Caen, France – July 22 – JustWorld International is pleased to announce that Hannah Selleck will be their ambassador at the upcoming Games in Normandy, France. As one of only four charities chosen, this selection provides JustWorld an unparalleled opportunity to benefit from the outstanding visibility offered by this exceptional international equestrian event.
“It’s a huge honor that Hannah will be both a JustWorld Ambassador and our representative at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy,” JustWorld Executive Director Jessica Newman enthused. “The test event in France was fantastic. We’re looking forward to fabulous Games full of excitement and emotion!”
A Dual Role for Selleck
Selleck’s role as ambassador will be a dual one. Her selection puts her on the Games Ambassadors’ Committee, a small group of distinctive ambassadors who have a connection with equestrianism. The stated purpose of the organizers in creating this committee is to bring together well-known figures, all of whom believe that the equestrian world should be a vector of unity. In this role, Hannah will use her image and her voice to further that goal.
According to Newman, in her role as JustWorld Ambassador, Selleck will also be the spokesperson assisting at all PR, media, and VIP events, raising public awareness of projects funded by JustWorld in Guatemala, Honduras, Cambodia, and Colombia.
JustWorld has a spot in the heart of the Games Village, and from there Selleck will participate in ‘Meet and Greet’ events, autograph sessions, and other activities which are in the planning stages over the next few weeks.
For Immediate Release – EquestriSol in association with Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Brussels, Belgium and Toronto, Canada
To become a top international competitor, it takes a village – from sponsors and owners, to grooms, veterinarians, farriers, talent, and most importantly, the partnership of some great horses. Twenty-four-year-old Tatiana Dzavik’s dreams are becoming a reality as she advances to the top levels of equestrian show jumping after years of hard work and dedication.
Dzavik said of her motivation, “I have known that I wanted to do this since I was about eight years old and it has never changed. I have been pushing and fighting for it ever since then.” And it is paying off. “I work with the horses and I sleep; that is all I do. But I would say that my dreams are actually starting to come true. I still have a long way to go, but I am very happy with the way things are going.”
With the opportunity to ride and compete on some very special horses and the help of many generous, knowledgeable individuals, her climb to the top is within reach.
HITS, Inc., together with the show organizers of Blenheim EquiSports, Jump Del Mar, Sacramento International and Langer Equestrian Group, is pleased to celebrate the start of the 2012-2013 qualifying period for the newly formed Thermal Million Grand Prix League. The qualifying season began August 14 and runs through the 2013 HITS Desert Circuit, beginning January 22, where seven weeks of horse shows will culminate in the largest prize money purse ever offered west of the Mississippi. The Thermal Million Grand Prix will be a star-studded conclusion to the seven-week circuit, complete with a musical concert being organized in collaboration with a top entertainment company out of Los Angeles.
The season officially kicked off at the famed Blenheim Summer Classic Series in beautiful San Juan Capistrano, California followed by the Showpark Summer Classic Series in Del Mar, California where high-performance riders got their first opportunities to bank crucial Grand Prix prize money in the hopes of securing a spot on what’s sure to be a coveted Top 40 Rider Rankings for the all-new Thermal Million. The Blenheim Summer Classic II ran August 15-19 at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano and featured the $40,000 Blenheim Summer Classic II Grand Prix, presented by CardFlex, as the very first qualifying class Saturday, August 18. The action continues for two more weeks at the Del Mar Horse Park with the Showpark Summer Classic August 22-26, featuring the $40,000 Showpark Summer Grand Prix, presented by California Horsetrader, Saturday, August 25. The Showpark All Seasons Classic August 29-September 2, offers the first of 10 World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix included in the Thermal Million League, and will host the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, presented by EQU Lifestyle Magazine, Saturday, September 1. After a short break, the qualifying quest returns to San Juan Capistrano for the Blenheim Fall Tournament, September 12-16 where, on Friday night, September 14 high-performance riders will enjoy a $50,000 World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix, presented by Summit General Insurance Agency.
Rusty Stewart of Grey Fox Farm in Camarillo, California is one rider looking forward to the start of the qualifying season. “This is a huge opportunity for us on the West Coast to compete in a really big class, and everyone that I’ve spoken to is very excited. I think the collaboration of these shows along with the Desert Circuit is great for the sport. I’m looking forward to getting to work on qualifying and hopefully getting my chance at that big check! This collection of shows is typically our schedule for this portion of the season, we typically hit all the World Cup Qualifiers and this year to have those shows be in coordination with the Thermal Million is just a wonderful thing.”
Stewart has his sights set on qualifying with Bristol, a 10-year-old homebred from Grey Fox Farm. “We’ve brought him along since he was a baby with great success,” added Stewart. “He’s a great horse with a terrific personality, he was fifth in the FEI World Cup Standings for the West Coast, and I’m looking forward to continued success with him this season, right up to the Thermal Million!”
From the Blenheim shows, the qualifying tour continues September 19-23 with the LA International Jumping Festival, where the team from Langer Equestrian Group will celebrate the first of their three Thermal Million qualifying shows with the $50,000 LA International Grand Prix, presented by LEGISequine.com, Saturday, September 22 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
October kicks off with the popular Sacramento International Horse Show World Cup Week, held October 2-7 at the Murieta Equestrian Center in Rancho Murieta, where the highlight of the week’s schedule will be the $55,000 Land Rover Grand Prix of Sacramento, a World Cup Qualifier, Saturday evening, October 6. Three weeks later, Jump Del Mar will offer the next opportunity for riders to capture some cash en route to the Thermal Million when it hosts the Fall Festival II October 24-28, which features the $55,000 Villas at Rancho Valencia World Cup Grand Prix of Del Mar, presented by California Horsetrader, Saturday, October 27.
“We are thrilled to be offering two Thermal Million Grand Prix League qualifying events this October,” said Dale Harvey, Show Manager for Sacramento International and Jump Del Mar. “The Sacramento International Horse Show and the Del Mar Fall Festival are sure to attract the highest caliber of horse and rider combinations looking to secure their spot in the Thermal Million.”
The Langer Equestrian Group, will host the next two qualifiers leading with the $50,000 LEG 40th Anniversary Grand Prix on Saturday night of the National Preview, October 31 – November 4, followed by the Los Angeles National, November 7-11, the highlight of which will be the $50,000 LEGISequine.com Grand Prix of Los Angeles, a World Cup Qualifying event.
“Langer Equestrian Group has enjoyed a very good relationship with HITS, and when the possibility of the Thermal Million Grand Prix League came about I was honored to include LEG’s three premier Grand Prix events in the League,” said Larry Langer, President and CEO of Langer Equestrian Group. “For quite some time I knew the West Coast needed some kind of league to help promote the highest level of our jumper sport, and Tom’s creation of the Thermal $1 Million Grand Prix League exceeded my expectations.”
With just over two months to go before the start of the 2013 HITS Desert Circuit, riders will have one last chance to test their luck and back some more qualifying prize money towards the ranking list when Blenheim EquiSports hosts the final pre-season qualifier at the Las Vegas National, November 13-18. The event will take place at the South Point Hotel and Casino Equestrian Arena, where the $50,000 Las Vegas World Cup Grand Prix will take the stage on Saturday night, November 17.
“This collection of shows represents some of the best show jumping offered in the United States and each of them attracts a diverse mix of talented riders and horses,” said Tom Struzzieri, HITS President and CEO. “This schedule should pave the way for a dynamic late summer/fall season on the West Coast and help to generate great momentum as we await the start of new season in Thermal. I’m thankful to this group for their collaboration and support of something new and exciting for the sport. Hopefully this is the beginning of more great innovations that will serve to benefit exhibitors from coast to coast.”
The 2013 HITS Desert Circuit will begin Tuesday, January 22 and offer a jam-packed schedule of classes, including 16 Grand Prix, three of which will be FEI World Cup Qualifiers, leading up to the Thermal Million Sunday, March 17. The 2013 Desert Circuit prize list is currently in production and is expected to mail in mid-October. Please visit HitsShows.com for more information or to request a prize list.
Whereas most people would be down and out with a broken neck or a broken collarbone, those maladies didn’t even come close to slowing the pace for the fiery pair of Brit Helen McNaught and New Zealander Duncan McFarlane. From injuries to victories, the pressures (and potential injuries) of preparing and competing grand prix horses on the west coast, as far north as Calgary, and the east coast, as far east as Saugerties, don’t faze Helen, Duncan and the Outwoods Farm team.
Whether or not luck has anything to do with it, a kitten ‘walked’ into their lives last fall and earned a place on the Outwoods Team. They found the little stowaway in the trailer on their way to Saugerties, NY to compete in the Pfizer Million last September (2011). Apparently after finding a new home for a litter, this little feline was left behind. So across the country the kitten went, quite a trip for any animal let alone an orphaned baby, but Lucky was up for the adventure and is now a part of the family. Plus as luck would have it, Helen and Duncan came home with some fabulous prizes from the weekend to boot.
The sweet little kitty seems to have a guardian angel. After his rescue and adoption, Lucky was attacked by pit bulls, but lives to tell the story. He likes to sleep in Mr. Whoopy’s stall, where the usually spunky stallion happily eats around him. And true to the feisty Outwoods nature, the cat marches around like a watchdog, securing the stabling area from any unwanted visitors. Wherever Helen and Duncan go, Lucky is usually in their midst.
Ups and Downs
Even with all his inherent goodness, Lucky can’t keep two active grand prix riders risk-free. In October of 2011, Helen suffered a potentially career ending neck injury while schooling a horse at their farm. With careful orders from the doctor, she was told to stay off horses for several months. So Duncan took up the reins and competed her grand prix mount Caballo until their winter break in December. As soon as the calendar turned to 2012 and Helen was given the thumbs up, she wasted no time getting back in the saddle. Potentially spurred on by the forced break, she returned stronger than ever. Winning the HITS Thermal $50,000 EMO Grand Prix Week I aboard Lariccello was not a bad start to the winter season. She was second in two of the five World Cup Qualifiers at HITS (Weeks II & IV) on Caballo.
In the spring the tables turned. As Helen affectionately stated, Duncan became a “busted kiwi”, taking a fall and breaking his collarbone at the Del Mar Horse Park in May. It’s no surprise that the following day, he was out setting jumps, helping with the horses and coaching. No matter the injuries or setbacks, these two resilient riders complement each other, always ready and willing to step up and do their part. Nothing seems to dampen their competitive, hard-working and determined spirits.
“Whoopy and Caballo are best friends,” explained Helen. “Caballo is the bossier of the two, which is a touch surprising since Whoopy is the stallion.”
Beginning to compete at the higher levels at the ripe age of 12, Caballo had a late start in his high performance career. Helen refused to heed the warnings from friends and family and spent all her savings on the purchase of this talented yet difficult mount. She had her doubts early on after getting dumped repeatedly when he didn’t want to go somewhere or jump a particular fence. Definitely not a quitter, and believing in her own instincts as well as Caballo’s, she made him face his demons and after months of daily trials, patience and consistency, they solidified their partnership.
“He’s paid me back in full a million times over and I’m so thankful to have him,” the proud mother gushed.
She’s confident that he still has some competitive years left in him and “he’ll tell me when he’s ready to retire”. When that time comes, Caballo will be flown to England to spend the rest of his days grazing and enjoying life on the McNaught family farm. Plus before he was gelded, they collected some semen in order to breed and raise Caballo babies in the future.
Helen’s second grand prix mount came about three years ago, after a rough start elsewhere. “He can jump a house,” said Helen, “but he has to want to do it, otherwise he just won’t.”
Once again Helen has produced a top competitor for owner Alison Heafey, and Lariccello has now come into his own. As 2011 came to a close he was the second leading money winner in Northern California. The pair continues to earn top prizes, including winning the aforementioned HITS Thermal $50,000 EMO Grand Prix., and the Sonoma Horse Park THIS $30,000 Grand Prix this past July, for the second year in a row. Plus a well-earned fourth in the $32,000 Cargill Cup 1.50m FEI class at the Canada One Tournament up at Spruce Meadows.
A stallion with a sweetheart disposition, “Whoopy” is a love back at the barn, but a fierce and spunky competitor in the show ring. Known for his big jump and playful antics, he will often hop, buck and then jump during a round. That certainly has not stopped the duo of Duncan and now 10-year-old Whoopy from a stellar career. Owner Simone Coxe purchased the stallion as a five-year-old, and Duncan has brought him along carefully over the years. Along with placing second at the prestigious Pfizer Million back in September (2011) and earning a top prize the inaugural year, Whoopy has won several other grand prix classes, including the World Cup Qualifier $53,000 HITS Grand Prix CSI2*-W. While Duncan was out with injury this spring, Whoopy didn’t miss a beat with Helen aboard. Together they won the $20,000 Jennifer Marlborough Memorial Grand Prix at the Golden State Horse Show. It was a one-two victory, as she came in second on her own Caballo.
With his breeding program underway, Whoopy has one filly on the ground, appropriately named “Whoop-dee-do.” We can look forward to, and hope to write about, the Caballo as well as the Whoopy-sired offspring in years to come.
HITS in winter and fall
After letting the horses rest for all of December, HITS Thermal is the sunny desert oasis that the Outwoods Team seeks out after the holidays.
Helen claimed, “It’s the best for our business. A great way to start the year off with plenty of grand prix classes, indoor and out, plenty of places to ride and a great group of people we look forward to seeing every winter.”
And nothing like a little time in New York to spice up a fall season – Helen and Duncan will soon be trekking cross-country to Saugerties for the third year in a row. Certainly worth the effort with the large potential payout, Helen and Duncan (and Lucky and the boys) enjoy the time on the road.
“The footing is great, the facilities are wonderful, the staff is incredible” commented the couple, “and we love how Tom (Struzzeri) is so involved with the community.”
As the west coast welcomes the new Thermal Million Grand Prix League culminating at the end of the HITS Desert Circuit 2013, the Outwoods Team won’t have to travel so far for the big bucks. However with a million offered on not just one but now two coasts, two times per year, it’s likely this dream team will plan to pursue positions at both events.
Thank you, Helen and Duncan, for taking the time to share your lives, your horses and the importance of having a great team that can pick up the reins and keep you laughing no matter the setback. We wish you the best this season and in many seasons to come with the boys and the offspring, as well as client horses, to follow.
Helen and Duncan asked us to thank their staff at Outwoods Farm, the owners, clients, and supporters, without whom they could not be the dream team they aim to be every day.
After its announcement in 2009, the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York soon became a stop on the road to equestrian stardom. For HITS, the buck didn’t stop there. Based on the success of the Pfizer Million on the East Coast, HITS Horse Shows looked west and joined forces with West Coast show organizers Dale Harvey, Larry Langer and Robert Ridland to form the Thermal Million Grand Prix League, which will culminate with a $1 million Grand Prix at the conclusion of the 2013 HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal, California.
Fifteen West Coast competitions will comprise the all-new high-performance show jumping league and welcome the best of the best on the West Coast to vie for a piece of $1 million. The League will include the entire 2013 HITS Desert Circuit, as well as select weeks of the Blenheim Summer and Fall shows, Sacramento International Horse Show, Del Mar Fall Festival, Los Angeles International Jumping Festival and Los Angeles National Horse Show.
“This is something we’ve been looking to do for a while and the timing is perfect for the West Coast to have a signature show jumping event to call its own,” said Tom Struzzieri, HITS President & CEO. “This past season in Thermal was a true tipping point. The atmosphere was phenomenal and the contribution from the West Coast in our sport is as strong as it’s ever been.”
Specific qualifying, including nine World Cup weeks will be available at the following participating West Coast horse shows from August to March:
Blenheim Summer Classic II: August 14-19
Showpark Summer Classic: August 22-26
Showpark Summer Tournament: August 29 – September 2
Blenheim Fall Tournament: September 12-16
LA International Jumping Fest: September 19-23
Sacramento International World Cup Week: October 2-7
Del Mar Fall Festival II: October 24-28
National Preview: October 31 – November 4
LA National: November 6-11
The Las Vegas National: November 13-18
2013 HITS Desert Circuit: January – March
With Rich Fellers recent World Cup victory as evidence, West Coast competition is preparing horses and riders alike to excel in global arenas. “Thermal has really become a great platform to push from,” said Canadian Olympian and HITS Thermal regular Jill Henselwood. “Many riders like Rich Fellers are using those shows to propel them to the World Cup and more.”
Modeled after the qualifying procedures of the Pfizer Million, money won in League grand prix will be calculated by individual rider/horse combination with the rider’s top money winning horse determining the rider’s final ranking. Each rider must also compete in at least one grand prix at four HITS Desert Circuit shows prior to the week of the Thermal Million. The top 40 riders in the Thermal Million Grand Prix Rider Rankings will qualify. In addition, five additional riders may be chosen as Manager Picks. Two Wild Card slots will be awarded – one to the winner of a Wild Card Grand Prix during the 2013 Desert Circuit and one to the top performing grand prix rider at the six-week HITS Arizona Winter Circuit.
“There is an electricity of excitement happening west of the Mississippi,” added Struzzieri. “This League and second $1 million Grand Prix will present yet another product that should ignite a spark in American show jumping.”
Ridland’s recent appointment to U.S. Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe gave equestrians in West Coast circles yet another reason to celebrate. Seeing the potential for growth in the sport both on the West Coast and beyond, Ridland sees nothing but positives in this new collaboration.
“No question, this should be a big boost for the sport on the West Coast and nationwide as well,” said Ridland.
As Spring and Summer show jumping gets underway, the Thermal Million Grand Prix League should soon climb to the top of “to-do” lists for high-performance riders across North America. A breath of fresh air for show jumping, the League hopes to add another claim to fame for the sport’s top athletes.
Complete specifications and qualifying criteria for the Thermal Million Grand Prix League have been released and are available at HitsShows.com.
After catching up with the Feller family at the HITS Desert Circuit (Thermal, CA) this past season, EquestriSol checked in on how they keep their personal lives and professional careers balanced and thriving.
A Bold Balance
Going on 25 years of marriage, Rich and Shelley both spoke of the other as being an inspiration and supporter. “Rich is a super good dad,” said Shelley. “He’s a great husband, great partner – he hates being away from his kids and the family.”
“Shelley’s been an inspiration to me ever since I met her,” said Rich. “She keeps my life and our whole family’s life very balanced.”
Juggling Olympic Trials and a family vacation isn’t the ordinary family calendar, but for Rich, Shelley, Christopher (21) and Savannah (18) its par for the course. By sharing parental duties, realizing each other’s strengths, and keeping family time a priority this couple has created a recipe for success. “We split the duties; he’s the better rider, so he goes all the time and I go back and forth, or skip a show.” said Shelley, “It’s difficult organizing taking care of kids, staying home and feeling guilty about leaving/staying, but we’ll never look back and say, ‘I wish that I would’ve not spent more time with my kids’ – you’ve got to think about their lives, and so we do and make it work.”
Rich and Shelley have managed to achieve a unique parental balance in Oregon while competing on the road. Meanwhile both continue to progress in their own riding careers. As is often true for equestrian professionals, the path to making a living and career in the show jumping world is typically paved with sale horses, which often means selling one you would love to keep and take to the top. Shelley’s experience is primarily with bringing up young horses through the 1.4m division and along the way they sell. At the 2012 HITS Desert Circuit she achieved a personal goal when competing at the grand prix level. Her mount Revenge (“Reggie”) stepped up to compete in five top level classes including the $53,000 HITS Grand Prix CSIW-2*/World Cup Qualifier (Week III) and the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix (Week VI). “I’ve brought him along from the 1.2m division to the Grand Prix ring,” she explained. “He’s definitely the nicest horse that I’ve ever had, he’s really a dream.”
When it comes to personal goals and living the dream, Rich continues to make strides with the amazing little Irish stallion known as Flexible (Harry and Mollie Chapman, owners). Post the HITS Desert Circuit, Rich and his longtime partner put in a strong performance at the Olympic Trials held in Wellington, FL. “He’s quite experienced,” said Rich, “His performances have improved every year. He’s a veteran and has walked into a number of different venues. He has good Irish instincts and I think we’ve got a shot.” Being 16 years young, ‘Flexi’ proved that age was simply an advantage. They successfully ended the trials placing 7th on the USEF long list and it didn’t stop there.
In s’Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands, Flexible and Rich went on to bring a 2012 FEI World Cup Final victory back to the US after 25 years. On a roll, just two weeks after arriving back on American soil, Flexible and Rich won not one but both of the Olympic Observation classes at the 2012 Del Mar National. As the dynamic duo exited the ring post these two California victories, the crowd chanted: “Put him on! Put him on!” (the Olympic Team). They are undoubtedly a formidable force and will be competing at the last Olympic Observation event at Spruce Meadows in June.
Raising a family while bringing up horses to compete in the international rings doesn’t seem to faze this incredible couple. After 25+ years of training together, “We know each other fairly well at this stage,” said Rich, “so, we work well with each other. We do get little signals, and we know when to back off. But overall, we really do well – and very rarely do we get in arguments. Sure we disagree with each other about stuff, but we respect each other enough to not let it cause a problem.”
As per Shelley, “We do work really well together. We’re basically on the same page, but we may do it differently. Some of my strengths are his weaknesses, and vice versa. Rich gets pretty amped up at horse shows, and especially intense about a big class. We laugh about it. But he’s my biggest supporter and I’m his.”
With London as a possibility later this summer, Shelley competing in the Grand Prix classes, their kids also have crazy schedules to juggle. Chris is completing his sophomore year at Linfield College and will be competing this summer on his two mounts Zidane L and Cascade. Savannah finished her senior year and will be heading to Linfield as a freshman with hopes to play collegiate tennis. Shelley and Rich both enjoy playing tennis with their daughter, although Rich reluctantly admits defeat – it’s still one of his favorite things to do when not in the saddle.
Balance, respect, humor and understanding keep the Fellers successful both in and out of the arena. Not only did I enjoy spending time with both Rich and Shelley, I respect their approach. We wish them all the best in continuing to pursue their dreams. We will be rooting for you.
Fun Facts About Rich and Shelley: If you could ride any horse, who would it be and why? Rich: “I’ve always been intrigued with Cristallo (Richard Spooner, rider) because he’s such a tough horse and he’s a fighter – he’s a horse that will fight to leave the jumps up and when the pressure’s on he’ll come through. And Richard’s that way as well and the horse reflects Richard’s personality. Shelley: “My horse (Revenge), because part of it for me, especially over the big jumps, is having a rapport with my horse. That’s huge, when you build up a rapport and you trust them, it makes it that much more fun and easy. I might also say Milton. He’s a big favorite of mine from way back when. He looked like a lot of fun, and a horse that I could ride.
Favorite part about the desert: Rich: “I’d have to say the weather is quite nice!” Shelley: “Sun! It’s a nice place to get started again after the holidays. Definitely my favorite part is the sun.”
HITS… Rich: “It’s a great place to let the horses have a fresh go; it’s maturing a bunch with the trees and the berms. It’s very open and spacious.” Shelley: “I love the vegetation that they’ve planted. The facility is growing up and it’s become more visually appealing. I like the layout with the stabling, the rings and routes.”
Favorite Restaurant? Rich: “Don Diego (Mexican Restaurant in Indian Wells) and we always like the Cliff House.” Shelley: “Cliff House”
Favorite thing to do aside from riding? Rich: “I love playing tennis with Savannah. She beats me and it’s tough because I hate to lose, but I hope someday I’ll beat her.” Shelley: “I like to ski. Savannah plays tennis and I like playing with her. I’m not very good, but it’s fun. I also like to read especially when travelling on the airplane. I like to be outside: camping, fishing, outdoors.”
The well-known event in Washington DC gained a huge audience online this year – over 130,000 people tuned into the new live webcast from the Verizon Center. The largest online and in-person crowd was for the $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix, a World Cup qualifier. Nick Skelton of Great Britain rode Beverley Widdowson’s Carlo 273 to victory.
Skelton and Carlo 273, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Contender, were the last to go clear in the opening round of 24 entries over a course designed by Michel Vaillancourt of Aiken, SC. Brianne Goutal and Nice de Prissey were second, while California phenom Lucy Davis rode Nemo 119 to third. Margie Engle and Indigo were fourth to round out the jump-off.
Sarah Tredennick of Denver, CO, rode Vigaro to the win in the $31,000 International Open Jumper Jump-off class. Stanford student Saer Coulter went as a character from the movieAvatar in the $20,000 International Open Jumper Gambler’s Choice Costume class. Although she looked blue, she earned second place behind top rider Todd Minikus dressed as Uncle Sam. Holding her own among the best, Saer earned several more respectable ribbons in the open jumper division.
John French won the inaugural High Point West Coast Rider Trophy, and won the Regular Conformation Hunter Stake aboard Laura Wasserman’s Overseas. Wasserman won an Amateur/Owner class on Overseas.
Continuing her indoors hunter dominance, the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division awarded championship honors to Olivia Esse and Oscany Inc.’s Clooney.
NAL Sunday in Vegas
Competitors hit the jackpot at the inaugural North American League (NAL) West Coast Finals and none of the nearly one hundred exhibitors went home empty-handed. Every NAL member who competed in one of the five classics on “NAL Sunday” at the Las Vegas National Horse Show received a gift bag and an NAL embroidered saddle pad.
The group who earned a trip to the victory circle garnered an array of awards. In addition to a ribbon and prize money, winners of each NAL class took home a silver trophy, a coolerette, a pendant, plus an NAL backpack filled with other goodies including a necklace designed exclusively for the NAL by Herschel Bonchek, a prize package from Equine Matrix, and a Clothes Horse Certificate for an NAL scrim sheet.
“The riders were thrilled with our inaugural event,” said President of Ryegate Show Services, Lloyd Longenecker, who was present to handout the gifts and awards to each competitor. He heard one young member exclaim, “There’s a saddle pad in this bag… I am so excited!”
Five Divisions of Glory on NAL Sunday
Five champions in five divisions found the experience worth the trip. “I love doing big classes indoors and thought it would be fun to enter the NAL Finals here at the Las Vegas National. It was also a good prep for the upcoming medal finals – it is a special place,” said 13-year-old Melanie Selleck after winning the NAL Children’s Hunter Classic aboard her Foreign Escape.
Chelsea Samuels, 21, of La Canada, CA won the NAL Adult Amateur Classic on Brooklyn, a 12-year-old chestnut warmblood, with scores of 81 in the first round and 85 in the second. “If I dreamed a horse into life, it would be Brooklyn. He is like a wind-up toy… He always rises to the occasion and was jumping out of his skin here,” she explained.
A student at U.C. Santa Barbara, Chelsea rides with Archie Cox and Teddi Mellencamp. “It is difficult to balance school with riding and I haven’t jumped or shown since September. It is really nice to have a big finals for amateurs and not have to go east to compete.”
Barthez and Calgary University student Jaclyn Jarrell won the NAL Low Junior-Amateur Jumper Classic, topping a 20-horse field and a seven-hocrse jump-off in 30.42 seconds.
“We have done lots of shows in Calgary, but decided to come to Las Vegas to skip the snow—it is below zero there now and this is my first time here. I love this venue!”
Caroline Underwood of Bonsall, CA, and her 12-year-old Holsteiner mare, Reina, are on a winning streak. Prior to the NAL Adult Amateur Jumper Classic, they won the $25,000 PCHA Adult Amateur Jumper Championship at Del Mar, and the week before that they won a $5,000 Classic in Del Mar. So she wasn’t surprised when her clean jump-off in 34.44 was a second and a half faster than anyone in the 10-horse jump-off.
Dinnia Digennaro, 16, didn’t know much about the North American League before winning the NAL Children’s Jumper Classic. But after collecting a wealth of prizes, it is a victory she will remember. Digennaro rode her Volturi, to the win in a 23-horse field with only four clean rounds. She went first in the jump-off clocking a clean 36.294 round that couldn’t be beat. “He’s my three-ring horse. We bought him as a hunter and he also does equitation as well as the jumpers. This is my first year in the children’s jumpers.”
For more information regarding the NAL series, including series specifications, membership information and a list of upcoming events, please call (717) 867-5643, email[email protected] or visit www.ryegate.com.
Truly terrific this year – the turn out at The Las Vegas National was super, competition fierce and in Vegas there is certainly no lack of extracurricular activities. At the South Point alone you can go to the movies, bowl, visit the spa, dine in one of nine restaurants and of course gamble. And your horse is on the premises!
Featuring several savory equestrian evenings, the event served up some great show jumping, exciting until the last rider.
Steinwedell-Carvin Gives Up Control
When twenty-nine horse and rider combinations competed in a one round competition against the clock in the $31,000 Las Vegas National Welcome Jumper Classic, presented by Summit General Insurance Agency, Francie Steinwedell-Carvin and Taunus were top notch. Eleventh to go, Steinwedell-Carvin and Prentiss Partner’s Taunus set a solid time, clean in 60.25, and held their lead through the next eighteen attempts.
Steinwedell-Carvin shared how her relationship with Taunus has blossomed of late, as she had an experience that taught her to “‘give up control to get control.’ He likes to go around on the flat with his head up and I would work so hard to get him to get round.” After working with a horse in a western saddle in a round pen with a cowboy, Francie learned about giving up control.
“A light came on without me realizing it, I had a transition of trust that I could let go. I relaxed so he relaxed and it worked.”
A difficult aspect to give up while negotiating a course of big jumps and tight turns – control – finding that synchronicity is a constant challenge. How an experienced rider learns new ways to communicate is an interesting question. Ask someone you admire about an unexpected experience that led to success in the show ring.
Good to the Last Draw
On a chilly evening in the Vegas desert the South Point Equestrian arena was on fire as twenty-nine horse and rider combinations hailing from all over the world raced for the win in the $20,000 1.35m Speed Classic, presented by CardFlex. Previous to this fast and furious event, the kids had a ton of fun at the JustWorld International Horseless Horse Show and the precious leadliners stole the crowd’s heart.
The track created by course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio offered several options for speed, and riders picked a variety of tracks for success. First to go American Karl Cook set the pace aboard Signe Ostby’s Notories Utopia. The ride was smooth and slick in a time of 61.44. D’Ambrosio commented, “Karl is going to be tough to beat. There are two places where you could do one less stride than he did, that may be the only way to win.”
Per his prediction, try as they might, rider after rider nipped at Karl’s heels but none could catch him. The ultimate thrill of the evening came with the final ride, Argentinean Eduardo Braun on H.J. El Magnifico. Just when the crowd figured Cook had it in the bag, Braun sped his way through the track with style and stopped the clock in 61.10, just over three tenths of a second faster than Cook for the win. The crowd went crazy as Braun raised his fist in victory.
Saturday Night Lights & Heights
Saturday was super at the Las Vegas National. The evening began by crowning a champion in the PCHA Victor Hugo-Vidal Adult Medal Finals. In its first year at this indoor location, three riders finished the first two rounds within three percentage points of each other and returned for a work-off. Called in second, Lorri Quiett on Abigail performed well and ultimately earned the top spot.
Next Karl Cook illustrated that speed pays off in the exciting $10,000 Winning Round Classic, presented by Royal Champion. Twenty-seven couples gave it a go and nine completed the course fault free. Unique to the Winning Round Format, riders return according to their score and time in the first round.
Since all were clean, time determined the order of go in the second round. It was no surprise that Karl Cook and Jonkheer Z (Signe Ostby, owner) were the last to come back in the second round. Shaving almost two seconds off Kirsten Coe and Vernon G’s leading time, Cook took the win at the last second.
Commencing with a rockin’ light show, followed by a Parade of Nations with an introduction of each grand prix rider, the crowd was ready for some superb show jumping. Before the four-hooved types galloped in, kids large and small leaped up to 1.20m in the JustWorld International High Jump competition.
The twenty-four entries in the $50,000 Last Vegas National Grand Prix, presented by Summit General Insurance Agency, were a balance of eleven male and ten female competitors representing six nations. Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio set an ‘up to standard’ 1.60m track with spreads up to 1.65m, a triple bar at 1.90m, a triple combination with two oxers and a delicate 1.60m skinny vertical. Over half the class rose to the occasion, with eight moving on to the jump-off round and five scored just four faults.
Double clears included American John McConnell aboard Rancho Corazon’s Katie Riddle, who sailed smoothly around the shortened course clean in 40.57, taking the lead. A short-lived lead however, as the young and quick Karl Cook on ASB Conquistador (Signe Ostby, owner) followed with another double clean effort in 38.56. The petite Danish rider Emilie Martinsen rode the powerful Toscane well (J.a.j Van Rijiswijk, owner), finishing double clean in 45.16 earning a respectable fourth place. Last but certainly not least, Brazilian Eduardo Menezes entered on Francisco Pasquel’s Calavda. He had this envious position in 2010 as well and won. On a horse he’d only been riding a few months, Menezes was double clean, stopping the clock in 38.15, four tenths of a second faster than Cook for another sweet Vegas victory. The crowd went crazy as Menezes crossed the finish line. Once again the final ride clinched the top prize.
The Brazilian professional who resides in Mexico and California was especially pleased with his win, since this was his first grand prix on Calavda. When asked about the Vegas vibe, Menezes smiled and said, “I love this show, this venue. Vegas is like Disneyland for adults.”