Batchelder and Garcia Score Last Titles on Final Day of 2017 U.S. Dressage Finals

 
Mon, 11/13/2017 - 16:19
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Elma Garcia and Wenesa at the 2017 U.S. Dressage Finals
Photo © Sue Stickle
2017 U.S. Dressage Finals

Nora Batchelder and Elma Garcia won the two last FEI level titles in the small tour on the final day of the 2017 US Dressage Finals on Sunday 12 November in Lexington, Ky. The last day of competition featured numerous lower level championships alongside the Prix St Georges Championship in the Adult Amateur and Open Division.

Batchelder Tops Board in Open PSG Championship

Nora Batchelder of Williston, Fla. (Region 3) had her hands full with three mounts scheduled to go down centerline for the Prix St. Georges Open Championship, but it was her ride aboard Andrea Whitcomb’s nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding Faro SQF (Fidertanz x SPS Rose by Rotspon, bred in the U.S. by Jill Peterson) that would ultimately claim the Miki Christophersen Perpetual Trophy (presented by USDF Region 4) with a top score of 71.974%. “I’m ecstatic! I wanted to take home a championship and I didn’t think it would happen in this class, but I’m really happy about it,” said Batchelder. “This was Faro’s only class this week, but he was very brave and never put a foot wrong. I’m so proud of him. I think his extended trots and half-passes were really good, and overall he stayed really relaxed. He’s such a fun horse to ride – easy to sit and light in the bridle, and every moment is a pleasure. I’m looking to showing him in the small tour this winter in Wellington.”

Also finishing just a point behind for reserve was Batchelder with her eight-year-old Hanoverian mare Fifi MLW (Fidertanz x Wolkenstanza MLW by Wolkentanz I, bred in the U.S. by Mary Winn), who had previously claimed reserve championship honors in Saturday’s Fourth Level Open division. Fifi MLW’s score of 70.921% also earned her the Lloyd Landkamer Perpetual Trophy for FEI Highest Scoring Mare (presented by Janet Foy). “I was little nervous about going first, and initially she was a little backed off in the Alltech Arena because it’s a big venue,” Batchelder noted. “But she was such a good girl. I want to say that Lloyd [Landkamer] was such a great presence at the shows. He always gave my Corgis treats and was so nice to me. I miss seeing him and it means a lot for me to receive that award and remember him this way.” 

Elma Garcia Scores Second Title in Adult Amateur PSG Championship

Throughout the week, Elma Garcia (Mill Spring, N.C., Region 1) has remained at the top of the adult amateur small tour ranks at this year’s Finals with her 15-year-old Hanoverian mare Wenesa (Westernhagen x Dancing Girl by Davignon), and the elegant pair wrapped up their winning weekend with a score of 68.904% to earn victory in the Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur Championship and be presented with the Janine Westmoreland Malone Perpetual Trophy (presented by USDF). Garcia, a filmmaker who specializes in television commercials, credited newfound confidence on the part of both her and her horse for their success. “I always say I have two passions in life: filmmaking and photography, and horses. I make money in one to spend it on the other,” she laughed. “Wenesa and I have been working really hard since we moved to North Carolina this spring, and I also think that doing some of the CDI adult amateur classes has really made a difference for me confidence-wise as it has pushed me to be better. Despite three days of showing here, she was still fresh today and I had plenty of horse. She’s becoming stronger and fitter and just really seems to be coming into her own, and that’s an incredible feeling.”

Reserve champion with 65.789% was Pam Heglund, a company president and new mom with a nine-month-old son at home in Ada, Mich. (Region 2). She found time to travel to Kentucky with her 14-year-old Westfalen mare Letizia (Laomedon x Pagena by Paradox I) for just one ride and found herself on the podium. “She knows her job, and generally the first time she goes in the ring is the best so that strategy paid off again,” said Heglund of her mare. “We’ve been together for about six years, and we’re really a team. We have a lot of confidence in each other and all season it’s been easy and smooth, so I was hoping to be in the top three here. It really clicked and worked out for us today.”

Adding to the excitement of the final day, the top-scoring riders in various divisions from each of the USDF Regional Championships competed on regional teams in the third-annual US Dressage Finals Regions Cup, vying with competitors from across the country for awards and bragging rights for their respective USDF Region in which they qualified to attend the Finals. Coming out on top for the third year in a row after four days of championship competition was the Region 3 team comprised of Anna Marek and Haiku in First Level Open; Amy Swerdlin with Quileute CCW for Fourth Level Adult Amateur; and Heather Blitz and Praestemarkens Quatero in the Open Prix St. Georges. Their winning average score of 69.943% just edged out reserve champions Region 1 with 69.688%, and Region 8 finishing in third on 69.299%.

Text by Jennifer Keeler - Photo © Sue Stickle

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