January 2017 - Parade of Champions


This year’s winners share insights on their successes.

produced by Kim F. Miller & Alicia Anthony

Welcome to part II of our fourth annual Parade of Champions. Begun in our December issue, this edition features more of the year’s junior and amateur stars sharing a little behind-the-scenes info on their terrific seasons and their relationships with their horses and ponies. They also shared observations on their corner of the sport, which ranged from appreciating new fun fashions in dressage to wishing that more of the mainstream world knew about and appreciated all of our equestrian sports.

Here’s what we asked each:
1.    Top 3 2016 competitive finishes.
2.    Top horsemanship lessons and/or progress made this year.
3.     Most enjoyable non-competitive moment with your horse or pony.
4.     Does your horse/pony have any funny quirks.
5.     What rider to you most admire and why.
6.     Favorite horsemanship or horse-related book, movie, video, YouTube channel, website, etc.
7.     Biggest riding goal for 2017.
8.     Any major changes you would like to see in our sport.

Photo: Melody Liu

Photo: Melody Liu

Amateur h/j rider & student of Heidi Misrahy, Flintridge Riding Club, La Canada Flintridge
Horse: George

1.    LAHJA Betsy Woods Horsemanship Medal Champion 2016
2.    My trainer constantly encourages us to connect with our horses and to really feel their movement underneath. It is a delicate balance between leg and hand, but the connection is always something that I am working towards. A magic moment occurs when your horse begins to give in and it feels like you are floating along, it’s such a great feeling to ride a balanced horse! Finding the deep connection and rhythm is probably something that I will always be working on, but it’s a really rewarding feeling when it all comes together.
3.    At shows, hand walking and grazing the horses after a long day or weekend of competing. It’s a great time to bond and let them relax, while doing what they love the most - eating!
4.    At my first away show with George, I learned that he is not a fan of waiting around before entering the ring! Whenever we were waiting by the in-gate, he would get impatient, pawing at the ground not wanting to stay still. However, the moment we stepped in the ring, he was a true professional - immediately calm and ready to perform. I think he gets really excited and eager because he loves being in the show ring! It felt like he just wanted to get in there and get to work.
5.    With the Olympics this year, I was glued to the television to watch some of my favorite show jumpers: Lucy Davis, Mclain Ward, Edwina Tops Alexander. I admire the fearlessness of show jumpers, especially at the Grand Prix level. In the hunter ring, John French is always magical to watch and I really admire his finesse and how effortless he makes it look on any horse! And lastly, there are so many talented junior riders that have been really fun to watch in some of big equitation medal finals, particularly Hunter Holloway & TJ O’Mara. They both ride so smooth and gracefully!
6.     I like following Noelle Floyd to stay updated on horse show news and Xenophon Equus Centre for education and general riding/horsemanship advice. My all time favorite horse movie has always been National Velvet!
7.     I would love to compete in a Hunter Derby! I love the Handy/Equitation style courses and unique obstacles.
8.     I wish more of the public was aware of the equestrian sport and we received more recognition. It is one of the most challenging sports out there and deserves more credit!

Bruce and Pie. Photo: Marcus Greene Outdoor Photography

Bruce and Fiona. Photo: Stoecklein Photography

Eleven-year-old eventer & student of Jennifer Wooten-Macouzet, Trinity Eventing in Santa Ynez
Horses: Stonybrook Bally Blue, aka “Fiona;” and Cortina, aka “Pie”

1.     Area VI 12 & Under Leading Rider & Junior Beginning Novice Leading Rider; 1st in Junior Beginning Novice division at Woodside International & at Twin Rivers Winter Horse Trials with Fiona; 2nd in Junior Novice at Shepherd Ranch on Pie.
2.     I earned my United States Pony Club C2 Traditional certification in August and I moved up to Novice on my young horse, Cortina.
3.     I love having my horses live at home because I get to spend time just taking care of them and enjoying their personalities. We also get to ride out in the hills, which is fun. Since I couldn’t ride for a few months after surgeries this year, it was nice to have the horses to see every day and my mom let me just walk around on Fiona a little early. Fiona and I just had to promise to keep riding a non-contact sport. My mom said it was good therapy and a way to keep me out of trouble.
4.    Both of my horses are strong-willed mares. Fiona likes to be queen of the barn, talking to me while I feed and yawning dramatically when I start to do up her noseband as if she just isn’t quite ready to go to work. Pie likes to play games and give hugs, but she can also get too sassy and has to be reminded who is boss. She also always eats with one or both front feet in her big tub.
5.     I most admire my trainer, Jennifer Wooten-Macouzet, because she is a good horsewoman and a great role model. She is always honest, works hard, does what is best for the horses, rides every horse well and trains us so we are well prepared and safe when we enter the ring, leave the start box or move up a level. She is also a fun person to be around. I would like to be able to both ride and teach as well as Jennifer someday and be able to train all types of horses like she does. I especially like working with a young horse with her.
6.     I like books by Will James, especially Big Enough. I also like to watch Ride On Video videos on You Tube.
7.     My biggest goal for 2017 is to move up to Training with Pie by the end of the year. I also want to ride more different horses and get better at dressage and distances when jumping.
8.     I love eventing and the community of friends we see at events. I think I would like more horse trials to run in just two days. I would also like a few more Novice and Training Three Days in our area or closer to California.

Sixteen-year-old dressage rider & student of Sara Mosqueda in Redlands
Horse: DG Bantana

1.    CDS Southern Junior Championships First Level Champion; USDF Region 7 1st Level Champion; USDF Region 7 Dressage Seat Medal Champion
2.     This year we made our Second Level debut and were qualified for Championships at both Second and First level.  I really feel like Bantana and I have connected more this year and I am feeling a lot more confident in the show ring.
3.     Every summer my trainer Sara puts on a week-long camp for all of our junior riders.  It’s is a great time for us to not only learn more about dressage and horse care but also have fun together as a group.  We do group dinners and even made beaded brow bands for our horses this year.
4.      I swear Bantana knows when she is in an honor round.  She gets so excited and animated like she loves to be the center of attention.  We call her the Princess.
5.     Steffen Peters. I love to watch him ride.
6.     My all time favorite is Flicka 2 and I loved watching The Saddle Club as a little girl.
7.     Bantana and I are qualified for the Dressage Seat Medal Finals in Chicago this summer so we are very excited for that, as well as making our Third Level debut this year.  
8.     Dressage is a wonderful sport and I would love to see more juniors involved.

Twenty-one-year-old eventer & student of Gina Miles at Gold Medal Equestrian in San Luis Obispo
Horse: Simply SM

1.    1st at Area VI Training Rider Championships at Twin Rivers; 2nd at Training Level at Galway Downs Spring Horse Trials; 1st at Training Level, Twin Rivers Spring Horse Trials
2.     Preparing for and competing in my first long format three-day was a really great learning experience. From planning a conditioning schedule to preparing for jogs, it taught me a lot of important lessons that will be key to competing at the FEI level in the future. As far as my riding, my show jumping in particular has improved a ton this past year. Having the chance to ride an experienced show jumper gave me the opportunity to really work on myself and perfect the basics.
3.     Nothing compares to galloping on the beach in the morning. We go fairly often for conditioning days or just for fun, and it is always so much fun. It’s awesome to have a horse that is so great in different places and is willing to try new things.
4.     He’s such a ladies man! Any time a mare is next to him in a paddock or turn-out, they both go crazy. He was a stallion for quite a while when he was younger, so that definitely shows from time to time.
5.     I really and truly admire my trainer, the one and only Gina Miles. She has helped me improve my riding in so many ways over the past few years. With a barn full of college students, she always manages to make time for us in her busy schedule. She’s not only an incredible rider, but also always puts her horses’ and students’ needs first.
I also admire all of the girls at GME, who balance school, work and riding while always having a good time. It is amazing to see how far we’ve all come over the years and I could not ask for a better group of friends to have as a team.
6.     I love reading articles on Eventing Nation to keep up with news and results. The blogs, advice and product reviews are also super helpful and entertaining.
7.     I recently started competing my 4-year-old mare, Envy, this summer. We’ve done a couple shows at Novice this fall and I’m really excited for the 2017 season with her! If all goes well I am hoping to move her up to Training at some point next year, and do Training three-day once she feels ready!
8.     I think one thing that everyone is really putting an extra effort into right now is increasing interest and knowledge of the public. Eventing can be difficult to understand for those not involved in the sport directly, so the more involvement and support we can get, the better. It is cool to see some of the venues making changes to tailor events to spectators.

Seventeen-year-old h/j rider & student of Teri Cagle at Hoof Haven Farms in Fallbrook.
Horses: Jet Stream, Zalza, Upperclass, Caviar

1.     Del Mar National Childrens Jumper Champion; winning the 3’ and 3’6” Mini Prix at the Greater San Diego Hunter Jumper Association Championship show; and getting second in my 1.20 Mini Prix.
2.     Breaking and training my own horse.
3.     Taking Jet Stream to the beach would have to be the most fun I have ever had outside of competing.
4.    My horse Zalza loves to try to bite the water when you rinse his face. It’s the cutest/funniest thing ever.
5.      It’s hard to choose just one! I would have to say either Carol Dean-Porter or Rob Gage. I really look up to them as they have accomplished so many amazing things.
6.     EquiiAlly. (a YouTube channel) She is an amazing rider and extremely inspirational.
7.     My biggest riding goal for 2017 would have to be moving up to the 1.3M with my horse Upperclass and bringing my horse Zalza back into the 1.2M. Also, getting the horse I broke named Caviar going well in the Baby Green Hunters
8.     I wouldn’t want to change a thing, honestly. I love the sport the way it is.

Amateur dressage rider & student of Carlos Santos in Palos Verdes
Horse: Ken’s Kitten

1.     Regional Adult Amateur Competition (Southern California RAAC) 4th Level First Place; CDS Adult Amateur 4th Level Champion; USDF Region 7 Adult Amateur 4th Level Reserve Champion
2.     Learning how to ride the back end of the horse first with my legs and core/seat.  Through this, the horse becomes more in self-carriage and light. Wow is this hard! My horse is not naturally uphill so I am having to learn how to really sit and use my core instead of being politely perched on the saddle.  One would say how obvious this lesson is….  Ahhh, but hard to make the change, so it is very effective all the time.
3.     Riding the trails around Palos Verdes. Early Sunday mornings are the best. Just the two of us walking the trails on the buckle when everything is so quiet and you’re
the first to break through the spider webs at rider height. 
4.     Kitten is a retired Thoroughbred racehorse and, as such, his left racing lead is better than his right lead. He is also a show-off just like those horses in the paddock getting led into the race. He flitters around when the attention is on but when the work starts, he totally focuses on the goal. By the way, there is this commercial where an uneducated wanna-be buys this “racehorse,” who is actually a dressage horse, in a car garage – the next unknown winner, they hope. When the first race starts, this “racehorse” passages out the gate – I always think of Kitten when I see that. He likes to piaffe and passage when showing off. 
5.     I most admire my trainer Carlos Santos. He is very dedicated to his students and horses. Always keeping his own knowledge and training up to date, he pushes his students to strive to be better and work harder as well as supporting them in any way possible. He works harder than anyone else I know in the horse industry. Because of my own work schedule, I am often riding really early or late, when it is cold out, and even when it is raining. He is always there for me and my pony. 
6.     I learn a lot through YouTube by searching on a rider or test level. Before I ride a new test, I research how the amateur and professional riders ride it. Very helpful in learning where to place each movement, how the rider delivers it and what the common mistakes are. 
7.     My biggest riding goal for 2017 is to ride a flawless Prix St. Georges test in front of a judge. Learning how to show and ride a test without nerves and jello legs – and ride like I am riding with my trainer – with focus and correct aides. In a training session, I can ride the 4s or 3s or pirouettes with intention and focus on the correct signals to give Kitten while continuing to supple him. What a super milestone if I can get that in the ring!
8.     One of the best changes I’ve seen in dressage lately is the openness for different color jackets, hats and boots, including a little bling. The fashionista in me is having a lot more fun because of this. For the next few years, I would like to see more attention on the amateur rider as this is the base of our sport. Make the top riders more available to us, instead of only for the trainers. 
More shows like the RAAC to encourage all level of riders to just try and have fun. Maybe the CDS could mix a clinic with a RAAC type show – have a couple trainers delivering a clinic and then “sherpa-ing” the rider through the preparation to ride their test. Then de-brief with the rider after the test with the judge’s comments. And more events like the amateur clinic to improve us and build the camaraderie amongst the riders.


Photo: Hilda de Leon Gilmartin

Eight-year-old eventer & student of Lisa Sabo Eventing at Newport Mesa Riding Center
Horse: Lady Viking, aka “Freya”

1.      Copper Meadows 2016 Sun Series One-Day Events: 2nd place overall, Elementary Division; Copper Meadows USEA Horse Trials in September: 5th Place Introductory Division with lowest dressage score in division 33.2; Fresno County Horse Park USEA Horse Trials in November: 2nd Place team Pony Cub Express & 7th Place Introductory Division
2.     Lowest Dressage Score Medal (31.8) & 1st in Team Bolt at So Cal Pony Club Eventing Rally at Copper Meadows in October; 4th Place Team Thunder at So Cal Pony Club Show Jumping Rally in June; earning D-1 and D-2 Pony Club Rating in January and December of 2016, respectively.
3.     I fell off my horse Freya during warm-ups at FCHP this past November, and my trainer Brian Sabo said, “Well, Maeve - you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs!”  That made me laugh and relax, and I went double clear in my show jumping ride.  I also learned how important it is to never give up and always try my best.
4.     My horse Freya makes funny faces with her lips, and she flutters her nostrils when she sees me heading over to her stall.
5.     The riders I admire most are my trainers Lisa Sabo and Katy Johnstone, because they are really good and dedicated riders, and really great trainers.  I learn a lot from them and I want to be like them when I grow up.
6.     My favorite website is Ride On Video, because I love to watch and learn from all the videos on that site.  My favorite movies are Flicka and Secretariat. I love to read, and the book I am reading now is Dante of The Maury River, about a racehorse who becomes an eventing horse.
7.     I love eventing!  This year I want to keep working on becoming the best rider I can be.  I also would like to go for my D-3 Pony Club rating, and maybe start competing in Beginner Novice later in the year.
8.     I love competing in eventing!  I would like to see the Introductory Division become a USEA recognized division, and I also would like to see that division separated into Junior and Senior.

Rollin on Nat King Cole

Rollin with her horses Nat King Cole, Tonaco, & Calypso

Fifteen-year-old h/j rider & student of Nicole Husky in Los Angeles
Horse: Nat King Cole

1.     Los Angeles Hunter Jumper Association Junior Finals Champion; PCHA 14 & under Finals, 9th; and qualifying for and competing in CPHA Jr Finals
2.     My top horsemanship lesson would be either the Karen Healey clinic I did on Nat, or every lesson that I have had with Archie Cox. The progress I have made this year since the CPHA Junior finals has been huge thanks to the help of Nikki and Karen.
3.     Lessoning every day, taking pictures, and giving him maybe a little too many carrots every day at the barn
4.     He does this grunt thing during the lesson, and it just sounds like a big moan or sigh from hard work
5.     I admire Victoria Colvin because she leased Nat from me when I first owned him, and she would always do so well on him and I wanted to ride exactly like her (and still do want to ride exactly like her).
6.     The Eighty-Dollar Champion
7.     To qualify for at least ASPCA Maclay and USEF Regionals and hopefully Nationals as well
8.     Nope. I love it.