By US Equestrian Communications Department
The U.S. Dressage U25 Stars and Stripes Team of Ben Ebeling aboard Status Royal OLD and Callie O’Connell and Eaton H took first place Thursday during the FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ USA CDIO-U25 competition at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival, finishing on a final team score of 139.736. The U.S. Stars and Stripes Team was led by Chef d’Equipe Charlotte Bredahl.
The team finished ahead of the U.S. Dressage U25 Star-Spangled Team (135.500) of Emma Asher and Elegance N, Kyle Dickinson and Ibanero van de Vogelzang, and Erin Nichols and Elian Royale, and the team representing Canada, who finished on a score of 133.207.
Ebeling (Wellington, Fla.) and Status Royal OLD, a 2010 Oldenburg gelding owned by Ann Romney, were the highest-scoring pair on the team. Ebeling took over the ride on Status Royal OLD from his father, Jan, in late spring last year and has competed the gelding in the U25 division both in the U.S. and abroad.
“Competing on a team is always a blast,” Ebeling said. “There’s a little bit of extra added pressure. It’s really fun to do it at the Grand Prix level. I know that my horse gave me his all today, and I’m so proud of him.”
The duo recorded the top individual score of the day—a 70.647 percent, earning particularly high marks in the extended canter.
“He was with me every step of the way,” Ebeling said of Status Royal OLD. “He was ready to go in the extensions. He was willing to go sideways in the half-passes. Ready to collect when he needed to. Ready to go forward. He was just really adjustable today.”
Aboard Eaton H, a 2009 KWPN gelding owned by Ruling Cortes LLC, O’Connell (Wilmington, Mass.) rode to the day’s second-best individual mark with a personal-best 69.089 percent. Eaton H is a new ride of O’Connell, purchased to help her gain valuable team experience at the Grand Prix level.
“It was probably the most rideable that Eaton has ever been,” O’Connell said. “He just was really there waiting. I felt like he was just like, ‘What do you want? What do you want?’ It was a very special feeling to have in the ring.”
O’Connell is competing on her first Nations Cup team this weekend and was thrilled to earn her first team start in such a welcoming and positive environment.
“This is my first time on a [Nations Cup] team, and to be on it with Ben is pretty cool,” O’Connell said. “Just a very amazing experience. My horse was so rideable and with me every step. It was an incredible feeling.”
The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team currently sits in second place in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup USA CDIO3* on a team score of 214.617 following the first day of competition, just narrowly behind Germany on a 217.940. Team competition will conclude tomorrow with the FEI Grand Prix Special and FEI Intermediate I test. The U25 combinations will compete in the FEI Grand Prix 16-25 test for individual medals.