Camille Molten and Isabel Gregory Claim Gold in Dressage Seat Medal Finals

On the final day of the U.S. Festival of Champions, the medalists were decided for both the 13 & Under and 14–18 Dressage Seat Medal Finals. The 13 & Under class that kicked off at 8 a.m. in the Equo Arena proved to be competitive amongst the young riders. After all of the rides had been completed, it was Camille Molten, 13, of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, who was awarded the gold medal and the title of champion.

Camille Molten and Magnito II
Camille Molten and Magnito II

Aboard her 10-year-old Mustang/Trakehner Cross gelding Magnito II, Molten earned a score of 89 in the equitation class. The young rider, who has been riding since the age of 5, trained with Michelle Folden to refine her skills for the medal finals. Previously, she had competed in the 2015 Dressage Medal Seat Finals, where she placed third. With her improvement in the years that followed, she was able to claim the gold medal at the 2017 medal finals.

Kasey Denny earned the silver medal aboard Feyock, a 20-year-old Westphalian gelding, after the pair earned a score of 88. Averi Allen claimed the bronze medal with her performance on the 14-year-old Friesian sporthorse mare Celtic Grace, earning a score of 87.

Isabel Gregory and Atoftens Cherick
Isabel Gregory and Atoftens Cherick

In the 14–18 Dressage Seat Medal Finals class, Isabel Gregory took home the gold medal aboard Atoftens Cherick, a 9-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, with a score of 88. The pair was a new partnership, as Atoftens Cherick was borrowed for the medal finals when Gregory’s horse came up with an injury. With a focus on having a smooth ride and showcasing her technical skills, Gregory was able to impress the judges and claim the victory.

Both the gold and bronze medalists in the 14–18 Dressage Seat Medal Finals had spent time training with Yvonne Kusserow out of Dallas, Texas. While Gregory’s main focus in showing this year was the Young Rider division, she was excited to vie for the honors in this year’s medal finals. Gregory had competed in the semi-finals three times previously, and 2016 was the first year that she qualified for the finals.

Just behind Gregory, Caroline Garren took home the silver medal with a score of 87. Garren rode Fontane, an 8-year-old Oldenburg gelding, who was also borrowed for the medal finals. Abigail Fleischli and Laguna, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare, earned the bronze medal after earning a score of 86 in the class.

13 & Under Dressage Seat Medal Finals

1. Camille Molten / Magnito II / 89.0
2. Kasey Denny / Feyock / 88.0
3. Averi Allen / Celtic Grace / 87.0
4. Ella Fructerman / Recess / 80.0
5. Tessa Holloran / Usela / 79.0
6. Saskia Paul / Humble Hazel / 78.0

14 – 18 Dressage Seat Medal Finals

1. Isabel Gregory / Atoftens Cherick / 88.0
2. Caroline Garren / Fontane / 87.0
3. Abigail Fleischli / Laguna / 86.0
4. Mackenzie Peer / Macu / 85.0
5. Callie Jones / Figaro H / 80.0
6. Olivia Turcott / Prosecco / 78.0


Camille Molten – 13 & Under Medal Seat Finals gold medalist

On her ride:
“My pony was really good. I leg-yielded from the wrong letter and he was a little spooky in the corner, but other than that it was good. It was really fun.”

On her preparation for the competition:
“I’ve been training with Michelle Folden for eight years. Equitation is important because your riding affects the horse, and you are judged on your riding. It’s important to not just sit there and look pretty, but actually ride the horse. To practice, my friends and I lunge each other and work on our equitation. During our lessons, we work mostly on equitation as well.”

Kasey Denny – 13 & Under Medal Seat Finals silver medalist

On her ride:
“I felt like my test went pretty well, but he needed to stay straighter during the transitions. He didn’t quite do his free walk and cut the corner off. I thought the canter-trot serpentine was the best today. In our pony test we have a four-loop serpentine with a walk transition. The trot transition is a little easier for him so that was good today.”

On her preparation for the competition:
“I think the equitation is important because you get to learn how to use your seat and legs more. You are able to ride your horse better. I’ve especially been working on my seat, legs and upper body position.”

Averi Allen – 13 & Under Medal Seat Finals bronze medalist

On her ride:
It was pretty good — my transition to the canter from trot was not by the letter, and she wasn’t listening by C very well. It got a little tense, but other than that it was good.”

On her preparation for the competition:
“I’ve been riding with her since I was 3 years old. Equitation is important because sometimes you realize you have to get your core and legs stronger so the horse listens to you better. I’ve been working on getting my core and legs stronger, as well as practicing without stirrups. ”

Isabel Gregory – 14–18 Dressage Seat Medal Finals gold medalist

On her ride:
“I didn’t have a big goal going in because this is my first time at the finals and I’m riding a borrowed horse. I really just wanted to focus on having a smooth test and I feel like we accomplished that. We really improved from our training the past few days. He got a little stuck at some points in the test, but I felt that he was really listening to me and I was able to push him through it. I thought [the championships] were a really fun experience. It’s cool to see riders from around the country that you hear about but never see in person. It was really interesting to see the quality of horses too. There is so much going on and it’s a really good learning opportunity.”

On her riding background:
“I started riding when I was 11 but it wasn’t seriously riding. After that, I trained with Yvonne Kusserow and Abby six years ago. I actually showed Young Riders this season, but my horse was injured so I was fortunate to have a horse to borrow for the finals.”

Caroline Garren – 14–18 Dressage Seat Medal Finals silver medalist

On her ride:
“I have a lovely borrowed horse this time also. I did the practice round so I really tried to build off what the judges were saying, such as making his walk a little more free and following. My trainer really helped me work through making my trot to canter transitions smooth. Not all of them went smoothly, but I felt like I really put in effort to help him and support him in those. I was very happy with our trot work. Just making that all go smoothly was very important to me today.”

On her preparation for the competition:
“I train with Karen Lipp. I was actually able to have the horse the week before the competition from his lovely owner Denise Cole. We really focused on getting to know him and keeping him relaxed when he got here. We just made sure that he felt confident so I could look beautiful.”

Abigail Fleischli – 14–18 Dressage Seat Medal Finals bronze medalist

On her ride:
“I’ve been competing in the Young Rider division so I didn’t do the warm-up class. Going into the finals, I really wanted to have a smooth test as well. We actually competed in the 2015 Dressage Seat Medal Finals, and I would say I focused too much on myself and wasn’t as effective with my aids because I wasn’t as worried about what Laguna was doing. For this test, I really tried to focus on keeping her in a frame that was really adjustable, in addition to focusing on myself. That helped the overall picture.”

On her preparation for the competition:
“I train with Yvonne Kusserow. Prior to this competition we were focusing mainly on the Young Rider stuff. We focused on building a lot of expression into her gaits. I think in doing that, we also made her more rideable and easier to adjust, which helped for the Dressage Seat Medal Final class.”

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