Christian Simonson Wins the 2023 U.S. Small Tour Championships

Fri, 08/25/2023 - 19:03
2023 U.S. Dressage Championships
Christian Simonson and Son of A Lady win the 2023 U.S. Small Tour Championship :: Photos © US Equestrian

Christian Simonson and the Danish warmblood Son of a Lady became the Small Tour Champions at the 2023 U.S. Dressage Championships at Lamplight equestrian centre in Wayne, ILL. The pair won the first two rounds and placed second in the freestyle. 

The small tour championship came to its exciting conclusion on 24 August 2023 with all 12 entries performing their Intermediate I Kur to Music after the Prix St Georges on Tuesday and Intermediaire I on Wednesday in boiling hot temperatures.

The Podium

Charlotte Jorst (Reno, Nev.) and the 10-year old Danish gelding Zhaplin Langholt (by Zonik x Stedinger) earned the highest freestyle score of a 75.610%, bringing the pair to the bronze medal position overall. 

Christian Simonson (Ventura, Calif.) and the 12-yar old Danish bred Son of a Lady (by Soreldo x Welt Hit II) were second in the freestyle with a 74.015%, allowing them to maintain the top spot to win the national champion title.

The silver went to a consistently performing Nora Batchelder on the 8-year old Oldenburg bred Nova (by Grand Galaxy Win x Romanov).

The national small tour title is the first senior title for Simonson, whose time as a young rider comes to an end on 31 December 2023. With Son of Lady taking over the number one spot in the barn from his Young Riders' horse Zeaball Diawind, Simonson has had a strong season with two horses in 2023. 

Christian Simonson wins the title
When asked what it means to win this championship on top of everything else he has done this year, Simonson replied, "it means a lot. Adrienne (Lyle, Simonson’s trainer) won this championship back in the day, and so that also makes it really special. But I think this whole week has been really special. It was a Pan-Ams [observation event] and to have the boys do that well—this whole journey [working toward Pan-Am team selection] has been something totally new for me and a whole level of pressure I didn’t know if I was going to be good enough for. I think I’ve learned how to handle pressure through this process. But I really think the biggest part of this weekend was Adrienne and the crew. It was 100 degrees these past few days, and she’s eight months pregnant and she’s here coaching me and willing to support me along with the others. I think that’s kind of what made the weekend be more than the championship title as well. It’s so inspiring to watch her. She’s a true badass in every way."

About the Freestyle

Charlotte Jorst: I have only done that freestyle once before because it’s not often you get to do the I-1 freestyle. I actually did it when I was with Christian on a Nations Cup team, and we were just reminiscing about that. I missed my twos back then, but today I got that, so I was very happy. It’s a really nice test. I’ve done that freestyle with another horse a long time ago, so I love that music.

Charlotte Jorst and Zhaplin Langholt
Christian Simonson: The freestyle was funny because it was actually a brand new one. I’d never practiced it before, so we were just kind of going in, with the weather circumstances we just kind of had to wing it. He was tired, he’s been pushing all weekend. We had one little blip that I think was more my fault than anything else. The music, I’m really excited about. I like it a lot. It has some choreography that is more difficult than I’m used to and I think it really caters well to him. It was a good day. It’s been a good week.

Nora Batchelder: This was our first trying this freestyle. We’ve tried one other version at WEC and then we tried this new version, so we were also kind of winging it. But I was pretty happy with it. She was a little nervous about the speakers and the music, but she’ll get better at that. We need more experience.

About the Partnership with their Horses

Nora Batchelder on Nova
CJ: I have had Zhaplin since he was five, so everything that he knows, I’ve kind of taught him, and it’s been such a fun experience for me. In the beginning when I got him he was so nervous and neurotic and he was spinning and doing all kinds of fun things with me. And now he’s such a sweetheart. Every time he goes in that ring he tries his best, so it’s been a great partnership. I can’t wait to have him for many, many more years and hopefully like Nintendo he’ll go into his twenties. That would be pretty amazing.

CS: I’ve had Sonny for a year and a half. This was never his game plan, actually, to do the small tour. He was supposed to be a U25 horse for me, and he’s just kind of become the wonder horse that could and we’ve gone all over the world now and done from the Young Riders now to the small tour up with the adults and he’s just an incredible horse. He’s always going, always ready to give 110%, even on days like today when it’s almost 100 degrees. He feels like gold when you ride him.

NB: We’ve had Nova for about a year and a half. She’s only eight, so we’re excited for the future. We’re playing with the grand prix stuff and I’m just super grateful to her owner Carol Glover for letting me ride her. She’s amazing.

Related Links
Scores: 2023 U.S. Dressage Championships
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