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Elizabeth Ball and Selten HW win the USEF Young Horse Dressage Championship.

Ken Braddick photo / Courtesy of USEF

Elizabeth Ball and Selten HW win the USEF Young Horse Dressage Championship.

WAYNE, Ill. — California riders and horses were among the top finishers at the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s National Young Horse Dressage Championships and USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship held Aug. 21-23 at Lamplight Equestrian Center in this Chicago suburb.

Traveling across the country to Chicago from Westlake Village, Calif., was worth the trip for owner/rider Louise Koch and her own San Shivago. Bred in Germany by Walter Huning, this black Westfalen stallion (Sandro Hit — Donna by Donnerhall) performed a lovely test to earn the win in the 5-Year-Old Preliminary Test with a score of 8.38 from judges Linda Zang, Gary Rockwell, and Jeanne McDonald. 62-year-old Koch and her impressive stallion were the champions at the USEF Young Horse Western Selection Trial for the FEI World Breeding Championships at Flintridge, Calif., in May.

Second in the 5-year-olds was the defending 2008 USEF National Four-Year-Old Champion Selten HW, ridden by owner Elizabeth Ball of Carlsbad, Calif. This striking black Hanoverian gelding (Sandro Hit — High Princess by Hohenstein) was bred in the United States by Irene Hoeflich-Wiederhold of Florida. A year older and stronger, Selten HW proved he was ready for the challenge of this division by earning a score of 8.28.

The USEF Young Horse Western Selection Trial Championship in May was also a stepping stone for Sandomere. Owned by Holly Reimers of Orland, Calif., this dark brown Oldenburg stallion (Sandro Hit — Romina by Ramiro’s Match, bred in Germany by Marion Menck) shipped from California to put in a strong test under the guidance of Merrie Velden to earn an overall score of 7.84.

Placing second in a FEI Prix St. Georges test (which counts towards 40 percent of the overall championship results) was California’s Heidi Gaian riding Chicago, her own dark brown Holsteiner gelding (Calido I — Diana XI by Corleone, bred in Germany by Claus-Wilhelm Kuehl) with a score of 70.526 percent.

A highlight of the USEF Young Horse Dressage Program is to encourage young horses as they progress through the age divisions year after year, and last year’s National Champion Four-Year-Old “Selten HW” let no one down as he once again claimed Championship honors with a Final Test score of 8.68 and overall championship score of 8.52.

Louise Koch and San Shivago earn reserve in the FEI 5-Year-Old Final Test.

Louise Koch and San Shivago earn reserve in the FEI 5-Year-Old Final Test.

“I am so pleased with our ride,” said owner/rider Elizabeth Ball of Carlsbad, Calif. “This is an incredible venue and atmosphere, and despite changing weather and some wet footing, my horse got better every day. He really came into his own and rose to the occasion.”

Ball has owned Selten HW for several years but only brought him to California and began riding him in June. “After I bought him, I left him at Hilltop Farm in Maryland until June 1st of this year,” Ball said. “Michael Bragdell (who rode the gelding to the 2008 National Championship for Ball) did a fantastic job bringing him along.”

Despite her horse being a little tired and an unfortunate distraction when entering the ring, Louise Koch and her own black Westfalen stallion, San Shivago, rose to the challenge of the FEI 5-Year-Old Final Test and earned the Reserve Championship with an overall score of 8.284.

“This is a horse everyone would dream to have,” said Koch. “I am 62 years old, and he has given me a second chance to continue my riding career in the exciting young horse divisions. This program provides so much exposure for these youngsters and provides a tremendous opportunity for us as riders to learn much more about our horses as they develop from one level to the next.”

An approved Westfalen and Oldenburg stallion, San Shivago (Sandro Hit — Donna by Donnerhall, bred in Germany by Walter Huning) will have limited breeding but “our focus is riding,” Koch said. “For now, we have a long drive home, but we will take some time off and then continue to build his training towards the 6-year-old division next year.”

The USEF National Developing Horse Dressage Championship was for 7- to 9-year-old horses competing at the FEI Prix St. Georges level. This program was part of USEF’s initiative to recognize up-and-coming dressage talent for High Performance–not only for riders, but also for horses.

The USEF Young Horse Dressage Program (for 4-, 5-, and 6-year-old horses) promoted the importance of selective breeding and correct training of horses in the United States, and encouraged participation of breeders, riders and trainers of young horses in dressage competition. The purposes of this program was to encourage the properly structured development of young dressage prospects through the training scale; to identify and recognize outstanding talent and the training of international-caliber horses; and to prepare these horses for future careers at the FEI level and participation on U.S. High Performance teams.

For information about USEF dressage programs, visit: http://www.usef.org/_IFrames/breedsDisciplines/discipline/alldressage/championshipEvents.aspx

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