Wayne, Ill. – An elite group of young dressage athletes competed for championship honors in the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals on Sunday at the Lamplight Equestrian Center. Judges examined the riders’ equitation skills by taking them through a series of flat and pattern work. Averi Allen claimed top honors in the 13 & Under division, while Allison Hopkins earned top honors in the 14-18 division.
Allen (Pleasant Hill, Mo.), trained by Johnny Allen, bested a field of 11 competitors in the 13 & Under division to earn the Gold medal. Catch riding Bobbi Wojtowicz’s 2003 Friesian Sport Horse mare, Celtic Grace, for only two-and-a-half weeks, Allen exhibited impressionable equitation skills for a score of 83.000%.
“I thought I did pretty well. The warm-up class felt easy with my horse. I think that me sitting up tall and deep and being confident stood out to the judges. She’s very good to work with. She keeps her head down and is light,” said Allen.
Only knowing her pony, Here-be Seren Gwyn, since December, Ella Angelo (Kalamazoo, Mich.) and Martha Stover’s Welsh Cob Pony mare earned the Silver medal with a score of 82.000%. Since Here-be Seren Gwyn is transitioning from hunters to dressage, Angelo and her trainer Andrea Landis worked on patterns, hill work, and conditioning to prepare for the competition, which paid off for Angelo.
“I thought my pattern was pretty good. Going down the lengthening, it was really hard to get her to bend to the left after she did the lengthening,” said Angelo of her test. “I liked the competition a lot; everyone was really nice here and made things fun. Everything was well organized, the grounds were kept clean, and everything was thought out,” added Angelo.
Lucienne Bacon (Atherton, Calif.), who trains with Hillary Martin, earned the Bronze medal riding Humble Hazel for a score of 78.000%. Karen Lee loaned the Quarter Horse mare to Bacon for the competition. For only riding the mare eight times prior to entering the arena, Bacon relied on her training for a great test.
Hopkins (Dallas, Texas), trained by Yvonne Kusserow, painted a lovely picture while riding Royal Falcon. The judges rewarded her excellent display of equitation throughout the flat and pattern work with a score of 87.00%. Hopkins was loaned Michael Mayes’ 2005 German Sport Horse gelding for the competition season and made her time with him worthwhile by winning the Gold medal.
“He tends to get a little bit nervous in the ring so I could feel him getting a little bit hot, but once we started the pattern he settled down a little bit,” Hopkins explained. He realized it wasn’t as hard as he thought it was going to be; in a big ring he expects a lot of difficult movements. He felt like he was really on my aids and listening to me. I was really pleased with how he behaved.”
Madison Peer (Overland Park, Kan.) rode her own Stella Luna to the Silver medal. She and the 2007 Friesian mare had a smooth performance in the class to receive a score of 85.000%. Peer, trained by Emily Miles and Jana Wagner, demonstrated a great relationship with Stella Luna, her partner of six years, as they performed in the competition ring.
“I was worried about my pattern I didn’t think it was great so I was worried that was totally the end of it. It could have been better. I was almost unprepared thinking, ‘This is First Level, this is easy,” so I was a little off my game a bit, but she was listening.”
Jenna Upchurch (Chesterfield, Mo.) continued with her success at the Lamplight Equestrian Center, having won the AGCO/USEF Junior Dressage National Championship on Saturday. With her own Greystoke, Upchurch displayed her solid dressage form to receive the Bronze medal with a score of 82.000%. Having started in the hunter/jumper world, Upchurch felt like her hard work with trainer Martin Kuhn was validated by the results of Sunday’s competition with the 2005 Oldenburg gelding.
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