A Stable Story: Santana Stables

By Tammy Chipko

Santana Stables, situated in the Mexican city of Puebla, has chosen southern California as its home for the summer. I spoke with the owners, Paulo and Jennifer Santana, about their location, sale horses and summer plans.

Crocodile Z is an 8 year old Grand Prix prospect from Santana Stables.

Santana Stables is located in the lovely community of HARAS in Puebla, about 60 miles southeast of Mexico City. Surrounded by volcanoes and snow-capped mountains, Puebla is an important industrial, cultural and educational center of Mexico and one of the oldest colonial cities in the continent.

Known in California by her maiden name Preletz, Jennifer rides as an amateur. Now married and handling the sales aspect of their business, she explains that they live and work on one of the 50 beautiful farms in this community. Each farm shares the International Facility that includes, among other amenities, a Grand Prix Field and miles of green hills for galloping and conditioning. A medical hospital and an additional competition site are in the future plans. Their location provides a unique environment for keeping competition horses fit and happy.

Paulo Santana, originally from Brazil, started his professional career developing young riders and horses. He has successfully competed at the International level and continues to compete in Mexico, Europe, and the United States. At the request of a family whose son had Olympic aspirations, Paulo came to Mexico from Brazil in 2003 as the young man’s private trainer. In 2005 he opened his own business in Puebla training a small group of clients
and developing a select group of young horses.

Paulo characterizes his training method as the “natural” approach. Jennifer feels that he has a special talent for developing young horses. Patience is at the core of his technique and this calmness carries over to his horses and riders. His success spans from starting young riders as well as young horses in the 1.10m classes all the way to the Grand Prix show jumping level. Paulo explains that he prefers to keep a small group of horses and riders, so he can carefully tailor his step-by-step program for each individual’s needs.

“My approach is the same with sale horses. I don’t like to have more than six or seven sale horses at a time,” adds Paulo. “We typically keep a horse for a year or more prior to selling it. Each horse is given personal attention and goals are set individually. We represent young horses, amateur horses, and Grand Prix prospects and have a great track record of selling quality horses. That is most important to me!”

Competing in the young horse classes, 1.40-1.45m, as well as in a number of Grand Prix, this year’s select group of six sale horses and a couple of Paulo’s students will be in southern California this summer. The group’s plans include competing at Oaks Blenheim and Showpark during the June, July and August “A” rated shows.

As we welcome Jennifer, Paulo, their students and horses to sunny SoCal, we hope to have rtunity to visit their facility and competitions in Mexico in the future. See a great video clip from Mexico produced by Showjumping Unplugged!TV on www.santanastables.com.

Santana Stables contact information:

Jennifer                      Paulo
(310) 486-5345         (310) 925-2369


Highlights From Oaks Blenheim March 2008

Photo © Vinton Karrasch

We start off our Spring Series with a bang, as we host the final West Coast Qualifier for the World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden as well as two North American Young Rider Trials. During our Spring Classic I and June Classic II shows we will host the newly created USHJA International Hunter Challenge Derby.

In addition, and back by popular demand, we will once again present the Open Equitation Classic at the Spring Classic III Horse Show, to be followed the next evening by the exhibitor party and the Grand Prix. But what might be the most interesting event of the entire year will take place on the main Grand Prix field immediately following the Spring Classic II Grand Prix, the “You Thought You’d Never Ride Again” Professional Challenge.

This might be your one and only chance to root on some legendary trainers as they hark back to their youth in a two-round jumper/equitation competition!

Our horse shows are divided into three categories. Tournaments will offer Grand Prix events of $50,000 or more in prize money and “AA” rated hunters. Classics will offer grand prix events with prize money between $25,000 and $35,000 and “AA” rated hunters.
Festivals will feature jumper classics and “A” rated hunters.

In addition, our website showpark.com will continue to provide class start times and next day’s orders. Be sure to register your e-mail online so that we can send you our newsletter.

We are working diligently to exceed your expectations as we plan another exciting and challenging year of competitions. Enjoy the Oaks Blenheim Newsletter. We look forward to seeing you in 2008.

Best Regards,

The Blenheim EquiSports Team

EquestriSol News: December 24, 2007

Waldenbrook Farm had another fantastic year, illustrated by their ad campaign and web site. We welcome both Karen Healey Stables & Acres West – look for their ads in your favorite magazines and a new web site for KHS is in the works. We’re excited about the new IPPOS ad campaign and also welcome Hey & Hey Attorneys at Law who will have a new ad campaign in 2008.

Emerald Glenn – An Equestrian Community is developing literally and virtually. They are clearing the area for the new equestrian center and taking lot reservations. Next phase coming during winter 2008.

Developing a great relationship with Oaks-Blenheim via our newsletter at their shows, we are proud to continue the newsletter and more in 2008. From ads to web and various projects in-between, we are looking forward to working with the Blenheim Equisports management team. Speaking of EquestriSol Newsletters – we are the exclusive newsletter at HITS-Thermal and plan to hit AZ as well.

We are also proud of our affiliation with this group, we truly believe they are going to make this Thermal a circuit to remember. Although there is a lot of buzz about what’s happening out there, it is due to the investments of numerous show managers over the last few decades (or so) that has given the west coast a chance to host better horse shows, develop stronger riders and aim to be competitive nationally and internationally. Yes, the horses and riders who attend these shows deserve the best and we envision this year to be one where exhibitors and managers come together.

Conversations With Equestrians: Melanie Smith, Geoff Teall, Louise Serio

The USHJA Trainers Symposium was held on September 10-11, 2007 at the Oaks Blenheim Facility in San Juan Capistrano, CA. It was a rare opportunity to participate in practical training sessions and round table discussion with three top professionals: Melanie Smith, Geoff Teall and Louise Serio.

Geoff Teall works with Lorri Bein Quiett

I was able to spend a little time with these remarkable professionals and get some solid feedback on their thoughts about this Symposium.

Tammy: What did you think of the format of the Trainers Symposium?

Melanie: This is my first time doing this and I was impressed by the format and the turnout. With 3-4 riders as demonstrators, I think the spectators were able to see different situations within a small group. I liked the openness

of the spectators–they asked a lot of good questions and their input was quite valuable.

Louise: I enjoyed doing it a great deal. I thought everything and everyone was very well prepared and well organized.

Tammy: Would you like to see anything different in future TS?

Geoff: I think the concept is great. I personally would like to see a longer session (three days). I would also like to see very specific groups of three. I think it would be a great idea to take the same groups of horses and riders and have them do a session with each professional. This would give the future trainers and coaches an opportunity to see cross training. I think nowadays we are too specialized, meaning that a trainer is either a hunter trainer, an equitation trainer, or a jumper trainer. A good trainer/coach is a good horseman who can do all.

Tammy: What do you think about TS as a pre-requisite for future trainer certification requirements?
Melanie: I think it is a great idea. Becoming better educated in the sport is imperative to the growth and success of show jumping.
Geoff: I agree. The importance of consistency and continuity that is expressed within this setting is extremely educational. The communication between the spectators, demonstrators, and clinicians was great. The information that you get from Training sessions, and Judges’ clinics works like a funnel and if you can continue
feeding good material through that funnel, we will have more educated professionals and riders.
Louise: I think everyone can attend. As a clinician or an auditor there is so much valuable information to learn.

Tammy: Was there a reason you chose the exercises you did?
Melanie: I do the same exercises at home. I believe in consistency both for horse and rider. This will always encourage confidence and trust. I spent years with George Morris and Gordon Wright who always said the same thing: “Keep it simple.”
Louise: I think I surprised people with setting bounces and gymnastic exercises for the hunter groups. All horses and riders can benefit from these types of exercises. I spend a lot of time with my hunters cantering small jumps in a circle. It helps with balance, rhythm, timing, etc. A hunter, just like any other horse, needs to do more than straight lines.

Tammy: Is there an area that you’d like to see Trainers/Coaches and riders improve on?
Geoff: I think one of our biggest downfalls is that we are teaching people to show and not necessarily ride. We show too much! It is the responsibility of the professional to have a plan and decide how much each rider and horse should show. Doing less will promote a happier and more successful horse and rider.
Melanie: I think that there is a lack of true horsemanship. We as a whole don’t realize how important every moment (not just on the horse’s back) truly is. Every little thing helps to develop a connection and a bond
with a horse. My generation grew up with horses–they were our buddies–we did everything with them. I agree with Geoff. I think we put too much emphasis on horse shows and end up missing out on the true enjoyment of the horse.
Louise: I cannot agree more, we should show less! Practice more at home and give our horses a better life.

Natalie Lund, Mickie Sage and Tasha Visokay (l-r) at the USHJA Trainers Symposium

Tammy: Is there anything specific that you think our Trainers and Coaches excel in?
Louise: I think this country has really good teachers. I’ve seen teachers take riders with a medium amount of talent and teach them to be excellent riders. I think the teaching system continues to get better with opportunities like the Trainers Symposium.

Tammy: Any recommendations for current and future Trainers/Coaches?
Melanie: I think we need to focus on producing great riders. This should be our goal. We need to work on our mental game. We need to encourage people and horses to think on their own. It all starts with the mind and if we have a mental edge we will be far more successful.

Thanks again to Melanie Smith, Geoff Teall and Louise Serio for taking the time to speak with us. Look for an article on the USHJA Trainers Symposium in the upcoming issue of In Stride.

Conversations With Equestrians: Ashlee Bond

By Tammy Chipko

Congratulations to Grand Prix rider Ashlee Bond and her mare Southern Girl for topping the field on Saturday, June 30th in the $25,000 Red, White, and Blue Grand Prix. And continued congrats to Ashlee for also placing 2nd on her horse Tommy Gun.

I had the chance to speak with Ashlee regarding her victory and her future plans.

Tammy Chipko: Please tell us a little bit about your Grand Prix horses.
Ashlee Bond: Princess, Southern Girl’s barn name, is an 11-year-old home bred mare – she was both bred and born at my house. In fact, so was Tommy who is now 9 years old. I have been with them literally since they were born and I think that gives me a leg up, at least in knowing and understanding them. I know all of their quirks, likes, and dislikes.

Princess is such a fighter, she has a heart of gold and will do anything for me! She is small but I don’t think she knows that. This was her first Grand Prix win and I am so proud of her. What a start!

Tommy has the same attitude as Princess. He has a big heart and is also really there for me. I have a tremendous bond with these horses – they trust me and I in turn trust them. When we are out there, we are truly a team. It’s a great feeling knowing we are in sync.

I couldn’t do this without a team effort – my mom and dad’s undying support and Nacho’s ability to take such fabulous care of the horses. My dad says that these are Nacho’s horses and he lets us ride them!

I am fortunate that horses are also a passion for my dad. Tommy was his horse and I am lucky to be able to ride and show him. I am hoping he will be my World Cup Horse.

TC: Speaking of the World Cup, what are your future plans?
AB: I would like to compete in the ’08 World Cup Finals. So starting this September I will compete in the World Cup qualifiers. The Olympic Trials are next year, of course I would love to go. What a great experience that would be to compete in the Olympics on a horse we bred and raised. Tommy would give me his all and knowing how talented he is, it would be great to have the chance to represent the US on him. So ultimately the Olympics and the World Cup Finals, but I am taking it one day at a time.

TC: You have returned to the sport after being away for a while, what is it like to be back at this point in your career?
AB: I took some time off due to an injury and I needed to take a break, I was burned out. Taking that break was the best thing I ever did, it made me realize how much I missed riding and how important the horses are to me. I feel refreshed, with such a newfound passion for the sport. I am 150 percent committed and I’m excited about the future.

TC: You are a professional rider now. Do you plan on making a business out of this?
AB: Actually, I am riding professionally and would like to have the opportunity to ride other horses. I would like to have a sponsor, but for now I am just looking forward to the next competition and the next and the next… So I can continue to learn and prepare for the upcoming qualifiers.

TC: Well, I am sure we will see plenty more of you and your wonderful horses. Good Luck!
AB: Thank you!

Ashlee will be at the Oaks in August and then on to Showpark for the first World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix
in September.