Heavy Rain Forces Day’s Delay in USA National Championships

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By JOANIE MORRIS/USEF

GLADSTONE, New Jersey, USA, June 18–Under the banner of a chilly relentless rain, the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions got underway on Thursday, June 18. The “Brentina Cup” Riders (aged 20-28) were the first of five groups of horses and riders vying for National Championships titles. The nine “Brentina Cup” Riders were the only division to get a performance in as the rest of the day’s competition was suspended due to the deluge that ensued.

With the hallowed presence of the USET Foundation Headquarters as the backdrop, nine up-and-coming riders went to task before the Championship Ground Jury of Hilda Gurney, Uwe Mechlem, Charlotte Bredahl-Baker, Janet Foy and Lilo Fore.

Jocelyn Wiese and Lamborghini made the best of the treacherous conditions and put is a very confident effort to take the lead on a score of 66.410 per cent.

Jocelyn Wiese and Lamborghini in Brentina Cup. © 2009 Susan J. Stickle/dressagephotos.com
Jocelyn Wiese and Lamborghini in Brentina Cup. © 2009 Susan J. Stickle/dressagephotos.com

“It would have been nice if it wasn’t raining,” said the 21-year-old rider. “But it didn’t affect my ride too much. My reins were a little slippery and I was definitely wet but I don’t think it affected my ride.”

Wiese, from Keene, New Hampshire, spent time as an assistant trainer at Hilltop Farm in Colora, Maryland but recently left to go back to school. The Government and Politics major at the University of Maryland was really pleased with her horse’s effort.

“I did the Young Riders Championship three times,” said Wiese. “The Brentina Cup is a stepping stone, it is a good place to get experience. It is almost Grand Prix but not quite. Good place to get our feet wet.”

Her 12-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding tried very hard in spite of the conditions and the test had very polished work.

Wiese and Lamborghini bested Amanda Johnson and Pip who finished on a score of 65.987 per cent. Johnson, who in her final year in the “Brentina Cup” division, also prevailed in the conditions.

“I’m used to riding in the rain,” said Johnson. “I’m from Wisconsin and it rains a lot. I feel like it has rained like this at every show this year – and last year at Dressage at Devon we had a massive downpour during the freestyle.”

Pip was putting in his first effort in the “Brentina Cup” and has recovered from a bout of naughtiness that plagued him when he arrived at Johnson’s barn.

“He was a really naughty 9-year-old Training-level horse when I got him,” said Johnson. “The owner was really gracious and let me keep going with him. This is his first year at this level, he’s much better now – he really just needed a job. Now he’s pretty good.”

Rounding out the top three was Kim Schisler and Duvallier on a score of 65.744 per cent – this pair has a special connection to the title sponsors of the event. Collecting Gaits Farm’s Shereen and Jeff Fuqua worked out a special deal with Schisler so that it was possible for her to have the 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding.

“I’m lucky,” said Schisler, who turns 28 on June 19. “It is a super opportunity.”

Duvallier lives at Collecting Gaits, where he is treated like a king. The partnership is reasonably new – they only began competing together this spring after Duvallier got hurt on the plane from California.

Schisler is based outside of Atlanta, her background is in Eventing so she wasn’t fazed by the weather, either.

“It seemed like typical cross country weather to me,” said Schisler. “I think it was to my advantage that it stayed cool and wet.”

The footing began to deteriorate by the end of the class – and the management determined that in the best interest of the competitors, activities would be postponed until Friday.

The competition resumes at 8.00 am Friday with the Young Rider Team Test, followed by the Grand Prix at 10.20 am, the Junior Team Test at 1.30 pm and the Prix St. Georges at 3.40 p.m..