Mike Suchanek Saves the Best for Last to Win Intermediate I Open Championship

© Annan Hepner : Mike Suchanek and Hero L  Mike Suchanek and Hero L 

Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 11, 2016 – Friday saw a packed day of competition at the US Dressage Finals with six championships awarded throughout the day at the Kentucky Horse Park. The Grand Prix Adult Amateur Championship and Grand Prix Open Championship will take place later on Friday evening in the Alltech Arena.

In the large Intermediate 1 Open Championship the best was saved for last. The top spot went to the final rider down centerline, Mike Suchanek and Leatherdale Farm’s Hero L, a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding (His Highness–Waterlily L, Wolkenstein II), with a score of 71.798 percent. Suchanek and Hero L qualified at the Region 4 Championships in Mason City, Iowa, where they were the Prix St. Georges champion as well as the Intermediate 1 champion.

Suchanek may have one of the most uncommon dressage resumes compared to other professionals he competes with. It was only six years ago that he hung up his cowboy hat and chaps to join the dressage industry as Leatherdale Farms’ young horse trainer.

“I have a special connection with Hero because he was the first horse I started as a 3-year-old when I began training for the Leatherdales,” Suchanek said. “I’m so proud of him and it’s been amazing to work our way up to the FEI levels together. We have built a strong bond over the years.”

© Annan Hepner : Mike Suchanek and Hero L
Mike Suchanek and Hero L

With five horses competing at the US Dressage Finals, it is truly a team effort for Suchanek.

“I’m really proud of my horse and my entire team,” Suchanek said. “I’m so happy to have this win for Louise Leatherdale.”

However, a bobble down the first centerline did not damper Suchanek’s quiet confidence with Hero L.

“I thought, ‘You have to pick him up and come together for this. You need to move forward, look ahead and you will get better,’” Suchanek explained. “I focused on my riding and my horse, and I was very proud of his ability to finish the test like he did. The pirouettes really came together for this test.”

The pair has had success throughout theseason, both at the regional championships and at the Markel/USEF Young & Developing Young Horse Championships. Hero L also was recognized for winning the USDF Open All-Breed Awards for the American Hanoverian Society at both Prix St. Georges and Intermediate 1. They have much to look forward to as they will compete in the Open Prix St. Georges Championship on Sunday and then will begin working towards the Grand Prix.

© Annan Hepner : Mike Suchanek and Hero L
Mike Suchanek and Hero L

“Both Hero and I are relatively new to the FEI ring, and we will keep training up the levels,” Suchanek said. “Once we get home, we will start working on more passage and piaffe, and we’ve already started his one tempis. I really enjoy the challenge of the upper-level work.”

The reserve champion in the Intermediate I Open Championship was Ashley Wimmer from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and her 11-year-old Oldenburg mare, Somerhall. The duo earned a score of 71.096 percent. Wimmer qualified from Region 1 and is a first-time competitor at the US Dressage Finals.

Wimmer found Somerhall as a 3-year-old in Germany and has brought her up through the young horse program.

“It’s an incredible track if your horse is ready at each age,” Wimmer said. “We did the 5-year-old and the 6-year-old national championships, and then waited one year before doing the Developing Prix St. Georges.”

The atmosphere of the Alltech Arena was a bit of a concern for Wimmer but her partnership with Somerhall prevailed and the pair put in a strong test.

© Annan Hepner : Ashley Wimmer and Somerhall Ashley Wimmer and Somerhall 

“She was super!” Wimmer explained. “She has matured and really let me ride her. We have been working on rideability, which was the main goal and accomplishment. She knew to come back to me when she was tense before going into the ring.”

Wimmer’s weekend is not over yet, as she will compete Somerhall in the Intermediate I Open Freestyle Championship as well as the Prix St. Georges Open Championship.

Competition will continue on Saturday with ten championships being awarded including the Grand Prix Freestyle for the Open and Adult Amateur divisions.

Intermediate I Open Championship
Rider/Horse/Total Score
1. Mike Suchanek/Hero L/71.798
2. Ashley Wimmer/Somerhall/71.096
3. Jessica Jo Tate/Montana/70.526
4. Bridget Hay/Faolan/69.956
5. Eliane Cordia-Van/Jewel’s Amethyst/68.289
6. Heather Mendibur/What Happen/67.412
7. Michael Bragdell/Qcredit Hilltop/67.149
8. Jessica Jo Tate/Kynynmont Guns/67.149
9. Susan Ighani/Liaison/66.789
10. Kelli Mardell/Hemmingway/66.754

© Annan Hepner : Mike Suchanek and Hero L Mike Suchanek and Hero L 

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