Highlights From North American Junior/ Young Riders Championships 2011

Jenni-Martin McAllister was one of a handful of Zone 10 trainers who ventured to Lexington for the North American Junior/Young Riders Championships this year. After a little coaxing she agreed to write about the experience.

Greetings of Grass and Horse Heaven

Landing in Lexington, KY is an experience in itself. Acres of green pastures and expansive barns greet you as you slowly descend. Driving from the airport to the Kentucky Horse Park (KHP) confirms that this is horse heaven. KHP is an ideal place to host a championship competition, with 1200 acres, multiple arenas and fantastic footing. A competitor couldn’t ask for more, other than maybe a little California weather – cooler and a lot less humid.

As a former competitor at the Young Rider Championships, I return many years later in a different position, as a coach. I remember the excitement I felt, and the amazing amount of effort and hard work that went in to qualifying just to be there. To qualify and compete here is an honor. This is the only FEI championship competition held in North America for young riders and is a great stepping stone for young talent to gain valuable experience, before true international and team competition.

Day One
New this year, competitors at NAJYRC could not also participate in the horse show going on at the park. When the championship begins, there is no show jumping so we just school our horses and watch some of the dressage. Another nice aspect of this event is the opportunity for the young riders to have exposure to other disciplines. We took a tour of the KHP grounds. It truly is an incredible place, with miles of Kentucky blue grass, impressive cross country jumps from Rolex, plus great exhibits of art and horse history. I learn some very interesting facts about the evolution of the horse in the permanent exhibit. There is a lot to absorb here, even for experienced horsemen. The Alltech indoor arena is amazing. Again I have to say that it seems an ideal place for The National Horse Show coming here for the first time in November.

It’s a tradition to decorate a team golf cart, and to finish the first day, after the opening ceremony, there is a golf cart parade that ends at Spy Coast Farm with a small party. Team camaraderie begins as the girls, parents and trainers meet and enjoy dinner on the first night.

Day Two
The second day starts with the jog and a warm up class. All eight of our Zone 10 riders jog and warm up without trouble. Our Junior team this year, Brittany Albreqc, Hannah Ward, Madison Bradshaw, and Kilian McGrath, is the most inexperienced team we’ve sent in a few years. But all are talented and well-mounted.

Our Young Rider team, Danielle Korsh, Kendall Skreden, Sage Flynn, and Cayla Richards are more experienced and act as guides to our younger group. Each one with the exception of Sage has been here before.

We sneak in some time to tour a few farms and end up on a fantastic country road. We drive by farm after farm that have giant gorgeous green pastures with horses grazing and playing. The barns are magnificent and the architecture blends nicely with the land.

Day Three
Our first competition day starts with a speed class. The Junior Team is scored as a timed first round; basically the fastest with the least amount of jumping faults is the winner. However, each day’s faults are carried through to the individual final, without time being a factor. So a clear round today is important. All the girls ride well. Brittany, and Kilian come home with 4 faults, and Madison and Hannah are both clear. Hannah puts in a very solid round. Canasucre literally jumps out of her shoes, to take an early lead, but in the end two others are faster and she settles for 3rd place.

In the Young Rider division the class is scored as faults converted, so any knock down is 4 seconds added to your time. At the end of the class the winner receives a score of zero. Everyone else’s time is cut in 1/2 and the difference between that score and zero is converted to faults (it can be confusing, just like the World Cup Final). They carry that score through each round to make up an individual final score.

Cayla is our best Young Rider – she has a beautiful round adding no faults. She holds the lead for a while but in the end settles for 2nd place. Kendall also puts in a fabulous round and ends up in 10th place. Danielle has an unexpected spook and a drive-by at fence 3 but still does not touch a rail and ends with just her time score. Sage is the most nervous, lowering two jumps but still managing a good enough time to stay in the middle of the pack.

The courses are inviting, and the height not as daunting, since they are riding a speed format, but the next day will bring more technical questions, water with no rail, a tight time allowed, and of course all the nerves of riding for your team.

Day Four
Team competition day starts at 7am in an attempt to beat the heat. Junior Teams ride first. First for our team is Kilian and my heart goes out to her as I see her struggle with her nerves; she puts in an uncharacteristic round and ends with 16 faults. Madison is next; she rides well and brings home a clear round. Brittany also rides well but two small mistakes leave her with a score of 8.

Hannah is last to challenge, and she is ready. She rides flawlessly and produces a clear round. We make it to round two.

The top six teams come back for round two. Kilian pulls it together and rides a respectable round with just a foot in the water and a light rail; she comes home with 8 faults. Madison continues her strong riding and has an unlucky rail for 4 faults. Brittany stays consistent, but is a little slower this time and brings home 9 faults. Hannah rides well, but a few small mistakes and maybe her shoe pull from the first day catch up with her – 12 faults is her final score.

The Junior team handles the pressure of the championships and riding for a team well, considering this is their first time. They end a very respectable sixth.

Zone 2 and 4 are very strong and end the day with a jump-off for Gold and Silver and in the end it is Zone 4 that is victorious.

Next is the Young Rider Team Competition. Cayla is first to go, a small mistake at the fourth jump and a touch too slow leaves her with 4 + 1 time. Next, Danielle rides a beautiful clear round but again just over the time for 1 fault. Sage, our least experienced rider, shows her nerves in this round. She struggles in the first half but then pulls it together, and completes the round with 16 faults. Kendall is last and she doesn’t disappoint. She turns in a respectable 4 fault score. We enter the 2nd round with 10 faults, sitting third.

Cayla starts Round 3 off well and turns in a score of 4 faults. Danielle is consistent, clear over the jumps but with 1 time fault. Sage pulls it together and rides like we all know she can, and gives the team a clear round! Last is Kendal who rides a nice round but lowers two fences for 8 faults. Our team total is 15 faults.

It comes down to the last riders for Zones 2 and 4 again. The Zone 4 rider produces a clear round and leaves them with an amazing 8 fault total, and the gold medal. A lot is riding on the shoulders of the last rider from Zone 2. A clear round would cause a tie and force a jump-off, 4 faults and they would finish with silver. She succumbs to the pressure, a difficult but important lesson of a championship like this, and turns in 8 faults making their final total 16 faults.

Zone 10 wins Silver!

Day Five
Saturday is the farewell competition. Anyone who does not advance to the final will ride. Our only rider is Kilian. The weather is a bit crazy today, very hot and humid. Her horse is struggling with the heat and is not going as well as usual. She puts in a very respectable 4 fault round to end her first experience here.

As the day progresses thunder and lightning approach. We decide to hide out in the new USHJA building. We go on a tour of the small museum that is full of team memorabilia and it takes us back to our roots. We enjoy the fabulous thunderstorm from the safety of the building, and end the day with dinner downtown at a quaint restaurant well known in Lexington, a La Lucie.

Final Day
Sunday morning comes early, again with a 7am start (even after all these years of competing, I still don’t like early mornings!) The Individual Competition concludes today.

We start again with the Junior riders. Today’s course is the most challenging thus far and the time is tight, with not many places on course to breathe. Brittany is first to go and leads us off. A good ride, but a couple of small mistakes, and she leaves the ring with 8 faults + 1 time. Hannah jumps a nice round and brings home 4 faults but catches one on the clock for a total of 5. She finishes with a total of 17, which ends up being one fault too many to advance to the final round.

Madison jumps last and rides well. She lowers the height of two fences though for an 8 fault score. She makes the final 15. In the final round she stays consistent and brings in a score of 8 for a 15th place finish, which is really great for her first year at NAJYRC.

For our Young Rider Final the course is the most difficult yet, now set at 1.50M and technical. You can feel the tension in the air as each score counts toward a medal. Sage is our first Zone 10 rider to go. She succumbs to the pressure, one more of the lessons of this competition. With two rails down and a miscommunication with her horse Hot Pants that leads to a refusal, she finishes with 12 plus time.

Kendall is next and she keeps her cool. She jumps a super round with one time fault. Danielle stays consistent and rides a careful, deliberate round; she leaves all the rails in place and comes home with just 3 time faults.

Cayla looks to be our hope for a medal. She rides beautifully all the way to the triple combination. She comes in with too much, hurries to the triple and jumps in too deep. She has to pull out of the triple and restart. Nerves appear to overtake her usually cool demeanor and she hurries back to jump through again with the same result. Unfortunately she is eliminated.

And the Final Round
The final round is upon us. The course is shortened but the track is large and the time very tight. It doesn’t look possible for us to medal. Sage starts us off, and she puts it all together. She rides a fantastic clear round to end with a positive experience. Kendall is next – she stays focused and jumps a clear round as well. She finishes as one of the few to jump double clear on the final day. Danielle follows with another clear round over the jumps just off the pace and adds 1 fault to her score.

We sit on the edge of our seats for the remaining riders. The pressure proves too much and rails are dropping. With each rider, our girls are moving up. In the end the two leaders prove to be strong and although they each drop a rail they have enough of a lead to stay on top.

Danielle’s consistency earns her the bronze medal. Her horse San Diego is the only one not to touch a rail all week.

Kendall’s persistence pays off and she slips into 4th place respectively. Sage ends in a respectable 11th place.

Goodbye Blue Grass
As we head to the airport, we go on one last driving tour. This time we take in the sights of Claiborne Farm and the famous Keeneland Race Track. There are no races here at the moment, but you can feel the energy in a place like this. Kentucky is a special place for horses and those of us who love them. Our trip ends here, but we feel certain that with the goals of our riders and all that Lexington has to offer, we will be back. And we can’t wait!

Highlights From June 2011 Blenheim Series Wrap up

By Jackie McFarland

We’re now in the middle of the summer season, with plenty o’horse showing remaining and a fabulous fall ahead. June was chock full of fantastic competition from north to south and overseas. See below for a wrap-up of the Blenheim June Series. With an international feel on the International field the show jumping was super. Hunters were hot, with high scores and impressive handy rounds.

Finishing up four weeks right before the 4th of July gave riders, owners trainers, grooms and families a chance to celebrate independence day after four fantastic weeks in San Juan Capistrano. With over $150,000 in prize money including a $30,000 Grand Prix each weekend, Zone 10 Young Rider Selection Trials, a USHJA Hunter Derby, Zone 10 Pony Hunter Finals, Open Jumper Classics, Children’s Pony Hunter Divisions and Green Rider Equitation, the range of classes offered something for every rider, plus Hilltop VIP, Medal Club, Kids Days and two excellent exhibitor parties.

The competition is hot and the weather cool…

NAJYRC Teams Named

After several successful years at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) that played a role in producing a stellar group of young Grand Prix riders, including Karl Cook, Lucy Davis and Ricky Neal, the 2011 Zone 10 Teams consist of the west coast’s next group of solid show jumpers.

Beginning the final qualifying rounds for NAJRYC on Friday and culminating on Sunday morning, points earned were tallied from this and previous shows for the naming of the Zone 10 NAJYRC Young Rider and Junior Teams. Taking on the challenges of Linda Allen’s courses this weekend, the ten top point earners got a taste of the tracks to come later this summer at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

Zone 10 Young Rider Team 
Faustino – Cayla Richards | Esperanto – Kendall Skreden | San Diego – Danielle Korsh
Hot Pants – Sage Flynn | ALT: Gaja 20 – Jocelyn Neff

Zone 10 Junior Team
Canasucre – Hannah Warde | Corralino – Madison Bradshaw | Ashtin’s Obsession – Killian McGrath
Union Jack – Brittany Albrecq | ALT: Pomme D’Api – Viva Hallinan

Hail the King of Hunters and His Trusty Steed
John French aboard the Holsteiner stallion Crown Affair (owned by Yellow Dog Farm) not only won one of the last qualifiers of the 2010/2011 High Performance Hunter Challenge season during May’s Ranch & Coast Classic but had a repeat performance at one of the first qualifiers for the 2011/2012 season. Thirty couples came to play on the large grass field. The challenging course built by Joe Lombardo meant high scores were few and far between but by the end, eleven of twelve pairs earned scores in the eighties and returned for the Handy Round.

The second round asked riders to pilot their hunters smoothly through an s-shaped line from fences three through five, a hand gallop towards home at fence ten directly to a trot jump at the in-gate. As often seen in the Handy Round, positions shifted as rails and riders fell. The top two horses, the aforementioned Crown Affair and Symon (owned by Alison Baileys) both ridden by one of our nation’s best John French, handled the Handy Round with style and held their positions finishing first and second.

A mix of professionals, amateurs and juniors claimed third through twelfth: Melissa Doddridge was third on Bentley and seventh aboard Delux, Hope Glynn rode Sabrina Hellman’s Woodstock to fourth, Glynn’s client Erin Bland rode her own Weatherly to fifth, Gabbi Langston was sixth on Azlan, unexpected rails down caused Jenny Karazissis and Forbes as well as Devon Gibson with Copperfield to bump down to eight and ninth, Tiffany Sullivan was tenth on her five-year-old Easy Company, a crash through a jump late in the course dropped Gretchen Lof and Shine on Me down to eleventh and Nick Haness was poised to garner a top prize on Catwalk after a gorgeous ride, when a surprise stop at the final trot jump caused a fall and the pair finished twelfth.

It’s a First First for Lane Clarke and Granville’s Casseur De Prix

As expected, course designer Linda Allen built a demanding track for the $30,000 Blenheim Classic Grand Prix presented by the Orange County Register. At the end of the round one, nine entries managed to jump without fault.

Although many seasoned equestrians were part of the mix, it was 25-year-old Australian Lane Clarke aboard Granville’s Casseur de Prix who took home the top prize by delivering the only double clear of the day.

“This is only the fourth grand prix [Granville’s Casseur de Prix] and I have done together so to come out with a win this early in our partnership is pretty amazing,” smiled Clarke. Although he navigated both the first and second round courses without fault, Clarke still recognized many difficulties posed by Allen’s design.

“Linda Allen always builds difficult and unique courses,” commented Clarke. “Track-wise, it was beautiful to look at and made a lot of sense, but it was not easy to ride clean.”

As the second duo of nine to take on the shortened track, Clarke felt the pressure of the seven entrants that were still to follow and chose an alternative path to the final fence on course, a daringly tight inside turn that resulted in a time of 48.07 and the win.

The second place team took a more conservative route. Jumping clean but going just over the 50 second jump-off time allowed, Rusty Stewart aboard the precocious seven-year-old Bristol masterfully negotiated the track but stopped the clock at 50.22 to add one time fault to their otherwise pristine performance.

Finishing third, Francie Steinwedell-Carvin and Taunus were the first to negotiate the shortened track but had a rail midway through the course ending with four faults in a time of 48.67. Steinwedell-Carvin also went clean on Twistar, but the pair struggled in the second round with a run-out, rails and then an unfortunate fall and elimination from the round, placing them ninth.

Late in the jump-off order, the master hunter rider mentioned above, John French, aboard Chawi De Laubry (owned by Mountain Home Stables) was clean as he approached the final fence on course. Riding for the win, French followed the lead of some of his fellow competitors and opted for the inside turn. The crowd groaned as the pair had a disappointing run-out, followed by a rail on the second attempt for an eighth place finish

Ups and Downs

The Blenheim EquiSports June Classics I & II were memorable for multiple reasons. With the usual ups and downs, rising hunter star Samantha Sommers, who was Champion Week I on Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Kiss, took an unfortunate tumble in the jumper ring last week sending her shoulder into disrepair for a period. Look for an interview with Sam in an upcoming issue. We hear that Joie Gatlin, who also had an unusual dismount in the jumper ring and did a number on her knee, is doing well and will be visiting the show this week. We wish them both a speedy recovery.  On a high note, Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Affair earned a pair of 95s in the junior hunter ring with Olivia Esse aboard. Olivia wrote a great piece about the Devon Horse Show in the June Series Week One issue.

Internationally Inspired Show Jumping
It was superb to see several countries represented in both the first round and the jump-off of the $30,000 June Classic II Grand Prix – Puerto Rico, Australia, Brazil, the United States and predominantly Mexico. Of the forty horse and rider combinations who came to play, seventeen qualified for the jump-off.

Course Designer Scott Starnes set a track to suit the range of experience in the class, which was a mix of young horses and riders to Olympic level riders. With two combinations, a few scope tests and a tight time allowed, the collective group rose to the occasion. Six couples rode without lowering the height of a jump, but incurred time faults, including American Molly Talla who stopped the clock a mere .008 seconds over the time allowed aboard Camaron Hills Quick Dollar.

“Ideally I want ten to go clean,” commented Starnes before the class commenced. “I didn’t want to over face the young ones yet still challenge the field. I’d rather more go clean than to have the course be too difficult.”

With a large and aggressive group competing in the jump-off, the top ten finishers were all double clean. First to return in the second round was Jaime Azcarraga of Mexico aboard his own Celsius. He set the pace, going clear in 43.98 and held the lead until hometown heroes Susan Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano galloped in eight entries later with a blazingly fast, clean ride over the shortened track in 41.91. Azcarraga returned on his second mount, Gangster, trying to catch Cantano and steal back the leading spot. With a time of 42.41, he beat his first horse but not Hutchison’s ending the day third and fifth. American Rusty Stewart rode Grey Fox Farm’s Bristol efficiently in 43.75, picking up fourth for their efforts. Then along came Agustin Aguayo aboard his own Pro Star de la Nutrin who delivered a clean performance in 41.33 for the win, bumping Hutchison to second.

Through an interpreter, Aguayo explained that he bought Pro Star de la Nutrin when he was a three-year-old. Now competing as an eight-year-old, this was only their second grand prix; the first was in Jalapa (Mexico). Competing here at Blenheim for the next two weeks, the team will return to Mexico for the Pan Am Trials later this summer.

The thrills and spills kept spectators engaged from beginning to end. Salvador Onate lost both his stirrups halfway through the course and impressively still managed to ride without fault, qualifying for the jump-off on Paldatus. While Francois Esteves was almost jumped off by ET 14 Mercedes Benz in round one, Luis Alejandro Plasencia did part ways with Dante at the final fence of the jump-off.

Internationally speaking, the final placings included two Mexican riders and two American riders in the top four, with Australians Harley Brown and Lane Clarke as well as Puerto Rico representative Mark Watring, who all compete actively in California, in the top twelve. Overall ten of the top twelve ribbons went to international riders.

Another International Heyday
An impressive field of thirty-eight horse and rider combinations representing five countries ventured onto the Blenheim International Field for the $30,000 June Classic III Grand Prix, presented by the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort. Course designer Pierre Jolicoeur set a fair but challenging track, posing questions that kept riders on their toes (and in their heels). After a tough first round, only eight duos managed to ride without fault and earn a ticket to the jump-off. While the second round had several solid attempts, the well-seasoned Olympian Antonio Maurer of Mexico masterfully navigated the shortened track to secure the win aboard Francisco Del Rio’s Callao.

“In the jump-off I was fast, but not crazy fast,” said Maurer following his victory gallop. “I’m working my horse back up and this is only his second grand prix after being off for a year. He was double clear in last week’s grand prix and he won today; I couldn’t be happier.”

In addition to being pleased with his mount, Maurer complimented Jolicouer’s course.

“Pierre built a fair track,” noted Maurer. “There were technical questions and elements of rideability but it was designed very fair and very smart. The time was a bit of a factor for some but the field was actually very balanced.”

As the first to jump clean in round one, Brazilian Francois Esteves christened the shortened track aboard his own E.T. 14 Mercedes Benz, setting the stage for his fellow competitors with a clean ride in a time of 38.11 seconds, ultimately finishing fifth. Maurer galloped onto the grass next and shaved 1.37 seconds off, stopping the clock clean in 36.74, taking the lead. Continuing the double clear rounds, Australian Harley Brown and his talented World Cup horse Cassiato (owned by Oak Park Group, LLC) earned third place honors for their neat and clean 37.42 effort. Salvador Onate of Mexico aboard Paldatus was close to catching Maurer, stopping the clock in 36.94, just two tenths of a second shy of taking over the top spot, and finished in the second position. Jaime Azcarraga and Celsius picked up an unfortunate four faults at the second fence in the second round, finishing seventh.

Next in the order of go was nineteen-year-old Tina DiLandri and Avargo. The only American to advance to the second round, DiLandri laid down a stellar performance, leaving all the rails untouched in 37.55 seconds to earn fourth place in a difficult field.

Although eight riders managed to navigate Jolicoeur’s first round course without fault, many more racked up faults by exceeding the 81-second time allowed, dislodging rails or both. “I tried to build the course so it catered to the rider and was safe for the horse,” said Jolicoeur. “The jumps were not huge but some of the elements were technical and presented decisions. There were many areas on the course where riders could pick up the pace and it was left up to them to do it.”

International Fireworks on the Field

Perfect weather during the start of the Fourth of July weekend greeted the thirty-four horse and rider pairs at the Blenheim International Field for the $30,000 Red, White & Blue Grand Prix. Course designer Anderson Lima of Brazil set a technical track with sixteen efforts as well as a tight time allowed. Six pairs successfully rode without fault in the first round, four going double clear. Mexican rider Salvador Onate aboard Charro balanced speed and precision to secure the victory.

Going twenty-ninth in the order, Onate had the advantage of seeing the track. “When I was walking the course, I thought it would be a difficult run to make a clear round,” Onate said. “I had to focus on the strides, because there were many options. I had the opportunity of watching a couple of riders do it, and then I took my options.”

The second pair to attempt the course, last week’s grand prix winners Antonio Maurer and Callao (owned by Francisco del Rio) were the first fault-free pair, and remained the only clean until Susan Hutchison and El Dorado 29’s Cantano blazed through the course without fault at almost ten seconds under the time allowed. The crowd roared, animated by her tempo and the guarantee of a jump-off.

Lane Clarke and Granville’s Casseur de Prix (owned by Granville Equine), winners of the first grand prix in the Blenheim June Series, received a hearty welcome from the crowd. Though they had no jumping faults and appeared to have a good pace, the pair finished with a heartbreaking time fault when they stopped the clock just three-tenths of a second over the time allowed.

The tight turn to the CardFlex jump, fence six of the first round, was a trouble spot for many of the riders. Fences 11b and 11c of the second combination on the course also caused multiple jumping faults. Regarding Lima’s design, his first in California, Onate commented, “I liked the course a lot. Lima designed a great course, and I hope he comes back next year.”

With a smile Onate added, “This is my first year here and hopefully I can come back, too.”

Antonio Maurer returned on his second of three mounts, Francisco del Rio’s As Hyo Hugo, and turned in a beautiful clean round. Immediately following Maurer, Duncan McFarlane on Simone Coxe’s Mr. Whoopy navigated the course without fault to join the jump-off group.

A dozen entries, beset with refusals, eliminations and jumping faults, went before up-and-coming grand prix rider Tina DiLandri aboard Avargo finished the first round clean. It was DiLandri’s second mount, and they were the twenty-seventh pair to gallop on the field. There were now five duos to return. Salvador Onate and Charro entered the ring as DiLandri exited, turning in a fantastic clear round just under the time allowed and then there were six coming back.

Maurer and Callao returned to the ring and finished with a double clear round in a quick 39.012. Hutchison and Cantano raced around the course, and even managed to kick it up a notch during the long gallop to the final jump. Though they appeared to jump it clear, a rail fell as they landed and the pair ended with four jumping faults.

Duncan McFarlane and Mr. Whoopy attempted the course next, and though they seemed to have the speed to challenge Maurer, they dropped a rail at the penultimate obstacle and finished with four faults.

Maurer piloting As Hyo Hugo followed McFarlane and turned in another double clear performance, but Maurer’s more conservative approach to the track ended with a time of 40.575. Tina DiLandri and Avargo also turned in a double clear round in 40.220 and were sitting in second place as the final couple of Salvador Onate and Charro entered the ring.

The crowd grew silent as Onate and Charro cleared each obstacle, and when the time of 38.774 was announced, the stands erupted – the duo had won the grand prix by less than one second.

Exhibitor Evenings

Blenheim EquiSports and Equ Lifestyle Magazine hosted not-to-be-missed social occasions. Guests enjoyed food and fun while searching for hidden ‘treasures’ at San Juan Capistrano’s Vintage Steakhouse at the Great Train Robbery party. The following week competitors enjoyed an evening at the lovely Arden Cottage at Blenheim Farms. Located only a short stroll or golf cart ride away, it was truly an ideal location for unwinding, appetizing and socializing. The social calendar continues in late July through August with an innovative mix of events from Mardi Gras to Casino Nights and more.

BBQ & Go Horseless
Kids of all sizes had a fun and competitive day During Blenheim June III. On Saturday everyone enjoyed a post Zone 10 Pony Finals BBQ in the afternoon as well as a JustWorld International Horseless Horse Show. What could be better than supporting a great cause while having a great time?

EquestriSol News: November 2, 2009


Let’s start by congratulating some of our West Coast riders shining bright on the East Coast. Hats off to Zazou Hoffman (riding Ivy, Missy Clark/Meredith Bullock, trainers) – Winner of the 2009 ASPCA Maclay National Championships. Fourth in this prestigious medal final held at the National Horse Show in Syracuse, NY went to Samantha Harrison (riding Triple Lutz, Karen Healey, trainer) and sixth to Lucy Davis (riding Patrick, Archie Cox, trainer).

At the Washington International Horse Show, Samantha Harrison and Santika dominated the jumper arena, winning the $10,000 Senator’s Cup Junior Jumper Stake and earning Reserve Champion in the division. More WIHS Reserve Champions hailed from the West Coast, Small Affair (Iwasaki & Reilly) ridden by John French earned the reserve tri-color in the 1st Year Green Hunter Division. Costar (Alexandra Zell) ridden by Shelley Campf did the same in the Green Conformation Division. And Sanmorino (Ann Lindwall) with Jack Hammond aboard was Reserve Champion in the Second Year Green Hunter Division.

Zone 10 did it again at Harrisburg, winning gold in the USEF Junior Jumper Prix de States. Lucy Davis rode True Love in the jump off to secure the team victory. Other team members included Saer Coulter/Chalan, Paris Sellon/Troyes, Karl Cook/Notories Utopia. Chef d’Equipe extraordinaire was once again Butch Thomas. John French and Small Affair (Iwasaki & Reilly) were Reserve in the First Year Working Hunter Division.

In the hunter divisions at Capital Challenge, Rumba (Mountain Home Stables, former owner) and John French were Grand Champions when they topped the Second Years and On Top (Laurel Ridge Sport Horses) with Keri Kampsen aboard earned Reserve in the Regular Working.  

Links Not to be Missed

Noteworthy clicks worth considering:

Blenheim Farms Video

The story and scenes from Blenheim Farms with RJ Brandes, Richard Spooner and George Morris.

Equine Industry Survey, presented by the American Horse Publications

“The AHP’s member publications, web sites, and newsletters reach nearly 3 million people involved in the horse industry in the United States and around the world,” said Kimberly S. Brown, current AHP president. “We think this is a great opportunity for us to use our collective resources and reach into the horse industry to get answers about how we are doing today, how we think we’ll be doing in the near future, and what we are concerned about in our industry.”

Clinics Coming to Town
Before Santa comes you can give yourself an early Christmas present by participating in and/or auditing at two upcoming clinics. Names synonymous with the world’s best in the sport: Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and George Morris will both be in SoCal hosting clinics at two beautiful locations.

November 20-22:
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum at El Campeon Farms – more info
Contact: Kasey Ament – 805-794-6107

December 11-13:

George Morris at Shelburne Farms
Contact: Melissa Jones – 805-370-1941

The Equestrian Diaries

By Ricky Neal, 2009 Gold Medal Team Member

July 22nd 
Wednesday’s warm-up competition offered us our first chance to school our horses in the newly renovated stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park. The course, set by Olaf Peterson Jr., consisted of eight obstacles. Once in the ring, each competitor was granted 90 seconds to jump as many jumps as they wanted in whichever order they liked best. The majority of my Zone 10 junior team opted for a shortened version of Olaf Jr.’s course which allowed us to school both the open water and the double without fatiguing our horses too much, as we had a long week ahead. Despite the wet weather our team came away from the warm-up competition in top shape, excited for the week to come.

July 23rd
The championships began on Thursday for the Juniors with a one-round competition against the clock. Because Sunday’s winner would be determined by faults only, the emphasis was on clear rounds and only clear rounds. The first Californian in was Samantha Harrison, who set an excellent example for the day with a confident clear round, just under the time allowed. I was the next rider to enter the ring from Zone 10, aboard my Oldenburg gelding Luke Skywalker S. Luke cantered around the ring with great confidence and I was able to steer him around the course without any rails coming down. The rest of my teammates from Zone 10 followed suit, and at the end of the day the scoreboard reflected the hard work each one of us had put in order to qualify for the Junior team; Annie Cook and Gina, the alternates for the team, led the victory gallop, while placings 4th-7th went to me, Alec Lawler, Taylor Siebel, and Samantha Harrison, respectively. With five riders in the top ten, our Zone 10 team quickly became the favorite for Friday’s team competition, and we would not disappoint.

July 24th
Friday’s team competition consisted of nine teams jumping the same course twice, with a jump off to determine the winner in case of a tie. Olaf Jr. set a long, challenging course for the two round competition, but after Thursday’s success, our team felt confident, comfortable, and prepared for the day’s challenges. As Zone 10 drew first in the order of go, our lead off rider, Samantha Harrison, was the first to enter the arena. As she did the day before and as she would continue to do all week, Sam posted a relaxed and effortless clear round, much to the delight of Zone 10’s cheering section, which was to be rivaled only by the hoots and hollers of the adjacent Mexican cheering section. Following Sam’s lead, Taylor Siebel posted another fault free score, giving Zone 10 the only two clear rounds in the class thus far. Next to show was Alec Lawler, who completed the difficult course with a respectable 8 fault round. Already with a definitive lead in the competition with only 8 faults, there was little pressure on me as I walked into the ring as Zone 10’s anchor rider. Luke again cantered around the course with ease and again the jumps stayed up, giving our team a total of 0 faults, being tailed only by Zone 2 with a score of 12.

As anyone can tell you, however, team competitions are often fickle in nature. Although Samantha started the second round with a fault free round, both Alec and Taylor had 12 faults each, and following two clear rounds from Zone 2, we found ourselves in a tie for the lead after three of the four riders had gone. Because Zone 2 had a drop score of 20 in the second round, they needed a clear round from their anchor rider, Kaitlin Cambell, in order to win. As Zone 10’s anchor rider, I knew that my score would mean the difference between gold and silver for our team, but I first had to see how Kaitlin would do. On the way to the in-gate, Kaitlin’s eye caught mine. “Good luck”, I offered, with only the slightest hint of sarcasm. “Yea, no pressure,” she shot back with a smile. Yet despite the lighthearted banter, Kaitlin was all business when she walked into the ring. Some 80 seconds later, Kaitlin crossed the timers to the thunderous applause from Zone 2’s cheering section having completed the course fault free, giving Zone 2 a grand total of 12 faults. As the announcer so thoughtfully summed up the situation as I entered the ring “The pressure is on.” Once in the ring, however, cries of encouragement from Zone 10’s cheering section pierced the stadium and reminded me that I wasn’t completely alone. With my nerves conquered, I began the course with the same confidence and focus which I had had during the first round’s ride. The handsome Luke Skywalker again rose to the occasion and cruised around the course without any problems, leaving all the poles in the cups.

The fun was not yet over, however, as we now had to jump off against Zone 2. Zone 2 started the jump-off, and their first rider posted a quick four fault round. Samantha Harrison, who deserves a nickname for her stone cold consistency throughout the team competition, loped around the shortened course, leaving all the fences up. The next two riders for Zone 2 had eight faults each, allowing Alec and Taylor to finish the day with each posting four fault rounds, giving us a worst case scenario score of 8 and Zone 2 a best case scenario score of 12, meaning that it was not necessary for either Kaitlin or I to jump off. With a total of 8 faults in the jump off, Zone 10’s Junior team won a gold medal for the third year in a row. The hard fought victory left me, Taylor, Sam and Alec hungry for more, and each of us will undoubtedly be back to the championships in years to come.

Ricky Neal is 17 years old and has been riding since age 5.  He trains with Dick Carvin and Susie Schroer at Meadow Grove Farm and currently has three horses – Texas, Larina, and Luke Skywalker S.  Ricky recently won an individual bronze medal as well as a team gold medal at the NAJYRC aboard Luke Skywalker.

Luke is a 9 yo Oldenburg gelding, bought in September of 2008 but not shown until 2009 HITS DC because of an injury.  He qualified behind Larina for YR, so Ricky originally planned to leave him at home, but when he performed well at Spruce Meadows he decided to bring him instead, despite his lesser experience. Good decision!



By Katie Kotarak & Jackie McFarland

The time has come for the anticipated 2009 Adequan FEI North American Junior / Young Rider Championships (NAYJRC), presented by Gotham North, at the Kentucky Horse Park. After undergoing a complete redesign for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), qualified young riders have the honor of competing on the same turf as the 2010 WEG competitors.

2009 Young Riders Team – Zone 10
Amongst the ten, four on the Young Rider Team plus an alternate and four on the Junior Rider Team plus an alternate, three of the riders who train with Dick Carvin and Susie Schroer – Ricky Neal, Paris Sellon and Lucy Davis – took time to talk with us.

Although each of them had garnered qualifying points before the show, all were acutely aware how important their results were at the Blenheim June Classic I, June 23-27, 2009. With the chance to gain valuable points, Sunday’s class was mandatory, scored at 1.5x and consisted of two rounds. All agreed Linda Allen’s course was big and technical. Professional Jenni Martin McAllister concurred. Also competing in the 1.45m class that served as a qualifier, she commented, “It was a difficult course. My mare who shows at this level was impressed, as was I.”

Ricky: Although intense, it’s nice to compete in a similar format to NAJYRC. No other zone does qualifying like ours, so we are prepared for what’s to come and I think it shows.

Lucy: It’s nice to be rewarded for consistency and make the team, as well as for riding well under pressure. Last year I qualified because I won on Sunday, this year today was not my best day.

Paris: I was leading coming into this week, but I had a rough time Thursday and Friday. Today was my best day and it was similar to what we’ll see at Young Riders, so that feels good.

About making the team: 
Qualifying was a top priority for all three riders – they planned their 2009 show schedules around it. They all look forward to competing at the WEG facility.

Ricky: It’s nice to see who made the teams. The competition was tough and I think we have some of our best on both teams. Paris: We did go through a lot this year to qualify, but I think it will pay off.

Lucy: Last year I learned so much. It’s one of the few shows where we get to be there the entire week (no school) and we are able to spend more time with our horses, our friends and focus on just the one event.

And one more…
LEG Up News shared teammate Adriene Dixon’s excitement about making it to NAJYRC.  “This is my first and last shot,” said Dixon who is riding at the maximum age of 21.  “It was make or break and I am so excited. I feel like Young Riders is a really important step to being a legitimate jumper rider.  If you can get to the Championships then you have really accomplished something,” commented the U.C. Davis student.

To prepare for the rigors of the championship, Dixon said that she and her trainer, Buddy Brown focused on endurance for Pom Pom.  “Buddy really focuses on all the details.  He knows I can ride, so he helps me with the little things.” Dixon hopes that all those little things will add up to big performances this week.

About the NAYJRC course designer, Olaf Petersen Jr.:
Olaf designed last year and will return this year. All riders agreed Olaf builds tough and technical courses. Lucy and Mister Mind did not drop a single rail in 2008 – the pair rode five clean rounds and were the only ones to do so.

More About NAJYRC:
Since 1979, these Championships have showcased the best young rider and junior horse/rider combinations in the three Olympic disciplines of Dressage, Eventing and Jumping. In 2008, the Western discipline of Reining was added, bringing the best young athletes, ages 14-21, in four of the high performance equestrian disciplines together for the first time.

Show jumping teams are invited from the twelve Zones in the United States, each Canadian Province, Mexico and the Caribbean to compete for team and individual medals. The Championships are designed to mirror the competition format used at the Olympic and Pan American Games. In addition, the Championships offer riders the opportunity and experience of competing as a member of a team. (Adapted from youngriders.org & usef.org)

Zone 10 Rules!


YR Team Gold: Karl Cook, Hannah Selleck, Paige Dotson, Sophie Benjamin
Individual Medal Sweep: Gold: Hannah Selleck; Silver: Karl Cook; Bronze: Paige Dotson
JR Team Gold: Lucy Davis, Alec Lawler, Savannah Carr, Annie Laurie Cook
Individual Medal: Gold: Lucy Davis



YR Team Gold: Karl Cook, Aurora Griffin, Katie Harris, Megan Edrick
Individual Medals: Gold: Karl Cook; Bronze: Aurora Griffin
JR Team Gold: Paige Dotson, Danielle Korsh, Meredith Harris, Saer Coulter

Conversations With Equestrians: Hannah Von Heidegger

By Laura Ware

This week, while we junior hunter riders were reduced to showing in the dirt arena at the far end of the horse show grounds, the pony kids took center stage, galloping around the open grass field that sits between the Grand Prix field and the food area. This was appropriate, however, as the Oaks Blenheim June Classic III was home to the Zone 10 Pony Hunter Finals.

Always a fun class to watch – those pony kids are so adorable and such amazing little riders – the Zone 10 Pony Finals is open to all pony/rider combinations, and has three phases: model, under saddle and over fences. Ribbons are awarded to twelfth place for each phase, along with a champion and reserve champion for each height section, and an overall champion and overall reserve champion.

This year’s overall and large pony champion was Hannah Von Heidegger on A Hoof and a Prayer. Along with A Hoof and a Prayer, Hannah, 11, rides several other ponies and horses, and was gracious enough to answer a few questions I had about this event.

Laura: How long have you been riding?
Hannah: I’ve been riding since I was three, and began showing in the short stirrup when I was six.

Laura: A Hoof and A Prayer is a large pony, how long have you been showing in the larges?
Hannah: I just started doing them at the beginning of this year.

Laura: Tell us a bit about your pony, A Hoof and a Prayer.
Hannah: I got A Hoof and a Prayer (his barn name is Happy) last fall, and started showing him this year. He is pretty smooth, has a long stride, likes long distances, and takes me to the jump a little bit. He’s a little different to ride than my other ponies because you have to keep more pace in the corners.

Laura: What is he best at doing?
Hannah: He’s best at jumping. He has a great jump!

Laura: Did you show any of your other ponies at Zone 10 Pony Finals? How did it go with them?
Hannah: I showed Simply Magical (in the mediums) as well as A Hoof and a Prayer. Simply Magical got an 86 in the model, and 86 in the hack, but in the jumping I got a score of 63. I had a little bit of a mishap. I moved up too much to the distance, and ended up chipping. So, on A Hoof and a Prayer, I tried to be a little more patient and visualized my course before I got on and imagined what it would look like in the ring.

Laura: That’s awesome that you were able to fix your mistakes and do so well on Happy! How are Simply Magical and A Hoof and a Prayer different?
Hannah:On Simply Magical you just have to stay steady through the whole course and can find the distance pretty easily. Simply Magical is also pretty slow, you have to make sure he doesn’t slow down too much in the corners, and that he doesn’t cross canter.
Laura: Do you have any strategies for modeling your ponies?
Hannah: I try to wait until the judge is a couple of horses away so my ponies don’t move when the judge is watching, and I make sure I have a cookie or mint in my hand to keep my ponies’ ears perked. Luckily, both my ponies are great modelers so they are not hard to model.

Laura: What do you think about riding on the grass?
Hannah: I like it! It’s different, because it is bigger, but it’s fun to be in such a big ring on a pony. You have to have more patience to ride on the big field, which makes it harder. Sometimes, if you’re impatient and try to chase down the jumps on the big field you end up chipping. They also had long bending lines in the courses, which I liked, because they tested your eye.

Laura: What are your riding goals for this year? The future?
Hannah: I’d really like to be champion on one of my ponies at Indoors this year. It would be great to be the first to win Zone 10 Pony Finals twice in a row. I would like to start in the junior hunters next year.

Thanks for your time, Hannah, congratulations, and good luck with your riding goals.

Laura Listens is brought to you by Laura Ware. Winner of the 2007 LAHSA Junior Medal Finals and a recipient of the 2008 WCAR Jumper Rider Grant, Laura rides with First Field Farm and often trains with Archie Cox. She is very successful in the all three disciplines on her own mounts as well as catch riding other horses.