January 2016 - Parade of Champions

produced by Kim F. Miller & Alicia Anthony

Welcome to Part II of our annual spotlight on a sampling of our area’s successful junior and amateur riders. As with last month’s initial installment, we asked them to tell us a little about their year, their hopes for 2016, their horses, their riding and their inspirations.

Building confidence, stamina and a stronger bond with their horses were common themes among riders. Favorite shows ranged from the California Dressage Society’s Junior/Young Rider Championships to the Menlo Charity, the Sacramento International and the recent Jingle Bell Horse Show In Del Mar on the hunter/jumper side.

We meet a horse who manages to graze while lying down, a sweet gelding that “wants to cuddle but doesn’t know how” and a pony that expects a treat every time he exits the ring. Riders’ favorite words of wisdom include “stay in the moment” and “It’s the things we work hardest for that will reward us the most.”

Congratulations to these West Coast stars and we hope you enjoy learning more about them.

We asked ...
1.    Best riding improvement and/or horsemanship insight you experienced?
2.    Most fun thing you and your horse did?
3.    Does your horse have any unusual habits or preferences?
4.    Favorite horse show or event and why?
5.    How many times did you fall off?
6.    Do you do any non-riding fitness activities that have helped your riding?
7.    Riding goals for 2016?
8.    Inspirational quote or coaching comment that most inspires you.


Age: Amateur
Horses: Boo, Banjo
Trainers: Julie Conner-Daniels & Jamie Nila at Eclipse Farms in Newhall

Top 2015 Finishes
Champion: Rusty Stirrup at Camelot shows in June & September
Reserve Champ at Tri-Valley Finals

1.    We have been working on downward transitions during our flatwork.  I’ve seen the difference it has made in how my horse responds to my cues when we are jumping, which in turn has given me a big confidence boost on course.
2.    The highlight of my year was the Camelot September Show –Y’all Come.  I showed my mare who I competed with all year.  My gelding  (last shown in 2011) also competed with his rider.  It was the first time we were at a show together and we both won champion ribbons.
3.    I have a gelding and a mare and it’s a world of difference with their likes. My gelding is a “smoocher” who loves attention and any type of grooming. My mare would like to skip the whole grooming process and move directly to the handing out of treats.
4.    I always enjoy the year-end shows the different associations put on. Everyone is just a little more excited because there are still division championships to be decided. This year at the Tri-Valley Horse Show Association Finals, our barn won many ribbons and then was able to sit down together for a fun lunch.
5.    I fell off once at the beginning of the year. One moment I was looking straight ahead ready to go over the jump and the next moment I was looking up at the sky. My new favorite phrase became “tight in the tack.”
6.    I definitely need to participate in non-riding fitness activities to be able to ride multiple classes in a row at the shows. To build stamina I hike in the hills with my husband and dogs. For core strength I go to Pilates classes.
7.    My initial goal is to start riding more technical courses. I would like to compete in medal classes in 2016.
8.    Julie’s “Positive Ride” attitude has been my inspiration to take on new challenges. She has given me the confidence to move from trail riding to competing successfully and has made all the difference in my development as a rider.


Horses: Patriot, aka “Trenton” or “Little T” Tobias, aka “Toby”
Trainers: John Bragg & Michelle Stubbs at Bridgeport Farms in San Juan Capistrano

Top 2015 Finishes
Champion, Orange County Horse Show Assoc.
Victor Hugo-Vidal Amateur Medal Finals
Best Amateur Rider Del Mar National
Champion Low Amateur Owner Hunters Del Mar National

1.    To work on my stamina and to know that I have to continue to work hard, even as I get older. Also, I have to set personal goals and always keep my eyes on myself.
2.    I think the most fun was seeing how my horse can, and is, transitioning from the hunters to the equitation. I imported him when he was five, in the spring of 2013, and he was a green baby. We have spent most of the past two years in the hunters - first the AAs and now in the Low AOs. But as he has become more adjustable and rideable, I’ve found he is super handy and pretty great in the equitation. We qualified the past two years for the Ariat finals and we won the Orange County Victor Hugo Vidal Adult Medal Finals this year, which was 3’3”. I am so proud of him and excited to do more in 2016!
3.    He is simply the sweetest, most cuddly horse ever. He will almost climb into my lap. His favorite thing to do is roll in the grass (which we are fortunate to have at the barn) and, once laying down, he likes to graze…..yes, while laying down. He is super calm and like a large dog!
4.    I went to Menlo for the first time ever this year. It was amazing! I also think we have the most gorgeous facility at Blenheim. I live right across the street from the facility so my favorite is showing there.
5.    I fell off once at home schooling my horse Tobias. He tripped going to a jump and we didn’t jump…..He went one way, I went the other! No one was injured!
6.    Going to the chiropractor helps the most! I have ridden all my life and my body is letting me know. Working on my elliptical helps with my stamina.
7.    To qualify for the CPHA Amateur Medal and do the finals on Patriot. To qualify for the Ariat and go to the finals (if I win the lottery!). And to ride in some derbies.
8.    Stay in the moment!


Age: 18
Horse: Noby’s Rose, aka “Zara”
Trainer: Joan Romo at Anaheim Equestrian Center Rancho Del Rio

Top 2015 Finishes
First in the USHJA Gold medal at Inland Empire Hunter/Jumper Association Finals
IEHJA 2’9” Medal Champion
Third overall in the 3’6” jumpers at the Sacramento International

1.    The best improvement I experienced this year was building a stronger team between me and my horse as we jumped from 2’6” to 3’6” this year.
2.    The most fun thing I did with my horse this year was traveling up to Sacramento to participate in the Sacramento International. It was an amazing experience and a memory I will forever remember.  
3.    My horse, Zara, loves her job very much and when she gets excited during a course she likes to squeal.
4.    My favorite horse show is the Jingle Bell Horse Show at the Del Mar Horsepark. It has to be my favorite show because the whole facility is decorated with professionally decorated Christmas trees, Christmas carolers walk around as we show and everyone is in the Christmas spirit.
5.    I stopped keeping track of how many times I have fallen off a long time ago. It’s not about the fall; it’s about the journey and what one takes and learns from their fall.  
6.    Before I got seriously into riding I did competitive gymnastics at the state level. Gymnastics helped me tremendously with my strength, balance and body control.
7.    My goals for 2016 are to have fun as this is my last year of showing before I leave for college. I would like to travel to new show venues and make many more memories.
8.    “It is the things we work hardest for that will reward us the most.”


Age: 10
Horses/Ponies: Somekindawonderful, Bit of Laughter, Illusion, Small Adventure, Small Gesture, Small Soldier
Trainers: Tasha Visokay (Karen Healey
Stables & now on her own with Ingenium Farm in Hidden Valley) & Liz Reilly at Makoto Farm in Agoura Hills

Top 2015 Finishes
Grand Champion Regular on Bit Of Laughter and Grand Champion Green on Kingston at the USEF Pony Finals.
Medium Pony Champion at the Devon Horse Show on Grand All Over

1.    I got a little taller and that made it easier to ride the bigger horses and stay with them.
2.    Exploring the miles of woods behind the Middleburg Classic Horse Show (in Virginia) with Juliette Joseph.
3.    Small Gesture loves bananas whole, Illusion makes the assumption he is getting a treat every time he walks out of the ring and Somekindawonderful is petrified of helicopters.
4.    Devon. I loved the country fair with the horse show. So much fun!
5.    I’m not sure, but more than 20.
6.    No.
7.    The Junior Hunter Finals
8.    “The harder I work the luckier I get,” by Samuel Goldwyn.


Age: 21
Horses: Patriot B (owned by Summer Hensley), Romantique (owned by Carol Kvingedal)
Trainer: Summer Hensley at Webb Ranch in Portola Valley

Top 2015 Finishes
Northern California Dressage Society’s Junior/Young Rider Championships:
Reserve Champion at both First Level (with Romantique) and Prix St. Georges (with Patriot), as well as Young Rider Champion with Patriot
1st Place at Prix St. Georges in a JR/YR/AA class at the Woodside Summer Dressage

1.    We had a few shows this summer without our trainer because she was away, so working out how to show more by ourselves was a challenge (We did have the assistance of another trainer in our area, Katie Hoefs-Martin.)
I was riding Romantique (at Training and First Level) as well as Patriot (at Prix St. Georges) at one of the shows and Romantique was incredibly nervous the first day at the venue, so I had to figure out how to handle that without Summer there and then just get on and ride for our test the next day. We scored a 70 percent on our final test of the weekend, so I would say we really improved that weekend from panicking in the lunging ring on Thursday to putting in a solid ride on Sunday.
On another note, I’m a UC Davis student but I studied in the UK this past fall, and I joined the polo team at the university here. While it’s very different from dressage, it’s been really eye-opening and a fun way to stay connected to horses. A good seat and good balance make all the difference when you’re playing, so it’s been good practice.
2.    Patriot and I made it to Prix St. Georges, which was a huge accomplishment. I don’t have a trainer at university so I was working on everything by myself and he’s a very big, sensitive, challenging horse so it was hard work. A more casual fun thing was that I just got on Patriot bareback one day and went for a canter around the polo field at the barn. Patriot was so peaceful, he didn’t try to speed around or be naughty, and it was just a really nice ride.
3.    Patriot likes to take mid-morning naps especially after a hard morning ride. He also really loves watermelon, so in the summer I make sure to bring that to the barn as often as possible. He turns into a real-life happy emoticon when he eats it, it’s great. He’s also just a bit awkward, which is so endearing because sometimes it’s like he wants to cuddle but doesn’t know how, so he’ll just stand quite close to you and wait awkwardly. He’s really just a massive sweetheart.
4.    My favorite show is the California Dressage Society JR/YR Championships (specifically the Northern ones because I’m from Northern California). Sadly this was my last year, but I had competed there every year since 2010 (previously on a lovely Quarter Horse who went all the way through Third Level and won champion at First and Third Levels). So I’m really going to miss that show. It’s an amazing place to come as a junior and have a whole show dedicated to and supporting you.
5.    None. I came close once when I was jumping a friend’s horse, but I saved it.
6.    During the school year I usually try to go to the gym at least twice a week and do cardio and core exercise. I have weak knees so I usually go on the elliptical for as long as I can (about 30-35 minutes), and then I do a variety of planks/crunches/push-ups, etc.
During the summer I ride more and I feel like that usually keeps me pretty well fit.
Just before I started riding Patriot, I made myself go to the gym a lot because he’s so big and athletic, he’s a workout on his own and I needed to be able to keep up with him. While in the UK, I’m trying to go to the gym two or three times a week to just get myself moving so I’ll be relatively fit to ride when I get home.
7.    As we felt that Prix St. Georges was the maximum for Patriot, I don’t have a set horse to ride this year so I’m hoping to ride as many different horses as possible (for friends or barn mates at university). I want to get better at getting on different types of horses because I mostly just rode Patriot for the past year and a half, and before that I had mostly just been riding my previous horse, Cabo.
8.    I’ve had the chance to clinic with some amazing people, and all of them have had a huge amount of insight into technical parts of riding and day-to-day training.
One trainer whose advice really stuck with me was Jeremy Steinberg. Jeremy had a saying to the effect that we are personal trainers for our horses and we need to motivate and encourage them to work their bodies even if it’s really hard, like a trainer would have us lift weights at the gym.
My regular trainer Summer has also said so many things that I think about all the time in my riding. Patriot was spooking a lot this summer during a lesson, and Summer bluntly pointed out that I was doing absolutely nothing to support him as a partner. That really struck me. Obviously we have to be working together, but the way she said it was like saying that a significant other needed me to be nicer about something and I was absolutely failing at it. It was quite true, and I think it’s a really good way to think about that partnership: you have to support each other or nothing works well.