Emily Wagner & Wakeup Win 1st of 3 USA Young Horse Selection Trials for Verden

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Emily Wagner and Wakeup © Ilse Schwarz/dressage-news.com


Emily Wagner completed her final college exams just hours before leaving her home in rural Kansas for the Midwest young horse selection trials to ride her homebred Wakeup to victory Sunday in the six-year-old finale, the first of three events to decide USA representatives at the FEI World Breeding Championships in Verden, Germany, Aug. 3-7,

Emily, 23, and the stallion Wakeup (Wagnis v Matcho) scored 8.58 with only two entries in the six-year-old Finale test at Dressage at Lamplight in the Chicago suburb of Wayne, Illinois. They recovered from a shaky start with what Emily described as “uncharacteristic” tension and spookiness in the preliminary test that surprised her. Angela Hecker-Jackson on Allure S scored 7.26 in the Finale. In the preliminary, Emily and Wakeup scored 77.400 with Angela and Allure 70.00.

Emily and Wakeup achieved the 8.2 score required for Verden, with preliminary test result of 7.74 counting for 40 per cent and the finale of 8.58 for 60 per cent in averaging the scores.

Emily from Wally Woo Farm in La Cygne, Kansas and Wakeup qualified in the five-year-old test at this same competition a year ago and led to the combination becoming the sole U.S. representative at Verden in 2010. The six-year-old pair that qualified opted not to make the trip to Germany.

Scott Hassler, the U.S. Equestrian Federation young horse coach, described the finale performances by Emily and Wakeup as “supple, elastic and beautifully done,” especially after the ride Saturday in which Wakeup was not his “normal self.”

The move to the six-year-old level is “huge” compared with five-year-old tests but of Wakeup, he said, “I think he was better as a five-year-old than he was as a four-year-old and is better as a six-year-old than as a five-year-old.” The horse has greater presence and harmony.

If she qualifies for Verden again, Emily said she very much wants to go but would probably have to launch another fund raising drive as she did last year to cover the costs of about $30,000 (€21,000), most of it for round trip air transportation for the horses.

The other two competitions for combinations to qualify for Verden are Dressage at Flintridge in La Cañada-Flintridge, California, next weekend and VADA/NOVA Summer Dressage in Leesburg, Virginia June 3-5. All three competitions are judged by the same panel–Linda Zang (O), Nathalie Lamping (I) and Jane Ayers (I).

Emily told dressage-news.com that final exams were spread out through last week but because of the horse show she she was allowed to cram in three finals Wednesday. So instead of joining her classmates celebrating the end of finals, she left with her mother, Jana, at 5 a.m. Thursday for the 10-hour drive to Illinois–“lacking some sleep.”

The preliminary test on Saturday had several late changes, difficulty in the reinback and a big spook at one corner that Emily said started when they first rode around the arena and remained a factor throughout the ride. Wakeup was tense in the back and not swinging through the body.

In Sunday’s finale, Wakeup was a completely different horse. The lateral work was better and the horse displayed his ability to swing and bend with forward engagement. The walk was more reaching and showed clear purpose at both collected and extended and kept clear rhythm in the turn on the haunches. The canter was more relaxed though there was one late change. Even so, she received an 8 for submission compared with 6.9 in the preliminary.

This year, she displayed more maturity as a rider compared with 2010 as she showed in overcoming Saturday’s shaky start, a result of her experience in Europe and the help she received while there from young horse expert Dr. Ulf Möller of Germany’s Performance Sales International. David Wightman, one of the trainers she works with, another being Lilo Fore, was at the trials competing in the CDI Prix St. Georges. At the farm in La Cygne, which has a population of 1,150, she works primarily with her mother, Jana, who owns Wagnis and bred him to a local mare to produce Wakeup.

“I’m super happy with how it went,” Emily said. “It was all or nothing. I think because we had to do that it really helped. It was a great test and I’m happy.”

The five-year-old classes were a non-event.

Of two entries in the preliminary test, one was eliminated and one scratched. The finale of three scheduled rides had a similar result–two scratches and one withdrawal.

David Wightman of Temecula, California, rode Brigadier to victory with a score of 68.509 per cent In the CDI1* Prix St. Georges with Claire Darnell of Coupland, Texas on Calimar second on 65.658 per cent and Martin T. Kuhn of New Berlin, Illinois, on Manhattan third on 63.728 per cent.

The Intermediaire I was won by Claire and Calimar on 66.842 per cent, with David and Brigadier second on 65.044 per cent and Faith Morris of Houston, Texas on Garrison on 61.053 per cent.

Claire and Calimar won the Intermediaire Freestyle on 72.500 per cent over Nancy Hinz of Montgomery, Texas, on Collector’s Item on 66.250 per cent, the only other entry in the class.