Highlights From The 53rd Washington International Horse Show: October 25-30, 2011

Nick Skelton and Carlo 273

The well-known event in Washington DC gained a huge audience online this year – over 130,000 people tuned into the new live webcast from the Verizon Center. The largest online and in-person crowd was for the $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix, a World Cup qualifier. Nick Skelton of Great Britain rode Beverley Widdowson’s Carlo 273 to victory.

Skelton and Carlo 273, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Contender, were the last to go clear in the opening round of 24 entries over a course designed by Michel Vaillancourt of Aiken, SC. Brianne Goutal and Nice de Prissey were second, while California phenom Lucy Davis rode Nemo 119 to third. Margie Engle and Indigo were fourth to round out the jump-off.

Sarah Tredennick of Denver, CO, rode Vigaro to the win in the $31,000 International Open Jumper Jump-off class. Stanford student Saer Coulter went as a character from the movieAvatar in the $20,000 International Open Jumper Gambler’s Choice Costume class. Although she looked blue, she earned second place behind top rider Todd Minikus dressed as Uncle Sam. Holding her own among the best, Saer earned several more respectable ribbons in the open jumper division.

Saer Coulter as a Na’vi from Avatar

John French won the inaugural High Point West Coast Rider Trophy, and won the Regular Conformation Hunter Stake aboard Laura Wasserman’s Overseas. Wasserman won an Amateur/Owner class on Overseas.

Continuing her indoors hunter dominance, the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division awarded championship honors to Olivia Esse and Oscany Inc.’s Clooney.

EquestriSol News: September 26, 2011

Welcome Writers
After a busy summer season, we are especially grateful to our contributing writers. We welcome Aimee Robinson who wrote about the amazing LA Pomeroy. Alexandra Pingree and Laura Thompson, who interned with us this summer, each penned an article. Alexandra’s Strap One On is in this issue and Laura’s IHSA Nationals piece was out earlier this summer. Jenni Martin-McAllister agreed to write about her hot time in Lexington this summer at NAJYRC. Erna Adelson had the pleasure of spending time with Barmen and Brooks of Balmoral Farm and she hopes to do more. Selena Frederick, who has worked with us for almost a year, had some “Conversations with Equestrians” – two in this issue – Nick Haness and Ali Nilfourshan. From Jennifer Wood we have two articles – one on the amazing Spruce Meadows Masters, where not only is the show jumping huge but so are the crowds; and the other about Unbridled Passion, a recently released book that we can all relate to.

Congratulations to the USEF Talent Search Final Four
Considered a true rider’s test, the USEF Talent Search Final Four finished this past weekend at the LA International. Sorry we weren’t there to see it in person, we do want to congratulate the top four. Demi Stiegler (trainers, Archie Cox and Robyn Stiegler) topped the group, Sage Flynn (trainers Hap Hansen and Trudi Fletcher) placed second, Zoie Nagelhout (trainer Archie Cox) was third and Taylor Harris (trainers James Hagman, Katie Gardner, Kay Atheuser and Custis Ferguson) came in fourth.

West Coast Rocks the East Coast
There are several special occasions that spur us to travel east for some keen competition. From a WEF winter in Wellington, Devon in May for those who qualify, Lexington in August for the USHJA International Hunter Derby Final, Saugerties in September for the big money weekend and finally fall for the indoor shows, the west coast continues to make their mark each year.

The most recent rally was the group who ventured to upstate New York for the two biggest money events of the year, the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix and the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. Top west coast riders in both the Hunter and Show Jumper arenas not only held their own but brought home big prizes. Although competing in superb weather is almost a given here, west coast horses and riders braved a deluge of rain while galloping on course on Sunday, September 11th.

Out of sixty-two entries in the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix, Jenny Karazissis and Heidi Kane’s Sin City won BOTH Round 1 and Round 2. Nick Haness and Jessica Singer’s Cruise won Round 3 and finished second overall. Archie Cox and Stephanie Danhakl’s After Five and Hope Glynn and Sabrina Hellman’s Woodstock made the top twenty-five. And Erin Bland on Weatherly (12th), John French aboard Oscany’s Illusion (7th) and Katie Taylor on Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Collection (5th) all finished in the top twelve.

Following that feat, three west coast representatives finished in the top ten of the Pfizer $1 Million. As one of only two clean rides in the entire class, Duncan McFarlane and Simon Coxe’s Mr. Whoopy were second. Coming back from a season in Europe, college hot shots Saer Coulter on Copernicus Stable’s Springtime and Lucy Davis riding Old Oak Farm’s Nemo 119 picked up sixth and ninth. Well-known riders McLain Ward, Margie Goldstein and Christine McCrea, who were also fresh off European tours and are heading to Guadalajara for the Pan Am Games (Margie is an alternate), placed third, twelfth and fourteenth.

Congratulations to all on an outstanding showing, you represented the west coast with style.

HITS Revision
When we sent out the HITS e-blast in August we had a misprint – the 2012 HITS Desert Circuit will have DC I-VI (no seventh week). Circuit dates are January 24th – March 11th, 2012. Check the HITS site for details.

Pfizer Million Preview

West coast riders come east for Pfizer Million Weekend; HITS bids to bring Olympic Trials to HITS Desert Horse Park
As the summer show season nears its end, the excitement and anticipation for this year’s Pfizer Million Weekend is gaining momentum. Exhibitors are clamoring to get their qualifying classes in and add to their winnings to ensure their place in the Rider Rankings for both the Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix and the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final. After the Desert Circuit it was clear that riders from the west coast were serious about ensuring they’d make the cut for these two monumental events. And with the grand finale weekend just about a month away, west coast riders are making their plans to come east for their chance at show jumping history – the opportunity to compete for $1.5 million in prize money!

The group of High-Performance riders coming east includes a mix of both returning and first time qualifiers with John Pearce, Helen McNaught, Duncan McFarlane, and Saer Coulter, while young phenom Lucy Davis, who took the Desert Circuit by storm when she won the last four Grand Prix at the Thermal including the $200,000 Lamborghini Grand Prix, presented by Lamborghini of Newport Beach, is making her first trip to Saugerties.

The crop of Hunter riders making their plans to show in Saugerties is equally as impressive with top professional riders John French, Hope Glynn, Nick Haness and Jenny Karazissis each committed to show in the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final. Amateur riders Erin Bland and Avery Hellman, who both train with Ned and Hope Glynn, will also be on the scene, as will Archie Cox with a group of his students.

“I am very excited to be coming to compete in the [Diamond Mills] $500,000 Hunter Prix,” said Cox. “Cruise, owned by Jessica Singer, has already proven himself from coast to coast and I am anxious to add a top placing to his resume.”

Jerry Dougherty of Bokeelia, Florida will set the courses for the Hunter Prix and Olympic Course Designer Steve Stephens of Palmetto, Florida will set the track for the Pfizer Million. Olympic Course Decorator Flora Baptiston of Brazil will bring her magic touch to the courses.

There’s quite a buzz about the weekend throughout both the equestrian and local communities, as VIP tables are selling quickly and ticket sales for Motown legends The Temptations are picking up momentum. Adding to the ceremony of the day will be an appearance by the West Point Equestrian Team and a special 9/11 commemoration ceremony with members from the local fire, police and emergency service workers. Plans are also in the works for a special head-set rental program for round-by-round commentary for both the Hunter Prix and the Pfizer Million.

More exciting news pertaining to live-webcasting and TV coverage along with other plans will be announced soon, so stay tuned. For more information about VIP or general ticket information, please visit HitsShows.com.

HITS bids to bring Olympic Trials to HITS Desert Horse Park
For the second time in two years, HITS put in a bid to host a USEF selection trial competition at the HITS Desert Horse Park in Thermal, California. In the summer of 2009, HITS bid to host the USEF Show Jumping Selection Trials for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG). The proposal included unprecedented prize money, $775,000 to be exact, and a commitment to waive the entry fees for all Selection Trials classes for horses competing in every leg of the Trials. This time around, HITS submitted another extraordinary bid proposal to host the USEF Selection Trials for the 2012 Olympic Games and National Championship.

The highlights from the Olympic Trials bid included $200,000 in prize money to be divided among the winners, waived entry fees and complementary accommodations for all exhibitors participating in the trials. News came in early August that the selection committees had met and voted to award the bid to another management company, despite the innovative package prepared by HITS.

When news of the decision came, HITS President and CEO Tom Struzzieri offered his insights on the vote. “If there’s a bright side to this, we’ve got our bid packet fine tuned! Perhaps more importantly, these Trials will not take place during the Thermal Circuit, so customers can enjoy their regular circuit schedule with us in the Desert and still have the opportunity to travel for the chance to compete on the Olympic Team in Florida at the end of March.”

Struzzieri was pleased to have the opportunity to submit a bid and was pragmatic about the outcome. “I can’t say that I disagree with the decision of the committees, geography has to play a big role in this type of decision. We will continue to stay in this process and hopefully we will be awarded this type of event in the near future.”

In the end, Struzzieri believes, “Our bid had an impact in raising the stakes for the competition. As it turned out the other bid was modified to match what we had offered and include free entries for the riders, so that’s another positive outcome for the exhibitors. Having just completed hosting the East Coast Junior Hunter Finals here in Saugerties, I feel strongly that HITS has a product to offer that will ultimately be the right one for trials of this nature and we’ll keep going after it… for us, our customers and the sport.”

Photos by Flying Horse Photography.

EquestriSol News: September 20, 2009

After a busy summer season of ad campaigns and newsletters, we look forward to completing the development of a number of web sites waiting in the wings. Look for announcements of these new designs later this fall.

We spoke with a few more of our horse show greats – see our Conversations with Equestrians on Mary Manfredi and Saer Coulter as well as our chat with Jack Robson. We wrote a little piece on the BIG Eq begininings and sized up the lowdown on Indoors.

We thank you all for the newsletter praise. It’s always great to hear. See you at the shows!

Conversations With Equestrians: Mary Manfredi and Saer Coulter

By Katie Kotarak & Jackie McFarland

Interesting how life is – how things have a way of working out as they are meant to. Just over a decade ago Mary Manfredi was living in Italy, established in another career and no longer riding. Saer Coulter was a young girl living in northern California who loved horses.

“I was fortunate enough to catch ride some lovely horses growing up,” explained Mary about her junior years riding with Andre Dignelli and Judy Richter. “But I was burnt out after college. My sister was in Italy so I moved there.” Even though she was living abroad and not officially riding, Andre would still send her around Europe to try horses. That and seeing old riding friend Peter Lutz at a wedding lured Mary back. “We talked about having a barn together when we were kids. It was perfect timing and I couldn’t think of a better person to go into business with.” That was 2000.

Living in Woodside, Saer had neighbors across the street with horses and soon both she and her sister Audrey were taking lessons. For several years they rode at Millennium Farms. Serendipitously, the Coulter family contacted Mary Manfredi and Peter Lutz of Davenport Inc. in South Salem, NY on a recommendation from friends when traveling east for the summer. A turning point for all involved.

That summer of 2002 Mary and Peter found Saer her first children’s jumper and she was hooked. The Coulter family wanted to continue working with this dynamic duo, so Mary, who had always been an East Coast girl, moved to California. With over 25 horses in training, Peter remains on the East Coast and runs Davenport. The business partnership continues, as each one travels to the other coast to coach and train. This unique arrangement, along with the tremendous support of the Coulter family, has allowed Saer and Audrey to obtain their equestrian dreams.

“We are serious about achieving our goals,” Mary explains. “For example, we don’t have any furniture in the tack room because no one should be sitting down.” Both Saer and Mary laugh at this comment. But with more than 20 Coulter and Davenport horses at the California barn and most of them competing, there’s plenty to do.

Saer is now in her final junior year – how time flies – and as most juniors do, she has set many goals. The hard work, focus and commitment have paid off, as those goals are one by one coming to fruition. When we spoke with Saer at Blenheim in June, she was fresh off winning in the Junior Hunters on the naturally talented Positano. Not to mention her fabulous third place finish in her fifth grand prix start at the 2009 Del Mar National followed by a seventh place finish at the Memorial Day Classic Grand Prix on Cats Are Grey. And based on her results at this June show she was hoping to attain her goal of qualifying for the NAYJRC, which she did. Before competing there at the end of July, she spent several weeks in the Netherlands, gaining invaluable European experience.

Soon after her return from Europe, alongside teammates Adrienne Dixon, Paris Sellon and Karl Cook, Saer contributed scores that earned the Zone 10 team a bronze medal over some very difficult and technical courses. She and Chalan also earned ninth place overall in the individual competition.

Even though her freshman fall semester at Stanford is just getting underway, Saer squeezed in some impressive finishes at last week’s Blenheim Fall Tournament, including an eighth on Chalan over a challenging indoor course in the $50,000 World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix on Friday night and a fourth in the ASPCA Maclay Regionals on Saturday night. The path will now lead to Syracuse for the Maclay Finals, another goal on Saer’s last junior year list.

Despite the two-hour trek from Stanford’s Palo Alto campus to her family’s barn in Petaluma, Saer plans on driving home for weekend lessons. “In terms of organization, fitting in riding gives me the incentive to get my homework done so I don’t have to do it on Sunday night,” she said. “School has always come first. I thought I would quit riding after my senior year, but now I’m at a place where I don’t want to.”

And why would she? Since Mary returned to the world of horses and crossed paths with the Coulters seven short years ago, another California-based young talent has a bright future. Although college is a priority, we may very well see Saer’s name again and again as she continues to pursue her equestrian goals and dreams.

Mary, as well, is living her dream. Choosing to work with Peter was the key. “He is my favorite rider. I’ve ridden many horses after other people have worked with them. But no horse feels as good to me as one that Peter has just ridden. He’s my idol.”

  Thank you Mary and Saer!