Highlights From The 53rd Washington International Horse Show: October 25-30, 2011

Nick Skelton and Carlo 273

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.

Saer Coulter as a Na’vi from Avatar

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.

Highlights From The November 2011 North American League

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.

Melanie Selleck and Foreign Escape (left), Chelsea Samuels and Brooklyn

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.”

Jaclyn Jarrell and Barthez

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.”

Caroline Underwood and Reina (left), Dinnia Digennaro and Volturi

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.

Highlights From The 2011 Las Vegas National Horse Show

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.

Francie Steinwedell-Carvin
and Taunus

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.

Eduardo Menezes and Calavda

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.”

Highlights From The 2011 National Horse Show

Travel back to the east coast for some continued west coast wins. From fourteen-year-old Pilar Flournoy to John French and Small Affair, the well-earned victories made the trip east worthwhile. We’ll let the words and lens of Jennifer Wood Media below provide some more east coast highlights from two top capital shows.

Other east coast feats include solid placings to some of the west coast equitation elite in the USEF Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Finals – including 3rd Alison Fithian (Benson Carroll and Stacia Madden), 7th Alexa Anthony (Cara Anthony and Andre Dignelli) and 8th Morgan Geller (Jim Hagman, Katie Gardner and Don Stewart).

John French and Small Affair
Photo by Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

The 2011 National Horse Show made its mark in Lexington, Kentucky and Richard Spooner galloped away with the big win in the $250,000 Alltech Grand Prix. Leading a jump off of five riders, he masterfully maneuvered a fault free ride on Cristallo that no one could beat. Olivia Esse ended her junior career with impressive results, including Champion on and Reserve in the Small Junior Hunters and Grand Junior Hunter Champion on Illusion. A grand exit from her junior years to her college years. Of course we would love to mention all who showed their moxie on the east coast but we can’t possibly include everyone. Helmets off to all for a job well done.

Highlights From The Capital Challenge Horse Show October 2011

It’s a long trip east for those who set their sights on competing indoors in the fall. Each season the riders from the left coast have a chance to shine in this competitive setting. Of course many top horses and riders share the glory, but the west coast is not second to the east and often steps into the limelight as illustrated below.

The Capital Challenge Horse Show: October 1-9, 2011

On the opening Equitation Weekend presented by Bigeq.com, Morgan Geller and Fabricio topped the North American Flat Equitation Championship, were champions in the 16-year-old Equitation, and second in the North American Equitation Championship. Geller trains with Katie Gardner and Jim Hagman of Elvenstar. Conor Perrin was fourth, Alicia Gasser fifth, Olivia Esse sixth and Demi Stiegler ninth in the North American Equitation Championships. Alison Fithian and Julia Nagler both earned wins in their respective equitation divisions.

Pilar Flournoy, 14, from Topanga, CA, made her first trip east a worthwhile one, as she laid down two solid rounds to win the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children’s Medal Finals. Flournoy, who trains with Huntover, has that keen ability to stay focused under pressure. She also won the CPHA Foundation Eq Championships earlier this year. Destry Spielberg finished fourth and Alexandra Ladove seventh.

Kristi Siam

Yet another Californian to dominate the Show Place Arena was Adrienne Dixon. Dixon, of Hillsborough, California, piloted Conor Perrin’s Nat King Cole to top honors in the North American Amateur Equitation Championships. Solid in the irons for many years, Dixon now rides with Hunterbrook.

Third time at Capital Challenge was a charm for Kristi Siam of Chatsworth, CA and her horse Krosus. She was third in the North American Amateur Equitation Championships. And after a three-round battle with Mahala Rummel, Siam came away with the win in the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals. She trains with Karen Healey Stables.

On the Hunt to Win
Heidi Kane of Newport Beach, CA, rode Sin City to the championship in the Amateur-Owner 36 & Over Hunter 3’3” division. She trains with her daughter Nicole Kane. Jenny Karazissis competed on Sin City in the $15,000 WCHR Professional Challenge earning eighth. With the hopes of just simply having a good round, Chelsea Samuels traveled from her home in La Canada, CA with trainer Archie Cox to compete in the 18-35 Adult Amateur Hunter division. She had several ‘good’ rounds on her 11-year-old Brandenburg gelding Brooklyn, taking the championship.

In her final junior year, Olivia Esse of Pasadena, CA, swept the championships in the Junior Hunter 16-17 divisions. Training with Makoto Farm, she rode Clooney, a seven-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Carpaccio, for Oscany Inc. to the championship in the Small Junior 16-17 Hunters. On Small Affair, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, she was champion in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters and earned the EMO Junior Trip of the Show. They were also named the High Point Junior Hunter 16-17 sponsored by The Clothes Horse.

Heidi Kane and Sin City (left); Olivia Esse and Small Affair

Proficient Pros 
Canadian-born now Rancho Santa Fe, CA resident Christa Endicott rode Come Monday, an eight-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Davlyn Farms, to the tri-color in the First Year Green Hunters Section B. The pair was also fifth in the $15,000 WCHR Professional Challenge class.

Another Canadian-born California resident Tara Metzner won the $5,000 WCHR Emerging Pro Challenge. She had the enviable task of competing on Destry Spielberg’s Rumba, the winner of the inaugural USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals. Also champion in the 3’6” Performance Hunter Division, this was Metzner’s inaugural year competing at the Capital Challenge. Actually west coast emerging pros picked up second through fourth as well as sixth in the WCHR Emerging Pro Challenge. Jamie Taylor rode Erin Bland’s Weatherly to second, Hope Glynn picked up fourth on Helen McEvoy’s Chance of Flurries and Teddi Jo Mellancamp was sixth on Woodvale Inc’s Brooklyn.

Patricia Griffith and Tara Metzner (left); John French

No stranger to winning on either coast, John French picked up the championship in the Future Hunter 6 & over division on Gail Morey’s new hunter, Safe Haven and on Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Celebration in the Future Hunter, Mare Division. He went on to claim the $15,000 WCHR Professional Challenge class for the second year in a row on Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Affair. The win was bittersweet for French who choked up when he admitted that the ride might be his last on this talented hunter. Continuing his winning rides, French was the picture of consistency in the WCHR Professional Finals and again took the top prize. Jenny Karazissis was sixth in this prestigious class.

Interview: John French after the WCHR Pro Challenge
Interview: John French after the WCHR Professional Finals win

Jenny Karazissis, Scott Stewart, John French, Liza Boyd, Kelley Farmer and Hunt Tosh

Spruce Meadows Masters

By Jennifer Wood

Lamaze Lights Up the Masters and Three Frenchmen Sweep the Nation
It was the Eric Lamaze Masters, much to the delight of the tens of thousands of fans at the Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament. Lamaze won three classes during the week plus was the only entry to go double clear to help Team Canada win the silver medal in the BMO Nations Cup. Lamaze and his superstar stallion Hickstead brought the crowd to their feet when they performed the double clear dance, once again the only couple to do so, to win the CN $1 Million Grand Prix.

Nations Night
The Saturday highlight was the BMO Nations Cup. The French three-man team, anchored by veteran Roger-Yves Bost and Ideal de la Loge, truly rode to the occasion with a win for their country. With the European Championships the following week, France sent three less experienced riders or riders with younger horses along with Bost to represent them at the Masters. When one horse couldn’t compete, they had to go with just three and therefore having no drop score. French Chef d’Equipe Thierry Pomel said, “Our hopes were not high, but the team is very strong with good horses. Since the beginning of the competition, we believed we could do something, and today you see the result.”

Lamaze helped Canada to the silver medal along with veterans Ian Millar and Jonathan Asselin. Nations Cup newbie Tiffany Foster made her first team appearance and couldn’t contain her excitement. “I was a little nervous. I just tried to pretend it was a normal course. My horse is so nice. I knew Ian and Eric were coming after me, so that was nice padding,” explained the exuberant Foster. “I was happy that I didn’t make a huge mistake!”

Third place went to the Swiss team, while a disappointing performance from the Americans left them in last place.

CN $1 Million
The best riders of the week had to qualify to compete in the CN $1 Million Grand Prix. Seemingly in top form, Lamaze and Hickstead looked poised to bring home the top prize. The Olympic gold medalists did not disappoint as they bounded through the difficult course with barely a rub in front of a record crowd of 89,632 fans.”[Hickstead] came into this tour in fantastic shape. From the first day he jumped very well,” Lamaze said.Two rookies jumped up to second and third places in the grand prix. Neils Bruynseels of Belgium rode Nasa to second place. “I gave everything, my horse gave everything. She was fantastic today,” he said.In his first CSIO 5* competition nineteen-year-old Martin Fuchs (son of show jumper Thomas Fuchs and nephew to Markus Fuchs) rode Principal S to third place after he was the first to go clear in the opening round.”Today with the first round clear, I was going crazy,” he remarked. “The crowd here is much better than in Europe, but don’t tell the Europeans. It’s a special day, one of the best in my life.”Course designer Leopoldo Palacios commented, “I’m proud to be here with this new generation.”This was the second win for Lamaze and Hickstead in one of the biggest classes in the world, the CN $1 Million. Along with the two victories, the pair has placed in the top five of this prestigious class for the past five years. Lamaze summed it up by commenting, “To win here and win this grand prix, it’s one we have all dreamed of winning. For me it’s just as exciting as the first time, if not more. When you have a great horse, you want to have this title attached to his name. The money is great, but it’s more than that. He’s the best horse in the world.”Almost certainly Olympic bound, look for these superstars in London next year.

Highlights From North American Junior/ Young Riders Championships 2011

Jenni-Martin McAllister was one of a handful of Zone 10 trainers who ventured to Lexington for the North American Junior/Young Riders Championships this year. After a little coaxing she agreed to write about the experience.

Greetings of Grass and Horse Heaven

Landing in Lexington, KY is an experience in itself. Acres of green pastures and expansive barns greet you as you slowly descend. Driving from the airport to the Kentucky Horse Park (KHP) confirms that this is horse heaven. KHP is an ideal place to host a championship competition, with 1200 acres, multiple arenas and fantastic footing. A competitor couldn’t ask for more, other than maybe a little California weather – cooler and a lot less humid.

As a former competitor at the Young Rider Championships, I return many years later in a different position, as a coach. I remember the excitement I felt, and the amazing amount of effort and hard work that went in to qualifying just to be there. To qualify and compete here is an honor. This is the only FEI championship competition held in North America for young riders and is a great stepping stone for young talent to gain valuable experience, before true international and team competition.

Day One
New this year, competitors at NAJYRC could not also participate in the horse show going on at the park. When the championship begins, there is no show jumping so we just school our horses and watch some of the dressage. Another nice aspect of this event is the opportunity for the young riders to have exposure to other disciplines. We took a tour of the KHP grounds. It truly is an incredible place, with miles of Kentucky blue grass, impressive cross country jumps from Rolex, plus great exhibits of art and horse history. I learn some very interesting facts about the evolution of the horse in the permanent exhibit. There is a lot to absorb here, even for experienced horsemen. The Alltech indoor arena is amazing. Again I have to say that it seems an ideal place for The National Horse Show coming here for the first time in November.

It’s a tradition to decorate a team golf cart, and to finish the first day, after the opening ceremony, there is a golf cart parade that ends at Spy Coast Farm with a small party. Team camaraderie begins as the girls, parents and trainers meet and enjoy dinner on the first night.

Day Two
The second day starts with the jog and a warm up class. All eight of our Zone 10 riders jog and warm up without trouble. Our Junior team this year, Brittany Albreqc, Hannah Ward, Madison Bradshaw, and Kilian McGrath, is the most inexperienced team we’ve sent in a few years. But all are talented and well-mounted.

Our Young Rider team, Danielle Korsh, Kendall Skreden, Sage Flynn, and Cayla Richards are more experienced and act as guides to our younger group. Each one with the exception of Sage has been here before.

We sneak in some time to tour a few farms and end up on a fantastic country road. We drive by farm after farm that have giant gorgeous green pastures with horses grazing and playing. The barns are magnificent and the architecture blends nicely with the land.

Day Three
Our first competition day starts with a speed class. The Junior Team is scored as a timed first round; basically the fastest with the least amount of jumping faults is the winner. However, each day’s faults are carried through to the individual final, without time being a factor. So a clear round today is important. All the girls ride well. Brittany, and Kilian come home with 4 faults, and Madison and Hannah are both clear. Hannah puts in a very solid round. Canasucre literally jumps out of her shoes, to take an early lead, but in the end two others are faster and she settles for 3rd place.

In the Young Rider division the class is scored as faults converted, so any knock down is 4 seconds added to your time. At the end of the class the winner receives a score of zero. Everyone else’s time is cut in 1/2 and the difference between that score and zero is converted to faults (it can be confusing, just like the World Cup Final). They carry that score through each round to make up an individual final score.

Cayla is our best Young Rider – she has a beautiful round adding no faults. She holds the lead for a while but in the end settles for 2nd place. Kendall also puts in a fabulous round and ends up in 10th place. Danielle has an unexpected spook and a drive-by at fence 3 but still does not touch a rail and ends with just her time score. Sage is the most nervous, lowering two jumps but still managing a good enough time to stay in the middle of the pack.

The courses are inviting, and the height not as daunting, since they are riding a speed format, but the next day will bring more technical questions, water with no rail, a tight time allowed, and of course all the nerves of riding for your team.

Day Four
Team competition day starts at 7am in an attempt to beat the heat. Junior Teams ride first. First for our team is Kilian and my heart goes out to her as I see her struggle with her nerves; she puts in an uncharacteristic round and ends with 16 faults. Madison is next; she rides well and brings home a clear round. Brittany also rides well but two small mistakes leave her with a score of 8.

Hannah is last to challenge, and she is ready. She rides flawlessly and produces a clear round. We make it to round two.

The top six teams come back for round two. Kilian pulls it together and rides a respectable round with just a foot in the water and a light rail; she comes home with 8 faults. Madison continues her strong riding and has an unlucky rail for 4 faults. Brittany stays consistent, but is a little slower this time and brings home 9 faults. Hannah rides well, but a few small mistakes and maybe her shoe pull from the first day catch up with her – 12 faults is her final score.

The Junior team handles the pressure of the championships and riding for a team well, considering this is their first time. They end a very respectable sixth.

Zone 2 and 4 are very strong and end the day with a jump-off for Gold and Silver and in the end it is Zone 4 that is victorious.

Next is the Young Rider Team Competition. Cayla is first to go, a small mistake at the fourth jump and a touch too slow leaves her with 4 + 1 time. Next, Danielle rides a beautiful clear round but again just over the time for 1 fault. Sage, our least experienced rider, shows her nerves in this round. She struggles in the first half but then pulls it together, and completes the round with 16 faults. Kendall is last and she doesn’t disappoint. She turns in a respectable 4 fault score. We enter the 2nd round with 10 faults, sitting third.

Cayla starts Round 3 off well and turns in a score of 4 faults. Danielle is consistent, clear over the jumps but with 1 time fault. Sage pulls it together and rides like we all know she can, and gives the team a clear round! Last is Kendal who rides a nice round but lowers two fences for 8 faults. Our team total is 15 faults.

It comes down to the last riders for Zones 2 and 4 again. The Zone 4 rider produces a clear round and leaves them with an amazing 8 fault total, and the gold medal. A lot is riding on the shoulders of the last rider from Zone 2. A clear round would cause a tie and force a jump-off, 4 faults and they would finish with silver. She succumbs to the pressure, a difficult but important lesson of a championship like this, and turns in 8 faults making their final total 16 faults.

Zone 10 wins Silver!

Day Five
Saturday is the farewell competition. Anyone who does not advance to the final will ride. Our only rider is Kilian. The weather is a bit crazy today, very hot and humid. Her horse is struggling with the heat and is not going as well as usual. She puts in a very respectable 4 fault round to end her first experience here.

As the day progresses thunder and lightning approach. We decide to hide out in the new USHJA building. We go on a tour of the small museum that is full of team memorabilia and it takes us back to our roots. We enjoy the fabulous thunderstorm from the safety of the building, and end the day with dinner downtown at a quaint restaurant well known in Lexington, a La Lucie.

Final Day
Sunday morning comes early, again with a 7am start (even after all these years of competing, I still don’t like early mornings!) The Individual Competition concludes today.

We start again with the Junior riders. Today’s course is the most challenging thus far and the time is tight, with not many places on course to breathe. Brittany is first to go and leads us off. A good ride, but a couple of small mistakes, and she leaves the ring with 8 faults + 1 time. Hannah jumps a nice round and brings home 4 faults but catches one on the clock for a total of 5. She finishes with a total of 17, which ends up being one fault too many to advance to the final round.

Madison jumps last and rides well. She lowers the height of two fences though for an 8 fault score. She makes the final 15. In the final round she stays consistent and brings in a score of 8 for a 15th place finish, which is really great for her first year at NAJYRC.

For our Young Rider Final the course is the most difficult yet, now set at 1.50M and technical. You can feel the tension in the air as each score counts toward a medal. Sage is our first Zone 10 rider to go. She succumbs to the pressure, one more of the lessons of this competition. With two rails down and a miscommunication with her horse Hot Pants that leads to a refusal, she finishes with 12 plus time.

Kendall is next and she keeps her cool. She jumps a super round with one time fault. Danielle stays consistent and rides a careful, deliberate round; she leaves all the rails in place and comes home with just 3 time faults.

Cayla looks to be our hope for a medal. She rides beautifully all the way to the triple combination. She comes in with too much, hurries to the triple and jumps in too deep. She has to pull out of the triple and restart. Nerves appear to overtake her usually cool demeanor and she hurries back to jump through again with the same result. Unfortunately she is eliminated.

And the Final Round
The final round is upon us. The course is shortened but the track is large and the time very tight. It doesn’t look possible for us to medal. Sage starts us off, and she puts it all together. She rides a fantastic clear round to end with a positive experience. Kendall is next – she stays focused and jumps a clear round as well. She finishes as one of the few to jump double clear on the final day. Danielle follows with another clear round over the jumps just off the pace and adds 1 fault to her score.

We sit on the edge of our seats for the remaining riders. The pressure proves too much and rails are dropping. With each rider, our girls are moving up. In the end the two leaders prove to be strong and although they each drop a rail they have enough of a lead to stay on top.

Danielle’s consistency earns her the bronze medal. Her horse San Diego is the only one not to touch a rail all week.

Kendall’s persistence pays off and she slips into 4th place respectively. Sage ends in a respectable 11th place.

Goodbye Blue Grass
As we head to the airport, we go on one last driving tour. This time we take in the sights of Claiborne Farm and the famous Keeneland Race Track. There are no races here at the moment, but you can feel the energy in a place like this. Kentucky is a special place for horses and those of us who love them. Our trip ends here, but we feel certain that with the goals of our riders and all that Lexington has to offer, we will be back. And we can’t wait!

Highlights From Summer 2011 Blenheim Series

July was superb from the intimate setting of our inaugural Surf & Turf Classic at Blenheim Farms to the series of July shows at Showpark in Del Mar. We eased into August by wrapping up at Showpark and heading north to the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano for two weeks, where we welcomed the USEF Junior Hunter Finals, West Coast and more. The grass field was all dressed up for the occasion and we congratulate all who had the opportunity to participate in this prestigious event.

See Junior Hunter Finals Full Press Release…

The much anticipated indoor and medal finals season is passing quickly. We opened it with the CPHA hosting their first equitation final for juniors and amateurs in the Blenheim Covered Arena. Kicking off a slew of medal finals throughout northern and southern California, including the CPHA Foundation Finals for three age groups down in Del Mar and the ASPCA Regional Finals back at the Blenheim Covered Arena, we offer ample opportunity for year-end goals as well as preparation for those heading east for Indoors.

Speaking of indoors, World Cup Qualifiers are in full swing. We are pleased to host three $50,000 CSI-W events in three locations, Del Mar, San Juan Capistrano and Las Vegas.

We look forward to seeing show jumpers, hunters and medal finalists in Las Vegas this November. The schedule includes the inaugural North American League Finals (NAL) for five divisions, the PCHA Adult Equitation Medal Finals and FEI classes on Thursday and Saturday as well as a $20,000 1.35M Speed Classic on Wednesday and a $10,000 Winning Round class also on Saturday.

The flavor of the season was certainly in good taste, not just with the competition but socially as well. From Mardi Gras to Casino Nights to Elegant Evenings, the mix of good sport and good fun was prevalent this year. Look for the Socially Speaking details below.

Starting with a weekend of jumper classes at Blenheim Farms and ending with the $25,000 Blenheim Summer Classic I Grand Prix, we hosted some hot as well as some cool competition.

Show Jumping Fun For Everyone
Pleased with the turnout we had for our inaugural weekend show at Blenheim Farms, Course designer Robert Ridland set some great tracks – the show jumping was super. Virgo with Eduardo Sanchez Navarro aboard won the highlight $15,000 1.45M Jumper Classic but we would like to thank and congratulate all who participated in the Surf & Turf Classic.

Showpark Series Week One: Classic Classics
From low to high, hunter and jumpers, the Showpark Summer Festival classics were competitive. The highlight $20,000 1.40M Jumper Classic welcomed thirty-five entries. With fourteen in the jump-off, the second round was a race to the finish. Nine of the fourteen were split amongst three riders. Michelle Parker returned on all four of her mounts – Socrates De Midos, Reina, Soloman’s Pride and Xei Ha – Jaime Azcarraga also qualified each of his three mounts – Zalerno, Gangster and Matador, plus John Perez came back on two – Utopia and Arezzo. Five went double clean, Perez and Utopia held the lead at 31.01 until close to the end when Azcarraga on Matador slipped in at 30.74 for the win.

Showpark Series Week Two: An Azcarraga Extravaganza!
An impressive 1.50M track set by Canadian Michel Vallaincourt tested thirty-four horse and rider combinations representing six countries in the $30,000 Racing Festival Grand Prix, presented by Royal Champion. Eleven pairs answered the questions asked on course and qualified for the jump-off. Of the eleven, four were in the Azcarraga family, including once again every entry Jaime Azcarraga entered – Gangster, Matador and Celsius – and son Gonzalo Azcarraga on Richard Cimble.

Vallaincourt’s course was a solid 1.50M, with scope and distance tests. Knowing he had varying levels of experience in the lineup, the designer was careful to set elements that would challenge but not overwhelm the group. He remarked, “When I set a course I try to have a good balance by not asking the same questions. I knew I had top horses, so I stayed quite stout, but everything is approachable.”

With five double clean performances, it was young Gonzalo Azcarraga and his bay mount Richard Cimble who mastered the fastest time. When asked if he had ever beaten his father before, the twenty-year-old equestrian stated, “Not in a grand prix.”

Proud of his prodigy, Jaime Azcarraga commented, “Eleven riders tried to do it but he went fastest.” Picking up second, third and ninth, plus keeping the win in the family, it was an Azcarraga extravaganza.

Full Press Release, photos and results…

High Performing Hunters
On a Hunter Derby note, Davlyn Farm’s Come Monday with Christa Endicott piloting won the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. Simply lovely to watch, the talented mare handled all the course challenges for a well-deserved win in a field of twenty-nine competitors. Showing her skill, junior rider Ashley Pryde on Truly took second.

Showpark Series Week Three: Can’t Catch Cantano!
Twenty-eight couples took the test set by Catalina ‘Catsy’ Cruz of Monterrey, Mexico in the $30,000 August Festival Grand Prix, presented by EquiFit, inc. Right from the start she combined turns with forward distances, then halfway through riders had to collect to the triple combination, the cause of quite a few rails on course. Her first time designing in coastal California, Cruz commented with a smile “The field is good with good footing. I would like to return, for certain. I hope they want me back.”

With four to ride, Californian Kirsten Coe qualified three of Ilan Ferder’s horses for the jump-off, Baronez, Tristan and Vernon G. Mexican Jaime Azcarraga’s Gangster and Celsius were clean in round one. Add Californians Rusty Stewart on Bristol (owned by Grey Fox Farm), Susan Hutchison aboard Cantano (owner at time, El Dorado 29) and Michelle Parker with Tula Pinnella’s Xei Ha to the five qualified by Coe and Azcarraga for eight to return in the jump-off.

The race was on for the win. First and last to return, Coe and Baronez had four faults and eight faults on Vernon G. Choosing not to jump-off on Tristan, he automatically ended eighth. Next Azcarraga on Gangster posted the first double clear in 39.031, taking the lead for a short while. Stewart and Bristol had a miscommunication at the second to last fence and crashed through, but galloped on to complete the round with just four faults. Known for speed, Hutchison piloted Cantano to a fault free and fast 36.43, securing the number one spot. Parker put in a gallant effort on Xei Ha, stopping the clock in 39.032, just .001 seconds slower than Azcarraga with Gangster, which ultimately placed Gangster third and Parker fourth. Determined to catch Cantano, Azcarraga returned on Celsius. Double clear in 36.59, a mere .14 seconds behind Hutchison, Azcarraga settled for second place.

With post victory exuberance, Hutchison spoke proudly of her sponsors. “My most prized possession is my beautiful new Allon huntcoat, it even has my name in it. I have on my Der Dau boots. Cantano wore his Fleeceworks pad and his EquiFit boots, which he loves. I truly appreciate and send all a big thanks to all the sponsors.”

Full Press Release, photos and results…

Blenheim Summer Classic I: A Lark For Clarke
The $25,000 Blenheim Summer Classic I Grand Prix welcomed a small but mighty group onto the International Field at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. Course designer Jack Robson built a straightforward track with just enough questions to challenge the field, narrowing down the jump-off round to four couples. Of those four, 25-year-old Australian Lane Clarke piloted three. The young Aussie rode all three mounts double clear and took home the top prize by delivering the fastest double clean round of the day aboard the nine-year-old chestnut mare Semira De Saulieu, owned by Charlotte Gadbois.

The jump-off just got better and better with each ride. Clarke returned first on Mickey Hayden’s McLord’s First John, with a neat and efficient ride in 42.82. The only other rider to join Clarke in the second round was Jenni Martin McAllister aboard Glados (owned by Marnco). Galloping in next, she shaved just over a second off Clarke’s time, double clean in 41.64. Shortly after, Clarke was ready to give it a go on Granville’s Casseur De Prix. Stopping the clock at 40.80, he not only beat his own time by two seconds, he also topped Martin-McAllister. Now the winner for certain, Clarke entered on his final mount relaxed and was able to master the jump-off track once again in a nimble 39.99 for the win.

Clarke spoke to us as he signed autographs for adoring fans. “I wanted to be efficient and clean to put pressure on Jenni. Obviously not enough pressure, because she answered back with an even faster round. So I remembered the track I took and essentially left out strides wherever I could,” the winner remarked.

Always appreciative, Clarke recognized a list of people who made this victorious day possible. “Thank you to everyone at Blenheim EquiSports and my sponsors and owners, Mickey Hayden, the Spicers, Charlotte Gadbois and Antares. And a big thanks to all my clients, family, friends and girlfriend for coming out to support me.”

Full Press Release, photos and results…

Blenheim Summer Sizzles – Brazilians Blaze
The Brazilians were blazing on this superb summer day, with representing riders taking the top two spots in the $35,000 Summer Classic II Grand Prix, presented by EquiFit, inc.

Course Designer Guilherme Jorge, also Brazilian, set a straightforward course that jumped well. Ten horse and rider couples mastered the track, resulting in an exhilarating jump-off.

“Many horses came in today that hadn’t shown all week,” commented Jorge. “Since I didn’t know each horse, I didn’t want the track to be too difficult for the field. Although ten was more than I had planned, the class worked out to be a great one.”

Then the Brazilians blazed the way – winner Eduardo Menezes on his Reflection Mercedes Benz stopped the timers clean in a quick 42.07, melting more than two seconds off Parker’s time. Josephina Nor-Lantzman on her Chello Z came close, fault free in 42.95, finishing second in the class, pushing Michelle Parker on Cross Creek Farm’s Socrates De Midos Parker to the third spot, who lead in 44.52. Rusty Stewart rode Grey Fox Farm’s Bristol efficiently in 46.21, picking up fourth for their efforts

With the San Juan Summer Festival and Kids Day, the crowd was pleased with the equestrian entertainment. Per usual the weather was idyllic. Menezes, who is based in Mexico but chose to live in California this year, is pleased with his decision. “They really take care of us. Grass field, good designers, I love it here.”

When asked about his win and his plan, Menezes explained with a smile, “The wife and the groom are happy, so I’m happy.” About Reflection he noted, “I bought the mare in January of this year. She’ll go to Showpark next week and also the World Cup Qualifiers. The goal is to prep for the Olympics.”

CPHA Kicks Off Medal Finals Season
The competition didn’t end in the grass field however. Down in the Blenheim Farms Covered Arena the CPHA Medal Finals third round for the Amateurs and the Juniors were beginning as the Grand Prix was ending. After two rounds over two days, the top ten returned for a final performance.

Sitting separately each of the three judges, Leo Conroy, Anne Braswell and William Sparks, gave the winners well-deserved high scores. Topping the Amateurs was Sophie Verges riding Salerno, scoring an 86, 90, 90 in the final round, finishing 7.5 points ahead of the second place rider, Julia Nagler. Verges trains with Leslie Steele. With fifty competitors battling it out in the junior ranks, Demi Stiegler stole the show with third round scores of 93, 90, 90, almost thirty points ahead of second place finisher Hannah Von Heidegger. Stiegler rode Vigo to the win. She trains with Archie Cox as well as her mother Robyn Stiegler.

Full Press Release, photos and results…

Showpark Summer: Jumpin’ Josephina
The International Grand Prix Field in Del Mar was on fire as ten horse and rider couples raced for the win in the $40,000 Showpark Summer Classic Grand Prix, presented by California Horsetrader. Of twenty-three entries, ten managed to master the track clean and ten others ended the day with just one rail down.

The top six finishers were double clean. First to return in the second round was Josephina Nor-Lantzman on Chello Z. Setting a slick pace without rubbing a rail, the pair stopped the clock clean in 36.27. New Zealand’s Guy Thomas gave it a go on Lavito (owned by Signe Ostby) also clean but a touch slower in 37.18, ultimately finishing third. Australian Harley Brown aboard Oak Park Group’s Cassiato galloped in next, also double clean in 38.59, picking up fifth for the day. Veteran Rusty Stewart on Grey Fox Farm’s brilliant Bristol picked up fourth, clean in 38.37. David Vainer of Mexico aboard Vario was careful and clear in 42.39, earning the sixth place spot. The young yet fearless Karl Cook riding Uno De Laubry (owned by Signe Ostby) came close, stopping the clock clean in 36.98, just .71 seconds behind the leader for second place.

Although the pair has earned several top placings since stepping up to the grand prix level less than a year ago, including second last week, this was Nor-Lantzman and Chello Z’s first major win. The talented Zangersheide has blossomed under Nor-Lantzman’s guidance. With her father Fabio Nor as her coach for the last decade, all is proceeding as planned. “We bought him as a five year old with the intention of doing this,” Nor-Lantzman explained. When asked about the day, the young pro proclaimed, “I thought the course was technical and big enough, yet not too much. Going first in the jump-off I tried to put the pressure on with tidy turns and taking advantage of his big stride in the long gallop. It worked out well, he was clean and uncatchable!”

Coming out of a very successful Amateur career, Nor-Lantzman turned pro just this year.

Foundation Flair: CPHA Foundation Equitation Champions Shine
The CPHA crowned three champions during the Showpark Summer Classic: Conor Perrin in the 21 & under section, Alicyn Roy in the 22 & over section and Pilar Flournoy in the 14 & under section. Perrin trains with Nick Haness and Richard Slocum of Hunterbrook, Roy with Mary Gatti and Patrick Spanton of Rainbow Canyon and Flournoy with Mark Bone and Jamie Taylor of Huntover.

In a two round and required work-off format, the equitation riders not only had halts, trot jumps and more built-in to the courses, the top scoring riders competed in a final work-off. The first section to test was the 22 & over, where five competitors returned for further testing. Roy, who came in on top and tested last, executed a slightly different variation of the questions asked. Impressing the judges, she scored an 84 and earned the win. Five riders also worked off in the 14 & under section – the top three were all tied with an average of 85. Flournoy tested third and laid down a flawless ride. Pearl Theodosakis also rode well and finished in the Reserve Champion spot. Over in the grass field the competitive 21 & under section ended up with seven in the work-off. Perrin won both the first and second rounds with averages of 87 and 90.5 respectively, so he was a solid leader going in. Combined with his work-off score of 87.5, Perrin’s overall performance put him on top.

Full Press Release, photos and results…

The competition is hotter than ever as we jump into more FEI classes and Regional Medal Finals. The first of the three World Cup Qualifiers in our season, the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, was September 3rd, on the International Grass Grand Prix Field. A little less than two weeks later, we went Indoors for the $50,000 Blenheim World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix in the Blenheim Covered Arena on Friday night, September 16th.

Showpark Simmers
The $31,000 Showpark Jumper Classic, a one round competition against the clock, presented by Summit General Insurance Agency had thirty entries. Anthony D’Ambrosio’s design had quite a few technical challenges as well as some scope tests.

Michelle Parker rode Tula Pinnella’s Xei Ha in slick style, finishing clean in 73.57 for the win. First in the ring, Parker not only set the pace, she illustrated that the course could be jumped without fault. Only one other competitor was able to match that clean ride, eighteen-year-old Alec Lawler aboard Glen Devon.

Brown Brings Home The Blues
Australian Harley Brown and his 18.2 hand mate Cassiato earned the blue sash, the top prize money and valuable World Cup points for a job well done in the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark, presented by The Grand Del Mar. Of the twenty entries in the World Cup qualifying class, this pair was the only match to master Anthony D’Ambrosio’s course without fault.

After watching the first two horses complete the track in less than 75 seconds, D’Ambrosio shortened his time allowed from 80 to 76 seconds. Two horses later, Ilan Ferder’s Combina with Kirsten Coe, was fault free over the jumps but stopped the clock in 78.51, scoring one time fault. Thirteen entries later Uwwalon and Michelle Spadone were gorgeous around the course. But with a time of 78.47 they too scored one time fault.

When asked after the class about the time allowed decision, the veteran course designer D’Ambrosio said “I thought the decision was perfect when the first few horses had times in the low seventies. I think if you asked the riders they would agree that those with time faults rode careful and clear, not as conscious of the time.” Knowing the riders want to be challenged with these World Cup Qualifers in order to be prepared to compete at a World Cup level, D’Ambrosio set a course that did just that. He continued “It was a good result over a tough course – I believe they got what they wanted.”

Brown planned for the tight time in his ride. “Cassiato is a big and slow type, I’ve had time faults before. I always go in thinking the time is going to be tight.”

Sitting with his six-year-old daughter Zoe at the autograph table, Brown was beaming after a fantastic day. In his fifth season with Cassiato, Brown’s bringing along several more horses. Earlier that morning his five-year-old horse Cash finished first with three clean rounds in the Young Jumper Championships.

For full results, see Results and Press Sections…

Evening Attire is Equestrian
Every evening is a busy one during the Blenheim Fall Tournament. On Wednesday we welcomed thirty-three entries into the $31,000 Blenheim Jumper Classic, presented by Summit General Insurance Agency. Coming south directly after designing for the Masters in Spruce Meadows, Leopoldo Palacios set a super course and the riders rose to the occasion. Thirty-one horse and rider combinations competed in a one round competition against the clock tonight in the $31,000 Blenheim Jumper Classic, presented by Summit General Insurance Agency. Karl Cook and his partner Uno De Laubry (Signe Ostby owner) set a fast time early in the class, clean in 64.57, and held the lead throughout.

With option lines as well as inside turn options, rollbacks, jumps on both ends off short turns and two combinations, Palacios tested the group. “I think the class was good. They got a small taste tonight but the real deal will come on Friday.”

For full results, see Results and Press Sections…

Ladies Night! Coe Operates for a One-Two Victory
Twenty couples toured the track designed by Leopoldo Palacios in tonight’s $50,000 World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix, presented by Equ Lifestyle Magazine in the Blenheim Farms Covered Arena. Of those twenty we saw four fault free trips, all ridden by talented young women.

Palacios designed a track with a variety of tests, difficult to jump clean yet not difficult to get around. Each of the twelve numbered efforts came down with the exception of fence eight. The back rail of the final fence, a wide liverpool oxer in front of the in-gate, came out of the cups most often, catching about a third of the class.

Third in the order and first clean was nineteen-year-old Saer Coulter riding Corpernicus Stable’s Cash 51. Several tried, but none succeeded until Kirsten Coe galloped in on the high jumping Combina (Ilan Ferder, owner), who didn’t touch a single rail. Soon after another solid female show jumper, Michelle Spadone, rode Morgan Hill Partner’s Uwwalon without fault. Not another couple went clean until Coe returned on her second mount, Ilan Ferder’s Baronez, and then there were three fabulous females to return on four horses.

The jump-off was a true test of speed and accuracy, as the time allowed was tight and two of the four contenders ended up with time faults. First in, Coulter on Cash 51, had the time but lowered three jumps on course to finish fourth. Coe and Combina again did not touch a rail, but exceeded the time allowed for a score of two time faults, which ended up second. Spadone also went beyond the allotted time and hit the final jump for six total faults and third for the night. Determined to not have a time fault, Coe returned on Baronez and jumped double clean to clench the win.

The excitement didn’t end there. Throngs of fans lined up at the autograph table directly after the event. Meredith Michaels Beerbaum and her husband Markus Beerbaum joined the group of tonight’s top riders in penning their names on autograph sheets galore.

For full results, see Results and Press Sections…

Geller Gets Top Prize IN ASPCA Regionals
Thirty-six leading West Coast junior equitation riders competed in Blenheim Farm’s covered arena on the evening of September 17th in the ASPCA Maclay West Coast Regional Finals. With thirty returning for the flat phase and four for the work-off, it was Morgan Geller aboard Fabricio who finished on top. Geller and up to twenty more riders earned an invitation to compete in the 2011 ASPCA Maclay National Championship at the National Horse Show November 2nd – 6th in Lexington, KY.

Not new to the winners’ circle, Geller and Fabricio won the 2010 CPHA Medal Finals, a 2011 $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and the 2011 USEF National Junior Hunter Championships, West Coast. The talented teenager explained, “The course was straight forward, more based on smooth turns and style. I was nervous all day about going first, but in the end it was better because I didn’t sit around and watch everyone and get even more nervous!” With a busy show schedule upcoming, Geller will compete in the USEF Talent Search Finals West Coast next week and head back east for the Capital Challenge, Harrisburg and the National Horse Show where she’s qualified in both the junior hunters and the medal finals.

Although winning is glorious, placing in the top sixty percent of the class possibly up to twenty-two riders will earn an invite to the prestigious finals in Lexington this November. Once the eight final regional competitions throughout the country are complete, the exact number of qualified riders per regional will be announced.

Full Press Release, photos and results…

Socially Speaking
What a social life our exhibitors have led this season. Back in the spring we hosted the Tango Party on the San Diego Polo Club grounds. The summer kicked off with the Great Train Robbery at the Vintage Steakhouse and a lovely Evening at Arden Cottage. July began with a catered lunch for all the riders on both days at the Surf & Turf Classic. The month ended with a marvelous Mardi Gras Celebration at Tres Palomas in Rancho Santa Fe. August opened with a Casino Night at the Dana Point Harbor, the following week a Softball Tournament and BBQ and we enjoyed a magnificent Evening of Art, including diamonds, Ferraris and sumptuous snacks from Vintage at Fairbanks Valley Ranch in Rancho Santa Fe.

Room for Grooms
Gorgeous horses presented by their grooms adorned the field for the Grooms Class, presented by Hill, Piibe & Villegas Immigration Attorneys, in Showpark as well as at Blenheim in August and September. With a $500 prize to the winner, the competition is intense. We look forward to the final class of the series at the Las Vegas National this November.

Highlights From June 2011 Blenheim Series Wrap up

By Jackie McFarland

We’re now in the middle of the summer season, with plenty o’horse showing remaining and a fabulous fall ahead. June was chock full of fantastic competition from north to south and overseas. See below for a wrap-up of the Blenheim June Series. With an international feel on the International field the show jumping was super. Hunters were hot, with high scores and impressive handy rounds.

Finishing up four weeks right before the 4th of July gave riders, owners trainers, grooms and families a chance to celebrate independence day after four fantastic weeks in San Juan Capistrano. With over $150,000 in prize money including a $30,000 Grand Prix each weekend, Zone 10 Young Rider Selection Trials, a USHJA Hunter Derby, Zone 10 Pony Hunter Finals, Open Jumper Classics, Children’s Pony Hunter Divisions and Green Rider Equitation, the range of classes offered something for every rider, plus Hilltop VIP, Medal Club, Kids Days and two excellent exhibitor parties.

The competition is hot and the weather cool…

NAJYRC Teams Named

After several successful years at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) that played a role in producing a stellar group of young Grand Prix riders, including Karl Cook, Lucy Davis and Ricky Neal, the 2011 Zone 10 Teams consist of the west coast’s next group of solid show jumpers.

Beginning the final qualifying rounds for NAJRYC on Friday and culminating on Sunday morning, points earned were tallied from this and previous shows for the naming of the Zone 10 NAJYRC Young Rider and Junior Teams. Taking on the challenges of Linda Allen’s courses this weekend, the ten top point earners got a taste of the tracks to come later this summer at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Zone 10 Young Rider Team 
Faustino – Cayla Richards | Esperanto – Kendall Skreden | San Diego – Danielle Korsh
Hot Pants – Sage Flynn | ALT: Gaja 20 – Jocelyn Neff

Zone 10 Junior Team
Canasucre – Hannah Warde | Corralino – Madison Bradshaw | Ashtin’s Obsession – Killian McGrath
Union Jack – Brittany Albrecq | ALT: Pomme D’Api – Viva Hallinan

Hail the King of Hunters and His Trusty Steed
John French aboard the Holsteiner stallion Crown Affair (owned by Yellow Dog Farm) not only won one of the last qualifiers of the 2010/2011 High Performance Hunter Challenge season during May’s Ranch & Coast Classic but had a repeat performance at one of the first qualifiers for the 2011/2012 season. Thirty couples came to play on the large grass field. The challenging course built by Joe Lombardo meant high scores were few and far between but by the end, eleven of twelve pairs earned scores in the eighties and returned for the Handy Round.

The second round asked riders to pilot their hunters smoothly through an s-shaped line from fences three through five, a hand gallop towards home at fence ten directly to a trot jump at the in-gate. As often seen in the Handy Round, positions shifted as rails and riders fell. The top two horses, the aforementioned Crown Affair and Symon (owned by Alison Baileys) both ridden by one of our nation’s best John French, handled the Handy Round with style and held their positions finishing first and second.

A mix of professionals, amateurs and juniors claimed third through twelfth: Melissa Doddridge was third on Bentley and seventh aboard Delux, Hope Glynn rode Sabrina Hellman’s Woodstock to fourth, Glynn’s client Erin Bland rode her own Weatherly to fifth, Gabbi Langston was sixth on Azlan, unexpected rails down caused Jenny Karazissis and Forbes as well as Devon Gibson with Copperfield to bump down to eight and ninth, Tiffany Sullivan was tenth on her five-year-old Easy Company, a crash through a jump late in the course dropped Gretchen Lof and Shine on Me down to eleventh and Nick Haness was poised to garner a top prize on Catwalk after a gorgeous ride, when a surprise stop at the final trot jump caused a fall and the pair finished twelfth.

It’s a First First for Lane Clarke and Granville’s Casseur De Prix

As expected, course designer Linda Allen built a demanding track for the $30,000 Blenheim Classic Grand Prix presented by the Orange County Register. At the end of the round one, nine entries managed to jump without fault.

Although many seasoned equestrians were part of the mix, it was 25-year-old Australian Lane Clarke aboard Granville’s Casseur de Prix who took home the top prize by delivering the only double clear of the day.

“This is only the fourth grand prix [Granville’s Casseur de Prix] and I have done together so to come out with a win this early in our partnership is pretty amazing,” smiled Clarke. Although he navigated both the first and second round courses without fault, Clarke still recognized many difficulties posed by Allen’s design.

“Linda Allen always builds difficult and unique courses,” commented Clarke. “Track-wise, it was beautiful to look at and made a lot of sense, but it was not easy to ride clean.”

As the second duo of nine to take on the shortened track, Clarke felt the pressure of the seven entrants that were still to follow and chose an alternative path to the final fence on course, a daringly tight inside turn that resulted in a time of 48.07 and the win.

The second place team took a more conservative route. Jumping clean but going just over the 50 second jump-off time allowed, Rusty Stewart aboard the precocious seven-year-old Bristol masterfully negotiated the track but stopped the clock at 50.22 to add one time fault to their otherwise pristine performance.

Finishing third, Francie Steinwedell-Carvin and Taunus were the first to negotiate the shortened track but had a rail midway through the course ending with four faults in a time of 48.67. Steinwedell-Carvin also went clean on Twistar, but the pair struggled in the second round with a run-out, rails and then an unfortunate fall and elimination from the round, placing them ninth.

Late in the jump-off order, the master hunter rider mentioned above, John French, aboard Chawi De Laubry (owned by Mountain Home Stables) was clean as he approached the final fence on course. Riding for the win, French followed the lead of some of his fellow competitors and opted for the inside turn. The crowd groaned as the pair had a disappointing run-out, followed by a rail on the second attempt for an eighth place finish

Ups and Downs

The Blenheim EquiSports June Classics I & II were memorable for multiple reasons. With the usual ups and downs, rising hunter star Samantha Sommers, who was Champion Week I on Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Kiss, took an unfortunate tumble in the jumper ring last week sending her shoulder into disrepair for a period. Look for an interview with Sam in an upcoming issue. We hear that Joie Gatlin, who also had an unusual dismount in the jumper ring and did a number on her knee, is doing well and will be visiting the show this week. We wish them both a speedy recovery.  On a high note, Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Affair earned a pair of 95s in the junior hunter ring with Olivia Esse aboard. Olivia wrote a great piece about the Devon Horse Show in the June Series Week One issue.

Internationally Inspired Show Jumping
It was superb to see several countries represented in both the first round and the jump-off of the $30,000 June Classic II Grand Prix – Puerto Rico, Australia, Brazil, the United States and predominantly Mexico. Of the forty horse and rider combinations who came to play, seventeen qualified for the jump-off.

Course Designer Scott Starnes set a track to suit the range of experience in the class, which was a mix of young horses and riders to Olympic level riders. With two combinations, a few scope tests and a tight time allowed, the collective group rose to the occasion. Six couples rode without lowering the height of a jump, but incurred time faults, including American Molly Talla who stopped the clock a mere .008 seconds over the time allowed aboard Camaron Hills Quick Dollar.

“Ideally I want ten to go clean,” commented Starnes before the class commenced. “I didn’t want to over face the young ones yet still challenge the field. I’d rather more go clean than to have the course be too difficult.”

With a large and aggressive group competing in the jump-off, the top ten finishers were all double clean. First to return in the second round was Jaime Azcarraga of Mexico aboard his own Celsius. He set the pace, going clear in 43.98 and held the lead until hometown heroes Susan Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano galloped in eight entries later with a blazingly fast, clean ride over the shortened track in 41.91. Azcarraga returned on his second mount, Gangster, trying to catch Cantano and steal back the leading spot. With a time of 42.41, he beat his first horse but not Hutchison’s ending the day third and fifth. American Rusty Stewart rode Grey Fox Farm’s Bristol efficiently in 43.75, picking up fourth for their efforts. Then along came Agustin Aguayo aboard his own Pro Star de la Nutrin who delivered a clean performance in 41.33 for the win, bumping Hutchison to second.

Through an interpreter, Aguayo explained that he bought Pro Star de la Nutrin when he was a three-year-old. Now competing as an eight-year-old, this was only their second grand prix; the first was in Jalapa (Mexico). Competing here at Blenheim for the next two weeks, the team will return to Mexico for the Pan Am Trials later this summer.

The thrills and spills kept spectators engaged from beginning to end. Salvador Onate lost both his stirrups halfway through the course and impressively still managed to ride without fault, qualifying for the jump-off on Paldatus. While Francois Esteves was almost jumped off by ET 14 Mercedes Benz in round one, Luis Alejandro Plasencia did part ways with Dante at the final fence of the jump-off.

Internationally speaking, the final placings included two Mexican riders and two American riders in the top four, with Australians Harley Brown and Lane Clarke as well as Puerto Rico representative Mark Watring, who all compete actively in California, in the top twelve. Overall ten of the top twelve ribbons went to international riders.

Another International Heyday
An impressive field of thirty-eight horse and rider combinations representing five countries ventured onto the Blenheim International Field for the $30,000 June Classic III Grand Prix, presented by the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort. Course designer Pierre Jolicoeur set a fair but challenging track, posing questions that kept riders on their toes (and in their heels). After a tough first round, only eight duos managed to ride without fault and earn a ticket to the jump-off. While the second round had several solid attempts, the well-seasoned Olympian Antonio Maurer of Mexico masterfully navigated the shortened track to secure the win aboard Francisco Del Rio’s Callao.

“In the jump-off I was fast, but not crazy fast,” said Maurer following his victory gallop. “I’m working my horse back up and this is only his second grand prix after being off for a year. He was double clear in last week’s grand prix and he won today; I couldn’t be happier.”

In addition to being pleased with his mount, Maurer complimented Jolicouer’s course.

“Pierre built a fair track,” noted Maurer. “There were technical questions and elements of rideability but it was designed very fair and very smart. The time was a bit of a factor for some but the field was actually very balanced.”

As the first to jump clean in round one, Brazilian Francois Esteves christened the shortened track aboard his own E.T. 14 Mercedes Benz, setting the stage for his fellow competitors with a clean ride in a time of 38.11 seconds, ultimately finishing fifth. Maurer galloped onto the grass next and shaved 1.37 seconds off, stopping the clock clean in 36.74, taking the lead. Continuing the double clear rounds, Australian Harley Brown and his talented World Cup horse Cassiato (owned by Oak Park Group, LLC) earned third place honors for their neat and clean 37.42 effort. Salvador Onate of Mexico aboard Paldatus was close to catching Maurer, stopping the clock in 36.94, just two tenths of a second shy of taking over the top spot, and finished in the second position. Jaime Azcarraga and Celsius picked up an unfortunate four faults at the second fence in the second round, finishing seventh.

Next in the order of go was nineteen-year-old Tina DiLandri and Avargo. The only American to advance to the second round, DiLandri laid down a stellar performance, leaving all the rails untouched in 37.55 seconds to earn fourth place in a difficult field.

Although eight riders managed to navigate Jolicoeur’s first round course without fault, many more racked up faults by exceeding the 81-second time allowed, dislodging rails or both. “I tried to build the course so it catered to the rider and was safe for the horse,” said Jolicoeur. “The jumps were not huge but some of the elements were technical and presented decisions. There were many areas on the course where riders could pick up the pace and it was left up to them to do it.”

International Fireworks on the Field

Perfect weather during the start of the Fourth of July weekend greeted the thirty-four horse and rider pairs at the Blenheim International Field for the $30,000 Red, White & Blue Grand Prix. Course designer Anderson Lima of Brazil set a technical track with sixteen efforts as well as a tight time allowed. Six pairs successfully rode without fault in the first round, four going double clear. Mexican rider Salvador Onate aboard Charro balanced speed and precision to secure the victory.

Going twenty-ninth in the order, Onate had the advantage of seeing the track. “When I was walking the course, I thought it would be a difficult run to make a clear round,” Onate said. “I had to focus on the strides, because there were many options. I had the opportunity of watching a couple of riders do it, and then I took my options.”

The second pair to attempt the course, last week’s grand prix winners Antonio Maurer and Callao (owned by Francisco del Rio) were the first fault-free pair, and remained the only clean until Susan Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano blazed through the course without fault at almost ten seconds under the time allowed. The crowd roared, animated by her tempo and the guarantee of a jump-off.

Lane Clarke and Granville’s Casseur de Prix (owned by Granville Equine), winners of the first grand prix in the Blenheim June Series, received a hearty welcome from the crowd. Though they had no jumping faults and appeared to have a good pace, the pair finished with a heartbreaking time fault when they stopped the clock just three-tenths of a second over the time allowed.

The tight turn to the CardFlex jump, fence six of the first round, was a trouble spot for many of the riders. Fences 11b and 11c of the second combination on the course also caused multiple jumping faults. Regarding Lima’s design, his first in California, Onate commented, “I liked the course a lot. Lima designed a great course, and I hope he comes back next year.”

With a smile Onate added, “This is my first year here and hopefully I can come back, too.”

Antonio Maurer returned on his second of three mounts, Francisco del Rio’s As Hyo Hugo, and turned in a beautiful clean round. Immediately following Maurer, Duncan McFarlane on Simone Coxe’s Mr. Whoopy navigated the course without fault to join the jump-off group.

A dozen entries, beset with refusals, eliminations and jumping faults, went before up-and-coming grand prix rider Tina DiLandri aboard Avargo finished the first round clean. It was DiLandri’s second mount, and they were the twenty-seventh pair to gallop on the field. There were now five duos to return. Salvador Onate and Charro entered the ring as DiLandri exited, turning in a fantastic clear round just under the time allowed and then there were six coming back.

Maurer and Callao returned to the ring and finished with a double clear round in a quick 39.012. Hutchison and Cantano raced around the course, and even managed to kick it up a notch during the long gallop to the final jump. Though they appeared to jump it clear, a rail fell as they landed and the pair ended with four jumping faults.

Duncan McFarlane and Mr. Whoopy attempted the course next, and though they seemed to have the speed to challenge Maurer, they dropped a rail at the penultimate obstacle and finished with four faults.

Maurer piloting As Hyo Hugo followed McFarlane and turned in another double clear performance, but Maurer’s more conservative approach to the track ended with a time of 40.575. Tina DiLandri and Avargo also turned in a double clear round in 40.220 and were sitting in second place as the final couple of Salvador Onate and Charro entered the ring.

The crowd grew silent as Onate and Charro cleared each obstacle, and when the time of 38.774 was announced, the stands erupted – the duo had won the grand prix by less than one second.

Exhibitor Evenings

Blenheim EquiSports and Equ Lifestyle Magazine hosted not-to-be-missed social occasions. Guests enjoyed food and fun while searching for hidden ‘treasures’ at San Juan Capistrano’s Vintage Steakhouse at the Great Train Robbery party. The following week competitors enjoyed an evening at the lovely Arden Cottage at Blenheim Farms. Located only a short stroll or golf cart ride away, it was truly an ideal location for unwinding, appetizing and socializing. The social calendar continues in late July through August with an innovative mix of events from Mardi Gras to Casino Nights and more.

BBQ & Go Horseless
Kids of all sizes had a fun and competitive day During Blenheim June III. On Saturday everyone enjoyed a post Zone 10 Pony Finals BBQ in the afternoon as well as a JustWorld International Horseless Horse Show. What could be better than supporting a great cause while having a great time?

Highlights From June 2011 Kentucky Spring Classic Horse Show

Kentucky Springs into Action

From ponies to prix, the Kentucky Spring Classic Horse Shows open the hunter/jumper season at the WEG renowned Kentucky Horse Park. Certainly a beautiful and spacious place to compete, the two weeks boasted over $185,000 in prize money with an evening Hunter Derby, two classes in the Hagyard Challenge Series and two Grand Prix events.

The Rolex stadium’s Sheila B. Johnson arena hosts the highlight events, welcoming some of the top names in the sport including Team Millar of Canada – Ian, Amy and Jonathon, Kent Farrington, Margie Engle, Rebecca Hofmann Conway and Argentina’s Hector Florentino. The USHJA International Hunter Derby twinkled with hunter stars, Jennifer Alfano, Scott Stewart and from the junior ranks, Victoria Colvin, just to mention a few. As well, California’s Hannah Goodson-Cutt ruled the Junior Hunter ring.

This expansive facility invites park and museum visitors, events and several governing bodies year-round. Seeking to continue the tradition of equestrian excellence, the host of the world-renowned Rolex 3-Day Event annually in April will now welcome the once world famous National Horse Show in November.


Photos by Alexandra Pingree and Duncan McFarland