Last year, Ana DiGironimo and her Arabian pony Anna Miriah C traveled 15 hours to the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® on a bit of a whim. They returned home with not only a ribbon, but also a newfound determination to return to the Finals, and this time with friends.
“It’s a show like no other, and I kept telling everyone back home about what an incredible experience it was,” said DiGironimo, who owns DQ Performance Horses in Turnersville, N.J. “At the Finals, everyone is so happy to be there and grateful just to have qualified. There is such a supportive atmosphere with a special camaraderie among competitors, and to feel that while also being among the top horses and riders in America is like no other show experience.”
Now DiGironimo is back in Lexington, Ky. as one of 387 competitors from across the country representing a record-setting 42 states at this week’s US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®, where open and adult amateur exhibitors from Training Level to Grand Prix will compete for national titles and $100,000 in prize money across 30 different divisions. DiGironimo and her talented pony will once again compete in the Third Level Open Freestyle Championship with their crowd-pleasing Wizard of Oz-themed freestyle, but this year it means even more to her to be cheering on two students: Mindy Elgart and Spaniard at Second Level, and Christine Capano with Sir Franky at Training Level, both of whom qualified for the Finals via tough competition at the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 1 Championships last month in Virginia.
“To be back here not only as a rider but now also as a trainer and mentor just makes it even more special,” DiGironimo explained. “Last year I was just thrilled to be at the Finals with my pony and representing the Arabian breed, but this year it’s a little different feeling having my team with me. I still have the opportunity to compete but also get to share in their experience, so it adds a whole new dimension.
“We set this goal to get to the Finals as a team and we all worked together throughout the season, and for everyone to end up making it is very special,” DiGironimo continued. “It became almost an inside joke that we ‘willed our way’ to Kentucky. One of my clients bought a Kentucky shirt and would wear it all the time as motivation! And then Regionals went well, and now it’s reality that we’re here. For so many of us, this is the biggest possible competition we can experience, and everything you may go through during the year all pays off when you come down centerline here for your final halt and salute. Of course our goal is to do well and hopefully get everyone in the top ten so they can experience the awards ceremonies in the Alltech Arena, but for now we’re just so excited to be here and enjoy everything that the show and the Kentucky Horse Park have to offer!”
DiGironimo will also be rooting for fellow riders participating on the Region 1 Team in the Fourth Annual Regions Cup Team Competition. With a regional team of three athlete/horse combinations representing each USDF region, competitors show their regional pride and compete for bragging rights as the top scoring eligible open and adult amateur rider/horse combinations from Training Level through FEI Regional Championships classes make up each regional team. The winning team is determined by averaging the highest final scores achieved by each athlete/horse combination in their respective US Dressage Finals class.
Once again, dressage fans around the world can follow the action from the US Dressage Finals via live-streaming on the USEF Network at www.usefnetwork.com, with coverage beginning Thursday, November 8 with the first round of national titles presented in the Alltech Arena (see the entire live streaming schedule HERE).
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 http://www.usdressagefinals.com.