Highlights From June 2011 Ranch & Coast Show

Just a few highlights at the Ranch & Coast Classic include Friday’s $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby and Saturday’s $10,000 1.40M Jumper Classic and $50,000 Grand Prix of California. Competitive until the final horse galloped on course, these three events welcomed well over a hundred horses onto the gorgeous grass field at the Del Mar Horse Park.$10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby

Qualifying for the Handy round of the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby required a cumulative first round score of 169 or better. The challenges of the Handy Round included a snake vertical, galloping up a hill, a trot jump and galloping down the hill to an oxer option. Although some illustrated classic hunter style, Yellow Dog Farm’s Crown Affair and John French proved their handy prowess, scoring a solid ten points higher than any other round. The thirteen-year-old Holsteiner stallion moved up from 10th after the first round for the win.

“I wasn’t sure if it was his day after the first round,” explained owner Gail Morey. “But he really perked up for the next round, he just loves to be handy!”

Second to Crown Affair was Davlyn Farm’s Come Monday, with Christa Endicott in the irons. Still green at the Derby level, the mare has a fabulous jump and no doubt will be a recognizable name in the hunter ranks.

$10,000 1.40m Jumper Classic
Of the thirty-eight horses who entered the $10,000 1.40M Jumper Classic, eleven were clean and the top five spots went to up and coming young riders. Last to go, Karl Cook aboard Lavito (owned by Signe Ostby) took the top prize away from Paris Sellon on her Orlando LA, when he stopped the clock a mere half a second faster. Coming in a close third, just a half a second slower than Sellon was fourteen year old Kara Chad of Canada on Stone Ridge’s Alberto. College freshman Saer Coulter rounded out the top five on her two mounts Atticus and Asgard.

$50,000 Grand Prix of California
The $50,000 Grand Prix of California hosted thirty-eight horse and rider duets onto the grass field at the Del Mar Horse Park. Venezuelan course designer Leopoldo Palacios challenged riders and horses alike setting a flowing course that demanded a keen eye and technically accurate ride. With plenty competitors garnering time and jumping faults, nine riders managed to navigate the first round with a clean score.

When designing the course for the $50,000 competition, Palacios said it was very important to him to understand the level of every horse and rider in the class.

“I believe this show is one of the biggest events on the west coast and I’m building big so those who are winning, are winning at the top national level,” noted Palacios.

In addition to his challenging courses, Palacios is also known for his setting tight times. Originally, competitors were not to exceed 79 seconds but after a few riders encountered time faults, an adjustment to 81 seconds saved many riders from faults. Third to go in the jump-off, Hutchison galloped Cantano around Palacios’ shortened track with the win in mind, knowing she would have to put in a quick and accurate ride to leave all the jumps in place. Stopping the clock at 36.56, nearly ten seconds under the time allowed Hutchison was able to do just that. The pair are truly in sync, as they enter their third grand prix season, this is their fifteenth win to date.

“Leopoldo is one of the best course designers around,” said Hutchison. “He has a tight time and sets to par which challenges the sport, making the riders and horses better. It’s what we need.”

Also earning a place in the jump-off and ending the day double clear, veteran riders Helen McNaught and Hap Hansen battled it out for second and third place honors. Navigating the shortened track second to last, Hansen masterfully piloted Archie Bunker (Linda Smith) to stop the clock in 39.20 seconds. Hansen seemingly had the second place finish secured until last to go McNaught and her own Caballo shaved one more second off the clock to finish in 38.12, bumping Hansen to third. Michelle Spadone and Uwwalon (Morgan Hill Partners) were the first pair to navigate the first round track without fault and did so again when they entered the ring for the jump-off, crossing the timers in 40.19 seconds for fourth. As the last double clear ride of the afternoon, Kirsten Coe rode Kilkenny Randall Z (Ilan Ferder) to the fifth position in a time of 40.54.

Rolex Anyone?

What a World Cup – FEI Rolex Show Jumping WC Final, Leipzig, Germany
While the World Cup in Las Vegas was touted for its exciting combination of two FEI disciplines, show jumping and dressage, Leipzig upped the ante this year. The 2011 Rolex FEI World Cup Finals hosted four finals for four FEI disciplines – show jumping, dressage, vaulting, and driving – in the same venue at the same time. As show jumping competitor Pablo Barrios (VEN), noted, “The venue was amazing. It was a super facility and a huge building. They had all sorts of different rings and things were run really, really well.” Quite a show.

Focus on Show Jumping
Germany maintained their victory status in another Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Finals this year, but with two Germans, one Canadian, two Dutchmen, two Americans, one New Zealander, one Swiss and one Frenchman, the top ten was not dominated by one country or continent. Christian Ahlmann (GER) and Taloubet Z scored a final clear round to take the top spot in show jumping’s individual championship. The Olympic champions, Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Hickstead, finished second overall after they rocketed up the standings following an exciting round two victory. Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED) and BMC van Grunsven Simon finished third after an impressive double clear performance on the final day. The only other double clear on the last day, Beezie Madden (USA) and Coral Reef Via Volo made an impressive move up to place fourth.

On opening day, it was two other American women who started out strong. Margie Engle and Indigo were the first to go clear in the speed class and finished fifth. Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7 were also clear for eighth place.

Engle, who had a refusal in round two but finished 12th overall after having only one rail over two rounds on the final day, commented, “He’s a good boy, (and) he wanted to be good all the way through. It’s been a great learning experience for him as a young horse; it was a lot for him. One thing nice to see is that I still have plenty of horse left. He could go another round.”

The early pacesetters were Germany’s Marco Kutscher on the veteran Cash, followed closely by Marcus Ehning (last year’s World Cup Finals winner) and Sabrina, Ahlmann and Taloubet Z, and Gerco Schroeder (NED) on Eurocommerce New Orleans.

Frank Rothenberger of Germany set a more demanding test on the second day, and only seven riders out of 40 scored a clear first round to advance to a jump-off. The first of those was Pablo Barrios (VEN) and G&C Quick Star. However, their eight faults in the jump-off put them seventh that day.

Lamaze and Hickstead won in exciting fashion in 40.68 seconds over Ahlmann and Taloubet Z (40.86 seconds). They were four seconds faster than Schroeder and Eurocommerce New Orleans and Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP) on Action-Breaker. Ward and his second mount, Antares F, were fifth when they had the final jump down, and Kutscher on Cash was sixth.

“It was fun, and it was fast – we were smoking!” said Lamaze. “We had some ground to make up after Thursday so we had no choice.”

“I didn’t take a chance on the first day, I went very casual,” said Lamaze, who noted that the World Cup Final was only Hickstead’s second indoor competition of the season. “I knew he wasn’t ready for those inside turns and to be competitive in that event. I was hoping for a clear and it didn’t happen. I had to come from behind. When you are on a sports car like Hickstead, anything is possible.”

On the final day, the points were close enough where one rail could change the results significantly. Riders had to contest not one, but two difficult courses in one day, with only 19 coming back for the second round out of the 27 who started the final day. With the fastest time but a heartbreak rail in the jump-off on day two, McLain Ward and Antares F, completed the final day with just one rail and 10th overall. “I’m thrilled with Antares. I couldn’t have been happier; he was amazing all week,” Ward said.

Lamaze and Hickstead were clear in the first round, as were Dubbeldam, Madden, and Kutscher. The pressure was on Ahlmann and Taloubet Z, and they finished with four faults after a rail in the final double combination.

As the second round commenced, Kutscher was the only rider with a score of zero, while Ahlmann had four, Lamaze had six, Katie McVean (NZL) had eight with Delphi, and Schroeder had nine.

Although Dubbeldam and Madden were double clear, their point total coming into the last day was too much to overcome for victory but moved the pairs up to third and fourth respectively.

Dubbeldam admitted that he was still looking for a win – which he accomplished, along with Madden, the only two double clear they tied for the win in round 3. “You have to believe it’s possible and I went in today thinking I would go up at least a few places,” he said. “I knew my horse was in top form.”

This was the first World Cup Finals performance for Coral Reef Via Volo. “She got better as the week went on and rose to the occasion (on the final day),” Madden said of her mount. “Coming into (the final day), you’re only halfway through. The new format has the second round just as long as the first, so a lot can happen. I expected her to be good, to say I expected double clear would be saying a lot right now. She needs experience at places like this. I’m really happy at our first one. She was amazing.”

 When riders in the top ten faulted or were carrying too many faults already, it all came down to the final two Germans. Kutscher and Cash had a devastating 12 faults, so the pressure was on Ahlmann. His final clear round gave Ahlmann the victory.

“I’m unbelievably happy that everything worked out the way it did,” Ahlmann exuded. “Taloubet did an amazing job all weekend and the only fault he made was his rider’s fault at the last fence in the first round. He has no experience of Championship competition so I’m delighted that he showed today that he can do it.”

Ahlmann added, “He has unbelievable power and scope, and he can do it over many days. I was lucky to have him.” Ahlmann said that after his European Championship gold medal, this win ranks as his most memorable.

Phenomenal Firsts – Royal & Rolex Kentucky 3-Day Event CCI4*

The Brits celebrated quite a bit this week, from Royal weddings to Olympic Level wins. Depending on your tastes these amazing events are certainly once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Hats off to the royal couple, HRH Duke William and HRH Duchess Kate, but the equestrian world congratulates “King Mary” who not only clinched the win on Kings Temptress in the Rolex 3-Day, she earned second place on Fernhill Urco. In her first event at the Olympic level, American Sinead Halpin was certainly a star. Speaking of firsts, the Reiners came to town during the Rolex 3-day for the inaugural Ariat Kentucky Reining Cup CRI5* and the crowds loved it.

Splendid Spring

From Blenheim Spring to royal weddings to Rolex events running simultaneously, equestrian sport excelled this season. Grand prix praise, high performance hunting and jumping, Americans in Germany and in Kentucky competing for high stakes, third-world charitable efforts, the Simpsons and more inside this edition of our e-news.

The super spring season continues in California at the Del Mar Horsepark in May with the Ranch & Coast Classic, offering the $50,000 Grand Prix of California and another $10,000 USHJA High Performance Hunter Challenge. Socially splendid, Friday includes a repeat of last year’s outstanding exhibitor Tango Party and the kids can play and bounce at Kids Day on Grand Prix Day, Saturday May 14th.

More spring happenings on the east coast include the 2011 IHSA Nationals and two weeks of Kentucky Spring at the fabulous Kentucky Horse Park. Plus the historic Devon Horse Show & Fair welcomes top horses and riders from around the country late in May.

Santana Stables is seeking an “A” level show jumping rider, with American citizenship and fluent in Portuguese, to join their team. To learn more, visit the Santana site and click News.
The Spring Series is the beginning of a nine-month season of sensational shows in southern California. Blenheim EquiSports produces over twenty events highlighting every division from short stirrup and green rider to high performance hunter and show jumping challenges.

With a full calendar of classes, the three week series featured $130,000 in Grand Prix prize money, $40,000 in 1.35m Jumper Classics and a $10,000 USHJA High Performance Hunter Challenge.

What a great way to kick-off spring with three weeks of excellent events. From the competitors, owners, trainers, grooms, braiders, shippers to everyone on staff, Blenheim is truly grateful to all who contribute to the success of our horse shows.

Twelve horse and rider teams raced against the clock in the $20,000 1.35M Jumper Classic jump-off on Saturday afternoon April 2nd. And on Sunday three Californian show jumping veterans and one Aussie battled it out in $40,000 Orange County Register Grand Prix.

Richard Jeffery tested the 47 entrants, both amateurs and professionals alike, with his challenging track including multiple combinations, a water element with a rail as well as a skinny jump in the $20,000 1.35m Jumper Classic.

While a dozen horses managed to secure a place in the jump-off, it was Canada’s Carla Diewert and her mount Vaquero who secured the win by laying down the fastest of six double-clear rounds in 35.92. Second place went to Francie Steinwedell-Carvin aboard Twistar (owned by Prentiss Partners) who stopped the clock just over a half a second slower (36.45), just missing the top time. Riding Utopia La Cantera, John Perez cruised around the shortened track in 37.79 to round out the top three.

Twenty-seven horse and rider participated in the $40,000 Orange County Register Grand Prix on Sunday of Week One. Designed with the larger purse in mind, the Richard Jeffery course proved challenging as only four riders piloted their mounts without fault. First to go Lane Clarke aboard Granville’s Casseur De Prix (owned by Granville Equine) and fourth in the ring, Hansen and Archie Bunker were fault-free. Not until the twenty-third pair negotiated the first round course, Hutchison and Cantano (owned by El Dorado 29), and then a few horses later, the clever nine-year-old Bristol (owned by Grey Fox Farms) with Rusty Stewart in the irons, made it four clean.

With the disadvantage of being the first duo to take the shortened track, Clarke and Granville’s Casseur De Prix needed a quick time and a clean ride to put the pressure on the three pursuing competitors, who were all solid veterans of the sport. Clarke lowered the height of one fence midway through to pick up four faults, a time of 35.60 and the third place ribbon. Hap Hansen and the athletic Archie Bunker (owned by Linda Smith) set the second round stage by laying down a double-clear performance in 39.72. But Susie Hutchison and Cantano were hot on their heels and effortlessly flew around the shortened track in 34.95. Stewart and his young partner Bristol also lowered the height of one fence midway through the second round, crossing the timers in 37.71 seconds for a fourth place finish.

This week fifty entries galloped onto the grass for the Friday’s 1.35M Jumper Classic. Canadian course designer Peter Holmes built a welcoming track, challenging enough but not overly technical. Although rails and refusals occurred on course, fifteen pairs negotiated the course without fault. Clean rides were sporadic initially until the thirty-second horse on course galloped in. Joie Gatlin and Odyssey, a pair that often is seen blazing around a jump-off, started a streak of seven clean rounds in a row.

Setting the pace early on, Saree Gordon aboard Tomboy Farm’s Olana were the first team to return. They cruised around clean in 44.21, holding the top spot for several horses, but ultimately finishing third. Speed demons Gatlin and Odyssey, took the lead by shaving off just under a second, stopping the clock at 43.37. With two rides in the second round, Canadian Brian Morton mastered his plan by the time he galloped in on Spitfire. Edging out Gatlin, Morton managed to cross the timers in 42.32 for the win, pushing Gatlin to the second place position.

A large field of forty-seven horse and rider combinations competed in the $40,000 Spring Classic II Grand Prix at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park on a cool April afternoon. Course Designer Holmes tested riders technically with distance as well as time-allowed challenges, causing an abundance of jumping and time faults across the board. Despite the difficulties, ten riders managed clean, workmanlike rides around the first round track.

While 19-year-old Saer Coulter and her partner Springtime (owned by Copernicus Stables) appeared unbeatable with their blazingly fast ride over the shortened track, veteran Susan Hutchison and her partner Cantano delivered an exciting performance to edge out Coulter for their second grand prix win in two weeks.

“I’ve never gone that fast before, so it’s nice to know [my horse and I] have the ability,” exclaimed Coulter. “I was confident with my jump-off ride but I knew if anybody was going to go quicker, it would be Susie.”

Indeed feeling the pressure from Coulter’s double-clear, 41.39 performance, Hutchison masterfully piloted Cantano around the shortened track in 40.20 seconds, shaving over a second off the young rider’s time.

“When Saer did the eight strides from the vertical to the oxer, that cinched it for me,” commented Hutchison. “I knew the eight had to be done for the win and luckily [Cantano] was right there with me.”

It was a good Friday for junior rider Morgan Geller as she topped an impressive field of 44 entries in the $10,000 USHJA International High Performance Hunter Challenge during week three of the Blenheim Spring Series. And the junior rider reign did not end there. On Saturday, hotshot high school senior Lucy Davis fired around the jump-offs, claiming the top prizes in both the $10,000 1.35m Jumper Classic and the $50,000 Royal Champion Grand Prix.

With a very inviting first round for the High Performance Hunters, course designer Scott Starnes offered several options for riders to illustrate style, manner and flow. The thirteen who returned for the Handy Round all scored in the eighties or above. Amongst a group of eleven riders (John French rode three of the thirteen horses) four junior riders made the cut, Destry Spielberg and Rumba, Whitney Downs on Coffeetalk, Samantha Sommers aboard Small Kiss and Morgan Geller riding Fabricio. The Handy Round included a tall white coop as fence one, a very tidy turn to an oxer at fence two, a jump out of the field at fence five and back in again as fence nine plus a hand gallop to the final jump. Rails, refusals and circles ensued for quite a few including 2010 Champions Parker and Katie Gardner, who had won the first round. Of those who mastered the handy aspect, Geller and her mount Fabricio earned scores in the nineties plus bonus and handy points for the win.

Saturday was stellar weather-wise and otherwise at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park. Olaf Petersen, Jr. designed some of his trademark courses, technically challenging with a tight time allowed. Thirty-three horse and rider combinations galloped on to the International Field for the $10,000 1.35m Jumper Classic with seven going fault-free. Lucy Davis riding Old Oak Farm’s Hannah turned in the fastest double-clean ride in 34.04 for the win, just ahead of barn mate Saer Coulter on Asgard 17 (owned by Copernicus Stables) with 34.94. Also close but not close enough were veterans Mandy Porter on Pacifica Riding Club’s Eastwood and Susie Hutchison on SIG International’s Sig Feng Shui who stopped the clock at 35.20 and 35.38 respectively finishing third and fourth.

Thirty more horse and rider couples competed for prizes in the late afternoon $50,000 Royal Champion Grand Prix. Again course designer Olaf Petersen, Jr. asked multiple questions and gave a precious amount of time to answer them. One tenth of those who attempted were clean – Canadian Samantha Buirs on Total Touch, American Lucy Davis on Nemo 119 and Australian Harley Brown on Angelli.

Second to go in round one and returning first in the twisty eight fence shortened course, Buirs rode Total Touch without touching a rail. Her turns were tight and she galloped where she could, truly setting the pace at 50.92 for the other two competitors. “I wanted to go clean and give Lucy something to run for,” the young Canadian explained.

And run she did, as Davis and Nemo 119 had a very forward pace and even with a bit of a slip in the final rollback turn, crossed the timers in 49.44. “I watched Sam go. She was very fast. I felt I had been a bit slow early on so I picked up the pace. Then I couldn’t get him back so I had to leave one out,” said Davis of her ride. Both girls agreed the course was thoughtful, technical and certainly challenging.

Highlights From 2011 HITS Desert Circuit

By Selena Frederick and Jackie McFarland

In what seemed a newfound rhythm for the HITS Desert Circuit, the winter circuit sailed relatively smoothly for six straight weeks. With increased entries and a positive response from many of the competitors we approached, we asked what was the formula for success this year? Challenging course designers, well maintained footing, improvements and additions to the VIP areas, big money classes, and of course the grand prix highlights from fantastic afternoons to fabulous evening events.

Beautiful sunsets and cool breezes welcomed the four World Cup Qualifiers in the intimate indoor arena. Actually for a majority of the six weeks the California desert weather was pretty perfect. To top it off, during the final week the facility sparkled with Lamborghinis, Rolls Royces and even a pristine private jet parked on site.

John French and Chawi de Laubry

The west coast circuit drew a slew of legendary grand prix riders from near and far, including Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, Hap Hansen, Eduardo Menezes, John Pearce, Rich Fellers, Jill Henselwood, Charlie Jayne, John French, Susan Hutchison, John Perez, Gabriella Salick, Kate Levy…

And that is just a short list. Stars of the circuit Rich Fellers and Lucy Davis each earned four grand prix wins, simply amazing. These two athletes and their horse mates, mind you they each won on different mounts, were fast, clean and cool as ice.

The hunter rings were bustling as well. West coast greats such as John French, Hope Glynn, Nick Haness, Chance Arakelian, Jenny Karazissis and John Bragg were vying for the various championships and derby wins. The ever-versatile John French, who won his usual lion’s share in this arena, also suited up for several outdoor grand prix events. French was seen ‘speaking’ both hunter and jumper on the same day, literally running from the jump off to the hunter derby, garnering top ribbons if not wins in both places. The calm, cool and collected French commented, “It’s an adrenaline rush with the jumpers and everything is so fast; I’m not used to being so hyper.”

Hansen and Michaels-Beerbaum
discuss the course

Quite a few competitors, sponsors and spectators noted the family-friendly aspect of the area. Lamborghini of Newport Beach’s Director Donny Gath brought his entire family. As is often seen when outside sponsorship comes on board, Gath’s company became a sponsor after his 9-year-old daughter Kendal started competing at HITS two years ago, so it is both business and pleasure. Grand prix princess and high-school senior Lucy Davis mentioned that her family can easily come out from Los Angeles and watch her compete as well as enjoy the desert treasures. “My dad can golf in the morning, and then come and watch me ride in the evenings.” Internationally acclaimed rider Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, also Davis’ trainer, expressed how nice it was for her to spend time in a family friendly environment. She explained, “In Europe the cold indoor circuits typically have late class times making it not very baby or family friendly. It’s also good to be back in California, and see people I haven’t seen in years.” Baby Brianna Beerbaum celebrated her first birthday in California with Mom (Meredith) and mount Lancaster winning the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix. Great day to celebrate.

Of course there were ups and downs. One particular grand prix Sunday took its toll on some top riders. Beginning the circuit with wins, Canadian John Pearce, as well as riding legend Hap Hansen, and the daring John Perez all took a spill at the same fence (#7). Unfortunately Pearce went on the injured list for the remainder of the circuit, whereas Hansen and Perez were able to walk away.

The close to the circuit $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix of the Desert was nothing short of poetic. After 53 riders attempted Olaf Peterson’s technical and big and wide course of jumps, five riders remained in the running for the $200,000 in prize money. The 90-degree southern California sun apparently didn’t faze the riders or the Sunday afternoon crowd. Cheers were rampant at the end of Lucy Davis and Nemo 119’s clear

Lucy Davis and Nemo 119

jump off round, on a streak after winning three grand prix events in a row, as she crossed the timers in the lead.

The class was far from over with two riders left. next in the ring was speed demon Rich Fellers, aboard the amazing Flexible. And following that pair was Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum aboard the talented Kismet 50. The crowd gasped in disbelief as Rich and Flexible took the inside turn to the wide oxer heading down the last line and a rail fell. When the final pair of Beerbaum and Kismet 50 heading towards the first tall pink and white vertical – down went the top rail and Davis had clinched the win. It was a day to remember for competitor and spectator alike.

As Davis said in her interview with HITS after her victory, “I could never believe this in a million years. I was so happy to just win one Grand Prix and I kept thinking that there was no way that this could ever happen. Some of the best riders in the world were competing here today and to come out on top is just surreal.” (Read more in the HITS press release)

International riders, sizeable prize money, classy cars, big jumps, fans galore and increased attendance makes for sporty splendor indeed. Congratulations to all and good luck at HITS Saugerties in their fall finales for both hunters and jumpers.

Photos by Cheval Photos

Our Own March Madness

For all the basketball fans out there, we’re not stealing your term, it just seems to fit. We are well into the madness of many horse show circuits as March comes to a close. The HITS Desert Circuit crowned its final champion on March 13th as Lucy Davis won not just one but four grand prix classes on her two mounts, Hannah and Nemo 119, during the final two weeks. More about the desert buzz in this issue’s Sporting Splendor. The FTI Winter Equestrian Festival is starting week eleven (out of twelve), with the biggest money class of the circuit, the $500,000 FTI Consulting Finale Grand Prix, on Saturday night. The circuit culminates on April 3rd with the Hunter Derby Finale as the final Saturday night class. By closing day, the three-months of consistent horse shows will have awarded close to $6 million dollars in prize money.

During the time when the world comes to Wellington, a number of social and charity events spread their wings to embrace the captured audience. Hosts of innovative occasions fill the calendar, including the Step by Step Charity Poker Tournament. Read a bit more about this international night that benefits a worthy cause.

Although always west coasters down deep, many not only flock southeast for the winter, some never leave. One of those converts is featured in this issue, Rebecca Johanson Hofmann. Although only in her twenties, this Wellington woman knows what she’s after. Take note – there’s a new California statute regarding the disclosure of commissions with sale horses. Read about it in Full Disclosure in this issue.

Santana Stables is seeking an “A” level show jumping rider, with American citizenship and fluent in Portuguese, to join their team. To learn more, visit the Santana site and click News.

As Wellington comes to a close, Blenheim EquiSports is just getting started. Opening with three shows in San Juan Capistrano, the Spring Series, their idyllic southern California season stretches into September. And it doesn’t end there. This year Las Vegas National in November will be even better than last year, with NAL finals and more. With 16 Grand Prix events, 4 Hunter Derbies, 6 Medal Finals and classes for every level in 3 fabulous locations over a nine-month period, when are you planning to come?

Highlights From Winter Circuit East and West

From all reports, all is well at winter circuits both east and west. Horses are happy in Wellington and Thermal, and prominent names are appearing in both places. Both WEF and the HITS Desert Circuit have welcomed riders hailing from the north, south, east and west including but certainly not limited to Canada, South America, Mexico, Europe, Texas, New York and California. Families flew in and settled for the winter – the Bonds and Simpsons flew south to Florida, whereas the Beerbaums, Fellers and Charlie Jayne headed to the California desert.

Seemingly everywhere, Kenneth Vinther was spotted in Wellington and is now in Thermal promoting his new company. Yes Kenneth has flown the CWD coop and has spread his wings as a distributor of exciting new products from Europe. Now you can “Koompeet with Kenneth“.

We are pleased to report from here that several exciting projects are in the works, plus many of our clients jumped into the new year with marketing on their minds, so we are juggling but jazzed. Our team continues to expand. We’ve added a new Account Manager Selena Frederick who hit the ground running in Thermal. Thank you Erin Gilmore for the solid recommendation. Erin also flew south for the winter and is thoroughly enjoying Wellington as seen in her blog. She wrote a piece called “Use Your Head – Wear A Helmet” after attending the Helmet Symposium and interviewing Beezie Madden on our behalf.

Active with the North American Riders Group, our friend Will Simpson participated in the dynamic annual meeting. Proud to be a part of it by producing the NARG Top 25 booklet, we were also in attendance. Read “The Chronicles of NARG Continued” in this issue.

Wishes from Wellington continue as we feature the FTI Great Charity Challenge coming up next week. The EquestriSol family will fly south as well to not only witness this event but some top-notch hunter (and a bit of jumper) action. We know John French is switching coasts for a couple of weeks and hope to see him in the WEF winner’s circle.

Speaking of Wellington, Santana Stables is seeking an “A” level show jumping rider, with American citizenship and fluent in Portuguese, to join their team. To learn more, visit the Santana site and click News.

January came and went like a flash, and we are well into February. Read up, as come March we will be back in your Inbox with more. Selena, who also happens to be a professional photographer, will provide prose from the Desert and we will be enjoying the beaches and the showgrounds in the Sunshine state.

Peeking back into 2010, the Inside Indoors article in our fall issue failed to mention Whitney Downs and her fabulous Coffee Talk – they were Champions in the Small Jr. Hunters 15 & under, plus won Grand Hunter Champion at Capital Challenge. We may miss other shining stars and welcome emails telling us so.

On a final soulful note, occasionally we are reminded of why we tirelessly entrench ourselves in this world of equestrian sport. Certainly the excitement of competition, the plethora of interesting people, the cherished relationships all play a role. But where would any of us be without the horse? As our daughter is days away from her 4th birthday, we succumbed to the purchase of a giant pink unicorn. Tidbits of a recent NPR story on girls, horses and unicorns were both touching and amusing.

Painting the WEG Picture

By Whitney Campbell and Jackie McFarland

After years of hoping, bidding, planning and building, the Kentucky Horse Park gates officially closed for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, yet the economical and reputable impact the city and state experienced during the 16 days of competition still lingers. Hosted in the United States for the first time, the city and state lived up to its reputation as the acclaimed ‘Horse Capital of the World’ when hosting this international equine event. The 16 days of grueling competition included eight different disciplines of equestrian sport, challenging 632 athletes and 752 horses from 58 countries for their chance of a WEG 2010 Medal. Competition aside, from the extensive Alltech experience, fabulously painted horses, shopping galore to the demonstrations throughout the facility, the amount of attractions available for visitors was abundant.

And for Openers…
The theme of the Opening Ceremonies was based around the athleticism, versatility, spirit, and the partnership between man and horse. Spectators enjoyed demonstrations and performances by racehorses, a Friesian Dressage Drill Team, Saddlebreds and many other equestrian entertainers. The traditional parade of athletes included all 58 competing countries. Midway through the ceremonies, FEI President HRH Princess Haya declared the official Opening of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games by commenting, “For the first time, the World Equestrian Games have crossed an ocean to bring the best of our sport to another continent. We are witnessing a new beginning that will help spread the magic of horse sport and inspire young equestrian athletes to aim for the top.”

Reining in its Second WEG
Before the evening’s Opening Ceremonies, Reining, the only competing discipline that originated in the United States, was underway. Since Reining was added as a discipline at the 2006 World Equestrian Games, it has opened the doors for a broader and more diverse horse culture to participate at the Games. Judged on the athletic ability of a western type horse in a show arena, the format of competition at the games involves two days of Team Competition, a Qualifying Competition, and finally an Individual Final Competition. The team made up of Tim McQuay, Craig Schmersal, Tom McCutcheon and Shawn Flarida along with their talented quarter horses won the Team Gold. There was an unfortunate turn of events in the Individuals for Gold Medal favorite Shawn Flarida when his stirrup broke during one of his movements, resulting his hand touching the saddle and an immediate five point deduction from each judge. However his teammates Tom McCutcheon and Craig Schmersal were still able to clinch the Gold and Silver Medals in Individual Reining.

Enduring Sport
The second day of the Games held the longest continuous competition of all eight disciplines, Endurance. The 100 miles race against the clock through open terrain, trails, roads, and bridges involved five required compulsory stops for veterinarians to check the horses’ fitness and they had to pass in order to continue. The horse and rider duo that not only passes each check but then finish the fastest after the five segments wins the Gold. Out of 100 competitors, only 55 completed the entire race. Those who did finish returned the next day for the Best Conditioned Judging. This discipline separates itself from the rest not only for the longest time spent in the saddle in one ‘sitting’, but because it involves competitors from all realms of horse society. From small town trail riding housewives turned pro, to Sheiks born into the sport, once on horseback they share the same goal and the same passion for their equine partner. Having just given birth to a baby girl seven weeks earlier, French Endurance rider Maria Mercedes Alvarez Ponton on her fabulous horse Nobby defended their title for the Gold.

All the Moves
The fundamental training to many equestrian disciplines, the Dressage competition spanned over four days. According to the FEI Rules, Dressage is “the development of the horse into a happy athlete through harmonious education. As a result, it makes the horse calm, supple, loose and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with his rider”. Beginning with the Team Grand Prix, horse and rider from each team perform the same test, a combination of movements and gaits, designed to demonstrate the level of achievement of those qualities described above. Each team member is scored individually, and then added together for a final score in which the best scores determine medal placing. The Grand Prix Special follows team competition and is the Individual Competition complement to the previous day’s tests. Following the same format, horse and rider are judged and the pair with the highest score wins. The most anticipated and attended event in Dressage is the Grand Prix Freestyle Competition. Each rider designs and choreographs an original test incorporating music using the same movements required in the regular Grand Prix test. Often labeled dancing with hooves, this event shows off individual talents and creativity. In the Individual competition, the successful team of Steffen Peters and Ravel were the first United States Team members to earn a medal, Bronze, in a World Championship in both the Grand Prix Special and Freestyle.

A Combination of Grace and Guts
A true test that challenges a horse’s grace, endurance, precision, and overall athleticism is the Three Day Event, or Eventing, competition. Horse and rider compete in three different phases over three days involving Dressage, Cross Country, and finally Stadium Jumping. Those who score well in the Dressage test and refrain from adding time or faults to their score from cross country or stadium will likely find themselves in medal contention. The Cross Country phase of Eventing is always a crowd pleaser due to the large spectator viewing areas and the intensity of the solid obstacles on the course. This particular day at the Games brought in the most spectators, topping off at 50,818 attendees. After the Stadium phase, the German rider who started off with the lowest Dressage score, Michael Jung managed to add no time or jumping faults to that first day score claiming the Gold Medal, while 2010 Rolex Three Day Event defending champion British rider William Fox-Pitt settled for Silver.

The World’s Highest Jumping Athletes
Show Jumping challenges the horse and rider’s stamina, speed, agility, scope and precision. Over the course of several competitions Monday through Saturday (with Thursday as a day off), the rider finishing with the least number of penalties earned the Gold. Beginning with the Speed Competition, more than 120 horses and riders representing 27 countries competed on courses designed with a variety of Kentucky themes from horse racing and breeding farms to products and culture. The Americans looked promising taking the top two spots after the first day of competition but it was the German’s who took home the overall Team Gold Medal after Wednesday evening’s top 10 Team Final competition. The 30 riders with the lowest scores returned for the Individual Round on Friday.

The exciting week of show jumping culminated with the top four riders, those with the lowest scores from the week, competing on Saturday evening for the Rolex Final Four. Making it to the Final Four from a talented pool of 121 riders is quite an accomplishment and an exhibition of a great partnership with a horse. This was the first year the Games had four riders from four different continents, Philippe Le Jeune of Belgium, Eric Lamaze of Canada, Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil and Abdullah Al Sharbatly of Saudi Arabia. Each rider began their first round on course aboard their own mounts. Given the option to change only one piece of tack, and a maximum of three minutes to acclimate to the new partner, it was time for riders to display true horsemanship as they attempted the same course on each of the other rider’s mounts. Each horse and rider combination went clean in two of the four rounds. However the end result, and the only rider to jump clean all four rounds, was Belgium’s Philippe Le Jeune taking home the Gold Medal. And after five days of competition, the only horse to jump all four rounds of the Final Four clean was Lamaze’s mount Hickstead. The 14-year-old stallion was awarded Best Horse Honors for his amazing efforts.

For the first time
Amongst the multiple sessions of Show Jumping in the outdoor stadium, the Para Dressage, Vaulting and Driving disciplines also competed in outdoor and indoor facilities at the Kentucky Horse Park. The 2010 World Equestrian Games marked the first time riders with physical disabilities had the opportunity to contest their equestrian abilities while competing amongst the world’s best competitors. Participating riders were asked to complete tests involving specific movements typically seen in Dressage and also competed for individual and freestyle medals. Several countries were represented in the final results, but Great Britain and Germany were tops. British rider Sophie Wells on Pinnochio won Gold in the grade IV Individuals and the British Team were also Gold Medal winners. German rider Hannelore Brenner riding Women of the World took the Gold medal in the grade III.

Mounts and Dismounts Required
Performing gymnastics and elements of dance to music while balancing on horse cantering in a circle is certainly high-level gymnastics. In Compulsory, Freestyle and Team Competitions, vaulters are judged and scored on technique, form, difficulty, balance, security as well as consideration of the horse and the performance of designated exercises or movements. In addition, it is the only discipline holding separate competitions for males and females both in Compulsory and Freestyle Vaulting. The US Team of Devon Maitozo, Blake Dahlgren, Mary Garrett, Emily Hogye, Mari Inouye, Rosalind Ross, and Annalise VanVranken along with their horse Palantino lunged by Carolyn Bland won Gold in this event.

Horse and man partnership comes into play in the Combined Driving Event where each driver drives a team of four horses through three separate competitions. Driven Dressage requires the same test for all competitors and like ridden Dressage, is judged on the agility and movement of the horses. The 18-kilometer marathon challenges competitors across country, similar to Eventing’s Cross Country, tests the fitness, judgment, and horsemanship of the driver. The Obstacle-Cone competition is the final phase of competition where the Driver is required to drive his team through twist and bends without incurring faults. Lowest total score again determined the medals and the US Team of Chester Weber, Tucker Johnson, James Fairclough, and their fabulous teams of horse earned a Silver Medal, whereas American Tucker Johnson brought home an Individual Bronze. After driving competitively for a quarter of a century, Johnson is retiring from competition on a great note.

And there’s more…
Those who visited the Kentucky Horse Park on a general admission pass could easily fill the day with exhibits and events covering the park grounds. The trade shows offered high quality equestrian goods from apparel to tack and everything else horse, from artists to vacations.

The Equine Village provided guests the opportunity to meet breed and discipline registries as well as clinicians and other horsemanship organizations. There were daily demonstrations and clinics where several top competitors exhibited their talents and skills to spectators. The Kentucky Experience gave visitors from across the globe and even local guests the chance to see what Kentucky offers, from music, food, art, and recreation to of course the horse. The title sponsor, Alltech, created the Alltech Experience, a sprawling set-up with innovative rooms illustrating all the ways the company approached nutrition, health and performance. And that was just in the front, out back was a beer garden, areas devoted to kids, with animals of all kinds visiting from the Newport Aquarium, painted horses galore, music and more. Plus the permanent structures and exhibits at the park include several museums, a stable of breeds and several association headquarters.

Every aspect of the Kentucky Horse Park, especially hosting the magnanimous WEG is geared toward one purpose: to bring the world the majesty of the horse. Attracting the equestrian world to Lexington was a feat, and not without challenges, but certainly memorable for many. The World Equestrian Games showcased the athletes, both human and horse. The largest sporting event to come to the United States since the 2002 Winter Olympics, the 2010 WEG tallied a total of 507,022 in attendance by the final day. Hats off to the state of Kentucky who hosted an all-encompassing event that truly put the horse on a pedestal.


Highlights From The August 2010 Blenheim EquiSports Show

August 21, 2010: The $35,000 Summer Classic II Grand Prix, presented by Equ Lifestyle Magazine
The weather on Saturday afternoon was close to ideal, with a breeze and temperatures in the 70s. Spectators gathered in the Medal Club, on the hillside and in the hilltop VIP tent to watch the last of the summer grand prix events at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park.

Thirty-three horse and rider duos stepped up (or in some cases down) to the challenge of the Leopoldo Palacios designed course in the $35,000 Summer Classic II Grand Prix, presented by Equ Lifestyle Magazine. Of all those who had aspirations of going clean, only the first two on course, Lane Clarke aboard Bay Rose’s Nikko and Hannah Selleck riding the fiery mare Tosca of Descanso Farm, were able to do so. Both young and ambitious, it was twenty-one-year-old Selleck who came out on top with a stellar double clear ride for the win.

Master course designer Palacios presented competitors with a technical track that demanded a careful, yet gutsy ride. There were a total of 17 obstacles which included a tricky bending line, a combination with a sizeable triple bar, another combination, a very tidy rollback turn to a skinny in five or six strides to the open water in a very tight ride to a vertical-vertical combination, and ended with a right-hand turn to a big oxer at the top of the field. All in a keep-up-the-pace time allowed of 87 seconds. “This was a very tough national grand prix. I tried to challenge the group as much as possible,” Palacios said.

The first two horse and rider teams made fault-free rides a reality. First to gallop onto the grass, Clarke jumped Bay Rose’s Nikko around the course just under the time allowed in 86.72 seconds. Next in the ring, Selleck brilliantly answered Clarke’s call and forced the jump-off, laying down a clean and aggressive first round ride in 79.98 aboard her chestnut mount Tosca.

“The track suited Tosca,” said Selleck of her 14-year-old Belgium mare. “The opening and shortening between fences is exactly what she likes.”

As the rest of the competitors took to the course, Palacios’ challenge was evident. All remaining exhibitors picked up faults of some kind – rails fell, time allowed was exceeded, hooves landed in the water, and refusals, run-outs and accidental dismounts also occurred.

“Leopoldo’s courses are hard, technical and have a tight time allowed,” explained second place rider, Clarke. “He does a great job of getting rails in different places, plus the horses and the riders always learn something.”

As the first to take in the jump-off, Clarke knew his ride had to be strong. “Hannah is a rocket and I knew I had to put the pressure on her,” Clarke explained. Clarke and Bay Rose’s Nikko navigated the shortened track in a time of 48.98 seconds and picked up eight faults towards the end. “I am really happy with my horse,” Clark said. “He is green at the grand prix level and is coming along fantastically.”

Having the advantage of following Clarke in the jump-off, Selleck and Tosca galloped onto the International Field with an air of determination. “In the jump-off, the pressure was on. I just had to go out there and stick to my plan,” Selleck noted.

Selleck presented the crowd with a masterful ride and triumphantly crossed the timers without fault in 45.15 seconds to surpass Clarke and clinch her first win in the grand prix arena.

Although close but not clean in round one, some of the remaining prizewinners deserve mention. The fastest four-fault ride was Mexico City’s Jaime Azcarraga aboard his grey partner Celsius, who had just one unlucky rail for third place honors. Slightly over half a second behind Azcarraga, Susan Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano had four faults and picked up the fourth place prize. Fifth through seventh went to four fault rides from Mexican riders Eduardo Menezes and his horse Utopia, last week’s winner Otavio Penedo aboard Carando Equisearch and Eduardo Menezes riding Avargo Mercedes Benz.

Earning the eighth spot, Michelle Parker and Socrates De Midos (Cross Creek Farms Inc., owner) thrilled the crowd when they miraculously cleared fence six from a near standstill. It looked as though the duo was going to go clean until, like so many others before them, they lowered the height of the first element in the one stride at 13A for four faults. In addition to finishing second in the competition, Clarke also finished in the money aboard his second mount, Mickey Hayden’s McLord’s First John, stopping the clock just over the time allowed for one time fault in addition to eight jumping faults. Winner Selleck rode Descanso Farm’s Bauer to an eleventh place finish as the fastest of the twelve fault rides.

Highlights From The Aug 17-18 Blenheim EquiSports Show

By Katie Kotarak

On a bit of a hot Tuesday afternoon, forty-eight Small and Large Junior Hunter riders in the 15 & under and 16-17-year-old sections gathered to compete on the west grass field in the 2010 USEF National Junior Hunter Championships – West Coast. The first of a two-day event began with the handy round, followed by the under saddle section.

The beautifully-decorated but technical track, designed by California’s Scott Starnes, had plenty of flowers and brush, as well as a hay bale bounce that caused elimination for some, a natural trot fence that lost its top rail a few times, and a hand gallop to the final obstacle. Taking top prize in the older Small handy was Wesley with Taylor Ann Adams in the irons for owner Ashley Pryde. The pair’s workmanlike ride earned scores of 84, 85 and 84 from the three judges – Sue Ashe, Leo Conroy and Mindy Darst.

When the group returned for the under saddle phase of the competition, it was Ashley Pryde’s other chestnut horse Pringle, this time with Amber Henter riding, who earned the blue ribbon.

As the first to show among the younger Small section, Cruise and Hasbrouck Donovan riding for Jessica Singer, laid down a handy trip that could not be topped. The duo earned first place and then third when Cruise pointed his toes under saddle. Also showing well in this group was the team of Illusion (Oscany Inc., owner) and Olivia Esse who earned second place ribbons in the handy and hack.

In the older Large section, the couple of Superman and Hannah Goodson-Cutt were super indeed, winning both the handy and under saddle phases. The well-matched pair were the only team to win both of their Tuesday classes and as a result carried over the highest first day total to Wednesday morning’s competition. In the younger age group of the Larges, Donovan rode her second mount, Laura Wasserman’s Overseas, to a blue ribbon in the handy and third in the under saddle. Ashlyn Matheus aboard her brilliant Einstein was second in the handy and fifth under saddle.

Bright and early Wednesday morning riders were invited back onto the grass to turn in their classic trip, which counted for 40% of their overall score and would determine the champions. The Large older section started the day. The twelfth to go in the order, Henter aboard Victory Road (Ashley Pryde, owner), won the class. Second place, as well as Reserve Champion in the division, was awarded to Stephanie Danhakl’s After Five with Cayla Richards in the irons. With a fifth place finish in the classic plus the two blue ribbons from Tuesday, the tri-color in the older Large section was awarded to a stellar Superman and Goodson-Cutt.

The younger group of the Larges rode next. Fabricio (Katie Kelso, owner) and Morgan Geller turned in a fabulous ride for the win. The team’s final total also proved good enough for Reserve Champion honors in the division. Matheus and Einstein placed second in the class and combined with Tuesday’s winnings earned them the section championship.

Topping the classic round for the older Small section was again Goodson-Cutt, this time on her other mount, Caretano. The duo effortlessly maneuvered the track to earn some of the highest scores of the day – 88, 90 and 88 – therefore clinching first prize as well as securing Reserve Champion in the section. Second to Caretano in the classic round, Wesley and Adams exited the ring with great scores in the mid-eighties; keeping the team’s overall adjusted total in contention for a grand prize.

 In the younger Small section it was the dappled grey Cruise and his partner Donovan, who coasted to the top prize as well as the division Championship. Just barely scoring below Cruise in both the classic round and division, Illusion and Esse left the grass with a second place ribbon and an overall total that proved high enough for the Reserve Championship.

Once the scores and percentages from the two days were calculated, the title of overall Grand Champion was awarded to Superman and his aviatrix, Goodson-Cutt with a total of 251. Outdone by only the narrowest of margins, Grand Reserve Champion honors went to Wesley and Adams whose two-day score totaled 250.8.

Congratulations to the best in the west, Superman and Hannah Goodson-Cutt, as well as to all riders, horses, trainers and parents for a successful 2010 season.


Overall Grand Champion Hunter
Superman and Hannah Goodson-Cutt
Huntover Farm Perpetual Trophy
Overall Champion Small Jr Hunter 15 & Under
Cruise and Hasbrouck Donovan
Escort Me In Perpetual Trophy
Overall Champion Large Jr Hunter 15 & Under
Einstein and Ashlyn Matheus
River Edge Farm Perpetual Trophy
Overall Champion Small Jr Hunter 16-17
Wesley and Taylor Ann Adams
Magic Word Perpetual Trophy
Overall Champion Large Jr Hunter 16-17
Superman and Hannah Goodson-Cutt

Highlights From The Summer and Fall Blenheim EquiSports Show

Summer Into Fall
Blenheim EquiSports hosted a month plus of shows to wrap up a very busy southern California season. Beginning at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano for two weeks in August, down to Showpark in Del Mar for two weeks and with one week off returning to San Juan Capistrano in September. From IHF classes to USHJA Hunter Derbies and Young Jumper Championships to World Cup Qualifiers as well as the start of end of the year excitement with finals for Junior Hunters and Equitation riders, it was a jam-packed month of equestrian excellence.

The final fanfare will be in Vegas at the Las Vegas National, November 3-7. With a schedule for both hunters and jumpers, the Blenheim Team along with the South Point added a list of new perks for both competitor and spectator to savor.
As we think about the end of summer and head into fall – another year is flying by – we welcome you to August with Blenheim EquiSports. Once again several hundred horses, riders, owners and trainers enjoyed picture perfect weather and fabulous footing. So read on to enjoy the highlights of the summer season.

August 14, 2010: Blenheim Summer Classic I: $25,000 Summer Classic Grand Prix

Thirty-five horse and rider combinations galloped onto the International Field to compete in the $25,000 Summer Classic Grand Prix during the first week of showing of the Blenheim Summer Classic Series. With twelve horses returning to the grass for the jump-off, the last to go proved to be best, Mexico’s Otavio Penedo and his partner Don Arturo Equisearch. The pair went fast and clean to clinch the win.

Patrick Rhodes designed a flowing course with several technical elements for a total of 16 efforts in a generous time allowed of 92 seconds. “It was a good field. Maybe a few too many clean, but overall I was happy,” commented Rhodes.

John Perez aboard Daniel Rihan’s Abel was the first go clean. The next two competitors were also fault-free, Joie Gatlin on Camaron Hills Quick Dollar (Camaron Hills Farm, owner), one of only two women in the jump-off, and Eduardo Sanchez Navarro on his own Virgo.

The clean rounds kept coming from the Mexican riders. Tenth in the ring, Francisco Pasquel riding his own Calavda Z, advanced to the second round. With a total of four rides for the afternoon, Perez also qualified his own Utopia as well as Daniel Rihan’s Twister for the jump-off. Galloping onto the grass sixteenth, Juan Jose Bancalari and Villeneve (7) made it seven. Sanchez Navarro and Centinaio 2, Rodrigo Lambre riding Carpaccio and Eduardo Menezes aboard Percynality Mercedes Benz, all posted clean rides. The other female representative in the jump-off was 17-year-old Californian Jocelyn Neff, competing in her first grand prix on Gaga 20 (Donna Neff, owner).

Only four of twelve riders managed double clear rounds. With the advantage of watching eleven of his fellow competitors precede him in the second round, Penedo knew what he and his 10-year-old mount had to do for the win. “I had to take all of the risks and it paid off.” The winning duo navigated the jump-off track in a time of 36.41, almost two seconds faster than the previous leading time, to secure the top prize.