Welcome to the inaugural post in our Top Five of 2015 series! This series will highlight the top five horses and riders in each phase at the Advanced, three-star and four-star levels from 2015.
While we often recognize greatness over all three phases in our sport, we should also strive to recognize strength in each phase. This series aims to give that recognition and highlight horses and riders who have had particularly strong years in one phase or another.
Today’s Top Five will highlight the horses that had the five lowest dressage averages in 2015. To be considered for EN’s top five, the horse must have performed at least two dressage tests at these levels. All U.S. horses were considered, regardless of where they are based, as well as all horses who competed at least twice on U.S. soil.
These averages include Advanced scores that have been converted into FEI scores to allow for direct comparison. I’ve included the average in terms of both FEI and USEF scoring, but both scores include all Advanced/3*/4* tests from the year. (As a side note, 15 American horses averaged below the all-important 45.0 mark this year.)
FIFTH PLACE: Pavarotti
FEI Average: 42.00
USEF Average: 28.00
Number of Tests: 3
Jessica Phoenix’s Pan American Games partner didn’t play much this year at the upper levels, and in fact didn’t complete an event at these levels. Jessica withdrew him at both Rolex CCI4* and Fair Hill CCI3* after the first phase, and just popped off him on the cross country at Plantation Field CIC3*.
Still, this horse made it known he still excels on the flat, scoring a solid 45.0 (FEI) at Rolex, hunting the leaders at Plantation with a 41.8 (FEI), and putting the heat on Mai Baum with a 39.2 (FEI) at Fair Hill on his personal best score of the year.
FOURTH PLACE: Who’s A Star
FEI Average: 41.85
USEF Average: 27.90
Number of Tests: 3
Who’s A Star is another horse that didn’t get to play much at this level this year, first sidelined by a minor injury just before Rolex, then curtailed in the fall season as Courtney Cooper recovered from a broken leg. His three marks of the year all came early on in his spring campaign.
“Tag” is another horse who improved on each test, beginning with a 30.6 (USEF) at Pine Top Advanced. He broke the 30 threshold at Carolina International, also in the Advanced, clocking in a 29.3 (USEF). It was at The Fork that he really threw down the gauntlet, scoring a 23.8 (USEF) on what would be his final test at this level for 2015.
THIRD PLACE: RF Scandalous
FEI Average: 41.40
USEF Average: 27.60
Number of Tests: 3
We all realized that this mare would be a powerhouse in the first phase when she navigated through a spring season of competitive two-stars undefeated, then moved on to win individual gold in Toronto. Although “Kitty” only completed one event at this level, she laid down three dressage tests that should make you sit down and take notes.
Marilyn Little first piloted RF Scandalous to an astounding 37.6 (FEI) at Poplar Place CIC3*, before laying down a 41.1 (FEI) at Plantation Field to lie second in a huge field. Then they took a trip overseas to Boekelo CCIO3*, where an extremely solid 45.5 (FEI) showed she had the chops to compete with the Europeans on the flat.
SECOND PLACE: Mai Baum
FEI Average: 38.97
USEF Average: 25.98
Number of Tests: 6
Mai Baum had an absolute bang-up year, with wins in five of six starts at this level, leading all five of those wins from start to finish. Tamie Smith moved Mai Baum up for his first Advanced test at Copper Meadows, where he scored a jaw-dropping 22.8 (USEF). After a two-star campaign on the East Coast, Mai Baum popped back into mix at Great Meadow CIC3*, laying down a 41.1 (FEI) for third place after the first phase behind Cambalda and Ballynoe Castle RM.
A summer stint at back west reinforced his prowess on the flat, with a 40.5 (FEI) at Rebecca Farm CIC3* and 41.3 (FEI) at Copper Meadows CIC3*. Mai Baum’s second trip to the East Coast produced the final knock-out scores, as he led a huge field at Plantation Field CIC3* with a 38.2 (FEI), then summed it up with a 38.5 (FEI) at Fair Hill CCI3*.
FIRST PLACE: Loughan Glen
FEI Average: 36.79
USEF Average: 24.53
Number of Tests: 4
While Mai Baum was busy dominating all across the U.S., Clark Montgomery was smashing fields at some of the biggest events in Europe. Loughan Glen began his season leading an Advanced field at Weston Park with a 24.3 (BEF, equivalent to USEF) before making headlines by being one of two horses to break the 40s mark with a 39.8 (FEI) at Belton Park CIC3* in a massive field of 106.
Next up was Luhmühlen in Germany, where the horse scored a 37.1 (FEI) at his only four-star competition of the year. Loughan Glen ended the season with a bang, leading a field of 101 from start to finish with a dominating 33.8 (FEI) at Blenheim CCI3* to soundly top the dressage charts for 2015.