California Riding Magazine • May, 2013

Bridging The Gap
The Young Horse Show Series comes to California.

Welcomed by an enthusiastic group of breeders, trainers, riders and owners, the first Young Horse Show (YHS) on the West Coast was held March 30 at El Sueño Equestrian in Somis. The Somis show was a hit! The professional atmosphere provided by YHS set the stage for a successful showcase of young talent and a fun day was had by all. The group of young horses seen at the show exhibited the superb ability, quality and athleticism expected from our next generation of sport horses.

This year marks the third competition season since the inception of the Young Horse Show Series program. Created by Jean Yves Tola in collaboration with the North American Studbook (NAS), the YHS program is designed to bridge the gap between the breeding and competition world in the USA, and to strengthen the American breeding system. This is accomplished by providing the ability to show young horses affordably in classes that are designed to show off a horse's talent, while simultaneously building their exposure and their confidence.

Emma - Winner Jump Chute 4 yr old. Photo by: Rebecca Neff Photography -

The first YHS show was held at Spy Coast Farms in 2010. Since then over 200 young horses have participated in the program and two year-end finals have been held in Florida. The success of the program would not be possible if not for the generous sponsorships and support of Spy Coast Farm, Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP), the North American Studbook and many others.

Go West Young Horses!

The Somis show, hosted by Dark Horse Farms, marks the expansion of the program to California and the West Coast. Understanding the need for a program like YHS here in California, Lisa Ciesniewski, owner of Dark Horse Farms, worked with YHS to facilitate the first event on this coast.

Winners of the In-Hand & At-Liberty division included (2 yr old) Cassiano (Contucci/Special Groundxx) owned by Julie Vanloo, (3 yr old) Fait Accompli (UB-40/Sandro Hit) owned by Dantia Benson and (4 yr old) Elation KF (Great Pleasure/Present Value) bred/owned by Kimberlee Von Disterlo.

Jump Chute winners included (2 yr old) Bentley Continental (Buggatti Hilltop) bred/owned by Micaela Hines,(3 yr old) C déjà vu II (Con Caletto/Contendor) bred/owned by Con Caletto Ent. and (4 yr old) Emma (Campino 009/Indoctro) bred/owned by G. Marskrey.
Under Saddle winners were (3 yr old - Flat) Lotta Silver (Silver Moon/Impressionist) bred/owned by Hilda Gurney, (4 yr old - Flat) Epiphany KF (Great Pleasure/ Best of Luck) bred/owned by Kimberlee Von Disterlo, (5 yr old - Flat) Alivia (Orleando) bred/owned by Cathy Davis, (4 yr old - Jumping) Elektra KF (Navarone/Burgraaf) bred/owned by Kimberlee Von Disterlo, (5 yr old - Jumping) Americana (Capitol Hill/Lutano) bred/owned by Con Caletto Ent. and (dressage) Elation KF.

Lotta Silver - Winner Suitability for Sport Under Saddle Flat 3 yr old. Photo by: Rebecca Neff Photography -

Due to the overwhelming response and interest in the program, Lisa Ciesniewski is working with YHS on creating an entire West Coast series. This year in addition to the Somis show already held, YHS is looking to hold at least one qualifying show in Northern California, a qualifier in San Diego, and a West Coast Finals to be held in Somis.
YHS offers five divisions consisting of Suitability for Sport In-hand & At-Liberty, Jump Chute, Suitability for Sport Under Saddle, Dressage and Style Jumping. Classes of each division are separated by age and horses may compete in their age group in any/ all division(s).


In-Hand and At Liberty (yearlings to 4 yr olds): During the In-hand phase the handler stands the horse to be judged on conformation, then presents the horse at the walk and trot. The second phase is a three-minute liberty phase where all three gaits are assessed. Horses are scored on conformation, quality of gaits, overall athleticism and impression.

Jump Chute (2-4 yr olds): Horses jump in a chute comprised of three elements: a cross rail to a small vertical to an ascending oxer (heights are age appropriate). Horses receive scores for scope, technique, carefulness and willingness.

Fait Accompli - Winner In Hand and At Liberty 3 yr old. Photo by: Rebecca Neff Photography -

Suitability for Sport Under Saddle (3-5 yr olds): Judges assess the basic gaits of the horse under saddle at the walk, trot and canter. Horses are scored on the quality of their gaits and overall impression.
Dressage (4-5 yr olds): Horses are judged on their rideability, balance, transitions, gaits and willingness to perform using a Training Level Dressage test.

Style Jumping (4-5 yr olds): Horses jump an age appropriate course of eight to 10 fences to demonstrate their jumping skill and are judged on their style (scope, technique, carefulness and willingness).

Dark Horse Farms and the Young Horse Show Series would like to thank Gina Atton-Thomas owner/operator of El Sueño Equestrian and John Duron resident ranch manager for the use of their wonderful facility and for all of their hard work, dedication and support of the Young Horse Show program and the equine industry as a whole.

Article provided by Dark Horse Farms. For information on hosting, sponsoring or attending any of the West Coast events please contact Lisa Ciesniewski at or 805-441-1122.