LEXINGTON, Ky. — It’s hard to miss New Jersey’s Alice Tarjan and Candescent when they enter the ring, and the elegant black Hanoverian mare’s extravagant movement and mistake-free performance caught the attention of not only spectators but also the judges on the first day of the 2018 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan, being held Nov. 8-11 in Lexington, Ky.

The pair cruised to a unanimous win under all three judges with 69.069% in the Intermediate II Adult Amateur division, the first of 30 championship titles to be awarded across all levels from Training to Grand Prix in this unique national showcase for both Open and Adult Amateur competitors.

After earning reserve championship honors with Candescent (Christ x Farina by Falkenstern II) at the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship at Lamplight in August, Tarjan, of Oldwick, has continued to work on developing her eight-year-old mare’s dressage skills, even though she was bred for a very different sport. “All of my friends jump, event and foxhunt for fun, so I wanted to find a horse for that too, but I wanted it to be a black horse with white socks,” she laughed. “So I bought her out of the Hanoverian auction as a 4-year-old and I thought I would jump her, but she was quite sour when I got her and not so easy to ride. Then as we got going it became clear she would be best as a dressage horse, so here we are!”

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Tarjan, who qualified for this year’s Finals in Region 1, was pleased with how her young mount was unfazed by the atmosphere of the Alltech Arena, “I’m really pleased with her. Even though it’s her first year at this level so it’s still a work in progress, she does all the movements really well and now it’s just improving the transitions and consistency,” Tarjan explained. “It’s getting better and better and you can really ride her in the ring, which makes it fun. She fought for me today, and it’s been such good experience for her to do this.”

Hay All Smiles in Winning Intermediate II Open Championship

Bridget Hay of Flemington, N.J. (Region 8) and her homebred nine-year-old Oldenburg stallion Faolan (Freestyle x Wyoming by Weltstern) already have an accomplished resume as they’ve risen through the levels together. But on the first day of the 2018 US Dressage Finals, the pair earned their biggest win to date with a victory in the Intermediate II Open Championship on the strength of a score of 67.794%.

“He felt super in the warmup and I was hoping it would carry over into the ring,” Hay explained. “We’re both new to this level and we’re still gaining experience, but he’s unflappable so the atmosphere wasn’t really a concern for me. The one tempi’s felt super, his pirouettes were really good…overall, he tries his heart out in the ring, and I was thrilled with him. He gives me everything. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so much in a ride in my life. I just love this horse.”

Hometown girl Kathy Priest (Region 2) rode her Danish Warmblood gelding Fredensdals Zig Zag (Blue Hors Zack x Kristiansminders Elektra by Blue Hors Don Schufro) to the Reserve Championship in the Intermediate II Open ranks with 67.059%, and was pleased with not only her mount but her Finals experience. “Overall I was pretty happy with our ride, even though we had mistakes in the one’s,” Priest noted. “He’s still new to this level, but it’s coming along and he’s such a good boy in the ring – very confident and I can really trust him. I think the Kentucky Horse Park is such an amazing facility for this event. It takes a lot to put on a competition like this, and between the people and the venue, we’re lucky to have this and I hope it continues for a long, long time.”

To learn more about the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan, download competition information, review day sheets and results, and read daily news releases, visit the official event website at www.usdressagefinals.com.

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