Highlights From Winter Circuit East and West

From all reports, all is well at winter circuits both east and west. Horses are happy in Wellington and Thermal, and prominent names are appearing in both places. Both WEF and the HITS Desert Circuit have welcomed riders hailing from the north, south, east and west including but certainly not limited to Canada, South America, Mexico, Europe, Texas, New York and California. Families flew in and settled for the winter – the Bonds and Simpsons flew south to Florida, whereas the Beerbaums, Fellers and Charlie Jayne headed to the California desert.

Seemingly everywhere, Kenneth Vinther was spotted in Wellington and is now in Thermal promoting his new company. Yes Kenneth has flown the CWD coop and has spread his wings as a distributor of exciting new products from Europe. Now you can “Koompeet with Kenneth“.

We are pleased to report from here that several exciting projects are in the works, plus many of our clients jumped into the new year with marketing on their minds, so we are juggling but jazzed. Our team continues to expand. We’ve added a new Account Manager Selena Frederick who hit the ground running in Thermal. Thank you Erin Gilmore for the solid recommendation. Erin also flew south for the winter and is thoroughly enjoying Wellington as seen in her blog. She wrote a piece called “Use Your Head – Wear A Helmet” after attending the Helmet Symposium and interviewing Beezie Madden on our behalf.

Active with the North American Riders Group, our friend Will Simpson participated in the dynamic annual meeting. Proud to be a part of it by producing the NARG Top 25 booklet, we were also in attendance. Read “The Chronicles of NARG Continued” in this issue.

Wishes from Wellington continue as we feature the FTI Great Charity Challenge coming up next week. The EquestriSol family will fly south as well to not only witness this event but some top-notch hunter (and a bit of jumper) action. We know John French is switching coasts for a couple of weeks and hope to see him in the WEF winner’s circle.

Speaking of Wellington, Santana Stables is seeking an “A” level show jumping rider, with American citizenship and fluent in Portuguese, to join their team. To learn more, visit the Santana site and click News.

January came and went like a flash, and we are well into February. Read up, as come March we will be back in your Inbox with more. Selena, who also happens to be a professional photographer, will provide prose from the Desert and we will be enjoying the beaches and the showgrounds in the Sunshine state.

Peeking back into 2010, the Inside Indoors article in our fall issue failed to mention Whitney Downs and her fabulous Coffee Talk – they were Champions in the Small Jr. Hunters 15 & under, plus won Grand Hunter Champion at Capital Challenge. We may miss other shining stars and welcome emails telling us so.

On a final soulful note, occasionally we are reminded of why we tirelessly entrench ourselves in this world of equestrian sport. Certainly the excitement of competition, the plethora of interesting people, the cherished relationships all play a role. But where would any of us be without the horse? As our daughter is days away from her 4th birthday, we succumbed to the purchase of a giant pink unicorn. Tidbits of a recent NPR story on girls, horses and unicorns were both touching and amusing.

Showcasing Young Talent: 2009 USEF National Junior Hunter Championships – West Coast

By Jackie McFarland

Over 40 juniors from various West Coast locales hunted their horses around the beautifully decorated courses this past Tuesday and Wednesday. In a unique setting where no trainer or rider has to rush off to another show arena, this collective group of top equestrians started their day with a special breakfast and ended it with a lovely reception hosted by Karen Healey Stables and Brookway Stables-Archie Cox.

The Handy Hunter phase began just before noon, with the Small Juniors in the older age group going first. Where last year the handy course took too much of a toll on horses, with spooky elements that caused refusals and even elimination, this hunter-friendly course had jumps made of shrubs and flowers, a natural post and rail, a trot jump and a hay bale bounce. In the younger division of small junior hunters Whitney Downs and Coffee Talk, trained by John Bragg, went flawlessly from start to finish. Picking a perfect pace and jumping each fence out of that gorgeous forward rhythm, the horse’s expression never changed and with scores of 86, 86 and 87 from the judges it was the trip that couldn’t be beat. The Under Saddle phase concluded Tuesday’s competition. It is notable that the top three scores after day one were all small junior hunters exhibited by younger riders.

Wednesday was both the start of the horse show and the completion of the Junior Hunter Championships. The final classic round went in the afternoon after the open horses competed. Starting with the large junior hunters, it was Small Town (Iwasaki & Reilly, owners) ridden by Caroline Ingalls that laid down the trip of the day, receiving scores of 86, 88 and 88. When it came time for the last division of the day, the top three younger small juniors had yet to show.

One important lesson of horse showing is to take the highs with the lows and both Corrine Miller and Whitney Downs deserve sportsmanship awards for their final round performances. Sitting second and first respectively, both of these young girls encountered unexpected spooks and dealt with them like champs. Corrine’s young mare Lucille peeked and jumped sideways as she cantered down to the first jump, which was a bit shadowy, and although she jumped it her scores certainly reflected the trouble. Whitney and Coffee Talk were once again having a trip for the history books, when heading to the last line her horse stiffened and spooked, forcing her to circle. With the horse still a bit startled, she had to ride him through the spook when making her second approach. Both girls rode well and dealt with the disappointment in a mature manner.

As the 2009 USEF Junior Hunter Championships on the West Coast came to a close Wednesday evening, four perpetual trophies were awarded and the overall Reserve Grand Champion and Grand Champion were presented with coolers and trophies. This is a special event that we hope continues to get more and more recognition in years to come. For more on the USEF, click here

And the Perpetual Trophy Winners are…

Huntover Farm Perpetual TrophyChampion in the Small, 15 & under
Breckenridge & Hannah Von Heidegger

Shalanno Farm Perpetual TrophyChampion in the Large, 15 & under
Peter Rabbit & Kilian McGrath

Rivers Edge Perpetual TrophyChampion in the Small, 16-17
Pringle & Amber Henter for Ashley Pryde

Magic Word Perpetual TrophyChampion in the Large, 16-17
Small Town & Caroline Ingalls for Iwasaki & Reilly