The World Equestrian Center (WEC) December Dressage CDI-W sponsored by Hampton Green Farm and Discover Dressage began on Thursday, December 7, 2023, with victory in the Grand Prix for Freestyle CDI-W for Kevin Kohmann (USA) and Dünensee, owned by Diamante Farms. In the Prix St. Georges CDI1*, Benjamin Ebeling (USA) and Escona 8 owned by ACR Enterprises Inc. and Hof Kasselman took the win. The show, which hosts Fédération Equestre International (FEI) and USEF/USDF-rated classes, continues through Sunday, December 10.

With a harmonious test, Kohmann and Dünensee were rewarded by judges Cesar Torrente (COL), William Warren (USA), Carlos Lopes (POR), Clive Halsell (GBR) and Michael Osinski (USA) with a personal best score of 70.891%, including a high score of 72.717% from the judge at B.

Kohmann feels that the partnership between he and his horse “has gotten to a point where now I can even start working carefully on stuff to make it better,” he explained. “Before it was just survive the test, get a clean test. This is now at least the fourth clean test in a row. We’re feeling super confident. I feel like I can start pushing now.”

Second place went to 2023 Pan American team gold medalists Codi Harrison (USA) and Katholt’s Bossco, her own 16-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding by Blue Hors Don Schufro x Michellino. They were just behind with a score of 70.456%. Jennifer Williams (USA) and Joppe K, a nine-year-old KWPN gelding by Harmony’s Rousseau x Santano owned by Joppe Partners LLC, were third with a score of 70%.

Kohmann and Dünensee were named as alternates for the U.S. Dressage team for the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. When Kohmann found out he did not have to travel to Chile, he turned his focus to competing in the World Cup class at Terranova Equestrian Center in November. Following a second-place finish in the freestyle, Kohmann has made it his goal to qualify for the 2024 FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final in April in Saudi Arabia.

“We said, you know what, that’s a great idea, let’s go for this,” said Kohmann, who also celebrated his marriage to international dressage rider Devon Kane the previous weekend. “Hopefully if everything runs smooth and keeps on going like this week, then I should be good up there with the points.”

While Kohmann started Dünensee as a young horse, it left the barn and spent time competing in Europe before ending up under the saddle of his friend Christoph Koschel of Germany. Kohmann got the ride back just 10 months ago and he has learned how to work with Dünensee.

“He had to find his person,” said Kohmann of the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Dancier x Davignon 3. “Christoph did an amazing job and when I took the horse over from Christoph, he came with a manual. That worked to get a clean test. Now the rest of the last few months, we got to spend as just him-and-me time. I had the alone time that was really, really nice too.”

Dünensee has come into his own, becoming stronger in his body and lighter for Kohmann. “You cannot make this horse stop just by pulling hard on the rein, because I tried that at the beginning and my arms hurt and the horse just went as fast as he wanted,” remarked Kohmann. “If you look at pictures from six months ago to now, he is so strong now. I can do stuff with him I couldn’t do before, and it’s lighter; it’s less work for me. I’m not sweating so much anymore. But now we trust each other. It’s nice going into a ring trusting your horse.”

Kohmann will be a part of a strong 15-horse field (including Canadians Evi Strasser/Disney Tyme and Tanya Strasser-Shostak/Fidelis Tyme) in Friday night’s Grand Prix Freestyle CDI-W.

Results here.