Highlights From The 2009 Memorial Day Classic

Memorial Day Classic

Exhibitors and spectators alike were treated to excellent competition and fabulous weather at the 2009 Memorial Day Classic.

Gaby Gallops to the Win!

In front of a sold out crowd at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, veteran rider and new mom Gaby Salick rode Gredo la Daviere to the top spot in the $25,000 Memorial Day Classic Grand Prix. Out of the 30 horse field, twelve horses jumped the Scott Starnes course clean and returned to the grass. Despite having to go early in the jump off, Salick and her mount proved to be the best. The pair finished ahead of Ray Texel and Waldman Doo in second and Nicole Shahinian-Simpson who took home third place honors aboard Toyster Gold.

Jenny K and Forbes Heading to Kentucky

Also a crowd pleaser, the ASG Software Solutions USHJA Hunter Derby drew a competitive field of horses with almost forty starting the first round. Watching horses and riders exit the ring and jump back in during the course, an enthusiastic audience cheered the hunters on from both the grandstands and the VIP tables on the LAEC Terrace.  Amongst the VIP were ASG and Charles Owen representatives, who enjoyed top competition and a lovely catered dinner.

Jenny Karazissis was able to pilot Forbes (Tonia Cook Looker, owner) to a solid first round trip which left the pair sitting fifth going into the Handy Round.  The top 20 competitors moved into this round, where bonus points are awarded for handiness.  Jenny and Forbes earned the highest score of that round and took the lead.  Ali Leopold improved her standing one place by piloting Neverland (Gina Groth, owner) to a solid performance in the Handy round to take second overall.

“With Rumba in the class I was resigned to second,” said Karazissis, but then fortunes changed and Rumba was out of the running.  “The next thing I knew we were holding on to first and Tonia was beside herself.  She has wanted to win a Derby since they started.”  Earning two seconds at HITS Thermal Derbies (Rumba won both), with this win Forbes has easily qualified for the Derby Finals and will be heading back to Kentucky later in the summer.  The owner shows the gelding in the Amateur Owner Hunters, but sat out at Memorial Day Classic to let Karazissis focus on the Derby.  “Tonia is so supportive of having a horse do the open classes,” added an appreciative Karazissis.

Yowee – Maui! 

Another professional happy with her victory was Kasey Ament.  She is headed to Maui in December as the professional member of the winning team in the Memorial Day Equitation Challenge. Larry Langer, President and CEO of Langer Equestrian Group started the Trainer Incentive awards in order to recognize the backbone of this sport.  “Trainers are not recognized enough for their hard work.  I remember taking 30 plus horses on the road,” explained Langer. “They deserve a vacation in Hawaii and some cash awards. ”  The other team members, junior Navona Gallegos and amateur Michelle Morris won cool cruiser beach bikes.


Offering a full spectrum of classes for all levels of horses and riders, a number of riders excelled at the Memorial Day Classic.  In the equitation, Rachel Thurman (Jim Hagman, trainer) proved that hard work and consistent riding yield excellent results.  Aboard her seven year old gelding Vermeer, Thurman won a very large Maclay class, the WCE, and earned third place finishes in both the USEF and CPHA Foundation classes.

Over in the jumper ring, Chelsea Curtis proved unbeatable.  She was show champion in both the Adult Amateur Jumpers and the Modified Jr/Am Jumpers with her Tadine (Nancy Prosser, trainer) and then continued her winning streak by winning the $1,000 Children’s/ Adult Amateur Jumper Classic.  “It was awesome and felt, really, really good,” said an exuberant Curtis.  “Our first two years together were difficult, and then we clicked.  I’ve been riding with Nancy since I was eleven and I trust her completely.  We just had to get Tadine to think that things we wanted were her own idea.”  When not in the saddle, Curtis is pursing acting at a local college.

Bowling for CPHA

Strike! Every year George Chatigny, CEO of Los Angeles Equestrian Center, organizes the CPHA Foundation Bowling Benefit during the Memorial Day Classic.  “The Benefit has turned into a fun night for everyone at the bowling alley with beer, pizzas, and snacks.  It is also a great fundraiser and in a couple of hours we raise some much appreciated funds for the CPHA Foundation,” explained Chatigny.  Chris Norden of Norden Equine (affiliated with Markel Insurance) fielded a team for the first time and they had a ball (pun intended).  “I last bowled when I was ten,” laughed Norden “but this was fun.  What a great idea and we will definitely be back next year.”

However, it was the Marlay Farms team that took top honors this year, upsetting previous years’ champions the Bowled Tendons and the LEG Up Bowlers, who finished second and third respectively. The funds raised help support the CPHA Foundation’s worthy programs of aiding professionals in times of need and providing higher education opportunities through scholarships and grants.

LEG Schedule
  Langer Equestrian Group is staying busy coordinating horse shows in four different locations. Our flagship operation here at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center hosts a handful of top events annually.

Northern California riders are enjoying the seven shows at the Horse Park at Woodside. The facility continues to improve and the property with miles of trails and a cross-country course is breathtakingly beautiful.

The Hansen Dam Equestrian Center is under new ownership and management, and LEG is pleased to present the Verdugo Hills Series, five USEF ‘B’ and ‘C’ rated shows. Although held over one weekend, they actually count as two one-day shows, allowing riders and trainers to economize at a quality location. The USEF ‘A’ rated Hansen Dam Fall will be our feature show of the year. Don’t overlook this great local competition option. Verdugo Hills 4 is coming up quick, May 30-31. Stalls are available for both overnight and day use.

The Beauty of Colorado is calling
  Looking for a vacation spot to horse show? Can’t beat the beauty of Colorado. With four weeks of horse shows you can compete, beat the heat and bring the family.  The Colorado Summer Circuit kicks off with the Colorado Circuit Preview (June 25-28) and many special classes and events are featured throughout the four week circuit.  

This year LEG expanded its successful Colorado spring shows from two weeks to three weeks, and the response from competitors was resoundingly positive. LEG manages a total of nine weeks of shows at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado.

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.

EquestriSol News: May 9, 2008

Available now in Hunter Jumper Magazine, with Pegasus client Catherine Tracy & Ghostrider on the cover, are new ads for Bay Rose and Fremont Hills and don’t miss Blue Ribbon Law, your equine law connection.

Upcoming ads include a nice series for Waldenbrook Farm as well as for Pegasus Show Stable in Show Biz Magazine. We just submitted ads for the Menlo Charity Horse Show Program, one of our top West Coast boutique shows. Look for these generous sponsors: Blue Ribbon Law, Round Meadow Farm, Pegasus Show Stable, Bay Rose and Joie Gatlin – Morley Abey Show Jumping.

And congratulations to Joie Gatlin, Kasey Ament, Laura Teodori and Mike Endicott all featured in this issue.

Good luck to the WCAR Spruce Team contenders! And it was great seeing everyone at the ROCK STAR Party at the Endicotts.

Don’t forget MOM’S DAY – the new moms at EquestriSol now have a much better understanding why moms deserve a day to be recognized. So give mom a hug and be nice to her, at least this Sunday!

EquestriSol is excited to announce the launch of two new web siteswww.karenhealeystables.com and www.lasallefarms.com.

We are working on many more exciting projects – including our own logo (did you notice it has changed?) and web site. We love to hear from you, so keep giving us your feedback. Our next EquestriSol newsletter is in the works for Memorial Day and during the June series at Oaks Blenheim. Summer is around the corner. Wow.

What can we do for you?