Florida Youth Championships End After Providing Boost for Sport in USA

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Winners of the Florida International Yuth Chamionship--Amanda McAuliffe, Dana von Lierop, Juan Matute and Chase Hickok. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Winners of the Florida International Yuth Chamionship–Amanda McAuliffe, Dana von Lierop, Juan Matute and Chase Hickok. © 2015 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WELLINGTON, Florida, Mar. 15, 2015–Four European youth champion riders wrapped up two international competitions at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival Sunday that appears to have succeeded in boosting interest in divisions from ponies to Under-25 that have typically drawn only sparse entries in America.

More combinations from more countries–37 entries from seven countries–took part in the Florida International Youth Championship that ended Sunday than the number of competitors in any event over the four years of the Global circuit at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

The six CDI competitions for this year’s circuit already matches the total of 105 starts for seven weeks of the entire season in 2014.

The championship was the centerpiece event in the ambitious effort to bring the four riders and horses from Europe–Dana von Lierop and Equestricons Walküre and Rosalie Bos and Equestricons Bolita of the Netherlands, Vivien Niemannof Germany on Don Vertino and Antonia Arl of Belgium on Equestricons Ziggy.

The effort was funded by horse dealer Jochen Arl based in Belgium and Equestrian Sport Productions that organizes the Global events.

At the end of the championship sponsored by Hampton Green Farm, Pana Cavallo and the Davis Family, and Dressage4Kids, the winners were American Chase Hickok of Wellington for the Under-25, Dana van Lierop of the Netherlands for Young Riders, Juan Matute, Jr., Florida-based who rides for Spain in the Juniors, and Amanda Mcauliffe of the United States in the Pony division.

Chase Hickok who rode Sagacious HF in the Under-25 division said the presence of the four Europeans provided a “hefty yardstick to measure up to. The level of competition in Europe is quite a bit higher and with competition that’s how the sport here is going to grow.”

Juan Matute, who at the age of 17 competes at Junior, Young Rider, Under-25 and senior Grand Prix and competes in Europe every summer, said having the European riders here was a “great experience. Being in the same ring, we’ve got to step it up a notch to make sure we are at the same level.”