’s not about showing and coming out on top, it’s about how I can enjoy each moment with him and having it be a peaceful moment between him and I. I didn’t want the event to take over that feeling.”
Amy Grahn and Zabaco
Amy Grahn and her own Zabaco, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, were the reserve champions with a score of 64.254 percent. Grahn purchased the gelding in 2015 and she was pleased with her debut ride at the US Dressage Finals.
“For being the first time here [at the US Dressage Finals] riding these levels I am thrilled,” Grahn said. “We’ve come a long way! I had never ridden at these levels and for about two months I couldn’t get him to canter.
“The highlight for me was nailing my seven two tempis and my eleven ones,” she continued. “He was a little sucked back in the passage and his piaffe wasn’t as active but I was happy it was a pretty clean test.”
Intermediate II Open Championship
Heather Mason and her own Warsteiner, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, topped the field in the Intermediate II Open Championship with a score of 69.737 percent. Mason made the decision after the regional championships to show Warsteiner in the snaffle bridle rather than the double bridle and the change paid off.
“He felt fantastic today,” Mason said. “It was actually the first time I’ve shown him in a snaffle bridle since Third Level. Everything was very solid and the the connection was very uphill and elastic,”she said. “I could have asked for more in the piaffe and passage but he felt a bit too electric today.”
Mason bought the gelding as a two-and-a-half-year-old from Europe with the intention of selling him but once she brought him to his first show those plans changed.
“I decided to keep him,” she laughed. “He has such a personality and is the barn favorite. He’s been great and I’ve brought him up the levels.”
The pair will compete later this weekend in both the Grand Prix Open Championship and the Grand Prix Freestyle Open Championship.
Taking home the reserve champion ribbon was Karen Lipp and Kathleen Oldford’s Whitney, an 11-year-old Hanoverian mare, with a score of 68.202 percent.
“I was very happy today, Lipp said. “She is a very hot, electric horse, but once I got in the ring, she was good and she felt really with me.”
Lipp has had the ride on Whitney since she was a 4-year-old and has brought her up through the levels in the developing young horse program. Oldford took over the ride for a little while but decided to hand the reins back over to Lipp to compete at the upper levels.
“She decided the horse had the potential to do the Grand Prix with me,” Lipp explained. “I’m looking forward to going to Wellington this winter and competing in the CDIs to see what she can do.”
Competition will continue on Friday with championships being awarded in the Intermediate I Open and Adult Amateur divisions as well as the Grand Prix Open and Adult Amateur division.
Intermediate II Open Championship
1. Heather Mason/Warsteiner/69.737
2. Karen Lipp/Whitney/68.202
3. Abraham Pugh/Elfenperfekt/67.456
4. Pamela Aide/Bon De Niro/66.535
5. Jessica Fussner/I’ve Been Ripped+/65.088
6. George Williams/Uniqa/64.868
7. Debbie Hill/San Nero/63.904
8. Dawn Weniger/Don Derrick/63.246
Intermediate II Adult Amateur Championship
1. Amy Leach/Radcliffe/67.982
2. Amy Grahn/Zabaco/64.254
3. Amy Bresky/Zafiro Dos Cedros/62.325
4. Rhonda Dretel/Dominic LHF/61.360
5. Michelle Baker/Collingwood/61.009
6. Susan Harrington/Willow Bae/60.175
7. Kristy Truebenbach Lund/Akvavit/59.825
8. Lee Burton/Enebro XIV/58.991