Competitors took to the Grand Prix Stadium at the Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, CA, to demonstrate their talents in the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle CDIW, sponsored by Buffini and Company Saturday afternoon at the Adequan® Desert Dressage I CDIW, presented by Buffini & Company. Out of the four horse and rider pairings, Charlotte Jorst (USA) aboard Kastel’s Nintendo danced their way to victory together with an incredible score of 75.710%.

The second place title was captured by Carly Taylor-Smith (USA) and her mount Rosalut NHF (Rosenthal x Salut), a ten year old Oldenberg gelding owned by Nikki Taylor-Smith, with a score of 74.075%. Rounding out the podium was Jan Ebeling (USA) and Diamond’s Diva (Diamond Hit x Santander H), a fifteen year old Oldenberg mare owned by Ann Romney, with a score of 72.495%.

Kastel’s Nintendo, owned by Kastel Denmark, is a seventeen year old Dutch Warmblood stallion by Negro out of Monaco. The duo has been competing together for seven years. In today’s test, the pair debuted brand new music and choreography for their freestyle routine. The freestyle possessed the energy and cohesiveness Jorst hoped for and it clearly bode well with the judges.

“It felt incredible. It was really nice music. I had only fully practiced it once before so I won’t lie, I was very nervous,” explained Jorst. “Especially for the entrance because I was trying to time it perfectly. It really worked out though. I got behind the music once in a while but in general it felt incredible.”

Freestyle competitions are always an exciting class as riders create their own choreography to specialized music compositions. Riders are given a list of skills and movements they need to demonstrate and the rest is up to them making each individual test it’s own unique performance.

“It is very difficult. What I have found is that your favorite music isn’t necessarily the best music for the horse. That has taken me far too long to realize. I should have realized that five years ago but I didn’t,” Jorst continued. “I have come up with so many weird freestyles and this one just panned out right away. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier. I guess everyone has to go through those trials and errors. I just had more errors than others I think.”

The pair will continue competing next week at the Adequan® Desert Dressage II CDIW, presented by Buffini & Company and hope to continue to improve their scores from this week. Jorst aspires to return to the World Cup Finals in Sweden in the coming year with her astonishing horse.

For full results from the show, click here.