Wellington, Fla. – March 1, 2020 – Week 8 at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival (AGDF) came to a close as five division champions were crowned for the eighth annual Florida International Youth Dressage Championships (FIYDC). The final day of competition commenced Sunday morning with the FEI Children’s Individual class followed by the freestyle classes for the FEI Pony, Junior, Young Rider and U25 divisions.
AGDF is recognized as one of the world’s most distinguished dressage competition venues in the world, and hosting the FIYDC at the facility exposes youth riders to an international-caliber environment. This year there were 11 horse-and-rider combinations in the FEI U25 division, 12 entries in the FEI Young Rider division, seven in the FEI Junior Rider division, two in the FEI Children division, and one in the FEI Pony Rider division. The riders represented five different countries, including Canada, Columbia, Germany, Spain, and the United States.
The United State’s very own, Benjamin Ebeling, aboard his mount Illuster Van De Kampert, a 12-year-old Begian Warmblood gelding owned by Nuvolari Holdings LLC took the U25 division. The duo kicked off the FIYDC with a win in the FEI Intermediate II 16-25 with a score of 69.706%, a personal best for the 2020 season, but that was not the outcome he expected late last year.
“At the Young Rider level he was sometimes a little bit lazy and when I was bringing him up to the U25 I was a little bit worried that he would peter out, but he gets super hot in the passage and piaffe as well,” Ebeling explained. “ He carries that throughout the test and is now becoming much more controlled and calm. This week I was able to, for the first time in a show, be able to harness that energy and use it to my advantage.”
Ebeling and Illuster Van de Kampert dominated the division, not only sweeping the first day of the division but also Friday’s FEI Grand Prix 16-25 with 69.188% and Sunday’s Freestyle. The pair was last to set foot in the ring, but laid down an impressive and exciting freestyle earning a score of 74.05% rocketing right into first place and solidifying his title as the U25 division champion.
To no surprise it was Spain’s Natalia Bacariza Danguillecourt and Romantico Ymas, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Yeguada de Ymas, that swept the Young Rider Division. Together last season the pair claimed the title of Junior Rider Division Champions, but having moved into the Young Riders division the duo now have two titles under their belt and a third for the Spainard herself with her other mount, Dhannie Ymas.
“Last year was our first time competing and we did the Juniors,” Danguillecourt said. “I was only focused on the Junior level because of the Europeans at the end of July. Then in September after the Spanish Championships we started to work on the pirouettes and tempi changes to start getting ready for Young Riders. He just moved up to Young Riders and he is a little bit green in some areas so we are still working on things.”
The pair started off the championship week with a win in the FEI Young Rider Team Test scoring a 73.725%. They continued their domination on Saturday in the FEI Young Rider Individual Test riding to yet another win with a score of 73.873%. During Sunday’s freestyle the 2019 Young and Junior Rider Division Champion focused on Romantico piloting the pair to an impressive score of 77.9%.
“I was super happy to win again! I could not believe our score when I saw it on the scoreboard. I could not believe we were doing it again.” said Danguillecourt on her huge win today. The pair put the cherry on top of the grand sundae bringing home the highest score of the weekend, winning the overall champion title at FIYDC for the third year in a row.
Danguillecourt took a step back from the junior division this season and it was North American Youth Championship gold medalist, Annelise Klepper of the United States that took the 2020 title in the junior division aboard Shannon Klepper’s 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Happy Texas Moonlight. The horse-and-rider’s first division win came on Friday in the FEI Junior Team Test where they scored 71.414%, making them the highest scoring in the class. The pair went two for two during Saturday’s FEI Junior Individual Test snatching their second win in the junior division putting up a score of 71.814% to top the field. Klepper and Happy Texas Moonlight rounded out their stellar weekend with their third blue ribbon after their freestyle scored 74.15%. The18-hand behemoth and his small counterpart have found great success over the past year winning numerous competitions.
“My horse is an 18 hand Oldenburg gelding. He is just so sweet and is my heart horse, I love him so much. I did not go out looking for an 18 hand horse – I went to Germany looking for something maybe 16 hands just a nice school master to learn on, but I fell in love with him and it works.” said Klepper of her beloved partner.
Maren Elise Fouché-Hanson of the United States was named winner of the FEI Children division thanks to the help of her 24-year-old gelding, In My Feelings.
“When we went to our first [mounted] games practice I realized that this pony knew dressage. We had no history on him so we had no idea what he knew,” she said. “At the moment we did not really need a horse, but we went to try him — he was a cute little pony.”
Coming in hot off of Saturday’s win with a score of 75.445% in the FEI Children Team Test they went head to head for the second time against Justin Boyer and Lentisco XVIII. But, Fouché-Hanson and her trusty pony topped the ranks again scoring a 72.875% and another blue ribbon in Sunday’s FEI Children Individual Test.
“For my dressage tests they were amazing and I was very happy with him,” she continued. “He really pulled it together in the ring for the first time. I was so happy with that. I was very impressed with all the horses and I thought ‘Wow! This is another level of dressage.”
FEI Pony Rider division champion, Scarlett Hansen of Canada, rode her very own, Reve De Glatigny, a 15-year-old gelding, into the winners circle in today’s FEI Pony Freestyle CDIP. The only pair to compete in the class today the dynamic duo got to enjoy one last ride together, scoring a 66.86%, before she ages out of the division. The 15-year-old stated that: “It was kind of a sad week too because this is the last time I am showing him because I am turning 16 in April so I can’t show him anymore.”
She continued saying, “He was born at my home and I was only one when he was born. He was out in the field until he was 8- years-old and I asked why he was here and we tried him. So I started him when he was 8 and he is now going to be 15 this year. I’ve learned from him and we’ve learned together. I am going to try to find some young rider to help them learn from him. He is a really good horse in that way – really a school master for everyone.”
They have seen only blue ribbons this week riding her pony to a score of 64.524 in Friday’s FEI Pony Team CDIP and in Saturday’s FEI Pony Individual CDIP where the pair scored their highest in the division putting up a 68.288. Though the duos show career is coming to a close, Hansen assure that: “If he finds someone that he loves they can ride a little bit with him and then he is going to come back home and stay with me for the rest of his life.”
Though the FIYDC came to a close this week, AGDF will host four more weeks of dressage competition, including the high anticipated CDIO3* FEI Nations Cup during Week 10.