It was a full day of competition on Friday, December 8, at the World Equestrian Center (WEC) December Dressage CDI-W sponsored by Hampton Green Farm and Discover Dressage. Capturing victory in the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W along with coveted FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final qualifying points was Kevin Kohmann (USA) riding Dünensee, owned by Diamante Farms. Jan Ebeling (USA) and Jubi’s Tenacity, owned by Ann Romney, rode to the win in the Grand Prix for Special CDI3*, while Siena Harris-Gissler (USA) and Electra DDJ won the Intermediate I CDI1*. WEC December Dressage continues through Sunday, December 10, with Fédération Equestre International (FEI) and USEF/USDF-rated classes.

Marking his first-ever freestyle victory, Kevin Kohmann rode Dünensee, a 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Dancier x Davignon 3, to a personal best score of 77.720% in front of a judging panel including Carlos Lopes (POR), Cesar Torrente (COL), Michael Osinski (USA), William Warren (USA) and Clive Halsell (GBR). His high score of 79.250% came from the judge at H.

“Wow, I am still shocked,” said Kohmann. “I have never gotten a score like this, never won a freestyle. So, a lot of firsts. What an amazing week. It doesn’t matter what happens tomorrow, I am winning.”

Kohmann’s win was even more impressive considering he only got his final music on Wednesday before the sound check. The freestyle music came from Nicole Pendzich in Germany and featured the music of the late DJ Avicii.

“It was mostly Avicii, which is my favorite DJ,” he remarked. “I always wanted an Avicii freestyle, and now I have the right horse to ride to it. It worked out much better than I thought. The music sounded so crisp and good in there. It was an awesome feeling.”

While Kohmann felt nerves on Thursday, an afternoon nap before the Friday night freestyle had him ready to compete. “I woke up and had never been so relaxed before a show in my life,” he related. “The atmosphere was amazing, but we were both very relaxed. He only got nervous when we put the winner’s blanket on him. Otherwise, the horse was 1000% on my side.”

Nerves played a part for second-place finishers Jennifer Williams (USA) and Joppe K as well, due to the nine-year-old’s inexperience. However, the KWPN gelding by Harmony’s Rousseau x Santano and owned by Joppe Partners LLC was able to work with his rider as the freestyle continued and they finished with a score of 75.680%.

“I was incredibly proud of him, for as overwhelmed as he was when he went in, he really did his absolute best to stay with me and listen to me,” said Williams. “I know there was quite a bit of tension that I tried to ease him through and tell him that he was okay. Sure, there’s lots more that I would like to make relaxed and softer, but where we’re at right now, I was really proud of him for keeping himself with me.”

Williams noted that the grand prix movements “come quite naturally” to Joppe K. “The goal is always to keep it positive and fun,” she said. “Now it’s really about fitness. That’s been my big goal, making him stronger, keeping him happy, and keeping it all going in the same direction that it has been. Keep doing what we’re doing and enjoying the ride.”

Both Williams and third-place finisher Anna Marek (USA) competed to freestyles designed by Karen Robinson of Applause Dressage. Marek and Fayvel, owned by Cynthia Davila, scored 75.253%.

Marek has only shown the 13-year-old KWPN gelding by Zizi Top x Houston once before at a CDI show as Davila has been his regular rider in CDI amateur competition for three years. In their first CDI together at the WEC September Dressage CDI3* show, they won the Grand Prix Freestyle. Coming into this show, however, they decided to change the plan.

“I did the same thing as Kevin, where we made a freestyle in two weeks. Cynthia wanted the trot music from the last one, but wanted different canter music, a different pattern, and it needed to be harder,” she explained. “He’s very handy, so I said we can do some weird stuff in the freestyle. I’ve never had a horse that I could do that on before. Any of the hard stuff you can think of and link combinations, he could really do or eventually get pretty good at. I was happy that I was pretty sure most of the combinations worked. He was great.”

Results here.