By Jennifer Keeler/Yellow Horse Marketing
Final entries are in and horse vans have already begun arriving at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington for the 2013 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, the first national head-to-head competition of its kind showcasing riders and horses competing for top honors at all dressage levels from Training to Grand Prix as well as musical freestyles, to be held November 7-10.
With exhibitors attending from as far away as Maine, Florida, Idaho, and California, competition will be fierce across 24 championship classes. The 300-plus entries represent all 9 United States Dressage Federation (USDF) regions and include riders from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels, including adult amateurs, professionals, and high-performance riders.
|Adult amateur rider Krista Nordgren and her horse, Schando, are making the trip from Maine to compete in the US Dressage Finals at Prix St. Georges and Intermediate I. Photo courtesy of Krista Nordgren.|
Adult amateur Krista Nordgren is traveling from her home in South Portland, ME, to compete her 17-year-old Danish Warmblood, Schando, at Prix St. Georges and Intermediate I.
"I had heard about the Dressage Finals and declared on a whim before the Region 8 championships," Nordgren said. "It was a huge surprise when I qualified! I talked it over with my husband and coach, and they encouraged me to go, calling it the experience of a lifetime."
"I have no expectations, but for me it's not about winning anyway," Nordgren continued. "My joy will be in fulfilling a dream of competing at the Horse Park, and competing on a championship stage that few amateur athletes will be as fortunate as me to experience. I can't wait to get there."
Grand Prix-level trainer/rider A. Whit Watkins, Moody, TX, is thrilled to be making the 16-plus-hour trip to Lexington after an injury jeopardized her riding career.
"Just a year ago I was getting out of the hospital from having major spinal surgery and was not certain that I would be able to ride competitively ever again," said Watkins. "But I'm back in the saddle and was thrilled to win my Region 9 championship classes and secure invitations to come to Kentucky! I am so excited to come and participate in this inaugural event." Watkins will ride Cipriani in the Open Intemediate II Championship and Oublette at Grand Prix and the GP Freestyle.
Besides competing for national honors, fantastic prizes, and more than $50,000 in prize money, exhibitors and spectators will enjoy a wide array of activities. Events kick off on Wednesday, November 6, with a welcome reception at the USDF headquarters, followed by a Competitor Welcome Party at the Alltech Arena on Thursday, November 7. Bourbon and Bluegrass tours will provide the opportunity to visit local bourbon distilleries and legendary Thoroughbred breeding farms, as well as a special behind-the-scenes tour of the world-famous Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. Friday festivities include a unique "Taste of the Bluegrass" dinner at the Alltech Arena, while Saturday-evening performances include ringside dining during musical freestyles and a special liberty performance by Kim Barteau and the Friesian stallion GP Boater.
Individual and group VIP seating and dining options are available for purchase during the competition, and a multitude of equestrian vendors will be on hand to satisfy every discriminating shopper's taste. While you're at the Horse Park, you can also tour the expansive grounds, including the International Museum of the Horse, Hall of Champions, and popular Horses of the World demonstrations. And you can watch open dressage classes during the USDF Dressage in the Bluegrass competition, which coincides with the Finals.
Unable to attend in person? Follow the action through updates on the USDF Facebook page and the US Dressage Finals website. Plus Friday and Saturday evening's competition will be streamed live on the USEF Network.
"I am very excited about this week's US Dressage Finals," said USDF president George Williams. "I'm overwhelmed by the response from US riders who are traveling from across the country to attend this inaugural competition, the support of our sponsors, and the expertise of our staff and organizing committee in making this event a reality. I'm proud to be a part of it."