US Dressage Ready for Inaugural Finals

9 years ago StraightArrow Comments Off on US Dressage Ready for Inaugural Finals
Kentucky Horse Park Alltech Indoor Arena that will be the center of the US Dressage Federation Championships. © Ken Braddick/
Kentucky Horse Park Alltech Indoor Arena that will be the center of the US Dressage Federation Championships. © Ken Braddick/

LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Nov. 4–The first of about 300 horses from across the United States have begun arriving for the U.S. Dressage Finals presented by Adequan that for the first time will showcase head-to-head championships from Training level through Grand Prix in both amateur and open competitions Nov. 7-10.

The finals of 24 divisions being staged at the Kentucky Horse Park will feature combinations that were successful at the USDF championships of the nine geographic regions spannng the nation and seeking a slice of the $50,000 in prize money or vying for awards.

“I’m overwhelmed by the response from U.S. riders who are traveling from across the country to attend this inaugural competition, the support of our sponsors, and the expertise of our staff and organizing committee in making this event a reality,” said USDF President George Williams. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”

This event, he said, “is not just a championship competition which in and of itself is pretty important, it is also a celebration. It celebrates the successes of the people from all across the country at their GAIG/USDF Regional Championships.”

The “celebration” includes welcome parties Wednesday and Thursday, “Bourbon and Bluegrass” tours of local distilleries and iconic Thoroughbred breeding farms, a behind-the-scenes tour of the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, a “Taste of the Bluegrass” dinner Friday night while Saturday evening performances include ringside dining during musical freestyles.

Of the 24 championships, 13 will be in the Alltech Indoor Arena, a fully enclosed and climate-controlled facility, that was part of the $85 million reconstruction of the horse park to prepare for the World Equestrian Games in 2010. However, 11 will be in an area that includes a covered arena or outdoors with the weather over the four days of the championships forecast for lows near freezing and highs in the low to mid-50s fahrenheit (11-14C).

“We are aware of some of the logistical problems competitors face, including timing and weather, especially for those coming from great distances,” George said. “However, the interest is there and I believe that you will see the competition continue to grow in size. This is the only national competition where Adult Amateurs can compete head to head.”

The weather did not appear to be much of an issue for most participants.

Krista Nordgren, an adult amateur, is one of those, making the 1,000-mile (1,600km) trip from long traveling from South Portland, Maine to compete her 17-year-old Danish Warmblood Schando at Prix St. Georges and Intermediate I.

“I had heard about the Dressage Finals and declared on a whim before the Region 8 Championships,” Krista said. “It was a huge surprise when I qualified. I talked it over with my husband and coach, and they encouraged me to go, calling it ‘the experience of a lifetime.’ I have no expectations, but for me it’s not about winning, anyway. My joy will be in fulfilling a dream of competing at the Horse Park, and competing on a championship stage that few amateur athletes will be as fortunate as me to experience.”

A. Whit Watkins is making the 1,000-mile trip from the other direction, Moody, Texas. She will ride Cipriani in the Open Intemediate II championship and Oublette at Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Freestyle.

“Just a year ago I was getting out of the hospital from having major spinal surgery, and was not certain that I would be able to ride competitively ever again,” Whit said. “But I’m back in the saddle and was thrilled to win my Region 9 Championship classes and secure invitations to come to Kentucky. I am so excited to come and participate in this inaugural event.”