Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 21, 2020 – The first of two Dressage Seat Medal Final championships, the 13 & Under division, took place on Friday afternoon seeing a field of eleven eager competitors. Following the group assessment and pattern tests performed by each rider, it was Grace Maestro of Cazenovia, New York, who took home the gold medal with a score of 86.
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.
Young navigated Maestro, a 20-year-old German riding pony gelding, around a smoothly executed pattern, which asked riders to demonstrate two leg-yields at the trot and several canter transitions. Impressing the judges with her control and preciseness, Young was awarded a score of 86 to take her to the top.
“I’ve had Maestro for four years now, he is such a blessing,” Young said. “He was an opportunity that we got to go try and we loved him so we brought him home. He’s been a challenge but such a blessing and really incredible to work with. I train with Diane Brandow at Spruce Valley Stables. We have been focusing on a lot of my FEI tests at home, I was preparing to come here as well. It was a well put together pattern, we had been practicing them at home so it wasn’t a complete surprise to me. I was able to go to some shows in Vermont this year as well as some closer to my home at HITS Saugerties. It was nice to be able to get a few in with covid because there weren’t too many opportunities to go to shows. It feels very nice to be back, it is really different but it’s great to still be able to do something so wonderful.
“It’s very much an honor to be here and I’m very grateful,” she continued. “This is a super meaningful win because this is my last year before I age out. It was very memorable and exciting ride today. I have recently been thinking about my specific goals and what I want to do moving forward. I’d like to have a career in the equestrian world and would love to try for the Olympics.”
Kasey Denny earned the reserve championship with a score of 84. Denny of Hutto, Texas, was the 2017 and 2018 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final 13 & Under reserve champion, and returned to finally claim the top prize at the 2019 competition. Riding her new mount Hemingway KW, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Denny was excited to earn such a high placing just seven months into their partnership.
“I’m extremely pleased with how he did, Denny said. “Despite some spooks today he was awesome. He was very good and listening to me, I’m very happy with how he went. My other horse got hurt in January and this horse popped up, so my mom said we would take him. He was rehabbing from an injury, so I got him back strong and decided to go to a show. I got qualified for the FEI Children’s division. I’ve been very lucky to be in the top two every year I come here for equitation. I liked the pattern, it was one thing after another and he gets kind of distracted if he has a long break up the longside, so having it be leg yield to canter, to trot and back to leg yield was really good. It kept him busy and on my aids.”
Finishing the top three was Maren Elise Fouche-Hanson riding her own mount In My Feelings, a 25-year-old gelding. Fouche-Hanson earned a score of 82.
Competition will resume on Aug. 22 at 8 a.m. with the USEF 4-Year-Old Test.
Results: Dressage Seat Medal Final 13 & Under
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Grace Young / Maestro / Hailey Kates / 86
2. Kasey Denny / Hemingway KW / Amy Denny / 84
3. Maren Elise Fouche-Hanson / In My Feelings / Maren Elise Fouche-Hanson / 82
4. Korey Denny / L’Espirit De Kelci SVS / Amy Denny / 80
5. Olivia Martz / Norra / Heather Decent / 78
6. Alice Burley / Joshua S. / Anne Margaret Meyers / 76
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