Final entries are in and horse vans have already begun arriving at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY for the 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, 2013.
With exhibitors attending from as far away as Maine, Florida, Idaho and California, competition will be fierce across 24 championship classes. More than 300 entries were received representing all nine United States Dressage Federation (USDF) regions and including riders from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels, including adult amateurs, professionals, and High Performance riders.
Adult amateur rider Krista Nordgren is traveling from her home in South Portland, Maine 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'." Nordgren's friends and family will also attend the event to cheer her on, including her parents, coach, husband, and young son. "I have no expectations, but for me it's not about winning anyway," she explained. "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."
Driving more than 16 hours to Kentucky from the opposite direction as Nordgren is Grand Prix rider A. Whit Watkins of Moody, Texas, who can hardly wait to embark on her Finals journey 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 Grand Prix 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 which will ensure a special competition experience. 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. Special "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 Friesian stallion "GP Boater". Individual and group VIP seating and dining options are available for purchase during the competition, while a multitude of equestrian vendors will be on hand to satisfy every discriminating shopper's taste. Visitors may tour the expansive Kentucky Horse Park grounds, including the International Museum of the Horse, Hall of Champions, and popular Horses of the World demonstrations, as well as watch open dressage classes during the USDF Dressage in the Bluegrass competition, which coincides with the Finals. Dressage fans unable to attend this year's Finals in person can follow the action through updates on the USDF Facebook page and the US Dressage Finals website, as well as watch live online streaming of Friday and Saturday evening competition on the popular USEF Network (www.usefnetwork.com).
"I am very excited about this week's US Dressage Finals," said USDF President George Williams. "I'm overwhelmed by the response from U.S. 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."
To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, download competition information, review entry lists, purchase tickets to special events, and sign up to receive news and updates, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com.