August 23, 2015 -- The top young talent from across the country participated in the 2015 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals on Sunday at the Lamplight Equestrian Center. Riders from the ages of 11 to 18 displayed their equitation in front of the judges by performing both group and pattern work. Julia Lee Barton claimed top honors in the 13 & Under division, while Alexander Dawson earned the National title in the 14-18 division.
13 & Under Division
Kicking off competition this morning in the Wisconsin Equine Clinic Arena were 13 of the nation's top 13 & Under dressage competitors. Exhibiting poise and beautiful riding to earn the Gold medal with a score of 88.000% was Barton (Lawrence, Kan.) riding her own Bonnaroo. Barton is trained by Clare Krska, who won at these finals in 2010 in the 14-18 division.
"I really liked my individual pattern. Bonnaroo was really responsive and I could focus on myself and my aids," said Barton.
Barton has owned Bonnaroo, a six-year-old German Riding Pony/Quarter Horse Cross, since the mare was just 30 days under-saddle and has done the majority of the training herself.
Finishing a close second on a score of 87.000% was Tillie Jones (Lincoln, Neb.) riding Samantha Kenik's Westphalian, Flavio. Flavio was loaned to Jones for this competition, giving the pair just two months together to prepare. Jones is trained by Jami Kment.
Jones explained her preparation for these finals, "I printed out all the patterns available and went through one or two each time I rode, in addition to no-stirrup work."
Taking the Bronze medal was Camille Molton (Charleston, S.C.) on Robb Prichard's Welsh Pony Cross, Mom's Little Lulu, scoring 85.000%. Molton is trained by Michelle Folden.
Dawson (Kenosha, Wis.) is no stranger to the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals, having won the 13 & Under division in 2013. This year he delivered in the 14-18 division, under the guidance of trainer Patricia Becker, and demonstrated great equitation on Lynda Chesser's KWPN, Shamrock H, to win the championship with a score of 85.000%.
"I'm so grateful to Lynda Chesser for letting me ride Shamrock H. He is such a wonderful horse and really calm; competing in the 13 & Under division really prepared me for this division," said Dawson.
Taking Reserve Champion was Asia Ondaatje Rupert (Greenwich, Conn.) and her own Dutch Warmblood, Twelfth Night, with an 84.000%. She showed good contact throughout her ride. Rupert is trained by Karin Persson.
"It was really interesting to ride her in the equitation. I rode her in the regionals equitation, but I never did that before, so I learned a lot about my horse today," said Ondaatje Rupert.
Although Stella Leitner (Los Angeles, Calif.) only has known Amanda Johnson's Hanoverian, Pip, a short time, having borrowed him for the competition, the pair performed well together. They worked on trot-halt transitions, which helped her in today's Finals for a third-place finish with an 80.000%. She is trained by Kristina Harrison.
"Pip has been everywhere and done everything so he's the pro. I was new at this, and he just knows what he's doing. He's just a real sweet horse," Leitner said.