Representing the Pure Spanish Horse (PRE) at this year’s Markel/USEF FEI Young Horse Championships (Lamplight Equestrian Center, August 26-28) will be Emily Copeland and her six-year-old stallion Festivo RS (Gaucho III x Llamadora I). Emily, a 23-year-old aspiring dressage professional based in Davidson NC, recently graduated from Davidson College and now works for USDF gold-medalist Stacey Hastings. Emily purchased Festivo two years ago and has since taken him from green-broke to third level. This bay stallion bred by Juan J. Rodriguez has already made a name for himself in the show arena. At the 2010 Region 1 Championships, he took reserve champion at first level and third place at second level and was also named the 2010 IALHA first level horse of the year. This year, Emily and Festivo have focused their showing on the FEI six year old test.
The Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Program (for 4, 5, 6-year-old horses) promotes the importance of selective breeding and correct training of horses in the United States, and encourages participation of breeders, riders, and trainers of young horses in dressage competition. “The purposes of this program are to encourage the properly structured development of young dressage prospects through the training scale; to identify and recognize outstanding talent and the training of international-caliber horses; and to prepare these horses for future careers at the FEI level and participation on U.S. High Performance teams.” In order to qualify for the national championships, young horses must earn an average score of at least 7.2. Festivo’s average score for the 6-year-old test is a 7.82, which ranks him in the top 15 in the nation.
Festivo is a unique competitor at the national championships this year, both as a PRE and as a born in the USA stallion. He will be competing against mostly warmbloods, many of whom have been imported from Europe. In the fall , Emily and Festivo will also compete at the prestigious Dressage at Devon and at the USDF Region 1 Championships. Festivo is Emily’s first PRE and her first stallion, and she is very proud of the breed ambassador he has become.