California Riding Magazine • November, 2012

Flying Changes

For Play – 2000 Hanoverian Stallion

On October 4, 2012 we lost a legend ... For Play. He was my best friend, competition partner and family member. Some people would know Player from his captivating appearance, movement, and jumping ability. Others have gotten to know him through his foals.

We know him and love him so deeply for who he was and continues to be. Player's strength, kindness, playfulness and wisdom taught us not only about horses but about ourselves. His mission is to teach balance. The balance we all need in our daily lives. 

It is no secret that my husband and I are workaholics. Yes, we get to work together and, yes, we are surrounded by great people and horses. We needed to start treating ourselves and families as well as we treat our horses. To take every day in its entirety and "stop and smell the roses."

"Fortitude" is one on my husband and I's favorite words of strength and it turns out we had limited knowledge for what that word actually meant until For Play showed us. In my friend's last seven days at the equine hospital we felt closer to him than ever before. We closed the barn and were by his side daily for sometimes more than 12 hours a day.   

He proved life is fragile and his strength in his soul and size of his heart can really outlast and be larger than the bodies we are given to experience life in. It is so important in the balance to take care of our health because the body can only take so much. We were so fortunate that Player was so healthy going into his colic surgeries because it gave us seven days more than we had going into surgery.

In our sorrow, with tears and broken hearts, we also have enjoyed hysterical laughter in reminiscing how our friend baited us to play with him and also what a smart-ass he was about the lessons we needed to learn with our balancing act. When we had our AH HA! moments, he made sure we would recognize him for pointing it out. 

We thank God for the last four years we were able to share with our friend and our ability to share him with others. As a partner, he showed me we could fly, anything is possible and that dreams really do come true. He will forever be in our hearts and daily lives as we see him in the eyes of his foals."

Submitted by Dacia Peters-Imperato, Stepping Stone Sporthorses.

Paul Charles Stone of Steeplechase Farm: A Life Well Lived!

Born in London, England on May 12, 1962, Paul Stone was a steeplechase jockey champion and rode in the Grand National three times before training in Spain and then coming to the US in 1988. He lived in Westchester County, NY, where he was a frequent champion on the hunter/jumper 'A' circuit, as well as the prestigious hunter paces and three-day eventing trials. An exceptional horseman, Paul established an excellent reputation for backing and working with young or difficult horses.

He relocated to San Diego in 1997 with his champion mount, Isaac, and won a host of competitions.

In 1999 he trained the champion at Nationals in the Hunter division. In 2003 he purchased 10 acres in San Diego County's Vista, where he designed and built a beautiful first-class 30-horse show jumping and training facility – Steeplechase Farm. In 2010, Paul entered one last show before needing a liver transplant and was champion in the Mini Prix on his young 18H mount, Rio del Oro – his ultimate Grand Prix prospect.

Paul enjoyed a good joke, sailing, fishing, playing tennis and riding his Harley. He also appeared riding as a steeplechase jockey in the movie Champion.

After a wonderful life of dreams fulfilled and a spectacular equestrian career, his journey ended on September 8 of this year with his partner of 20 years by his side.

Jonathan Wentz

London Paralympian Jonathan Wentz passed away in late September at the too young age of 21. Jonathan was a delightful person and an inspiration to all, reports Lindsay Yosay McCall. "He will be greatly missed among his family and friends. Jonathan was in his final year at Southern Methodist University where he was well-respected among the staff and students." Born with cerebral palsy, he began riding horses as a form of therapy at age 5 at Equest Therapeutic Riding Center in Wylie, TX. His mother, Christina, was a physical therapist and knew in a short time that this sport would be more than just therapeutic. As Jonathan progressed he began to focus on competitive dressage.

In 2008 Jonathan and his family moved to Richardson, TX, where he began training with Kai Handt at the North Texas Equestrian Center. In six months Jonathan competed at his first CPEDI3* and USEF Para-Equestrian National Championships. That same year, he earned High Point Individual Rider at the Region 9 Junior Team Championship and qualified for the 2009 Region 9 USDF Championships. Jonathan would continue to excel as a young rider in 2009 and continuously worked towards his goal to ride at the London Paralympics in 2012.

In 2010 Jonathan Wentz and Kai Handt's horse, NTEC Richter Scale, were members of the United States Para-Equestrian Team and earned a top finish at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. In 2011 Jonathan and NTEC Richter Scale were the USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Champion.

As the 2012 year progressed Jonathan continued to achieve top results with multiple horses. He even earned the accolade of being the number ten Para-Equestrian in the world on the FEI World Ranking List. At the 2012 USEF Para-Equestrian Dressage National Championships in Gladstone, NJ, Jonathan earned Reserve Champion with NTEC Richter Scale.

Jonathan's dream would come true when he earned one of the four spots on the 2012 United States Paralympic Team headed to London. Jonathan took this opportunity seriously and earned the highest placing overall of any United States Equestrian that competed in London. "It was a dream come true," Jonathan expressed after his final day of competition.

For those interested in donating to Jonathan's memory the family has set-up a Scholarship Fund in his name at the United States Para-Equestrian Association. Jonathan was an advocate for the sport and was dedicated to helping grow the discipline as a whole. (Thanks to Lindsay Yosay McCall for this report and photo.)

Ganadero Retires

Congratulations to Ganadero on his retirement from the show ring. Ganadero attended the USDF Region 7/California Dressage Society Championships October 4-7 at the LA Equestrian Center in Burbank as his last show of his career. He placed fourth in the USDF Freestyle Second Level, Reserve Champion CDS First Level Freestyle and fifth in the CDS Second Level Freestyle.

Ganadero has taken several students and his owners to RAAC, CDS Junior Championships, CDS/USDF Region 7 Championships, IEL Orange County and several other area shows. He has earned several daily and yearly high point awards, open, junior and amateur, throughout his show career. Ganadero, who turned 25 in June, is now enjoying a life of turnouts, trail rides and teaching little ones to ride at the Coto Valley Equestrian Center in Coto de Caza. Ganadero is loved and owned by Jennifer and Grace Reynen of Mission Viejo.

Collins Daye at CSU Fresno

Veteran collegiate equestrian coach Collins Daye is settling in at CSU Fresno as head coach of the Bulldogs riding squad. Collins has been a Bulldog before – but for the University of Georgia, where she rode from 2001-03. She led that Bulldog team to back-to-back huntseat team national championships and the 2003 overall team national championship. Additionally, she won the 2003 national individual championship and earned the 2002 reserve national individual championship.

She then joined the Georgia coaching staff for two very successful seasons. While at Georgia, she worked as a member of the NCAA National Varsity Steering Committee and chaired the Varsity National Championship Committee.

In 2005, she left Georgia to be a professional horse trainer in South Carolina, where she led students to compete on the USEF "A" national level, and later consulted with the University of South Carolina - Aiken in the development of their IHSA team. She coached the South Carolina IHSA Equestrian Team in 2008-09.

"I'm excited to be a Bulldog again, but this time at Fresno State," she says. "I'll focus on continuing the strong foundation that is in place and know that our team dynamics will be critical in building a championship team. It is a great opportunity to be a part of this program, and I look forward to getting out in the community and educating people about our sport."