Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 20, 2020 – Fourteen young riders returned to the main arena at the Lamplight Equestrian Center on Thursday for their final chance to vie for the USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship in the Young Rider Individual Test. Although the California rider Katherine Mathews led the division after Wednesday’s performance, Hannah Irons of Queenstown, Maryland, overtook her and earned a high enough percentage to win her and Scola Bella the tri-color ribbon.
“I’ve had her for three years now,” Irons said. “It’s taken a little bit of time to develop our partnership and figure her out in the ring, but today I felt for a big venue and not showing much this year, I’m super proud of her for going in there. She got a little nervous, but stayed rideable and trusted me, so that’s the best feeling in the world in my opinion.”
Irons and the 11-year-old Hanoverian mare have had an exciting start to their partnership for the last three years after the mare was generously donated to Lendon Gray’s Dressage4Kids program by Deb Mullaney. After competing at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, last winter, they went on to compete in the North American Youth Championships where they helped Region 1 earn the team gold medal. Although this was her first time competing in the U.S. Festival of Champions with Scola Bella, Irons competed at Lamplight four years ago in the Pony Rider division.
“I had two ponies here in 2016 and I still have one of them,” she explained. “We are doing the Intermediate II and working towards the Grand Prix now, but I haven’t done Juniors or Young Riders here. To finally have everything fall into place to make it here and have a horse, I’m really grateful for that. I can do Young Riders again next year, so I’ll probably aim towards NAYC and potentially the European tour, fingers crossed. U25 is definitely a goal of mine in the future. I’m very grateful to ride such a talented mare. All my trainers and family have been so supportive of me, so I think the future is very exciting.
“I’m very grateful to USEF and the Lamplight Equestrian Center for being so dedicated to making this show happen,” Irons said. “We haven’t shown much this year, and I actually think the training at home definitely paid off. Just having the opportunity to come here to this beautiful facility and show off our hard work from the spring during covid is very exciting to me. Hats off to all the organizers, I think they did a fantastic job of making this show safe, and everyone definitely did their best to do their part by social distancing and wearing their masks. It was great to see that teamwork come together and make this a successful event.”
Katherine Mathews, who made the trip from San Marcos, California, to attend the festival, earned the reserve championship with Soliere. Mathews and the 16-year-old stallion owned by Peridot Equestrian, LLC, who are trained by Olympian Guenter Seidel, came in first place in Wednesday’s Individual test.
“I went into the ride today really excited because it went very well yesterday,” Mathews explained. “It went super well again today, he’s such a good boy. He’s been such a great horse for me to learn on and gain experience with. He himself is very experienced, but he also is challenging and I love that about him. Today was one of those days where I also had to work with him a little bit and I feel like that’s really special to have in a horse. Unfortunately we did have a mistake in our three tempis which I think cost us a little bit, but overall I’m very happy with how it went.”
“Next year I’m going to try to go for the European rider tour as well,” she said. “This is my second year in young riders, so I’m very excited to see how it will go. I’ll hopefully continue to move up the levels from there!”
Kayla Kadlubek and Perfect Step, a 19-year-old Hanoverian gelding who was also donated to the Dressage4Kids program, finished the competition in third place.
The riders competing for the USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship also took to the main arena on Thursday, putting down their best performances in the Grand Prix. In the end it was Alice Tarjan and her own mount Candescent, a 10-year-old Hanoverian mare, who put down a solid test to earn a 71.478%. Candescent has racked up a great deal of wins in her career so far, getting her start with Tarjan in the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse divisions and most recently won three national championship titles at the 2019 U.S. Dressage Finals. They made their CDI debut in the final week of competition at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival this winter.
“It’s a work in progress and it’s getting better,” Tarjan said. “She is getting more reliable and was slightly more relaxed today. We’re still working on a lot of things — we had a little unsteadiness in the canter going on, but I’m really pleased. It’s been a funny year obviously and there haven’t been a lot of competitions, but I think she is better when she is consistently in the arena. The more she does it, the more routine it all becomes. We were working a lot on the consistency and harmony at home; she has a good idea of how to do all the movements at this point. It’s about getting the flow through the whole test now.”
Jennifer Schrader Williams and Millione, a 17-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Millione Partners LLC, rode into second place with a score of 70.5%, while Nora Batchelder and W Gangster Girl, a 17-year-old American Warmblood mare, took third place with a score of 68.848%.
In the first leg of the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship, Abby Fodor and Slip and Slide, Marie Fodor’s 17-year-old Haflinger and PHR cross gelding, topped the leaderboard with a score of 70.238%.
Fodor and Slip and Slide won the inaugural 2017 USEF Children Dressage National Championship and were the reserve champions of the Pony Rider division in 2018.
“I thought it was very good, I had a really nice warm up,” Fodor said. “I think the trot lengthenings were good as well as my canter work. He didn’t halt early which he usually does so that was nice. He was paying attention to me a lot better. I’d like to improve the trot and walk work a little. It feels really good to be back — I’ve had a good year with him even though we’ve only done two shows. I’ve missed just being here.”
Finishing in second place was Carmen Stephens and Woldhoeve’s Silco, a 20-year-old Dutch Welsh Pony gelding, with 68.286%. Olivia Brown and Balthazar, an 18-year-old Belgian Riding Pony gelding, earned third place with a 66.81%.
Competition will resume on Aug. 21, 2020, at 8 a.m. with the Junior Rider Team Test in the main arena.
Results: USEF Young Rider Dressage National Championship
Rider / Horse / Owner / Team Test / Individual Test
1. Hannah Irons / Scola Bella / Hannah Irons / 69.853 / 73.088
2. Katherine Mathews / Soliere / Peridot Equestrian LLC / 72.157 / 70.490
3. Kayla Kadlubek / Perfect Step / Kayla Kadlubeck / 69.117 / 69.461
4. Melanie Doughty / Fascinata / Melanie Doughty / 68.873 / 68.971
5. Meredith Talley / Romeo / Meredith Talley / 66.863 / 66.765
Results: Grand Prix for the USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship
Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Alice Tarjan / Candescent / Alice Tarjan / 71.478
2. Jennifer Schrader Williams / Millione / Millione Partners LLC / 70.5
3. Nora Batchelder / W Gangster Girl / 68.848
4. Katie Poag / Zonnekoning / Katie Poag / 65.522
5. Patricia Becker / Freedom / 63.783
6. Dawn White-O’Connor / Bailarino / 59.739
Results: Pony Rider Team Test for the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship
Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Abby Fodor / Slip and Slide / Marie Fodor / 70.238
2. Carmen Stephens / Woldhoeve’s Silco / Carmen Stephens / 68.286
3. Olivia Brown / Balthazar / Olivia Brown / 66.81
4. Iselle Longman / Hidden Midnight Shadow / Michelle Hargreaves / 66.667
5. Daphne Glenn / Squirtel / Daphne Glenn / 66.143
6. Paydan McLaughlin / Lily of Chincoteague / Paydan McLaughlin / 64.429
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