Garcia, Blitz, Lund, Montagano Win on Day Two of 2017 U.S. Dressage Finals

 
Sat, 11/11/2017 - 16:17
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Melanie Montagano and Ga Deva at the 2017 U.S. Dressage Finals
Photo © Sue Stickle
2017 U.S. Dressage Finals

Elma Garcia, Heather Blitz, Kristy Truebenbach Lund, and Melanie Montagano became the titleists on the second day of competition on 10 November 2017 at the 2017 U.S. Dressage Finals in Lexington, KY, the American Championship for adult amateur and open division riders, excluding the high performance, elite small and big tour riders that have their own Festival of Champions.

Garcia Wins the Prix St Georges Adult Amateur Division

In 2016, Elma Garcia also made a long journey to Lexington from her home in California which proved worthwhile as she earned reserve honors in the Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur division. After moving to Mill Spring, N.C. this year and now representing Region 1, Garcia returned to the Finals in victorious fashion by earning the unanimous win with 68.991% in the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship aboard her trusted partner and 15-year-old Hanoverian mare Wenesa (by Westernhagen out of Dancing Girl by Davignon).

“Wenesa and I have really kicked it up a notch this season, and our test felt great today,” said Garcia. “Now that we’re looking to move on to the Grand Prix, I really wanted to finish strong and get the win today for her.”

As a youth, Region 9’s Terri Sue Wensinger of Dallas, Texas earned a national title for American Horse Shows Association (AHSA) stock seat equitation in Kentucky. Now as an adult, she returned to the Bluegrass State in a very different saddle and earned yet another national honor as she was crowned Reserve Champion in the Intermediate I Adult Amateur division with her 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Valentino (by Riverman-ISF out of Jiovette by Flemmingh) on a score of 66.667%. With this being her fourth trip to the Finals, Wensinger felt that confidence was a key to her success.

“Today was super fun – I felt like I knew the ring and knew the test, and I was so happy just to be here again,” she noted.

Blitz and Quatero Take Intermediaire I Open Championship

 A field of 27 horse/rider combinations battled for the win in the Intermediate I Open Championship, but it was professional Heather Blitz of Wellington, Fla. (Region 3) who ultimately emerged victorious as she rode her promising eight-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Praestemarkens Quatero (by Quaterback out of Rohvia Hojris by Rohdiamant) to a top score of 70.877%.

“These Finals have the same type of atmosphere as the indoor shows in Europe, and it’s right here in the States,” said Blitz. “This is the biggest thing my horse has done to date, and I’m super pleased with him. He’s a trouper who keeps learning and developing more and more all the time, so I’m very excited about him. I’ve taken some extra time bringing him along – he has a strong personality and is a passionate horse, and that works in my favor as long as he really understands his job. Today we had a supple, flowing and confident test and I was very proud with how he handled the atmosphere here in the Alltech Arena.”

Finishing in reserve was hometown girl Kathy Priest of Versailles, Ky. (Region 2) riding her 9-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Fredensdals Zig Zag (by Zack out of Kristiansminders Elektra by Don Schufro) to 69.912%.

“It was fun – he felt really good in there, and he likes a big atmosphere,” Priest noted. “He was a little behind in his training when I imported him but he had great presence and was a really nice ride, so the biggest thing we’ve worked on is developing his strength. He’s very confident in the ring and is a real trier who always wants to please you.”

Lund Scores Second Title in Grand Prix Adult Amateur Division

Kristy Truebenbach Lund (Wellington, Fla.) is off to a successful start at this year’s Finals as she and Akvavit (14-year-old Spanish Warmblood gelding [Silvester x Onni by Jazz] owned by Blue Marlin Farm, Inc.) are now two-for-two in championship competition, having won Thursday’s Intermediate II Adult Amateur title and returning to the Alltech Arena on Friday morning to also claim top honors in the Grand Prix Adult Amateur division (64.800%).

“I changed my plan a little bit today and took him out for a short ride really early this morning, and that seemed to take a little bit of the edge off so we had better focus in the test,” she explained. “I think our changes were a highlight, and he was phenomenal today.”

Lund’s Region 3 teammate Heather Boo works the overnight shift as a neuroradiologist in Loxahatchee, Fla. in order to make time to ride and compete, and her dedication paid off with reserve championship honors earned with her 15-year-old Westfalen gelding Divertimento (by Di Versaci x Fatima by Ferragamo) with 63.600%.

“He’s a lot of horse so I have a lot of work to do to keep things consistent in the test, but this was a great experience for us as we look forward to competing in CDI’s this winter season.”

Montagano On Top in Grand Prix Open Championship

With a joyful piaffe/passage tour that impressed both the judges and the evening crowd, young professional Melanie Montagano of Wellington, Fla. (qualified in Region 1) rode her 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Ga Deva (by Gambol) to take the Grand Prix Open Championship and the Veronica Holt Perpetual Trophy (presented by USDF Region 5 and Friends) with 65.300%. Partners for more than a decade, the pair has progressed through the junior/young rider and under-25 ranks to now find success at the Grand Prix level.

“This was one of my best rides ever – she was laser-focused from the moment she walked down here. She has quite the game face!” Montagano laughed. “It’s been quite a journey for us to get here and certainly it’s never a smooth ride, but I wouldn’t change anything about it. The difficult times only make moments like this even more special.” 

Montagano just edged out Laura Noyes-Putnam of Cumberland, Maine (Region 8) aboard Whispering Pine Farm’s 14-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding Galveston (by Solos Landtinus out of Geneva by Rambo, bred by Oak Hill Ranch), who finished just one-tenth of a point behind the leader with 65.200%.

“We had a couple little mistakes that I’m kicking myself for but overall I’m really happy with how relaxed he was in there,” said Noyes of her mount, which she’s brought along herself since getting him as a five-year-old. “We had a really good year and each time we went in the ring it just got better and better. This is our third season at Grand Prix and I have a good feeling that now it’s all coming together.”

Text by Jennifer Keeler - Photo © Sue Stickle

Related Link
Lund and Bragdell Win Intermediaire II Titles at 2017 U.S. Dressage Finals 

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