Rebecca Cohen and Downtown Beat the Odds to Win National Junior Dressage Reserve Championship at 2012 Festival of Champions
Gladstone, NJ (June 12, 2012) – Sixteen-year-old dressage rider Rebecca Cohen faced many challenges during her quest for success at the 2012 USEF Dressage National Championships in New Jersey. Despite the fact that Downtown, her 17.2 hand Westphalian gelding, spent more time with the veterinarian than in the dressage arena, Cohen and her mount proved their star power and bounced back from the setbacks. The duo rode to victory in the Junior Division, taking the Reserve Championship title.
Just weeks prior to the Festival of Champions, Downtown, aka Daddy, was hospitalized with a leg infection; Cohen was unsure if she would be able to compete at all. After making a full recovery and showing himself strong enough to make the trip to New Jersey, Daddy’s trials and tribulations were not over as he colicked when they arrived, just days before the prestigious show. The chestnut gelding showed his mettle, however, and despite the setbacks pulled through the colic and took his rider to victory.
“When we arrived in New Jersey, he didn’t ship well and I couldn’t ride him for a few days,” Cohen said, adding that they were uncertain about whether they would be able to compete. “Daddy did get better and the first day I rode him was the day before the show so we didn’t have a lot of time to prepare.”
Cohen and Daddy earned a score of 67.378% in the Junior Team Test and a 69.500% in the Junior Individual Test to ride away with a 68.493% combined total and the 2012 Junior Dressage Reserve Championship.
“Our ride the second day was really good,” Cohen explained. “Before I went into the ring I knew what the score to beat was, but I put that aside and tired to have a good ride. I worked on improving my trot work and succeeded. On the first day the judges said my canter was awesome but that my trot needed a little more so I went for it the second day and got rewarded for it! One of the judges had us in first with a 71.8%.”
Cohen said she was thrilled with her Festival of Champions experience and the fact that Daddy was able to overcome not only the colic, but the rough patch a month earlier. “When he was in the hospital with the leg infection it was quite a mess,” said Carol Cohen, Rebecca’s mother. “We were prepared to not go to Gladstone, but he pulled through and really showed how big his heart is. I am really proud of both Rebecca and Daddy, they were phenomenal.”
Cohen, who lives in Wellington, Florida, had a winning winter show circuit which included earning a 70% in the FEI Junior Individual Test in Wellington. She and Daddy will now compete at the NAJYRC in Kentucky this summer. In 2010, Cohen was on the Region 3 Junior Team and helped her team bring home a bronze medal. Cohen, who is a member of the ShowChic Mentoring Program in Wellington, said the ups and downs are just part of horses and competing.
“I have great role models to follow, including my trainers Ilse Schwarz, who coached me at Gladstone, Lauren Sammis, and Robert Dover. I am also inspired by Steffen Peters, who I ride with in clinics when he comes to Wellington. It was fantastic to be able to watch him win the Grand Prix Special,” Cohen added.
During the press conference at Gladstone, following her win, Cohen said she was still in shock. “I can’t believe we pulled it together, it’s still hard for me to believe,” she said. “Daddy has a heart bigger than most and will go above and beyond what you ask of him. He tries his heart out!”
Photo: Rebecca Cohen and Downtown won the National Junior Dressage Reserve Championship at the 2012 USEF National Championships at Gladstone. (Photo courtesy of JRPR)
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