Lexington, KY – November 9, 2015 – Leatherdale Farms sent a strong contingent of horses from their Minnesota base to Kentucky for the 2015 US Dressage Finals, presented by Adequan, and the journey proved to be more than worthwhile. All four horses – three of whom are homebreds by the Leatherdales’ own stallions – earned top 10 finishes among the nation’s best at their respective levels, and two of them are returning home with championship titles.
Rider Mike Suchanek, coach Alison Sader Larson and the Minnesota farm’s performance horse manager, Jessi Lash, teamed up to bring the horses into the competition in top shape. Each horse came through with outstanding efforts.
Fleur de Lis L, who was the reserve champion in the Training Level Open division at the 2014 US Dressage Finals, made a triumphant return to the Kentucky Horse Park. She showed off the progress she’s made in the past year by clinching the Second Level Open Championship with a score of 72.683 percent.
“It was an amazing ride,” Suchanek said. “She goes out there with a winning attitude. I am really blessed to have such a horse in my lineup. She plays to win coming into that ring.”
The 6-year-old Hanoverian mare (First Dance-EM De La Rosa, De Niro) was bred in Minnesota by Leatherdale Farms and possesses the intelligence, athleticism and sensibility that exemplify their breeding program.
Also leading a victory lap in the Alltech Arena was Corenzo, who captured the Fourth Level Open Championship. Imported by the Leatherdales as a performance horse, the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Conteur-Ramira, Rotspon) has moved rapidly up the levels under Suchanek’s training and also competed in the Prix St. Georges Open Championship.
“He relaxed into his rhythm and became a real partner with me out there,” Suchanek said after his Fourth Level ride. “He shared my confidence in the ring. The three- and four-tempis were some of his best work so far. We’ve really learned a lot from each other.”
The bustling atmosphere of the US Dressage Finals, which drew 372 competitors from 36 states across the U.S., can pose a challenge for even the most seasoned horses. But Dublin L, who, at 4 years old, is in his first show season, was undaunted. The Hanoverian gelding (Damsey-EM Wibranda, Wolkenstein II) coasted to top 10 finishes in both of his championship classes at Training and First Level. The highlight of the show for him was a sixth place finish in the First Level Open Championship with a score of 70.98 percent.
“I thought he might be a little nervous [at the Finals], but he hasn’t shown any nervous energy at all,” Suchanek said. “He’s grown up a lot and loves to get out there and show off. He listens and has confidence, and he is relaxed out there among the other horses.”
Returning for his second year at the US Dressage Finals was Hero L, an 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding (His Highness-Waterlily L, Wolkenstein II). Hero competed at Training and First Levels in 2014, and since then he has moved on to new challenges with great success. He finished ninth in the Third Level Open Championship at the 2015 Finals.
“I want to thank Adequan and the sponsors who supported this show,” Suchanek said. “I also want to thank the Leatherdales for their generosity, as well as my coach Alison Sader Larson and the whole Leatherdale team.”
Suchanek is in just his second year of competing in dressage, and he enjoyed the chance to ride against and watch many of the other horses and riders gathered at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“I feel this was a great opportunity for me to be around the competitiveness of the sport,” he said. “I could see other great competitors and watch their rides and then go in and show off the horses’ talents to the best of my ability. It has just been such an amazing time to be able to do this for the Leatherdales.”
Suchanek started Dublin L, Fleur de Lis L and Hero L under saddle himself and has brought Corenzo up from Second Level to Prix St. Georges. Sader Larson pointed to the horses’ solid foundations as a key component of their success.
“Mike was able to put the correct basics on the horses, which makes the rest of it easier because the horses have been started correctly and are going correctly with the scale of training,” Sader Larson said. “The horses are athletic, and they’re meant to do this job. I think they’re right on track for international type dressage horses in their training.”