California Riding Magazine • October, 2013

Winner's Circle

(mounted, from l-r) Olivia Champ, Morgan Dickerson, Shelby Drazan, Alexis Graves and Emily MacLean, the top 5 finishers in the 2013 ASPCA Maclay West Coast Regional Finals, along with trainers Michelle Morris, Karen Healey, Tasha Visokay and Carolyn Becker. Photo: Captured Moment Photography

Olivia Champ is among Healey's Champs

Trainer Karen Healey has had many big shows over the years but it will be hard to beat coaching the top five finishers in the hotly contested ASPCA Maclay Regional Finals, held Sept. 15 in San Juan Capistrano. Olivia Champ topped the 34 riders attempting to secure a spot at the National Championships, held during the Alltech National Horse Show in early November.

Morgan Dickerson, Shelby Drazan, Alexis Graves and Emily MacLean rounded out the evening's top five finishers. They all ride regularly with Karen and/or were coached by her at the event. "It was a good night," Karen said in an understatement. "The kids were all great. I was extremely proud of them all." Most and possibly all of those who finished within the Regional's top 20 will be invited to compete in Lexington and Karen confirmed that all of her charges plan to go.

Ransome Rombauer enjoys her storybook ending of the PCHA Horsemanship Final.
Photo: Captured Moment Photography

PCHA Winners at Portuguese Bend

The PCHA Horsemanship Final played out like a Disney movie, the kind where the underdog makes an unbelievable comeback to win. Ransome Rombauer (Daniel Ighani and Bill Cooney, trainers) had a shaky first round that landed her in the middle of the 44-entry field vying for the win during the Portuguese Bend National Horse Show held Sept. 6-8.

Nervous, Ransome took a very long distance at fence four, emerging with a 77 combined score after round 1. "I was very disappointed in myself and felt pretty defeated that night," she recounted. "I had a long talk with my mom, and she reminded me that I had nothing to lose the next morning for Round 2. I went back in feeling very calm and focused." A better second round got her and her mount, Gaston (Katherine Civian, owner) into the third round of 13 contestants, where they moved up into the final five. A textbook work-off earned her a 90 score, at which point she was unbeatable and amazed. "This was my last year for the PCHA before I age out. It means a lot to me to be competing with my peers and to be showing at such a great show. I love the atmosphere and I love competing alongside of all my friends and having my parents there to support me. I can't wait to come back for the ghost ride next year."

Tonya Johnston keeps her head in the game to win the PCHA Adult Medal Final. Photo: Captured Moment Photography

Tonya Johnston (Kelly Van Vleck, trainer) was very happy to meet her long-term goal of winning the PCHA Adult Medal Final. "I have won other medal finals but this was definitely the most prestigious, and I am thrilled to be part of a long-standing tradition," she remarked. "I've been working toward it for a long time. This was the fourth time I've done it, and I came in second last year. Every year you get more fire in your belly to go again and try to put it all together. I don't put pressure on myself; I just try to grow from the experience and get better. I do mental skills coaching, so I really work on just relishing being there instead of the pressure. I remind myself that this is what I want to be doing and how much fun it is."

Tonya normally trains with Hope and Ned Glynn at Sonoma Valley Stables, but Hope was busy back east with the $500,000 Hunter Prix at Saugerties, (see story, page 20). Tonya was pleased with and grateful for Kelly Van Vleck's "phenomenal" coaching.

It was certainly a show to remember for Marnye Langer (Team McAllister, trainer) when she piloted LEGIS Rockstar (, owner) to the win in the $15,000 Seahorse Jumper Classic. "I had an amazing weekend," she shared. "It was a really neat horse show, and to win that class was a huge accomplishment for me." Among the seven pairs in the jump-off, two were ridden by her trainer, Jenny McAllister, making it even more of a special accomplishment.

Nayel Nassar and Lordan jump their way to Zoetis Million glory at HITS Saugerties during Championship Weekend. ©ESI Photography

Nayel Nassar Wins Big

California-based Egyptian rider and Stanford student Nayel Nassar proved that a 3,000-mile trip across the U.S. was well worth the effort when he rode Lordan to a hard-fought victory in the fourth-annual Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix at HITS Saugerties. He won't need his in-progress economics degree to know that the $350,000 paycheck is a great reward.

One of only three riders to crack Olaf Petersen Jr.'s course, Nayel said, "I can't believe this – it's very surreal, but this horse has been on a roll lately.

"This is the biggest class this horse has jumped and I was definitely worried when I saw Todd (Minikus) go clear, but my plan was to put as much pressure on him as possible while leaving all the jumps up."
He bought the gelding as a 6-year-old and admittedly took it slow with his progression. A spooky ride at the start, Lordan matured nicely over the past couple of years.

The pair telegraphed their potential two weeks prior with a win of the Aug. 31 World Cup Qualifier during the $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark.

Blue Angel Soars

Robin Parsky's 11-year-old Anglo European Sporthorse (AES) won the prestigious JLT Dublin Stakes Aug. 10 at the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show at the Royal Dublin Society show grounds. A big supporter of equestrian sports in the States, Robin has been travelling far afield of late following this special horse.

As a representative of the United States at this International CSIO*****Horse Show, Blue Angel and his rider Kent Farrington were presented with the Silver Cup of Dublin and the National Anthem of the U.S. was played as the Stars and Stripes were raised in front of 30,000 spectators. This was the second win for Blue Angel at Dublin. In 2011 she won the Irish Sport Council Trophy.

The mare has many fans in Ireland as her sire, Luidam, was a champion show jumping horse for the highly acclaimed Irish rider Billy Twomey and he is now a prominent sporthorse sire in Ireland. Robin also has Irish roots as her father's family were the Clearys from County Mayo.

Blue Angel and Robin have been in Paris, Chantilly, Dublin and now Valkenswaard, The Netherlands, for the Global Champions Tour and as part of the United States Equestrian Team. The mare has consistently won or placed to help her rider, Kent Farrington, reach the number eight spot on the Longines World Ranking Show Jumping List.