Priest, Bondy and Miles Dominate the Day in the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse Dressage National Championships

Wayne, Ill. – Aug. 22, 2019 – Competition in the Frey Arena at the Lamplight Equestrian Center began with the Prix St. Georges for the Markel/USEF Developing Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship. Later in the day the panel of judges were impressed with the young horses, seeing the 4 and 5-year-olds complete their first tests in the Markel/USEF 4-Year-Old Dressage National Championshipand the Markel/USEF 5-Year-Old Dressage National Championship.

Kathy Priest and Damon's Fantasy

Kathy Priest and Damon’s Fantasy

Kentucky native Kathy Priest rode to the victory in the Prix St. Georges, scoring a 72.745% with Damon’s Fantasy (Damon Hill–Frascaya, Florencio I), her own 8-year-old Oldenburg mare that she first competed with in December 2018. After competing throughout the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in the winter with good results, the pair returned to Kentucky to top multiple Developing Prix St. Georges classes and qualify for the finals. Looking forward to the next test in the championship, Priest is hoping to add more expression in her movements and show a fresh horse, as she explained Damon’s Fantasy is already comfortable with the bustling environment of the show grounds.

Emily Miles and Java Dulce

Emily Miles and Java Dulce

Emily Miles and Leslie Waterman’s Java Dulce (Jazz–JJ Dolche Gabbana, Deemster), an 8-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, finished in second place with a score of 72.549%. Miles was thrilled with the gelding’s capabilities that shone through, noting that although he had once been qualified for the championships as a 5-year-old and been top ranked in the nation, he had struggled with soundness issues for several years. After making a full recovery, Java Dulce proved to Miles that he hadn’t skipped a beat in his training.

Mike Suchanek and Duchess L

Mike Suchanek and Duchess L (Damsey FRH–De La Rosa, De Niro), an 8-year-old Hanovarian mare owned by Louise Leatherdale, rounded out the top three with a score of 70.980%. Suchanek noted that the young mare by Damsey FRH exhibits many of the famous dressage sire’s desirable traits, and that their harmony and excellent trot work contributed to their consistent ride and high placing in the class.

In the 4-Year-Old Test for the Markel/USEF 4-Year-Old Dressage National Championship, Michele Bondy and Sonnenberg’s Kain took the top honors with a score of 8.46. Sonnenberg’s Kain (El Copone–Girona T, Carlton Hill VDL), a KWPN gelding owned by Sonnenberg Farm LLC, was rewarded by the judges for his uphill and energetic canter that was ground covering and elastic. The canter earned the 4-year-old his highest score of 8.8, while the walk earned him a score of 8.2 for its ground covering qualities and excellent use of his body. With a score of 8 for his elastic trot, an 8.6 for submission and and 8.7 for overall impression, Sonnenberg’s Kain received the total of 8.46 to take him to the top of the leaderboard.

Michele Bondy and Sonnenbergs Kain

Michele Bondy and Sonnenbergs Kain

Having been partnered with the gelding for eight months, Bondy has enjoyed helping him along in his development with the goal of qualifying for the national championships. The pair made the three-day journey from Oregon to the Lamplight Equestrian Center, and are looking to add a Young Horse National Championship title to their resume.

Alice Tarjan and Summersby II

Alice Tarjan and Summersby II

Finishing in second place was Alice Tarjan and the Oldenburg mare, Summersby II (Sezuan–Summer Night, Sandro Hit). The mare was awarded a score of 8.5 for her energetic and uphill trot that possessed good activity in the joints, while another 8.5 was awarded for her lofty canter. Along with a score of 7.7 for her ground-covering walk, a submission score of 7.9 and a score of 8.3 for overall impression, Tarjan and Summersby II earned a total score of 8.18 to finish second.

Jackie Ahl-Eckhaus and Kitalis MVS

Jackie Ahl-Eckhaus and Kitalis MVS

Tying for third place was Craig Stanley riding Kayenne CWS (Negro–Caliente DG, OO Seven), and Jackie Ahl-Eckhaus riding Kitalis MVS (Vitalis–Ember MVS, Westpoint). Stanley and Kayenne CWS, a KWPN mare owned and bred by Stanley, were given a score of 8.2 for the mare’s uphill canter and active hind legs. Her rhythmic trot and forward tendency earned her a 7.9 in the gait, while her clear walk earned her a 7.4. Combined with a submission score of 8 for her willingness to work and her overall impression score of 8.1, Kayenne CWS was given a total score of 7.92. Ahl-Eckhaus and Kitalis MVS, her own KWPN gelding, earned a score of 8.2 for her ground covering and elastic walk, and a 7.8 for her uphill canter. Her steady and engaged trot earned her a score of 7.7, and she received an 8 for submission and a 7.9 for overall impression to give her the total of 7.92.

Craig Stanley and Kayenne CWS

Craig Stanley and Kayenne CWS

In the 5-Year-Old Test for the Markel/USEF 5-Year-Old Dressage National Championship, it was deja vu for Emily Miles as she rode into the first place position with Sole Mio (Stanford–Donna-Rafaela, Donnerschwee), a Hanoverian stallion owned by Leslie Waterman. After being named the Markel/USEF 4-Year-Old Dressage National Championsat the 2018 competition, Miles felt the pressure to return to the Lamplight Equestrian Center and claim a top placing once again with the young horse class.

Emily Miles and Sole Mio

Emily Miles and Sole Mio

Just recently, Miles and Sole Mio attended the Longines FEI WBFSH World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses in Ermelo, the Netherlands at the beginning of August. The experience offered Miles a great deal of education on the sport and a new found confidence in her riding, and the philosophies she learned about reflected in her riding of the young stallion. Miles and Sole Mio received an overall score of 8.9 to take the victory, being awarded an outstanding score of 9 for his light, uphill canter with bending joints and flowing transitions. He was also given a score of 9.2 for submission and willingness to work, 8.9 for his elastic trot with excellent cadence, and an 8.2 for his ground covering walk.

Emily Miles and Sole Mio

Emily Miles and Sole Mio

 

Nadine Schwartsman and her own KWPN stallion Jhocolate R (Freestyle–Cleopatra, Jazz), finished in second place with a total score of 8.26. The young stallion, who she fondly calls ‘Fetch’ in the barn, has been with her since he was a weanling and has been in training with her since. Jhocolate R received a high score of 8.9 for his energy efficient walk, an 8.8 for submission, a 7.9 for his rhythmic canter and a 7.4 for his trot. Combined with an overall impression score of 8.3, their final score of 8.26 moved them up to second on the leaderboard.

Nadine Schwartsman and Jhocolate R

Nadine Schwartsman and Jhocolate R

Rebecca Rigdon and Ad Astra Collective’s KWPN gelding Jagger (Apache–Volumia, Osmium) finished in third place with a score of 8.02. Jagger received a score of 8.3 for his energetic and uphill canter, an 8 for his elastic walk, a 7.8 for his trot, and a 7.8 for submission. The overall impression score of 8.2 helped to bump their total score to a 8.02 and give them the yellow ribbon.

Rebecca Rigdon and Jagger

Rebecca Rigdon and Jagger

Coming up next in the Markel/USEF Developing Prix St. Georges Dressage National Championship will be the 6-Year-Old Preliminary Test at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 23.

For results and starting times, visit Foxvillage.

Live streaming will be available on the USEF Network

Full competition schedule, click here.

Results: FEI Prix St Georges Test (Developing Prix St. George Championship)

Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Kathy Priest / Damon’s Fantasy / Kathy Priest / 72.745
2. Emily Miles / Java Dulce / Leslie Waterman / 72.549
3.  Mike Suchanek / Duchess L / Louise Leatherdale / 70.980
4. Barbie Asplundh / Gorgeous / Barbie Asplundh / 70.882
5. Lindsey Holleger / Fenomenal JW / Julia Whitfield / 70.539
6. Cesar Parra / GK Don Cesar / Cesar Parra / 70.245

Results: USEF 4-Year-Old Preliminary Test 

Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Michele Bondy / Sonnenberg’s Kain / Sonnenberg Farm LLC / 8.46
2. Alice Tarjan / Summersby II / Alice Tarjan / 8.18
3. Jackie Ahl-Eckhaus / Kitalis MVS / Jackie Ahl-Eckhaus / 7.92
4. Craig Stanley / Kayenne CWS / Craig Stanley / 7.92
5. Nadine Schwartsman / Karmelo R / Nadine Schwartsman / 7.84
6. Ashlyn Dodge / Kasanova DG / DG Bar Ranch / 7.82

Results: USEF 5-Year-Old Preliminary Test

 Rider / Horse / Owner / Total Score
1. Emily Miles / Sole Mio / Leslie Waterman / 8.90
2. Nadine Schwartsman / Jhocolate R / Nadine Schwartsman / 8.26
3. Rebecca Rigdon / Jagger / Ad Astra Collective / 8.02
4. Marcus Orlob / Spirit Of Joy / 7.92
5. Maureen Sterling / Floris King / 7.72
6. Alyssa Doverspike / Figaro / 7.68
7. Merita Hagren / Jida Selly A / 7.68

FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE 

Kathy Priest – Prix St. Georges Test winner

On her test:
“I was really happy with it. It was a mistake free test and she tries really hard, so that makes it special. I thought her trot work was really pretty and easy. I thought the canter half passes were nice, the changes were good and pirouettes are always a work in progress, so overall I thought it was steady and pleasant. I would like to do more of the same in the next test but maybe a little bit better. She is not bothered by the atmosphere so I need her to go in feeling a little fresh, rested and wanting to do it again.”

Kathy Priest and Damon's Fantasy

Kathy Priest and Damon’s Fantasy

On being at the Lamplight Equestrian Center:
“I don’t think [Damon’s Fantasy] has been to Lamplight before. She is really good in the atmosphere. This is such a beautiful facility and it is so inviting for the horses, especially for the young horses because you have a nice warm up but then you are not totally apart from the arena so it is a really big positive.” 

Emily Miles – Prix St. Georges Test second place

On her test:
“This is my tenth year at Lamplight so I am so excited to be back — I love it here! This was an awesome test because he stayed with me and was really quiet. He can get a little hot and tense but he stayed with me. It was a challenge because I only had ten days to ride him before coming here after being gone for six weeks so this was really a tribute to my mother who kept him going for those six weeks. Good job, Mom! Thank you! I was super pleased. I had no expectations with him. He came in second so I was like ‘Way to go, bud!’” 

Emily Miles and Java Dulce

Emily Miles and Java Dulce

On Java Dulce’s story:
“This is his first time here. He has had a very rough road and has been lame for about two years of his life. He qualified for the five year olds, was top-ranked in the country and then fell out with lameness issues. Doctor [Phillip] Hammock in Tennessee took him over and did some pretty experimental treatment stuff. He was one of the first horses in the U.S. to get fat cells injected into different places – it was totally experimental, he was like ‘I don’t know if this is going to work but it is broken otherwise so we are going to try and fix it,’ and he did! Now, a few years later, he is back so it is really fantastic and totally unexpected. We are thrilled!”

On Java Dulce’s personality:
“Java is the most loving horse, he would be in your pocket all the time if he could. He is hot though, and he gets in his brain and thinks ‘Oh shoot, I did something wrong! Oh my goodness!’ For me, it takes a lot to be like ‘Okay, calm it back down, do something else and we will come back to it later.’ It has been good for me to learn that and be forced to grow as a rider. On the ground he is the most personable horse, he just loves everyone.”

Mike Suchanek – FEI Prix St Georges Test third place

On his test:
“I really enjoyed [Duchess L’s] trot work today. It was really nice and she stayed together with me. We had a little trouble in the changes but I thought it was overall, a good test.”

On developing Duchess L:
“She has been wonderful! She loves to work and she reminds me a lot of Damsey [FRH]  himself – she looks a lot like him. In training, she has just been a joy to work with.”

Mike Suchanek and Duchess L

Mike Suchanek and Duchess L

Michele Bondy – USEF 4-Year-Old Preliminary Test winner

On her test:
“We had a really nice, supple, soft ride. [Sonnenberg’s Kain] was great, there was nothing I could complain about. He went in there and did his job, and that is the most I can ask from him.”

On the atmosphere:
“When we were going around and people were clapping he got a little excited but then he just went in and got right to work and it didn’t bother him — he was like a champion. You just never know how the four year olds are going to be; if they are going to be wild or if they are going to be tired, but he was just perfect. I can’t wait for Saturday to see what we get.”

Michele Bondy and Sonnenbergs Kain

Michele Bondy and Sonnenbergs Kain

On her partnership with Sonnenberg’s Kain:
“He was imported from Europe in November so it has been about 8 months. He came already started so I just took the ride instead. It has been a lot of trust building. Nine months ago I would have never thought I could walk him on the buckle here and not care – he is just so great. I spent a lot of time with him in his stall, he is super playful and he has the best character. For me, it has been mostly spending time with him. I groom him myself as much as I can and really try to handle him as much as I can. It is just me and him so he is kind of crabby with other people sometimes when he is tried, but when it’s me he is like ‘Ugh, it’s mom, it’s fine.’ I really like the relationship you get with young horses, especially as they grow and develop.”

On her preparations for the championships:
“Well, I’m from Oregon so it’s a three day trek one way. Basically, it was just accumulating everything the judges have said in the last few months of showing and trying to get him soft, bending and quiet. Once we were here it was just seeing what the atmosphere is like, seeing how the other horses were doing, being accommodating to that and doing our best.”

Michele Bondy and Sonnenbergs Kain

Michele Bondy and Sonnenbergs Kain

On the judge’s remarks:
“I thought the judges were spot on. We struggled early in the season trying to figure out what they wanted, but today everything was spot on. I was a little worried to see what they would say but I felt like everything was as good as I expected, if not better – I couldn’t have hoped for more, really. I always worry about what is going to happen and what they are going to say. If I thought it was amazing and they didn’t then you wonder, but it was great – no complaints.”

On Sonnenberg’s Kain’s canter:
“The canter was amazing. In general, he has always been very impressive but a little too enthusiastic sometimes. Over the last few months, we have really got him to be super steady, easy and reliable, especially as a four year old. His canter has always been amazing – a dream to ride.”

Alice Tarjan – USEF 4-Year-Old Preliminary Test second place

On her test:
“We broke a couple of times so we have a little settling and work to do. The horse was really good and I am happy that she has been well behaved. Her energy level was good today — she started a little wild and then she was a little tired but today we were just right. It is a work in progress, as always.”

Alice Tarjan and Summersby II

On her partnership with Summersby II:
“I bought her as a foal. It has been fun! She did the Materiale [Fillies/Mares 3, 4, and 5yo] last year and then I brought her to Devon so our goal was to qualify for these championships this year to get her out and give her more exposure.”

On the judge’s remarks:
“Yes, [I did agree with them]. She can be a little looky and they are young horses, of course, so they look and get a little tight in the neck. We need to keep working on the relaxation through her back – that is an ongoing thing many young horses face so it is just a work in progress.”

On Summersby II:
“She is a good type, she has a good hind leg and she has three basic gaits. She is built very uphill and she is decently rideable. You can start with all of the potential in the world but you still have to train it and ride it.”

Emily Miles – USEF 5-Year-Old Preliminary Test winner

On Sole Mio:
“[Sole Mio] is the bomb! He is a fantastic horse. Everyday I get on him I am like ‘Ugh, I love this horse!’ From the first step he is so natural, his work is not work. He has no clue he does work and that is a gift, he is gifted.”

Emily Miles and Sole Mio

Emily Miles and Sole Mio

On her test:
“I felt very prepared for this. We spent a lot of time training for World Championships and I can’t thank USEF and the whole program enough for believing in us to send us over there. Christine [Traurig] was instrumental in helping organize everything. She helped me so much with the strategic part of it with qualifying scores and then figuring out what we are most comfortable doing. She comes to our place for clinics and then to have her see us in Ermelo, then here, that continuity with Christine [Traurig] in the background has been so helpful. Of course, my mother is always the backbone of it. I have to thank [Sole Mio] because he went over there, did the [Longines FEI WBFSH World Breeding Dressage Championships for Young Horses], was home for six days and I rode him once during those six days. [He] rested and took a deep breath and then when he got here he was pretty darn hot the next day. He came out today and was like ‘I got this, Emily. I got you,’ so I was so proud of him and I have to thank him. He is an unbelievable teammate.”

On returning the year after winning the 4-year-old Championships:
“I felt like there was a little bit of pressure. There are high expectations and it is a lot easier, at least for me, to go in and think ‘nobody knows me, I will just go around my test’ but I felt like people were going to watch him. I didn’t put the pedal to the metal like crazy but I was super happy with how fluid he was, how light he was and how he stayed with me. The judges did an awesome job of seeing his potential. They commented on his transitions and when I was riding the test I was like ‘Oh, he came back nice in that shoulder in’ so I really felt so glad that they rewarded that. I was a little bit nervous for this test but I was super proud of him. I should have known he would be there for me because he is that kind of guy.”

On what she leaned in at the World Championships:
“What did he learn? I don’t know but I learned a ton! You can never hear it enough and I think we all hear it and we all understand it, but to see how to create uphill balance, lowering in the croupe, lightness in the front, the chest and the withers, and that connection in horse after horse, I think I learned the most. He learned that their hay tasted funny, he didn’t get to watch everybody. I think what you learn in the experience and the knowledge that I gained by just watching is gold! My biggest take away was ‘Wow, those horses are engaged at four and five, they are coming underneath and sitting, they are light in the front and it has to look easy because you put them in a position where it is easy for them.’ They have incredible horses and riders there and it is always inspirational.”

Nadine Schwartsman – USEF 5-Year-Old Preliminary Test second place

On her test:
“I think he did the best test he ever has in his career so far, so that was excellent timing on his part because he can be quite opinionated. Getting a big submission score on him is a really big deal and I am so grateful to him.”

Nadine Schwartsman and Jhocolate R

Nadine Schwartsman and Jhocolate R

On how she got Jhocolate R:
“I raised this one from a baby. He came from the same breeder as my four year old. We actually went to buy a different foal and he fetched a stick and brought it to my husband, who is not a horse person, and he played fetch for 15 minutes with him! My husband decided that he was going to buy the horse. I told him no but he did it anyway and he actually pays for everything, takes care of everything and comes to see him in the barn. That’s it, this is his horse and he will never be for sale.”

On Jhocolate R:
“He is his own person so when he wants to have a good ride then you have a good ride and if he doesn’t want to have a good ride then you just have to have a good sense of humor! I have had a lot of patience with him and I feel like now, in his five-year-old year, it is starting to pay off. Last year, in his four-year-old year, we spent the entire first day bucking through the first test, so we have definitely come a long way in a year.”

Rebecca Rigdon – USEF 5-Year-Old Preliminary Test third place

On her test:
“I was super happy with [Jagger]. He was a little bit tense and a little bit sucked back at times then he would open up and be his normal self, a little bit like a turtle.”

Rebecca Rigdon and Jagger

Rebecca Rigdon and Jagger

On Jagger’s development:
“He was here last year and was reserve champion in the four year olds. He has developed a great deal in the last year. He is much stronger, he has grown three inches, he has put on a lot of weight and muscle and he has changed a lot. I am super happy with him. He is the most honest, sweet [horse]. He is as good as you ride him, he is a really neat horse.” 

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