Heather Mason Successfully Defends Title on Day Two of 2022 US Dressage Finals Presented by Adequan®
Eight championship titles were up for grabs at the Kentucky Horse Park on day two of the 2022 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. The marquee show, which offers more than $120,000 in prize money, runs through Sunday, November 13, and boasts competition from Training to Grand Prix level.
The day’s hotly contested class, the Open Grand Prix Championship, was held in an atmospheric evening session in the Alltech Arena. A harmonious and mistake-free test from the defending champions Heather Mason and her long-time partner RTF Lincoln, whom she rides in a snaffle bridle with no flash, was rewarded with 71.304% — earning the win and the Veronica Holt Perpetual Trophy.
Of the 17 combinations in the class, reserve champion went to Shelley Van Den Neste who rode Eyecatcher to 70.616%, with Brian Hafner finishing third on Dream Catcher (69.783%).
Mason and Lincoln improved on their winning score from last year by one percent, proving that, despite being 17 and the equal-oldest horse in the class, Lincoln is still fit and keen to do his job. That is because Mason has figured out exactly how to produce the best from this complex, explosive horse.
“Ten minutes of lungeing, three to four hours ahead – we have it down to a system,” revealed Mason, who is riding 12 tests at this show. “Lincoln has to have his gallop on the lunge. He’s been this way since a young horse. It’s just taken a long time to figure him out. I then warm him up for about 15 minutes before the test.
“He was a super boy today. He was on the aids, and his pirouettes were nice and tight. I’m very happy with him. He’s one of the easiest horses to ride when he’s good mentally. He has a wicked spin on him though, so I have custom made knee blocks, ‘Lincoln knee rolls.’ He loves to show, and I do too. I love figuring out the different horses,” added Mason, who owns 20 of them herself.
One of the most recent to be added to her burgeoning collection, Shmoky Quartz, secured another win for Mason on Friday, taking the Open Training Level title. The pair stormed to a monster score of 77.529%.
Judge at C, the experienced FEI judge Janet Foy, awarded the winning test over 81%, rewarding the harmonious pair with four nines and a 10 — the latter for the stretching circle in trot.
The five-year-old Oldenburg gelding, who is by the Sandro Hit son Shakespeare RSF, lived up to his rightful billing as the freshly minted 2022 Adequan®/USDF Horse of the Year at Training Level and First Level.
No Longer the Bridesmaid: Absolute Dream Lives up to His Name
The Intermediate I Open championship was an all-day affair in the Alltech Arena, with 32 combinations vying for the title. It was Jennifer Truett’s fluid test on Absolute Dream that clinched the coveted sash with 72.794%. The eight-year-old Westphalian gelding (by All At Once x Fürst Piccolo) was twice reserve champion at the Finals in 2021. However, her preparation for this year’s class did not exactly go to plan.
“I’m thrilled with this result because we had a warm-up test yesterday at the top of the hill where we only got 62% because he was scared,” said the Cincinnati-based rider. “So today I decided to just go as big and bold as I could and give him a lot of confidence and praise him. He was amazing and gave me the best feeling I’ve ever had. He’s only eight and he’s always been the bridesmaid, never the bride. This is really his first big win.”
Truett trains with Olivia LaGoy-Weltz, who had a remarkable five students in the class. She found “Dreamy” as a two-year-old in Holland at Reesink Horses.
“I fell in love with him on the cross ties and then I saw him move, and he was so elastic — like a cat,” added Truett, whose test was lavished with a good smattering of eights. “He couldn’t have made me happier today.”
Sachs and Frisbee Relish the Rain
When Penelope Sachs decided six years ago that she wanted a new horse, she was willing to look for it anywhere in the world. She had a very specific list of requirements, which she sent to her contacts in Germany, her native Britain, and in the U.S. But it was a lady from the next property over who sent Sachs a message saying, “I’ve got your horse,” and she was right.