EquestriSol News: July 11, 2011

News from Canada and Europe…
As comfortable as it is to compete in California, illustrated by the solid numbers at the Blenheim June Series, there are groups of west coasters who head for some northern exposure, overseas excitement and even some ‘hot’ competition on the east coast.

Summer in Spruce
Spruce Meadows is a popular summer spot with a five week circuit chock-full of challenging classes for show jumpers. Even when the weather poses challenges, the amazing, immaculate facility, friendly, professional staff and fabulous prize money, always draws riders from around the world.

That of course includes some of the West Coast wonders. This year professionals Rich Fellers, Richard Spooner, Hap Hansen, Will & Nicole Simpson, Jennifer Crooks, Kirsten Coe and junior/amateur riders Karl Cook, Cayla Richards, Hannah Selleck, Sage Flynn, Mavis Spencer (now more east coast but with west coast roots) went north, just to name a few…

$31,000 Pepsi Challenge 1.45m – Richard Spooner and Pariska 2
Scott Riegert, Western Canadian Marketing Manager, Pepsico Canada presents the winner’s cheque to Richard Spooner. Photo Credit: Spruce Meadows Media Services

This group collected quite a few top prizes. No matter the division, bringing home ribbons from Spruce is an accomplishment. And if the collection includes red that color actually represent first in those parts. Congratulations to all, especially our clients Hap Hansen StablesSantana StablesJennifer Crooks & Stella Farm. Here are a few winning highlights:

At the National Mavis Spencer won the AON 1.35M aboard her own Valencia. Rich Fellers was dynamite on Dynamo winning the AKITA Drilling 1.35M. Karl Cook took home the red in the Gienow 1.40M Jr/Amateur Class. Richard Spooner scooped up the prize money in the $60,000 TrancCanada Parcours de Chasse 1.50M aboard Billy Bianca and was 4th on Lady Like. The next day he was 3rd and 4th respectively on Apache and Cristallo in the $175,000 Nexen Cup Derby 1.60M.

Will Simpson rode Black Cherry to the win in the Friends of the Meadow Barrage 1.40M. Richard and Cristallo earned 5th in the $125,000 CN Performance Grand Prix 1.60M.

During the Junior/Amateur week, Custis Ferguson coached the “Princess Plus 3” Team to the win in the Paramount Resources Prix des Nations III 1.30M. The winning team: Crown Princess – Alec Lawler, Abrakadabra – Alexa Anthony, Miss Magic – Taylor Marie Harris, Ulano 13 – Vani Khosla

Cayla Richards rode Faustino to the top spot in the Friends of the Meadows Junior/Amateur Grand-Prix 1.40M, Hannah Selleck was 2nd aboard Arturo Van De Helle and Sage Flynn rode Hot Pants to the 7th place. Sage was also 3rd in the Friends of the Meadows 1.40M Final Four. Cayla was second in the Birchcliff Energy Ltd. Jr/Am Barrage 1.40M.

Again Richard Spooner was in the money. He rode Ilan Ferder’s Wandor Van De Mispelaere to the win in the AKITA Drilling 1.35M, Oscany, Inc’s Lets Dance won the TRIMAC Cup 1.40M and Molly Ohstrom’s Caretol took home red in the Ashcor Techonologies 1.35M. He took the fifth spot in the $60,000 Great-West Life Cup on Apache and both the 2nd and 4th place ribbons aboard Quirino 3 and Pariska 2 in the $31,000 Cargill Cup 1.45M. And Cristallo was 4th in the $50,000 RBC Financial Cup. Great week Richard! And speaking of Rich, Fellers and Flexible won the $65,000 ESSO Challenge World Cup Qualifier.

On Saturday afternoon, the young but active riders advocacy group, NARG (North American Riders Group), held an open meeting at Spruce Meadows. With an overview from Murray Kessler, a passionate and honest perspective from Leopoldo Palicios, touching on issues that interest all those who are heavily involved in the sport, and a lively Q&A with participation from the attending Board Members, McLain Ward, Beezie Madden and Will Simpson, the meeting hosted information, education and interaction. The 50 in attendance were the first to hear about the new 2012 NARG Rider’s Grant Program – $15,000 to one recipient for competition in North America. See more about NARG here.

The final week of the Spruce Simmering Summer Circuit was a big one for west coast riders. Cayla Richards and Faustino were in the winner’s circle again in the Gienow Jr/Am Welcome 1.40M. Brazilian Eduardo Menezes, who is now based in California, won the Horse Health Care Cup 1.45M on Audi’s Reflection. Nicole Simpson on Monarch International’s Candle Light Van de Warande was a close second to young Caitlin Ziegler and Valencia in the AON Cup 1.50M. Amateur Gwendolyn Meyer ended on a high note winning the Canadian Utilities Amateur Barrage. Meyer’s Coral Reef Ranch owns the talented mare Via Volo who won the $35,000 D-Line Cup with Beezie Madden on board.

Both Rich Fellers and Richard Spooner had double whammy days – earning the #1 position in two classes each on the same day. For Rich it was Wednesday when he won the $31,000 Suncast Cup 1.45M Speed on McGuiness and the $35,000 ‘Reach for the Sun’ Sun Life Financial 1.60M on Flexible. On a fabulous Friday Richard took the $31,000 Pepsi Challenge 1.45M on Pariska 2 and the $50,000 Lafarge Cup 1.50M on Apache.

$35,000 D-Line Cup – Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo
Gordon Wilson, President of D-Line, presents the trophy to Beezie Madden. Photo Credit: Spruce Meadows Media Services

US Riders Invade Europe
Five aspiring young riders represented the United States on the Show Jumping European Young Rider Tour. The eager group went to Europe for five weeks. We read and heard that the experience was not only successful but also educational, which is essential for up and coming International riders. Below is a brief summary but listen to Reed’s radio interview and read Catherine’s blog for more heartfelt details and some great photos.

Young Riders
• Reed Kessler, 16, Armonk, NY, and Onisha
• Catherine Pasmore, 19, Crozet, VA, and My Boy
• Jessica Springsteen, 19, Colt’s Neck, NJ, and Vornado van den Hoerdrik
• Richard Neal, 19, Pasadena, CA, and Transmission
• Karen Polle, 18, New York, NY, and What Ever

These horse/rider combinations competed at the following shows:
CSIOY Bonheiden (Belgium): May 19-22
Katie Prudent – Chef d’Equipe

Individually the riders fared well in Belgium. As a team they placed second in the Nations Cup. Not a bad start. In the Young Rider Grand Prix, USA placed in five of the top ten ribbons: Passmore 2nd, Springsteen 5th, Neal 8th and Kessler 9th.

CSIOY Reims (France): May 26-29
Katie Prudent – Chef d’Equipe 

A tough Nations Cup course created rails and time faults for almost all who competed. Kessler had one of the few double clear rounds. In a nail biting finish, Springsteen anchored the team to a 2nd place finish. The YR Grand Prix also proved challenging with Passmore just missing a chance to return and Kessler returning with her 8 fault score (they bring back the top 25% pf the class for the jump off). Kessler rode aggressively and even with her 8 faults from Round One, she moved up from 8th to 4th place.

With a week off the Team had two days of dressage lessons from Hungarian Barnabas Mandi, met with a sports psychologist and then went to St. Gallens to watch the top guns battle it out at the Nations Cup.

CSIOY Lamprechtshausen (Austria): June 9-12
Michelle Grubb – Chef d’Equipe 

As the picture illustrates, the Team won the Nations Cup in Austria and placed in four of the top ten spots in the YR Grand Prix. Kessler took the top spot, jumping the only clear round in the jump-off for the win. With the fastest jump-off by more than five seconds but with four faults, Springsteen settled for second.

CSIOY Hagen (Germany): June 16-19
Michelle Grubb – Chef d’Equipe 

Touted as the toughest competition on the tour, Team USA had to battle it out with the best of the best in Europe, among them were the teams that had beaten them in previous weeks. They rode well and ended up tied for third, right behind those top teams from The Netherlands and Great Britain. The weather was wet on the YR Grand Prix day, but Californian Ricky Neal pulled through and WON the 48 entry class with the fastest double clear rounds of the day!

After the tour the riders went their separate ways as tougher competitors, with more education packed into five weeks of their life than they could’ve imagined as well as some great ribbons and memories. Look for these names on future teams and in major competitions in years to come.


EquestriSol News: September 30, 2010

If I had a million dollars…
With two $1 Million Grand Prix events taking place in September, equestrians from across the country were vying for their piece of the pie. As part of HITS-On-the-Hudson in Saugerties, NY, the coveted top prize in the first ever Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix was awarded to McLain Ward and his stellar mare Sapphire (McLain Ward & Blue Chip Bloodstock, owners). Ward and Sapphire rode double-clear after second place duo, Charlie Jayne and Athena, the other clear team from the first round, pulled a rail in the jump-off. Fresh off his $250,000 FTI Grand Prix win at the Hampton Classic, this event was Ward and Sapphire’s last competition together before making the trip to Kentucky to compete in the WEG.

Representing the West Coast, Duncan McFarlane piloted the eight-year-old Mr. Whoopy to an impressive eighth place finish, dropping just one rail on course, and Helen McNaught rode Caballo to the thirteenth position with an eight fault score.

The Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament also boasted a $1 Million event this past Sunday with Venezuela’s Leopoldo Palacios designing the CN International Grand Prix. Three West Coast riders earned spots among the top ten finishers. Second place was none other than California’s own Richard Spooner and his 12-year-old partner Cristallo (Show Jumping Syndication Int’l, owner). Rich Fellers aboard Flexible (Harry & Mollie Chapman, owners) finished seventh and the young Karl Cook of Woodside aboard Uno De Laubry (Signe Ostby, owner) brought home the eighth place ribbon.

The WEG is here!
The long awaited World Equestrian Games are well underway in Lexington, Kentucky. We are not only pleased to be here but were honored to attend the Opening Ceremonies. There was plenty of exceptional talent, but the Friesian team of ten was simply magnificent. Watching ten jet black steeds all dressed in white polos prance in perfect sync and perform a dressage drill without a hitch while their manes flowed freely was a joy. We also took a few iPhone photos that show some of the fun. We will of course be back with bells on for the week of show jumping and look forward to some shopping time. Can hardly wait for the Final Four on Saturday, October 9th. Should be a sight to see!

We enjoyed interviewing Guy Thomas. He’s a multi-faceted individual and we wish him the best of luck next week. Even though he is representing New Zealand, he also represents California. And of course, it goes without saying – GO USA!

Here’s a video of the Friesians during the opening ceremony from “DreamGait”.

West Coast Congrats
West Coast Win – Nations’ Cup News
Congratulations to the United States team of Rich Fellers/Flexible, Ashlee Bond/Cadett 7, Richard Spooner/Cristallo, and Beezie Madden/Coral Reef Via Volo, for clinching the win in the 2010 Nations’ Cup during the Masters Tournament at Spruce Meadows. Coached by George Morris, the team edged out Ireland and Canada who finished second and third respectfully. Considering Fellers, Bond, Spooner all call the West Coast home and Madden’s mount, Coral Reef Via Volo, is owned by Coral Reef Ranch and Gwendolyn Meyer, the team certainly represented the region well.

West Coast USEF Talent Search
Preparing our high-level equitation riders for the jumper arena, the USEF Talent Search tests flatwork skills, how a rider handles gymnastic exercises and their mastering of a jumper type course on the field, including an open water element. One of the most challenging medal finals, the top four are required to each ride one another’s horse to determine the top placings. Riding under the tutelage of Karen Healey, east coast equestrian Taylor Ann Adams bested the field for the win. With scores well into the 80’s on each of the final four horses she competed on, her consistency and style paid off. Second went to Jocelyn Neff, another Healey student. Rounding out the top four were Jennifer Parker, trained by Benson Carroll and Caroline Ingalls, who rides with Hap Hansen.

EquestriSol News: May 18, 2010

We Bring You La Baule
As we cruise into summer there are some big events to set our sights on. We have some fabulous content coming in the newsletter that embraces the best from Blenheim, happenings at the Kentucky Horse Park, and stories from our US riders over in Europe.

We wish we could be everywhere as we are passionate about bringing you the stories of the horses, the riders and the events that satisfy our competitive cravings. We will continue to try.

The first leg of the European Tours has commenced, beginning last week with the CSIO5* in La Baule, France. McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, Lauren Hough. Richard Spooner, Mario Deslauriers and Hilary Dobbs all competed.

About La Baule:
Although the first show was held in 1931, it was not until 1960 that La Baule was granted “official show” status by the FEI. In 2002, La Baule joined the FEI Nations Cup Series. There were three key events the MEYDAN FEI Nations Cup (Friday, May 15th), The Derby Meeting of the Pays de La Loire (Saturday, May 16th) and the Grand Prix Longines of La Baule (Sunday, May 17th). The courses were designed by Frederic Cottier. The United States and France were the favorites in the Nations Cup and both went into the second round with a total of four penalties. Richard Spooner jumped two clean rounds on Cristallo, with his second clear putting the pressure on France. Mario Deslauriers and Urico were also clean, McLain Ward and Sapphire had 4 faults and Hilary Dobbs, fresh off finals from Harvard, scored 9 faults.

After their first rider scored 4 faults the French continued to put in clean rounds. The final results came in with the French winning the Nations Cup by a rail, with the US second. A good beginning to the tour. It gets better…

Before the Derby class, Beezie Madden rode Coral Reef Vio Volo to the top prize in the Prix Groupe Lucien Barriere / Diane Desseigne, Table A with 69 entries in the class.

Twenty ‘couples’ competed in the Derby. (When reading the French press, they referred to a horse and rider as a couple, which we found to be ever so true). A difficult test of hills and water and other Derby details, not one of the riders was able to go clean. Until Americans Richard Spooner and Pako. The couple made history that day as they were the only clear effort and the first Americans to win the coveted title!

The icing on the French pastry for the Americans came on the final day. The stands were packed to watch the fifty couples compete in the Grand Prix. Thirteen went clean, including Mario Deslaurier on the 9-year-old Urico and McLain Ward on Sapphire. Deslauriers had the leading time, clean and fast in 36.95. Until Ward walked in. The pair galloped through the timers clear in 36.00 for the win. First and second place went to the US.

Certainly an auspicious start to the European Tours. Sincere congratulations to all. And a big thank you to Sophie Durieux for the fabulous photos, as well to Sydney Masters-Durieux for delivering.

Stay tuned, June is going to be a big month for newsletters and we are gearing up to keep the stories coming.

Photos © Sophie Durieux

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.

Highlights From 2009 HITS Desert Circuit Highlights

Hunter Derby

Hunters had the spotlight in the Grand Prix field on a cool Saturday afternoon as the $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby commenced. A solid rain had fallen the night before, however the footing held up well and twenty-nine horses competed over what turned out to be quite a challenging course.

Competing in front of an audience of 200 plus, many a lovely (and usually brave) hunter spooked on course. The spooky spot – gray rocks along the side of the outside line – was reminiscent of the West Coast Junior Hunter Finals last summer. Approximately half the entries balked, stopped or refused to get near the rocks or jumps nearby. However a handful of horses didn’t take note and went on to jump magnificently.

Jenny Karazissis hunted around both rounds on two of Tonia Cook-Looker’s horses, Forbes and Aragon, riding each with style and ending up second and third respectively. John French rode Mountain Home Stable’s new mount Rumba to fourth in the first round, and then returned in the second round with a gorgeous handy course to take the win in both the round as well as overall. As always, the class was fabulous to watch and appears equally fun to ride.

Place Horse Rider  Owner
1 Rumba John French Mountain Home Stable
2 Forbes Jenny Karazissis Tonia Cook-Looker
3 Aragon Jenny Karazissis Tonia Cook-Looker
4 Quicksilver Sharon Duff Jaclyn Duff
5 Y2K Natalie Rae Medlock Hap Hansen
6 On Top Nicoletta Von Heidegger Laurel Ridge Sport Horses LLC
7 Paladijn Jenny Karazissis Maria Bruggere
8 Belle Fleur Avery Hellman Avery Hellman
9 Piper Zoie Nagelhout Sylvia Ausweger-O’Conner
10 Beckham Holly Dickinson HMG Farms
11 Toska Gail Ross Pacifica Riding Club
12 Aspen Extreme Liz Schmidt Teton View Farm

World Cup Qualifier
The indoor arena was the place to be on Saturday night for the $50,000 Purina Mills FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan. With a line out the door, the bleachers and VIP seating area were packed with spectators hoping to see some great World Cup level show jumping from the twenty-nine starters in the posted order. The course and horses did not disappoint, the class was phenomenal all the way to the last jump off round.

Bernardo Cabral of Portugal built a tall and tough route, using every bit of the intimate indoor space. First to go, east coast equestrian and Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward made it look easy riding Sagamore Farm’s Phillipa without a fault. We did not see another clean round until Jill Henselwood on Black Ice, Ashlee Bond aboard Cadett 7 and Helen McNaught all rode fault-free going thirteenth, fourteenth and sixteenth in the order. Two more men rounded out the six returning for the jump off – Harley Brown piloting Cassiato and our west coast Olympic Gold Medalist, Will Simpson on Archie Bunker. The four faulters took the remaining ribbons, among them some of our top World Cup contenders including Richard Spooner, Mandy Porter and Rich Fellers.

The top six had a lengthy jump off with a combination of long gallops and tight turns to master. McLain and Phillipa set the pace, going neat and clean in 42.51. Both Jill and Black Ice and Ashlee on Cadett 7 went for the win, each finishing with fast times, but one rail down. Harley rode Cassiato strategically to a clean round, knowing he would end up second or third. Leave it to Will for the finale – he cruised around the jumps in a fast and clean 40.24 for the win.

Place Horse Rider Owner
1 Archie Bunker Will Simpson Linda I. Smith
2 Phillipa McLain Ward Sagamore Farm
3 Cassiato Harley Brown Oak Park Group LLC
4 Black Ice Jill Henselwood Juniper Farms
5 Cadett 7 Ashlee Bond Little Valley Farm
6 Caballo Helen McNaught Helen McNaught
7 Ace Richard Spooner S & B, LLC
8 San Diego Mandy Porter Danielle Korsh
9 Flexible Rich Fellers Harry & Mollie Chapman
10 Kiss The Sky Lane Clarke Horsemanship Unlimited
11 Cristallo Richard Spooner Show Jumping Syndications Int’l
12 Chianto John Pearce Forest View Farm & Gerald Moore

Desert Circuit Weeks I-II Highlights
No stranger to the winner circles, our congratulations go out to the 2009 HITS Desert Circuit Weeks I & II Grand Prix winners, Richard Spooner and Mandy Porter. These two riders ruled on different turfs – Richard outdoors and Mandy indoors:

In the Grand Prix Field:
1/23: $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, Desert Circuit I: Richard Spooner & Quirino 3
1/25: $50,000 EMO Grand Prix: Richard Spooner & Quirino 3

In the Indoor Arena:
1/29: $25,000 HITS Grand Prix, Desert Circuit II: Mandy Porter & San Diego
1/31: $50,000 Strongid® C 2X FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan: Mandy Porter & San Diego

Desert Circuit Week II
HITS celebrated the horse as art in many ways on the eve of the final day of January 2009. Exhibitors and spectators alike enjoyed the displays presented by artists from California, Colorado and Oregon. Plus a unique installation by Embarr Tack Room Design, specialists in tack room design and construction.

Hung with care throughout the arena spectator entrance, equine paintings and prints created a stylish start to the upcoming artistic performances on horseback in the $50,000 Strongid® C 2X FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan.

The indoor arena was literally filled to the rafters in anticipation of the evening’s special events, including the once-in-a-lifetime experience of seeing and listening to John French sing the National Anthem. His voice not only boomed but he rocked the house! The cheers were heard all the way back at the barns.

Mr. French set the stage for a fabulous night of show jumping. Thirty-one horse and rider combinations negotiated the Bob Ellis course. Difficult but not deadly, twenty-three of those who attempted had a rail or more, including Olympians McLain Ward on Phillipa, and Will Simpson on Archie Bunker. However eight went without fault and advanced to the jump-off.

Ashlee Bond set the stage on Cadett 7. She was flying high – literally – as she made the sharp rollback turn from fence 6b to 3b. Almost separated from her horse, she quickly recovered to finish with four faults in a fast 33.88. Katherine Bardis riding Mademoiselle made the turn but lost the pace heading to 3b, resulting in a refusal. Quick indeed, she still managed to make a dash for cash, and even with the stop, stayed within the time allowed for four faults.

In galloped McLain Ward on Goldrika 559, who had a fabulous time with eight faults. Next to attempt a clean and fast ride was Lionel with Erin Duffy aboard. She went for clean not speed, but had four faults as well. Halfway into the jump-off with no one clean, Mandy Porter and San Diego entered the arena. Consistent since the start of World Cup qualifying season back in the fall, and after winning the Thursday $25,000 Grand Prix, they once again set the time to beat – clean in 32.93. Lane Clarke riding Kiss the Sky made a gallant effort but had two rails. With two left to go, Mandy held the lead. Richard Spooner maneuvered Ace to a beautiful clean ride, in 32.94. One one-hundredth of a second off the leading time – the definition of a close second. Black Ice with Jill Henselwood took the final shot at the win, finishing with four and settling for third best.

EquestriSol News: July 31, 2008

Congratulations to our west coast riders on their victories abroad – performing well on the Super League Tour, Will Simpson and El Campeon’s Carlsson Vom Dach are gearing up for the Olympic Games; winning in Monaco on Cristallo and Pako, Richard Spooner and his horses are going strong on the Global Champions Tour; after a fabulous World Cup this spring, Rich Fellers and Flexible were the only clear in the $60,000 Investors Cup at Spruce. Joie Gatlin & Morley Abey have opened up a second location in Calgary.

With Medal Finals and World Cup Qualifiers around the corner, we’ll have plenty going on here at home and will keep an eye out for our west coast medal final contenders on the east coast…

We are proud to announce the launch of the new Pegasus Show Stable website:


Look for the launch of up to ten more websites currently in development, as well as a host of ads in your favorite equestrian publications.

We are having fun developing new ad campaigns for Freelance Show JumpingCam & Becky Smith, Blenheim EquiSports and Blue Ribbon Law.

Meanwhile, Chloe is almost 18 months old. Where does the time go?

Highlights From HITS Thermal March 2008

Sunday, March 16th
On a cool, breezy Sunday the HITS DC Championship Week comes to an exciting close with six horses racing against the clock in the jump-off, including Guillermo Obligado on Suleyman de Wulf Selection, World Cup contender Keri Potter on her mount Rockford I, Master of Faster Richard Spooner riding Cristallo, veteran Eddie Macken aboard Tedechine Sept, Canadian Jill Henselwood on Special Ed and Olympic hopeful Will Simpson on El Campeon’s Tosca, in the $200,000 HITS Desert Circuit Invitational Grand Prix. Only two managed to go double clear and we congratulate Richard Spooner and Cristallo on their victory.

Saturday, March 15th / Sunday, March 16th

The west coast was honored to host the R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Classic. Challenging by design, junior riders were on their own for every aspect of the class – walking the course, preparing their horse and making decisions about the ride – plus the track included some technical adjustments and stride options. On top of all that, the class went at night under the lights in the Grand Prix arena and the weather was windy to say the least. The wind picked up towards the end of the second round, leading to management deciding to complete the class on Sunday morning. Congratulations to Carly Anthony riding the beautiful Vogue to the win, just one point ahead of Shelby Wakeman on San Francisco.

Friday, March 14th

Congratulations also to Tache Rouge and John French on their win in the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions/USHJA International Hunter Derby Classic topping a talented field of handy hunters. Held under the lights in the Grand Prix arena, professionals, amateurs and juniors competed in this special class. Under the scrutiny of four judges, the top 12 horses hunted around two rounds of courses that included a snake option jump, liverpool, trot fence and the anticipated long gallop to the last oxer.

All three of the highlighted events drew a great crowd. No matter what the weather, spectators had fun and participated in cheering on hunters, jumpers and eq horses.

To view all of the HITS Thermal press releases, please click here.

We’ve listed the Desert Circuit Champions and Reserve Champions by division below – congratulations to all the exhibitors and we wish you continued success throughout the 2008 show season.


Highlights From HITS Grand Prix February 7, 2008

Class: $125,000 HITS Grand Prix,
presented by EMO.
Conditions: Windy, very windy.
Community: Pulled together during chaos.

Sunday morning came along blissfully and the second week of HITS Thermal was coming to a close. The $125,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by EMO, commenced at noon and as horses negotiated the Leopoldo Palacios course, the winds kicked up. Initially it was little gusts but as the class continued the wind increased. It huffed and puffed and blew the jumps down, it blew the VIP Oasis Club tables and chairs down, it blew the hunter ring fences to the ground.

It became clear that the horse show could not go on and what happened next was commendable – Grand Prix riders, VIP guests, HITS staff all teamed up to create a safer atmosphere in a matter of minutes. As the wind blew harder, the collective group removed trays and tablecloths, laid down the tables and chairs, and carefully stored the ceramic pots and glass signs.

Competitors and management waited through wind (and the Super Bowl) and the class continued in the late afternoon to an exciting finish. Joie Gatlin secured $37,500 in prize money for Camaron Hills Farm when she rode Camaron Hills Shanroe to the win. During the 2005 HITS Desert Circuit, Gatlin won the blue ribbon in the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix. “I love to win the EMO class,” said Gatlin. “They are a great supporter of our sport and I am very appreciative of everything that they do.” Gatlin was sitting in the enviable last-to-ride spot in a jump-off that featured eight pairs. The pair had a fast time to beat, raced to stop the clock in 40.947 to win the class by just over half a second. Camaron Hills Shanroe is 13 and Gatlin had the ride in place of rider Molly Talla who is expecting her second child.

Jill Humphrey started the jump-off of eight on Rudy Leone’s Kaskaya. The pair negotiated a clear round and set the time to beat at 46.330. Canadian Olympian John Pearce was next to go in the jump-off aboard Allison Moore’s Chianto. They had four faults and finished in sixth place. Third to go was Ashlee Bond and her mount Tommy Gun. The pair went clear in a very fast 41.588 to take over the top spot. “I thought I was very fast but knew I had some big competition behind me,” said Bond. “Richard Spooner had already beaten my time but had a rail down, so I knew my time was reachable.”

Sure enough, Bond and her horse finished third. Fourth to go was the HITS Desert Circuit’s all-time leading money winner Richard Spooner and Cristallo. One rail down would land them in fifth place. Recent Pan Am Games Gold Medal Winner, Jill Henselwood was next aboard Callisto. Henselwood and her mount would be eliminated and finish in eighth place.

Pearce was back in the irons aboard his second ride of the jump-off. This time it was Archie Bunker and they pushed Bond and Tommy Gun off the top with a fast and clean ride in 41.582. Pearce and Archie Bunker eventually finished in second place. “Two horses in the top six is a fair chunk of change,” said a happy Pearce after the class. “The vibe is good and the people seem very happy this year.”

Pearce also has his eyes on Friday night’s $50,000 Tourneau FEI World Cup Qualifier, presented by Adequan where he plans to show Archie Bunker and his top gun Urioso. His fellow countryman, Henselwood, was back for her second trip of the jump-off aboard Black Ice. The pair had two rails down and finished in seventh place.

Finally, it was Gatlin and Camaron Hills Shanroe’s turn. They were lightning-fast and stopped the clocks in 40.947 to win the class. “John Pearce set a fast pace,” said Gatlin. “We were slow to the first jump and then I said to her, ‘Come on. Let’s go!’ We were very fast from two to nine and we kept cruising through 10. Once we cleared 12B I heard the crowd getting behind me so I knew we had a good chance to win.”




Conversations With Equestrians: Richard Spooner

By Tammy Chipko

Anyone who has spent any time at the Jumper Ring has certainly seen Richard Spooner, either on one of his many mounts, or helping someone from the ground. He shows up first thing in the morning with a backpack full of supplies to keep him going all day, including a full supply of horse cookies. He always has a smile on his face and something nice to say. Aware that he is one the most competitive Show Jumping riders in the world, I was interested in researching how he prepares, trains, and keeps his horses fit and happy throughout a hectic show schedule.

Tammy Chipko: After a very busy and successful year in 2007, did you get to take a little time off?
Richard Spooner: Yes, my wife Kaylen and I spent two weeks in the Cayman Islands. It was a very nice break.

TC: Do your horses get a break too?
RS: Yes, they definitely get a break and we usually start back slowly after Christmas.

TC: How do you prepare for a new season?
RS: I usually start with the three or four horses that have had a lighter year or are greener. This way they can compete in the first half of the circuit. The other horses get a couple extra weeks off then I will start them back in preparation for the middle to end of the circuit. I don’t ask too much from these horses until the end of the circuit.

TC: How do you decide which horses will compete?
RS: Each horse has its own goals so I develop a plan based on that. My top show jumpers will do much less at the beginning of the year and end up doing more towards the middle to the end of the year.

TC: How do you keep your Grand Prix horses fit and happy with such a busy schedule?
RS: Fortunately, I have a large pool of horses. I can back off with one for a while because I have other horses to fill their shoes. I am lucky that way and it certainly keeps the horses much more excited about their job.

TC: Are you going to compete in Europe this year?
RS: Yes, one of my goals is definitely to spend time in Europe. I really enjoyed it last year. I plan to compete on the Global Champions Tour (read more about this tour below), which starts in Doha, Qatar then proceeds to Hamburg, (GER) Cannes, (FRA), Monte Carlo, (MON) Estoril, (POR) Valkenswaard,(NED) and Arezzo (ITA). To top it off, the Two Million Dollar Euro Final will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

TC: What an amazing tour – how many horses will you take?
RS: Two or three, and this will be those horses’ top goal for the year.

TC: How are you able to travel so much and have your business here in CA?
RS: I am very fortunate to have a terrific staff! A great team effort is absolutely essential to facilitate this type of schedule. Chris Pratt can prepare horses and show them either on different circuits or on the same circuits as I do. He also works well with clients and is all around a tremendous asset to me.

TC: Is their anything most people don’t know about you?
RS: No – (laughing)

Maybe that would be a different interview…

Well, you are certainly starting the year off great with the first
Grand Prix win of the season aboard Gerry the Grey.
Good luck with your 100+ Grand Prix goal and be safe!