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KWPN North America Announces 2008 Willy Arts Grant Recipients

Sutherlin, OR---Helping fulfill the dreams of young riders, the KWPN-NA has named the three recipients of the 2008 Willy Arts Grant for Young Riders. Sponsored by Little Creek Farm, the awards were launched to recognize and assist in the development of three top performing combinations of a KWPN horse and young rider. The financial awards of $2,000 each may be used for lesson and clinic fees, competition expenses for Young Rider Finals or for educational seminars or demonstrations.

This year's recipients are: Jillian Kemenosh, Haddonfield, NJ; Mary Bahniuk Lauritsen, Harvard, MA and Ashley Schempp, San Diego, CA. The young women are not only top performing dressage competitors, but also academically gifted and active as volunteers in their local equestrian communities. Selected by Willy Arts, DG Bar Ranch, they represent the future of equestrian excellence in the United States.

Jillian Kemenosh and Nelzon (Wolfgang x Felocia by Astronaut), will be traveling from the East Coast to California in June to compete at the 2008 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions. The grant will help defray the costs of travel for the horse and 17-year-old rider. "My mom called me at school and left a message on my phone when she found out by e-mail that we had received the award. It will really help with the expenses of competing there."

In training with Jennifer Allen, Nelzon and Kemenosh have been together since January, 2007. They are currently competing in the Junior tests, earning scores in the mid to high 60s. "Nelzon loves his job," she says. "He's very smart and gets the hang of things easily. He actually looks a little distraught if he's not working. Nelzon can be a little hot, but I appreciate his energy."

Riding since she was five-years-old, Kemenosh considers her performance at the 2007 NAJYRC on the Region 1 Junior Rider team her greatest accomplishment to date. Collectively, the team earned a bronze medal with Kemenosh and Nelzon capturing ninth place overall for the Junior Individual test. "It was very exciting, especially riding my freestyle," she adds. Kemenosh will be a senior at Haddonfield Memorial High School in the fall and says she plans to continue riding through college. "I would like to try for the Young Rider team next year and earn my USDF Silver Medal before going to school."

Award recipient Mary Bahniuk Lauritsen and Rossignol-ISF (Rampal x Annasette by Argentan) also hail from the East Coast. The Harvard, MA resident got "Rossi," now 10, when he was just four-years-old and together, the two have climbed the ranks. "When I got him, he was just learning how to canter. He didn't know a whole lot. The two of us have learned from each other. I love working with him. The journey itself has been very exciting."

Lauritsen and Rossi train with Mary's mother Joy Bahniuk. She plans to use the grant funds to train with Lendon Gray during the summer prior to competing at the USEF Dressage Equitation Medal Finals. "Lendon is just such a specialist when it comes to equitation," says Lauritsen.

Currently transitioning from FEI Junior Rider to FEI Young Rider, Lauritsen has earned her USDF Silver Medal and is working toward perfecting the Young Rider tests. "I want to qualify for the Region 8 Fall Festival of Champions," she says. Besides being excited about the financial assistance the grant provides, Lauritsen is excited about future opportunities to get involved with KWPN-NA. "I'm very interested in the KWPN and the work they do. I want to be a part of bringing dressage into the public arena a little more," she says.

The 19-year-old will be a sophomore at Regis College where she is on the Honor Roll. Her future dreams include competing internationally.

Ashley Schempp, San Diego, CA, has met Willy Arts, making this year's award that much more meaningful. "I am a very lucky girl," she says of her journey in the dressage world, which began when she was 12. Schempp and her equine partner Mowgli (b. Molite, Investment x Zolite by Duc de Normandie) train with Steffen Peters and are currently competing at Prix St. Georges, earning scores in the high 60s.

Together since August 2003, Schempp and Mowgli have an impressive show record, and were members of the bronze award-winning Junior Rider team in 2004 and silver award-winning Young Rider team in 2005. The two also competed at the 2007 Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions in Gladstone, NJ, capturing the Reserve Champion title in the Young Rider division with a score of 68.1%.

Schempp used her grant funds to compete at the Del Mar Classic, achieving her season high scores, enabling her to drop previous lower scores in her bid for the Region 7 Young Rider team. Besides planning to compete at this year's Festival of Champions, Schempp says she would love to learn the Grand Prix movements and work toward her gold medal. "He is such a great partner," she says of the 14-year-old Mowgli. "He's a very sensitive horse and has really helped me improve my standard of riding. You can't overdo it with him, you have to use finesse."

A pre-physical therapy student at San Diego State University, the 21-year-old Schempp is on the Dean's List.

The Willy Arts Award is named for the renowned trainer, breeder and competitor Willy Arts, co-owner of DG Bar Ranch in Hanford, CA. His latest successes are Valeska-DG, the only 6-year old in the U.S. to qualify for the FEI Young Horse Championships in Verden, and Waterloo SE, winner of the 2007 USEF Young Horse Dressage Championships for 4-Year-Olds, held at the Kentucky Horse Park.

The KWPN established its North American department in 1983 to promote the breeding and enjoyment of the Dutch WarmbloodHorse in North America.


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