Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 21, 2020 – For the second year in a row, Endel Ots has claimed the national title in the USEF Intermediare I Dressage National Championship, this time with a new mount. Following a stellar freestyle performance that earned them a score of 77.645%, Ots secured the top position once again aboard Sonnenberg’s Everdance.
After earning a 74.941% in the Prix St. Georges test, Ots and Sonnenberg Farm LLC’s 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Johnson-Raindancer S, Zeoliet) set their sights on putting down a consistent freestyle test. The freestyle, with music put together by Karen Robinson, possessed the energy and cohesiveness that Ots hoped it would have when the time came.
“I was very happy with it,” Ots said. “Yesterday I just took her around to hand walk and let her sleep in the stall, so she basically slept all day. She had a lot of energy today, so she carried me through the test and was nice and forward. It was nice to be able to ride the freestyle competition, I was planning on doing it in Florida before covid. The choreography is actually the same as what I had with Lucky Strike, but I wanted something more powerful in the music and I always liked Edward [Gal’s] freestyles full of power. Karen Robinson is who did the freestyle, I’m very happy with how it turned out.”
“Last year it was just a nice ending to a great year,” he continued. “This year it is really great because it’s a new partnership but she’s an old soul of a mare. She is very uncomplicated to ride and it’s just a nice feeling. It took us a little bit to get to know each other and speak the same language, but once we got on the same page it’s really comfortable and I really appreciate that. She was quite strong with everything and she could do all the movements, but what we really worked on was putting all the pieces together for the test. Michelle [Bondy] did a really fantastic job of training her in all the movements and I had a lot of test rides under my belt, so I helped her predict what was going to happen. That was the main thing we worked on. For the big picture, I knew I wanted to win the Intermediare I Championships with her and qualify first. I wanted to win all three days and I knew that was possible with her.”
David Blake was named the reserve champion with his mount Heide Spirit, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare. Blake made the journey from Encinitas, California to attend the championships this year, and earned a 74.7% for his freestyle performance. The upbeat “Shut Up and Dance” freestyle music was designed by Blake’s wife and fellow dressage trainer, Rebecca Rigdon, though they kept the choreography simple since the mare is relatively green at the level.
“It was my first freestyle with her so I was a little nervous in the beginning but it worked out nicely,” Blake said. “I stayed on my music which was pretty impressive for her because she can really go. I was worried I would get ahead of my music, but I was so happy when I walked at C. There is a lot in that horse and she kept herself together. I’m very proud of her!
“She’s close to the Grand Prix but she can’t be rushed,” he continued. “Everything is on her terms. I think she will get there — she has a lot of talent. The extended trot is her highlight, especially today because the music pumped her up. The pirouettes have come together too and the maturity is getting there.”
Callie Jones and Don Philippo, her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, finished in third place with a freestyle score of 72.695%.
Competition will resume on Aug. 22 at 8 a.m. with the USEF 4-Year-Old Test.
Results: USEF Intermediare I Dressage National Championship
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / Prix St. Georges Score / Intermediate I Freestyle Score
1. Endel Ots / Sonnenberg’s Everdance / Sonnenberg Farm LLC / 74.941 / 77.645
2. David Blake / Heide Spirit / David Blake / 71.324 / 74.7
3. Callie Jones / Don Philippo / Callie Jones / 71.824 / 72.695
4. Jami Kment / Gatino Van Hof Olympia / Jami Kment / 70.824 / 72.52
5. Dawn White-O’Connor / El Torro B / Mary Keenan / 68.882 / 71.715
6. Emily Donaldson / Audi / Emily Donaldson / 67.735 / 67.48
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