Wednesday, November 6, 2013

It Takes a Village: How One Adult Amateur Rider Got to the Finals

By Ashley Barnes
USDF Education Programs Coordinator

It’s not every day that you can call your husband on the way home from Regional Championships and casually mention that you’ve qualified for a national dressage competition, but that’s exactly how it happened for adult-amateur rider Krista Nordgren.

Nordgren qualified for the US Dressage Finals Presented by Adequan at the Great American/USDF Region 8 Championships in Saugerties, NY, by placing in Prix St. Georges and via a wild-card score for Intermediate I. However, she wasn’t really planning on competing until her husband said, “Well, you’re going, right?”

With the overwhelming support and encouragement from friends, family, and her trainer, Nordgren decided to make the trip to Kentucky. It was, she realized, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Transporting seventeen-year-old Schando from South Portland, ME, to Lexington was not without its obstacles. Nordgren reached out to others in her region who had also qualified for Finals and were planning to attend, and so her Danish Warmblood gelding joined two vans of horses heading down from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts to the Kentucky Horse Park.
Their old Kentucky home: Krista Nordgren and Schando arrived at the Horse Park early so they'd have plenty of time to settle in and enjoy the sights. Photo courtesy of Krista Nordgren.
Having attended the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event a few times as well as the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Nordgren is familiar with the Horse Park--but she says it's still a magical place. In fact, she says, one of her main reasons for trying to qualify for the US Dressage Finals was the chance to come to the Horse Park as a competitor and not a spectator. 

Nordgren and Schando arrived earlier than most, and the extra time has allowed them to settle in and get to know their new surroundings for the week. She reports that there's a great sense of camaraderie among the fellow denizens of Barn 22, which has made her feel welcome and ready to begin this exciting journey.

“When I tell my friends I’ve won my USDF silver medal or got a 65 percent, I get this look of ‘I don’t really know what you’re talking about, but you’re really happy,’" said Nordgren. “When I’m able to tell people that I’m competing head to head for a national championship, it’s something that people who aren’t familiar with dressage can understand. It’s been amazing to hear friends' and family’s support and just the overall thrill of it!”

Nordgren and her supporters plan to make the most of their time in Lexington. After her family arrives, they will visit some of the area's top Thoroughbred farms and will also make their way down the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail. And Nordgren has even managed to get out for a run on the Rolex cross-country course.

US Dressage Finals and Dressage in the Bluegrass competition starts tomorrow. For day sheets, click here.

Good luck to Krista Nordgren and all of the riders and horses who have worked so hard to get here! You are all winners.

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