Mason City, IA - Sept. 20, 2016 - Leatherdale Farms has had quite the summer with high scores for their young horses. Their progress culminated at the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 4 Championships Sept. 8-11 at the North Iowa Events Center in Mason City, Iowa. Mike Suchanek rode five Leatherdale horses to an impressive total of five championships and two reserve championship titles from Training Level up to Intermediate I.
The team at Leatherdale Farms entered the Region 4 Championships after a successful showing at the Markel/USEF Young & Developing Young Horse Championship in August at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Illinois. Hannigan L (E.H. Herzensdieb-Pia Colada, Pik L) placed seventh in the large 5-year-old division with an average of 7.376, and Delta (Damsey-Weltbekanna L, Weltbekannt) earned an average of 7.192. Hero L (His Highness-Waterlily L, Wolkenstein II) qualified and competed in the Developing Prix St. Georges division and finished the championship with an average of 67.524 percent.
"Hannigan was very through in his back and coming from behind very correctly, which the judges rewarded," Suchanek explained about his rides. "The judges really loved Delta's walk and my second test on her was beautiful."
Suchanek enjoyed the championship atmosphere as it provided the opportunity to learn judges' expectations for young horses competing in the international level.
"I am thankful for the guidance of Christine Traurig [USEF Young Horse Coach] and the young horse championship because it allows me to bring back new knowledge to my training program," Suchanek said. "I also want to thank my coach, Alison Sader Larson, for her expertise and helping me develop my riding and Louise Leatherdale for giving me the support and opportunity to train her amazing horses."
The Leatherdale Farm team only had a week in between the two championships to make subtle improvements before competing in Iowa for the Region 4 Championships, but they continued their domination, winning a total of five championships.
Duchess L (Damsey-De la Rosa, De Niro) won the Training Level Open Championship with a 72.045 percent, and her sister, Delta L claimed the Reserve Championship with a 71.477 percent. In the First Level Open Championships, Leatherdale Farm horses swept the top three placings. Duchess L earned her second tricolor ribbon of the week with a 78.824 percent, Reserve Champion Fighting Chance L (First Dance-EM Helia, Hohenstein) earned a 74.412 percent, and Delta L claimed third with a 73.676 percent.
"Duchess has come along way this year and really coming into her own in the show ring," Suchanek said. "She is beautiful, her gaits are very fluid and she looks very similar to her sire Damsey."
Fighting Chance L, a 7-year-old Hanoverian gelding, won the Second Level Championship with a 74.939 percent and Hannigan L earned third place with a 71.463 percent. Fighting Chance L had an injury last season after finishing in fifth place in the 6-year-old national championships, but Suchanek has enjoyed forming a partnership with the gelding through rehab and he is back better than ever.
"He loves to work and it was a bit tough to hold him back during rehab," Suchanek laughed. "He is much stronger now and he is so confident in the show ring. He listens really well and he has fun in his training."
Hero L, a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding (His Highness-Waterlily L, Wolkenstein II) became the Region 4 Prix St Georges Champion with a 73.421 percent, as well as the Intermediate 1 Champion with a 72.105 percent.
"Both Hero and I are relatively new to the FEI ring, but he did a great job!" Suchanek said. "He was very uphill and forward. The judges loved his fluid trot and his extended trot scores were high due to his reach in his shoulder."
Each of the horses headed home with at least one championship or reserve championship rosette, qualifying them for the US Dressage Finals, presented by Adequan. The Finals will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, Nov. 10-13.
"We are all very proud of the performance of the Leatherdale horses at both the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Championships and the Region 4 Championships," said Alison Sader Larson, a trainer for Leatherdale Farms. "The judges have been very complimentary of Mike's preparation, presentation and quality of training that was represented in each of the young horses. I am very excited about the future of the Leatherdale horses, and I am thankful to be a part of this wonderful team."