Celebrating With Robert Ridland

By Jackie McFarland

Having the opportunity to speak with the Rolex FEI World Cup Manager of Show Jumping, Robert Ridland, who also happens to be the President of Blenheim EquiSports, both before and after the event was a profound experience.

First let it be said that when Robert Ridland has a job to do, whether that job involves his family, his horse business or the business of our sport, he is completely focused on the task(s) at hand. Getting his attention pre-event was next to impossible, which is commendable for those he is working for – the horses and riders coming to the World Cup. His unwavering goal is to make this event the best it can possibly be for show jumpers worldwide. When asked what he does to help horses and riders settle in once arriving in Vegas, his answer was simply “Everything!”

We did have a celebratory conversation on a day post the final West Coast World Cup qualifier in late March and pre the World Cup Final in mid-April. “This day is unprecedented,” he exclaimed. “What just happened is the most amazing demonstration of sportsmanship I’ve ever witnessed.” The happening he referred to was when both the fourth and fifth ranked World Cup West Coast League riders stepped aside to allow the sixth-ranked rider to compete in the World Cup Finals this year. Gold Medal Olympian Will Simpson (ranked 4th) and previous World Cup competitor Jill Humphrey (ranked 5th) voluntarily stepped aside to allow Rich Fellers (ranked 6th) to be the fourth rider from the West Coast. Since the FEI World Cup is not a team competition, hats off to Will and Jill for acting as team players in an instance where it is not required or even expected. “It leaves us with a good feeling,” Ridland commented.

Ridland was also excited about the West Coast riders who earned spots to compete in Las Vegas – Mandy Porter, Ashlee Bond, Richard Spooner and as mentioned Rich Fellers. Although not the top finishers this year, “Our riders made us all proud,” said Ridland. “They were well-prepared and confident.”

Regarding the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Final, the consensus from rider, attendee, press and management was overwhelmingly positive, although bittersweet, knowing the event would not return in 2011. A bit spoiled after having the World Cup Final come to the states, namely to Las Vegas, five times in the last nine years, everyone was wondering – would the World Cup return to the US? To Las Vegas? If so, when? Ridland had the answer and shared it with the press, who in turn get to spread the good word.

Once the three top riders in the world, Champion Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), second by only two seconds and no faults McLain Ward (USA) and third by just over 4 seconds and no faults Albert Zoer (NED), had been questioned and congratulated at the press conference on Sunday, the parting comment regarding having the event return to Vegas was “this production is on par if not above any other show in the world.” At this point Sven Holmberg, FEI Vice President, stood at the podium and expressed disappointment that Las Vegas Events withdrew their bid for the 2011 and 2013 events. He then introduced Robert Ridland. After ten years of participation, Ridland took the time to honor some of the many names that made this phenomenal event possible year after year, including John Quirk, Bob Maxey, Shawn Davis, Tim Keener and Pat Christensen, among others. He then stated that Blenheim EquiSports, with the full support of Las Vegas Events, would be making a bid to bring the FEI World Cup Finals back to Las Vegas in 2014. “This team, this event is too good to give up,” he said. In response to this announcement Holmberg replied with a smile that the 2014 bid would be “very well received.”

After the amazing competition we were lucky enough to see this year – literally history in the making and potentially never to be repeated. Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum wins her third World Cup Final, the second one she’s garnered in Vegas, and as she so aptly stated “I think this was a great event – it was very, very close. This was the hardest win I’ve ever had. McLain made it difficult, he left no room for error. It was also my most perfect win – winning all three days on a once in a lifetime horse doing this at age 16.”

Think positive, go ahead and mark the dates in your calendars. In just five short years, the FEI World Cup Finals will once again return to Las Vegas. Now that is reason to celebrate.

Blenheim Spring Series Highlights

Blenheim Spring Classic III

Congratulations go to Michelle Parker and Socrates on their win in the $35,000 Spring Classic III Grand Prix, the only pair to prevail over the Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) indoor course on Friday, April 10th. The team maneuvered their way through what turned out to be a crash course for many a horse and rider. Challenging elements included but were not limited to jump two, a large EquiFit, inc. plank oxer at an angle towards the audience, the triple combination mid-way through the course, number nine the plank vertical that came up quickly and was placed right by the gate as well as a wide oxer at fence eleven.

The almost clean four-faulters were among the top ribbons, fastest was Ali Nilforushan on his new mount Green Sleeps Vioco who took second, followed by Suncal’s King and Joie Gatlin. Kasey Ament rode well on Siendifie ending up with four and fourth. And so on, with the tenth place Santika and sixteen year old Samantha Harrison having twelve faults. Simply getting around the course was a feat, as six of twenty-one entries did not make it through to the final jump.

One rider had a fall with only the last line left to go. Her horse decided he hadn’t jumped enough, so he schooled himself, galloping around and gleefully leaping over not just one vertical, but over some rather tall bushes, back over the vertical, and around to the two-stride combination, tossing his head at those who attempted to catch him and avoiding those who wisely tried to keep him from jumping out of the show arena.

A real crowd-pleaser, as all who watched in amazement laughed out loud at the antics. Several minutes later all was well, the rider was unharmed, her horse was well-schooled and the show went on. Photos © Flying Horse Photography.

Blenheim World Cup Warm-Up

This week in Las Vegas four West Coast riders along with a California-based Australian will compete alongside forty or more top ranked international equestrians for the world title and some big time prize money. Recognizing these individuals for achieving the honor of qualifying, as well as horse/rider combinations who have earned more than 25 World Cup points in the U.S. West Coast League during the 2008/2009 season, each rider has the chance to practice over a non-judged, simulated course in front of a live audience before they head to the Finals.

Prior to the start of the $35,000 Spring Classic III Grand Prix, the riders were given three minutes to jump, and re-jump if they so choose, all or part of the indoor course set at a “soft height” (1.50m). Four horses and three riders participated in the exhibition – Ashlee Bond rode both Chivas Z and Cadett 7, Ali Nilforushan took Warco Van De Holhoeve and young New Zealand rider Anna Trent, in the US to compete at the World Cup Final, tested her indoor skills on Levitation. Few rails fell, so it appeared to be a positive school for these four horses as they head to Las Vegas. Best of luck!

Blenheim Spring Classic II: No Such Thing as Can’t for Cantano!

 Flashback to the 2008 show season where a beautiful bay stallion ridden by a veteran show jumping great made an outstanding debut in the Grand Prix field. Win after win this pair proved their prowess throughout the season. Welcome back to the winners circle Susie Hutchison and Cantano, owned by El Dorado 29, who were picture perfect in the $35,000 Spring Classic II Grand Prix on Saturday, April 4th.

Ninth in the ring and first to go clean, Susie and Cantano set the stage for a five horse jump-off. The track proved to be just tough enough for numerous four-fault rides, including a tricky triple combination line that resulted in a bit more than a rail for some riders in a class of twenty-five.

As with the first round, so it was with the jump-off – Susie and Cantano took the lead going clean in 41.15. Next in Chris Pratt aboard Indigo Farms G5 took a shot at the lead, clean in 42.68, which ultimately was good enough for third place. Erin Duffy had a great time on Cavalier Knight, owned by Wendy Wilkinson, but also had one rail down, landing them in fifth overall. Max Dolger rode his own Vulkan Du Martalet CH neat and clean in 48.86, leaving just Eddie Macken and Tedechine Sept, owned by Robinson-Ballantine. Out for the win, the pair came very close, crossing the timers in 41.34, just under two-tenths of a second slower than the winning time. Photo © Flying Horse Photography.

Blenheim Spring Tournament: San Diego Heading to Las Vegas…

Kicking-off the 2009 Blenheim EquiSports horse show season, the $50,000 Orange County Register Grand Prix on Saturday, March 28th was the final of eleven World Cup qualifying classes held on the West Coast. Out of fifteen entries, three riders finished fault-free. Mandy Porter rode San Diego, owned by Danielle Korsh, to the win in an exciting race-to-the-finish jump-off. Tough to beat, Canadian rider John Pearce aboard Chianto went fast and clean in 37.59. Although also fast, 37.91, Richard Spooner and his mount Cristallo had a rail down for four faults. Porter atop San Diego beat the boys cruising around clean and fastest of all in 35.51. The victory confirmed Porter’s top position on the World Cup rider list.

When asked about the difficulty of the Grand Prix course created by Canadian Peter Holmes, Porter said, “The course gave us good prep for the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas. I think it sends us [riders] away on a positive note.” Photo © Flying Horse Photography.

Four Riders and an Australian

As many of you know, based on points earned over the 2008/2009 World Cup qualifying season, the top three riders (not horse/rider combinations) are invited to compete at the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Finals, held in Las Vegas, NV. The results of a truly exciting season placed three fabulous US riders in those spots, Mandy Porter, Ashlee Bond and Richard Spooner. Two international veterans and one rising star make up a very viable threesome representing the West Coast. Mandy will ride San Diego whom she has taken from the junior jumper arena into the indoor World Cup arena with grace and beauty. To be commended, as the pair just started together as the season began last fall. Ashlee will be aboard her relatively new mount, Cadett 7. The team did well last summer in outdoor venues such as the international field at Spruce Meadows, but were unproven indoors. Two wins and many solid placings later, they earned a well-deserved spot on the list. With a solid string to choose from, Richard is planning to take Cristallo and Ace and determine which will be his World Cup mount once in Las Vegas.

Next in line to compete would be the fourth in the point standings, and if they decline, the fifth, and potentially the sixth if the fifth in line choses not to compete. Unprecedented events occurred this year, as Gold Medal Olympian Will Simpson (ranked 4th) and previous World Cup competitor Jill Humphrey (ranked 5th) voluntarily stepped aside to allow Rich Fellers (ranked 6th) to be the fourth rider from the West Coast. Truly sportsmanlike as this is not a team competition, hats off to Will and Jill. And what a coup for the West Coast as the 2008 World Cup Final second place finisher, Rich on the phenomenal Flexible step up to participate in 2009.

Lest we forget our foreign riders who make California their home away from home, Harley Brown piloted the talented Cassiato to wins and top ribbons throughout the season, resulting in enough points to represent Australia in Las Vegas this World Cup.

More on all these riders in our World Cup Preview in this edition – click here.

Equitation & Hunter Highlights

Special events earlier in the Blenheim Spring Series included other disciplines – on Friday night of the Blenheim Spring Tournament professional Marla Amormino riding Guns ‘N Roses, owned by Oscany Inc., won the Open Equitation Classic A class for professionals, juniors and amateurs. A variety of talented riders competed including trainers Peter Lombardo and Hap Hansen as well as junior riders Taylor Harris and Theo Boris.

Five teams rode in triplicate during the Blenheim Spring Classic II in the first Hunt Teams class on the west coast in many years. Erin Duffy’s team of three went home with the blue. Never dull, we hope this class comes back next year!

The west coast’s third $10,000 ASG Software Solutions USHJA International Hunter Derby of 2009 illustrated yet again that when challenged our hunters can rise above. With each Derby our riders and horses are faced with new questions. If they have trouble ‘answering’ them, you can be certain this class offers some great schooling at the least.

The main trouble spot on the Scott Starnes course turned out to be the natural verticals set between the grand prix field and the hunter field. Not something these 24 show horses are asked, or trained, to do – jump out of the arena! And with another vertical in sight two or three strides away. Caught many a horse and rider off guard. A handful of hunters answered the questions asked with style and came back in Round 2 with more pizzazz. With plenty of room to gallop boldly and show handiness over a trot jump and a natural vertical-to-vertical bounce, a few moved up with measurable bonus points awarded for their handy efforts. As always a great class to watch and we take our hard hats off to those who hunted around in true derby fashion. Photo © Flying Horse Photography.

Highlights From HITS Desert Circuit Highlights

WHAT’S HOT

This weekend marked the second to last World Cup qualifier for the 2009 season.  As expected, the winners of the last four qualifiers at the HITS Desert Circuit created a shift in the rankings, so this weekend’s class played a role in determining who will be heading to the final qualifier at the end of March as well as who might be competing in Vegas at the 2009 Rolex FEI World Cup Finals.

This is how the $50,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan, unfolded on Saturday night…

Initially the Guilherme Jorge (BRAZIL) course looked tough as the first two riders, including the west coast league leader Harley Brown (AUS), both circled before the final bending line. Next in the ring Week V’s outdoor $25,000 HITS Grand Prix winner John McConnell on Carolina went clean well within the time allowed. Four fault free rides followed, including this week’s indoor $25,000 HITS Grand Prix winner Rich Fellers on the fabulous Flexible, Katherine Bardis riding Mademoiselle, the unbeatable Ashlee Bond and Cadett 7, Helen McNaught aboard Caballo, all in a row sixth through ninth in the order. Fence seven, the liverpool across the diagonal, caused a four fault distraction for quite a few. However, Richard Spooner piloted his new mount Lou Bega beautifully around the course, Mandy Porter and San Diego were flawless and Lane Clarke rode Kiss the Sky to a clean round, resulting in an ideal eight of 28 starters heading to the jump off.

McConnell set the pace clean in 39.03. In Flexible fashion, Fellers, also clean, shaved more than four seconds off that time stopping the clock at 34.89. Unbeatable? Bardis tried but had a rail in 36.26.  In gallops Bond.  Clean in 34.78 – .11 seconds faster than Fellers. The crowd went crazy, unbelievable!

McNaught and Spooner gave it a go, both clean but not fast enough in 36.94 and 35.09, finishing fifth and third. Porter was blazing fast in 33.55, with an unfortunate two rails dropping her to eighth. Clarke gave it a good shot, ending up fourth, clean in 35.12. A fantastic class.

Place Horse Rider Owner
1 Cadett 7 Ashlee Bond Little Valley Farm
2 Flexible Rich Fellers Harry & Mollie Chapman
3 Lou Bega Richard Spooner Leone Equestrians, Inc.
4 Kiss The Sky Lane Clarke Horsemanship Unlimited
5 Caballo Helen McNaught Helen McNaught
6 Carolina John McConnell Klein Ranch
7 Mademoiselle Katherine Bardis C & S Partnership LLC
8 San Diego Mandy Porter Danielle Korsh
9 Ace Richard Spooner S & B, LLC
10 Black Ice Jill Henselwood Juniper Farms
11 Archie Bunker Will Simpson Linda I. Smith
12 Kaskaya Jill Humphrey Leone Equestrians, Inc.

The $50,000 Orange County Register CSI-W Grand Prix (final 2009 FEI World Cup Qualifier) in San Juan Capistrano will be a very important class to those who still wish to shake up the top of that order.

LATE BREAKING NEWS: SPECIAL INVITATIONAL GRAND PRIX

During the upcoming series of spring shows hosted by Blenheim EquiSports there will be two important indoor Grand Prix opportunities. One is of course the final World Cup Qualifier on Saturday, March 28th and the other is the $35,000 Spring Classic III Grand Prix on Friday, April 10th.

For this Grand Prix, the Blenheim management team would like to offer an invitation to all riders who have qualified to compete at either the 2009 World Cup Finals or the 2009 Las Vegas Grand Prix to ride in the indoor arena Friday night for free. Not only would Blenheim like to recognize these individuals for achieving the honor of qualifying for Vegas this April, but they would also like to give them a chance to practice over a simulated course in front of a live audience before they head to the Finals. The riders will be allowed to jump all or part of the indoor course set at a “soft height” (1.40m – 1.45m) just prior to the start of the actual class. This will be a non-judged exhibition performance that will be limited to horse/rider combinations having earned more than 25 World Cup points in the U.S. West Coast League during the 2008/2009 season. For more information contact Show Manager Stephanie Wheeler at (949) 443-1841 or showpark@aol.com.

WHAT’S HAPPENED: DC WEEKS IV & V 

Ashlee Bond was the rising starlet of the week – winning both the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix AND the $50,000 FEI World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix presented by Adequan against some of the best in the west over courses designed by European Aki Ylanne (Finland). The win on Saturday catapulted her above Gold Medalist Will Simpson and the 2008 World Cup 2nd place finisher Rich Fellers. Ashlee is hot, hot, hot!

There were plenty of important activities off the horse during Week IV, from a National Horse Show forum to a USEF Riders Meeting, culminating with a USEF Dinner & Fundraiser.

East Coasters Leo Conroy, John Madden and Mason Phelps came out to offer their appreciation to the west coast along with getting feedback from our professionals about the National Horse Show. Ideas for both hunters and jumpers were discussed and recommendations made. Another show jumping forum, hosted by the USEF, encouraged discussion on numerous important topics including new committees, 2010 WEG selection and choosing a successor for George Morris, US Show Jumping Coach. The indoor arena was host to yet another grand evening: during the Six Bar Open Jumper Class and Modified Jr/Am Jumper Classic, the USEF hosted wine and dinner, a live auction of exclusive USET memorabilia and a Calcutta for Saturday’s World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix. The evening’s events raised upwards of $30,000 for US Show Jumping High Performance Programs.

During Week V the show jumpers were back out on the Grand Prix field for what proved to be challenging courses from designer Florencio Hernandez (Mexico). Colorado equestrian John McConnell on Klein Ranch’s Carolina had the only clean round of 49 entries in the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix on Friday. Apparently the course was more difficult than it appeared, with three plank jumps, some big square oxers and the skinny jump as the trouble spots mixed with a tight time allowed.

Canadian Olympic rider Jill Henselwood on Juniper Farm’s Special Ed rode for the win in the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix on Sunday. Eleven went clean, four double-clear, with Henselwood’s 48.06 emerging as the fastest time. Fellow fast Canadian John Pearce as well as the master

of faster, Richard Spooner, tried but couldn’t beat Henselwood’s time, finishing second and third respectively.

Off the horse happenings included the Volleyball Tournament hosted by Joie Gatlin – Morley Abey Show Jumping and the WCAR Party. The weather was ideal for the inaugural beach volleyball event where a dozen teams played in the grand prix field. This year’s WCAR party was a casual affair, with dinner and dancing at the date plantation, Tierra del Fuego.

And the always-anticipated Tack Room Awards were presented last Sunday, with generous prizes donated by Home Depot, Antares Saddles, Der Dau Boots & Shoes and Flying Horse Photography. A panel of five judges awarded first through third in two categories: permanent and portable barns. In the permanent barns the winner was Waldenbrook, and the top honor in the portable stalls went to Sovereign Place. Congratulations!

EQSOL NEWS: WHAT’S IN THIS ISSUE

In this issue John French enlightens us in unexpected ways in Conversations with Equestrians. Eq Specs Excerpts presents a detailed description of the AHJF’s World Championship Hunter Rider Program. Erna Adelson speaks with Tamara Petersen of Showjumping Unplugged!TV and USHJA provides an update about their new and exciting program for Emerging Athletes from all levels.

WE’RE BACK WEEK VIII 

With the $150,000 Grand Prix of the Desert, the Ronnie W. Mutch Equitation Classic and another $10,000 USHJA Hunter Derby, the final week of the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit offers a high-end class for each discipline. A not-to-be-missed weekend for exhibitors and spectators alike.

 

Highlights 2008 ShowPark

Oaks Blenheim Red, White & Blue Grand Prix

Susie Hutch and El Dorado 29’s Cantano are hot, hot, hot! Topping the field in the $25,000 Red, White & Blue Grand Prix presented by St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, the $25,000 July Theme Grand Prix and this past weekend’s $25,000 Showpark Racing Festival makes for four victories in five Grand Prix starts. Very impressive.

For the Red, White & Blue Grand Prix, Michel Vaillancourt designed a course that suited the field well – inviting with technical challenges resulting in four clean rounds. Susie and Cantano led the way, followed by Keri Potter riding her horse Rockford I, Kristin Russell aboard Ashtin’s Obsession and then Keri again on the Dotson’s Caretano B. Just off the mark with a single time fault was Young Rider Paige Dotson on her own Friponnier II. Riding the course with flair, Paige is definitely ready for the NAJYRC later this month where she will represent Zone X on the ‘A’ Team (see the interview with Paige in our June 13th issue online).

Susie set the pace with a clean ride in 40.37. Kristin made a gallant effort, having the last fence down in a respectable 42.43. Keri chose to come back on only one of her two, Caretano B, almost catching Susie in a time of 40.52. 

Showpark July Theme Grand Prix

Twenty-one horses entered the $25,000 July Theme Grand Prix. With a mix of youngsters and veterans, the questions asked by the Michael Roy Curtis designed course gave the horses and riders enough tests that only three of 21 went clean. Veronica Tracy on her Muscadet de la Saveniere was first clean and with a fast time but four faults in the jump off, she left it open for the next two. The second in, Eva Gonda, rode El Campeon’s Conteros with precision but also had an unfortunate rail. This left Susie Hutch and Cantano a chance to be clean for the win.

Once again the dynamic duo of Susie and her handsome mount took the spotlight. “It’s nice to have Cantano back in the winner’s circle. He is a fast and clever horse. This win is a team effort and I again celebrate this victory with the Iversons and Sandy.” Congratulations!

Showpark Racing Festival

On a beautiful July day in Del Mar, Guillermo Diaz set a straight-forward course and added to the time allowed after the third horse in the ring, resulting in ten clean rounds. So it was a race to the finish with yet again Susie Hutch and Cantano taking top honors.

She explained her strategy: “I only watched Erin Duffy before I went. She added where I had planned to leave out strides and went clean. So I took the gamble leaving the strides out and it paid off.”

Michael Endicott on the young Santiago went clean and fast enough for the 3rd spot and Erin’s conservative clean ride placed her in 4th on Lionell. Ali Nilfourshan tried to catch the leading time riding Kilgrew’s Attraction, but had trouble at the last fence and ended up 5th. Leslie Steele on AW Butterfly Hula put the heat on and ended up a very close second, just 2/10 of a second behind Susie.

Conversations With Equestrians: Hannah Von Heidegger

By Laura Ware

This week, while we junior hunter riders were reduced to showing in the dirt arena at the far end of the horse show grounds, the pony kids took center stage, galloping around the open grass field that sits between the Grand Prix field and the food area. This was appropriate, however, as the Oaks Blenheim June Classic III was home to the Zone 10 Pony Hunter Finals.

Always a fun class to watch – those pony kids are so adorable and such amazing little riders – the Zone 10 Pony Finals is open to all pony/rider combinations, and has three phases: model, under saddle and over fences. Ribbons are awarded to twelfth place for each phase, along with a champion and reserve champion for each height section, and an overall champion and overall reserve champion.

This year’s overall and large pony champion was Hannah Von Heidegger on A Hoof and a Prayer. Along with A Hoof and a Prayer, Hannah, 11, rides several other ponies and horses, and was gracious enough to answer a few questions I had about this event.

Laura: How long have you been riding?
Hannah: I’ve been riding since I was three, and began showing in the short stirrup when I was six.

Laura: A Hoof and A Prayer is a large pony, how long have you been showing in the larges?
Hannah: I just started doing them at the beginning of this year.

Laura: Tell us a bit about your pony, A Hoof and a Prayer.
Hannah: I got A Hoof and a Prayer (his barn name is Happy) last fall, and started showing him this year. He is pretty smooth, has a long stride, likes long distances, and takes me to the jump a little bit. He’s a little different to ride than my other ponies because you have to keep more pace in the corners.

Laura: What is he best at doing?
Hannah: He’s best at jumping. He has a great jump!

Laura: Did you show any of your other ponies at Zone 10 Pony Finals? How did it go with them?
Hannah: I showed Simply Magical (in the mediums) as well as A Hoof and a Prayer. Simply Magical got an 86 in the model, and 86 in the hack, but in the jumping I got a score of 63. I had a little bit of a mishap. I moved up too much to the distance, and ended up chipping. So, on A Hoof and a Prayer, I tried to be a little more patient and visualized my course before I got on and imagined what it would look like in the ring.

Laura: That’s awesome that you were able to fix your mistakes and do so well on Happy! How are Simply Magical and A Hoof and a Prayer different?
Hannah:On Simply Magical you just have to stay steady through the whole course and can find the distance pretty easily. Simply Magical is also pretty slow, you have to make sure he doesn’t slow down too much in the corners, and that he doesn’t cross canter.
Laura: Do you have any strategies for modeling your ponies?
Hannah: I try to wait until the judge is a couple of horses away so my ponies don’t move when the judge is watching, and I make sure I have a cookie or mint in my hand to keep my ponies’ ears perked. Luckily, both my ponies are great modelers so they are not hard to model.

Laura: What do you think about riding on the grass?
Hannah: I like it! It’s different, because it is bigger, but it’s fun to be in such a big ring on a pony. You have to have more patience to ride on the big field, which makes it harder. Sometimes, if you’re impatient and try to chase down the jumps on the big field you end up chipping. They also had long bending lines in the courses, which I liked, because they tested your eye.

Laura: What are your riding goals for this year? The future?
Hannah: I’d really like to be champion on one of my ponies at Indoors this year. It would be great to be the first to win Zone 10 Pony Finals twice in a row. I would like to start in the junior hunters next year.

Thanks for your time, Hannah, congratulations, and good luck with your riding goals.

Laura Listens is brought to you by Laura Ware. Winner of the 2007 LAHSA Junior Medal Finals and a recipient of the 2008 WCAR Jumper Rider Grant, Laura rides with First Field Farm and often trains with Archie Cox. She is very successful in the all three disciplines on her own mounts as well as catch riding other horses.

Highlights 2008 Oaks Blenheim

Oaks Blenheim June Classic II Grand Prix:

Joie Gatlin rode Camaron Hills Shanroe to yet another victory in the $30,000 Oaks Blenheim June Classic II Grand Prix presented by Mary’s Tack & Feed. At the top of their game both indoors and out, this dynamic duo has collected quite a few wins and top placings this year. With only three of thirty-two starters making it to the jump-off, the course took its toll – a tight time allowed mixed with a few trouble spots including the triple bar at the top of the field and the vertical-vertical combination directly past the in-gate towards the end of the course.

In the jump-off, Peter Breakwell and Lucas left the door open for the next two riders with a tidy time and four faults. Joie shaved more than two seconds off Peter’s time, also with four faults. Along came Simon Nizri and Good Girl. With a practically flawless ride up to the last jump, this pair was a pleasure to watch as they cruised around the jump-off. Unfortunately the last jump was a heartbreaker, as he had the time but jumped the wrong obstacle and was called off course.

Oaks Blenheim June Classic III Grand Prix:

Helen McNaught and Caballo, owned by John Endicott, beat the heat and 26 other competitors to win the $30,000 Copa de Amistad (Friendship Cup) Grand Prix. With six clean, the Scott Starnes course presented a few challenges, including a rollback to a vertical from the hogsback, on to a bending line ending with an oxer-vertical combination. Technical questions asked along with a medium tight time and some unseasonably hot weather narrowed the field to six no-faulters. Second in proved best as McNaught piloted Caballo around with a solid 43.094 that the remaining four couldn’t beat. McNaught said, “I am so pleased! I’ve wanted to ride this horse for six years and finally got to prove what a star he is. This week, Caballo has been super in every class.”

More Zone X Excitement… Pony Finals!

Earlier this month Blenheim Equisports hosted the Trials for the Zone 10 NAJYRC Teams. Last week, the grass fields were covered in ponies as the top West Coast Small, Medium and Larges prepared for and competed in the Zone 10 Pony Finals. Congratulations to Hannah Von Heidegger on winning Grand Champion riding A Hoof and A Prayer and to Mitch Endicott and Buffalo Soldier on earning Reserve Grand Champion. Pony power!



Highlights Oaks Blenheim June 13, 2008

Oaks Blenheim June Classic I Grand Prix:

The Linda Allen course for last week’s $30,000 Oaks Classic Grand Prix was ‘tight’. With almost a third of the 31 riders garnering time faults and a handful struggling to fit in a snug seven strides to the last oxer after the water jump, it was aptly described by rider Guy Thomas as “technical and challenging yet not killer.”

Of the five that made the jump-off, four went clean and fast. Second-in proved best as Guy Thomas and Peterbilt stopped the clock at 43.094, edging out Susan Artes and Presto B by just over a second. The three other contenders – Kona with Francie Steinwedell-Carvin, Cassiato ridden by Harley Brown and last Peter Breakwell on Lucas – tried but didn’t succeed in catching those two top rides.

Thomas was proud of his homebred Peterbilt. “I’ve got a diamond in this horse,” he beamed. “He just keeps getting better and better.” The pair head to Spruce Meadows with his family’s Willow Tree Farm later this week for a month of shows in Calgary.

Young Riders Team (pictured top row, l-r): Karl Cook, Hannah Selleck, Haley Roberson, Paige Dotson, Sophie Benjamin (alt)
Junior Team (pictured bottom row, l-r): Lucy Davis, Alec Lawler, Savannah Carr, Annie Laurie Cook, Shelby Wakeman (alt)

Young Riders Selected:

The Zone 10 results are in for the North American Junior and Young Rider Teams. Bringing in their two top scores from the six trials, the competitors had a tough week of classes not only resulting in two solid teams but also preparing these riders for the upcoming FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships presented by CN. Heading to Colorado Horse Park in late July, Zone 10 will be defending their title from 2007 where both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ Teams won the gold.

The only competition of its kind, the NAJYRC invites riders ages 14-21 from the US, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Bermuda and the Caribbean Islands to test their skills under FEI rules.

Good luck to our Zone 10 teams.

$10,000 Hunter Derby:

2008 marks the year of the hunter derby and as we’ve learned, it’s only the beginning. True to derby regulations, the $10,000 Hunter Derby at Oaks Blenheim took place on the Grand Prix field filled with natural obstacles. John French held the lead in both rounds aboard Jenny Van Konyenburg’s Type Cast and also garnered second aboard Aura. Once again there was a variety of entrants – juniors, amateurs and professionals – where hunters as well as equitation horses had the chance to hunt derby style.