Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 24, 2020 – To close out competition at the 2020 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions, young riders convened in the Grand Prix Arena to duke it out for the USEF Dressage Seat Medal 14-18 gold medal. After demonstrating her skills to the judging jury in both the group and individual assessment that the division requires, it was Averi Allen riding Superman who stole the gold, making it the pair’s second victory of the week.
The USEF Dressage Seat Medal program, which promotes building a strong foundation in equitation, is a positive and exciting way for young riders to focus on their riding development without the horse’s quality playing a factor in the results. The finals features two divisions—a 13 & Under division and a 14-18 division. The riders are first assessed in groups during the finals, being asked to perform various gaits on demand. The riders are then asked to perform a test pattern in the dressage arena that the judges have designed.
Allen riding Superman, a 7-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Jonni Allen, stood out to the judges among her peers in the group assessment, and expertly navigated their assigned pattern to score a total of 86. The 16-year-old Junior in high school has had quite a week with Superman, also taking home the USEF Junior Dressage National Championship title just one day prior.
“I think I was tense today, I don’t think I prepared myself enough for it,” Allen said. “We were both tired, but I am happy with how it went! I was third [in the division] last year, so it feels really good to come back and win on the same horse. I know the rules and how the class goes now, so that made me more comfortable and I was able to practice in the warm-up. We have had a lot of improvement! I just went in the class, rode my best and tried to breathe through everything. At home I worked on sitting deeper, keeping my legs quiet and sitting straighter so that I was not leaning in the turns.”
Allen explained practicing the pattern paid off, as it required riders to demonstrate three simple changes across a diagonal through the trot, which proved difficult for many of the riders in Sunday’s class.
“I was definitely worried about [the simple changes!],” she said. “When the test came out, we practiced it that afternoon and he wouldn’t do a canter-trot at all, so we just started working on canter-trots. We didn’t want to work too hard and get him or me worked up about it, so I just went in today and was like, ‘Okay! We are going to do the canter-trot’ I think he listened well despite how tense I was.”
Finishing with the silver medal and reserve championship was Emma Teff riding Beaudacious, an 11-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Rhianna Pankhurst. Teff, a 17-year-old high school senior, was more than excited to come away with a second place finish and a score of 84 on the borrowed horse, explaining that she competed in the 13 & Under Medal Finals once in 2016 and took home fifth place.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” Teff said. “My trainer actually let me borrow Beaudacious, so I was super excited just to be here and being able to come away with Reserve Champion is the icing on the cake! I have only ridden him between five and ten times now. I was able to have some lessons on him before I came here so it wasn’t like I just met him at the show. We are definitely still new to each other, so I was just so thrilled with the way he behaved. He was perfect!”
“I have been working on my elbows, which are a bad habit of mine,” she explained about what she has been working on in her training at home. “Sometimes they get too far back or too wide, so I am always trying to keep them in at my sides and in front of my body. I am always just trying to get better at using my seat and sitting deep.”
Rounding out the top three was 17-year-old high school senior Caroline McQueen riding Mandolin RH, her 16-year-old Hanoverian mare. McQueen earned a total score of 79 to take home the bronze on the mount she has only had for about eight months.
“I am really surprised,” McQueen said. “This is our sixth show together, so we are still very new together and I am really shocked. We have been practicing for the Juniors all week, so I did my test today in the warm-up and I was just prepared to go in and try our best. It went very well and I was very happy. This is my first time ever doing the Medal other than at Regionals. This is my first time ever at a show like this and it has been really fun and different for me to see everything and be in this type of class.”
McQueen explained the weight that great equitation holds for her, no matter what discipline you are participating in.
“Your equitation dictates how the horse moves,” she said. “I learned that when I did the hunters and the hunter equitation, so coming into dressage I always had the mindset that your equitation dictates how the horse will move. Dressage is really a tough sport, so it means a lot when you are asking the horse to do hard movements.”
“This year, I only had my USDF Bronze Medal in mind, and then I found Mandolin RH and decided why not try for more?” she continued. “Even though I felt so much less qualified than all of these other girls that have worked for so many years, I thought that I might as well give it a shot!”
Results: USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals 14-18
Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Averi Allen / Superman / Jonni Allen / 86
2. Emma Teff / Beaudacious / Rhianna Pankhurst / 84
3. Caroline McQueen / Mandolin RH / Caroline McQueen / 79
4. Grace Sharplin / Double Dutch / Grace Sharplin / 78
5. Erin Nichols / Rara Avis P / Carrie Dorn / 77
6. Uliana Ukrainchuk / Don Denali / Lesya A Ukrainchuk / 75
Learn more about PS Dressage’s U.S. Festival of Champions Sponsor, Biostar US: Created by equine nutrition expert Tigger Montague, BioStar US is an organic, whole food supplement company for equines and canines. BioStar US is the leading source of whole food nutritional supplements for dogs and horses and provides raw, dehydrated, wheat-free, organic and non-GMO options. BioStar US has been certified by the Non-GMO Project and only uses the highest quality tested ingredients.