California Riding Magazine • May, 2013

Winner's Circle

Macy Wilson Makes NCEA Honor Roll

Fresno State's Macy Wilson was selected as a National Collegiate Equestrian Association Honorable Mention All-American for her strong performances on the Flat.

Wilson, a sophomore from Chico, has won nine of her 12 points this season in Equitation on the Flat. She has also earned two Most Outstanding Player awards for her rides against Auburn and at the Skyhawk Invitational in Martin, TN.

Wilson has maintained an average score of 78 this season, with her season high of 84 coming against Southern Methodist University in the first match-up of the year.

This sophomore Bulldog has continued her success from her standout freshman season when she was named Fresno State's first-ever NCEA First Team All-American. Wilson looks to continue her excellence in the arena and the classroom after just recently being named to the NCEA Academic Honorable Mention team earlier this month.

Rafalca is Rested & Ready

After the media frenzy which surrounded U.S. Dressage Team member Jan Ebeling at last summer's Olympic Games, he and his mount Rafalca enjoyed a quiet winter away from the spotlight. The well-deserved vacation obviously benefited both rider and horse as they put in strong winning performances at the Festival of the Horse & CDI 3*/Y/J held March 27-30 at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano.

The 15-year-old Oldenburg mare (Argentinius x Ratine by Rubinstein, owned by Amy Ebeling and Ann Romney) showed no signs of being rusty in returning to the international arena for the first time since London. First to canter down centerline in Thursday's CDI Grand Prix class, Ebeling and Rafalca looked fresh and were rewarded by the judging panel of Stephen Clarke (5* GBR), Mary Seefried (5* AUS), Linda Zang (5* USA), Cara Whitham (5* CAN), and Sarah Geikie (4* USA) with a score of 70.979%. 

Despite strong challenges by Kathleen Raine aboard long-time partner Breanna (13-year-old Hanoverian mare, Brentano II x Weltmeyer) and Guenter Seidel with Coral Reef Wylea (13-year-old Westfalen mare, Weinberg x Saluut), Ebeling's score remained atop the scoreboard for the duration of the class as Raine and Seidel had to settle for second and third with 70.340% and 69.787%, respectively. 

"Rafalca showed me that she was mentally and physically ready to be back from vacation," said Ebeling. "I was thrilled with the consistency and accuracy in the Grand Prix. She seems to have more sparkle than ever before!" Ebeling and Rafalca also danced through their technically-challenging and crowd-pleasing Grand Prix freestyle to win on a score of 73.600%, while David Blake rode Melanie Pai's Danish Warmblood gelding Ikaros (Akinos x Fernando) to win the CDI Grand Prix Special with 67.854%.

In the small tour, Heather Kennedy presented Alanna Seller's 12-year-old Rheinlander mare Escada Magica (Ehrentusch x Rouletto) to earn a score of 66.272% and the blue ribbon in the CDI Prix St. Georges class. The Intermediaire I victory went to Megan O'Brien riding Wyoming (2001 Hanoverian gelding Weltmeyer x Akzent I, owned by Carol Robertson) on 64.693%. In the Young Rider classes, Cassidy Gallman won both the Team and Individual tests with Woden (Hanoverian gelding Weltmeyer x Ankum) with a scores of 59.035% and 59.974%, respectively, while CDI Junior competitor Rison Naness rode Kristina Harrison's Hanoverian mare Venezia (White Star x Espri) to sweep her division with 64.459% in the Team Test and 61.474% for the Individual Test.

Hawley & Ginny The Toast of Galway CIC3*

Hawley Bennett-Awad is no stranger to victory at Galway Downs, and this spring she and Linda Paine's superstar mare Gin 'N Juice have gone perfectly, winning their first two outings of the year. They made it three-for-three by flying to victory (50.1 penalties) in the CIC3* at the Galway Downs International Horse Trials at the end of March.

Tivoli and James Alliston (55.3) moved into second behind Bennett-Awad when overnight leader Kristi Nunnink and R-Star added 8.8 time penalties to fall to third (56.1). Alliston also finished fourth on Jumbo's Jake (56.2).

"This spring has been unbelievable with her," said a beaming Bennett-Awad, who rides for her native Canada but lives in Temecula. "She was a machine – foot-perfect everywhere." Bennett-Awad added only .8 time penalties to grab the top prizes.

Gin 'N Juice's speed propelled her to victory, because the optimum time of 6:51 proved to be tough to achieve – only Tivoli and Jumbo's Jake finished faster than the optimum time.

"They must have wheeled the course really tight," said Bennett-Awad of the time penalties. "[At the CCI3* last fall] I could have been 20 seconds fast, and today I was really riding. I don't think I could have gone any faster. But [course designer Ian Stark] wanted it to affect the placings, for sure."

Bennett-Awad and the feisty bay mare known as "Ginny" competed for Canada in the 2012 London Olympics, but they fell early on course. Instead of letting that misfortune become a roadblock, Bennett-Awad has used it as inspiration.

"This spring I feel like everything is really clicking. Whatever happened in London isn't really affecting either one of us. She's just on top of her game. I've never had her jump this good before," she said. "Last year was a bit of a downer," she continued. "And I want to prove that my horses and I are really there."

But there was one black cloud over Bennett-Awad's day, as she took a tumble from her second horse, Five O'Clock Somewhere. He was in position to move ahead of Ginny, until they fell at fence 13C, the Majik Equipe Moat.

"That's the sport of eventing," she said with a sigh. "One minute I'm winning the three-star, and the next minute I'm snorkeling in the moat.

"I was trying to be really competitive, and he was jumping super. I'm not really sure what happened, and nobody else has an answer either. I was glad I had an air vest on—it acted as a flotation device. I was soaked," she added.

Great Britain's James Alliston has earned his share of top ribbons at Galway Downs, and he garnered several more this weekend. In addition to placing second and fourth in the CIC3*, he's also standing second and fourth in the advanced horse trials division with Mojo and Parker. The advanced division show jumps on Sunday.

"I was really happy with both of them," said Alliston of his three-star mounts. "Tivoli gave me a great ride. I wanted to go pretty quick with him, and Jake felt confident and jumped well. Tivoli takes a hold, but that's the way he goes. He's pretty easy cross-country, apart from being strong.  Jake really did feel awesome'as good as ever."

 Alliston added, "They are very different horses. Jake is probably more tiring to ride. With Tivoli you can just drop your hands and let him gallop between the fences. But with Jake if you want to make time, his comfortable galloping speed is not quite there. You have to press him a little bit. But I enjoy him very much."

While the placings in the CIC2* shuffled around a bit, James Atkinson and Gustav jumped double-clean to hold on to the lead they'd maintained ever since dressage (46,8), topping Barbara Crabo and Over Easy (53.0). Atkinson also moved in to third on with a second double-clear round aboard Annie Oakley III (53.4). Emilee Libby and Nonsensical, who finished sixth, were the only other pair to complete the course without time faults.