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December 2019 - Editor’s Notes
Written by CRM
Sunday, 01 December 2019 10:05
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Thanks to DG Bar Ranch for sponsoring this issue’s cover and sharing the news of their two young stallions, Koning DG and L Primo DG. These young sires are set to keep the Dutch Warmblood breeding endeavor thriving for another 35 years. In a world of seemingly never-ending “new,” there’s something deeply reassuring in the ongoing success of this family business run with heart, horsemanship and a mix of tradition and forward-thinking ideas.


With Christmas coming, my editorial wish list leans toward stories that inspire and this issue has three that especially stand out. First, there’s the tale of the five years it took Central California horsewoman and corrections officer, Heidi Richards, to see through her vision for a horse handling educational program at the Pleasant Valley State Prison. Next it’s Dr. Suzi Lanini’s first person account of her reasons for riding in this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade. She’s well known as an accomplished amateur dressage rider, but the small animal veterinarian – and her star Arabian Justin Kayce – regularly make contributions that extend well beyond the arena.


Opal Hagerty revisiting her life long passion for horses. Photos: Judy Lucous

Last but not least, loved seeing a big story in the Nov. 19 Los Angeles Times about a 95-year-old San Diegan having her wish for “one last ride” granted by the Temecula Carriage Company. When they learned of the request through the Court Retirement Center in Escondido, Mark and Marika Matson invited Opal Hagerty to come out and meet one of their Draft horses, Blossom, then take a lovely carriage ride through nearby vineyards. Happy holidays, indeed!

A gift we can all give ourselves is learning to land safely from a fall, or at least greatly reduce the risk of serious injury. I’m excited that Landsafe Equestrian has four clinics in California this month and I hope many of our readers – from every discipline – will find a way to participate or audit. Landsafe principal Danny Warrington is a long-time eventer whose first wife, Amanda Warrington, died of her injuries after a fall in 1998. Danny emerged as a passionate proponent for riders taking responsibility for our own safety, rather than waiting for rules and regulations to make the sport safer. The latter are great, of course, but all good change starts with taking individual responsibility.

Now to work on our January issue. We’ll be featuring breeders and our annual spotlight on recipients of the California Professional Horsemen’s Association special awards. It’s an honor we look forward to every year.
Thanks to all our advertisers, our readers and those who’ve submitted articles and story ideas. Please keep them coming in the new year. Warmest wishes for a happy, safe holiday with family members—humans and horses.


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Adopt Me! Snow White is a 15 year old paint mare up for adoption as a companion horse only with no riding from FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, CA.

She has an old pelvic injury and is unsound for riding. This nice mare spent the last few years as a nonriding therapeutic horse. Gentle and sweet, this girl is darling and would make a great pasture puff family member for life!

Adoption fee $400.
See Snow White on our adoption page at

December 2019 - Thirty-five Years & Counting
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:49
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Two new stallions poised to carry DG Bar Ranch’s sporthorse breeding legacy far into the future. 

by Kim F. Miller • photos: Tamara with the Camera

The Interstate 5 non-horse person traveler might whiz past the Hanford exit that’s about midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The horse person, however, is likely exiting there on the quest to find a beautifully-bred Royal Dutch Warmblood horse. Horse people know Hanford as the home of DG Bar Ranch on the DeGroot family property. DG Bar Ranch is co-owned with Willy Arts, who leads the breeding and training program. The program has put its horses on the national and international dressage map consistently throughout its 35-year existence.


With the development of two new homebred stallions, Koning DG and L Primo DG, DG Bar is positioning itself for another 35 years of providing top quality young horses for the amateur and professional dressage market.
With the famous stallion Idocus retired from breeding at age 29 and Gaspard de la Nuit, by Steffen Peter’s Olympic partner Ravel, poised to ascend the competition circuit as a gelding, DG Bar “has been in need of good new stallions for some time,” explains Willy.


Ashlyn Dodge presenting Koning DG during the 2018 KWPN NA Licensing. Photo: Tamara with the Camera

Both 4-year-old Koning DG and 3-year-old L Primo DG are sired by the increasingly popular KWPN champion, Bordeaux, and are fully licensed by the registry.

Their sire is well known for passing on rideability and temperament to his offspring. Koning’s dam, Darcy CL, comes from a mare line with a phenomenal dressage career. Darcy herself was the highest scoring mare in the Pavo Cup as a 4-year-old, and then went on to become the reserve champion 5-Year-Old at the USEF Young Horse Championships.

L Primo DG (Bordeaux x Satina DG by Contango) during KWPN NA licensing scoring 90 points for confirmation and 85 points for movement.

In his IBOP, and the DG Bar Cup, Koning scored a remarkable 85.5, with a 9 walk; an 8 for trot; 9 for canter; and 8.5 for rideability and for talent.

L Primo DG has an equally impressive resume. At the KWPN-NA keuring in September of this year, at DG Bar, the jury raved about him in superlatives and scores. Said Bart Henstra and Arie Hamoen in their report: “This stallion has a fantastic modern dressage type. He has uphill conformation with a well-shaped and muscled neck, well-developed withers with a long, sloping shoulder, a good topline and very correct, lean legs.

L Primo DG during his licensing performance.

“L Primo DG was also presented in the IBOP,” the report continued. “He is athletic and very focused on the rider. His walk is clear and active. His trot has good technique and body use and is adjustable. Especially his canter was very well balanced, long-strided and athletic. With a 9 for conformation, canter and rideability, this interestingly bred L Primo DG impressed everyone.”

L Primo received the highest score of all horses in the keuring, and won the 3-year-old DG Bar Cup on 83 points.

L Primo’s dam Satina, by Contango, shares responsibility with Bordeaux for how well the youngster has turned out. He already has three foals on the ground, and Willy sees early indicators that the pairing’s many excellent traits are going forward into the next generation.

Obelisk DG 2019 colt by L Primo DG x Flemmingh.

Ashlyn Dodge riding Dalina DG (Jazz x Contango) half sister to L Primo. They will be showing Grand Prix this year.

A Reliable Gamble

Sporthorse breeding is often described as a gamble, but after 35 years, the DG Bar team is producing consistently reliable results. “Breeding is selecting,” Willy explains. “The goal is to increase the quality as you keep producing horses over the years.” Eight to 10 foals a year is the manageable number for DG Bar in terms of having the time needed to tend to each phase of the breeding cycle.

“The most important years of a horse’s life are from conception to 5 years old,” Willy says. “By ‘conception,’ I mean starting with the mare’s nutrition before and during the pregnancy, then after the foal’s birth. It’s very important that foals be handled a lot, that they learn proper manners to deal with people, and have their feet trimmed, etc. They don’t need to be ‘worked,’ they just need to be handled.”

After weaning, DG Bar babies are paired with another youngster. The weanling pairs split their time between a large stall and the pasture. As yearlings, colts and fillies are separated and sent to live full time in small group pastures, except when they come in for hoof trimming and basic veterinary care. At 2, all DG Bar horses have complete x-rays taken as a baseline for their future management.

Koning DG during his undersaddle presentation.

Darcy CL (Jazz x Junior) the dam of Koning DG.

At 2.5 years old, the young horses come into regular barn life while the DG Bar team determines the best approach and timing for each youngster’s training. Willy emphasizes that the 3- to 5-year-old years are crucial. “It’s all about how they get started, how they experience everything they are introduced to. That determines their foundation for training. The 4- and 5-year-olds focus on the basics of under-saddle work, going on the bit, etc. As 5-year-olds, they are typically very well prepared to go home with new owners ready to bring out the potential of their careful breeding and early development.

The DG Bar method is what Willy calls a “full circle” system, meaning he and the staff take the young horse through each phase of its young life. The end result fulfills the marketing aspect of the breeding business. “Our strategy has always been that when you sell one horse, that horse and its owner wind up selling more horses for you.” Happy outcomes lead to word of mouth and visibility that is a self-perpetuating form of sales.

“We have a lot of repeat customers,” Willy notes. Some are such long-time clients that they call DG Bar first when looking for their next horse or respond enthusiastically when Willy calls them with a prospect he suspects they’ll especially like.

Opalina DG 2019 filly by Koning DG x Contango.

Tamara Locatelli showing Kiamenta DG (Bordeaux x Painted Black). Kiamenta is from the mare line as Koning DG.

DG Bar also does traditional forms of marketing in that they campaign several horses, at all levels, on the regional and national dressage show circuit. For many years, DG Bar held its own annual dressage show that attracted close to 500 horses in its heyday. They discontinued that in 2007 to pare down their agenda to strictly breeding, developing young horses and training horses and a few riders.

The spacious DG Bar property features a beautiful barn, covered arena with a cozy lounge area, ample turn-outs, jumping chutes, Eurociser and more amenities for the typically 60-70 horses who live there. At any given time, there are usually six or seven horses going nicely under saddle for potential buyers to try.

Tony & Betty De Groot at the 2015 keuring (their last photo taken together).

Broad Influence

DG Bar’s influence extends well beyond those who have purchased their horses. Willy came to the United States from his native Holland in 1985, to help dairy farmer Tony DeGroot enable his wife Betty to get back into her childhood passion for horses: “to spend less time with cows and more time with horses,” as the DG Bar legend goes. While guiding the breeding program every step of the way for 35 years, Willy has regularly lent his expertise to the U.S. sporthorse breeding world by serving on various industry committees and embracing numerous educational roles. In DG Bar’s early days, he campaigned foundation stallions Wanroij and Volckmar to major successes that helped establish the program’s name and reputation.

DG Bar has hosted many educational clinics, and its annual KWPN-NA keuring – in September – is free to the public and packed with learning opportunities. Up next is hosting the registry’s annual meeting in March of 2020. This, too, will include lots of learning. “We’ll be focusing on selecting horses,” Willy explains. “The broodmare, pedigrees, what tools are available and how to use them. It’s going to be very hands-on.”

He expects it to be a great learning opportunity whether or not the participants plan to become breeders themselves. “The kind of information that will be covered will help a great deal in evaluating and buying horses, and with training programs,” Willy says. “Lots of training problems, for example, can be identified as conformation problems.” Learning to identify such issues early can help avoid unfortunate buying decisions or determine a training program best suited to a horse’s mild conformational challenges.


4th Generation enjoying vaulting practice.” style=

A Team Effort

“When we sell a horse or somebody wins a ribbon, it’s the result of a joint effort,” Willy says. “It takes an army to make everything happen and it all happens in a great atmosphere.” The tone of that atmosphere was set by Tony and Betty DeGroot. Tony passed on in 2015, but the positive approach he had toward life, people and business continues to be vibrantly reflected in every DG Bar Ranch endeavor.

That starts with the fact that several members of the DG Bar team are family members.

Along with Willy, granddaughter, Ashlyn Dodge, is a principle show rider for DG Bar. She competes horses up to the FEI level, brings youngsters along and gives lessons to training clients. Granddaughter, Amber DeGroot, helps with daily care and exercise. The DeGroots’ youngest daughter Tamara Locatelli is a NAJYRC Silver Medalist who now trains primarily at home. Granddaughter-in-law Caitlin Hamar also competes and handles administration matters for show registrations, farrier services, veterinary and other care. Daughter Elizabeth Veenendaal manages billing, feeding schedules and other behind-the-scenes tasks.

Caitlin Hamar riding the 3yr old DG Little John (Johnson x Sandro Hit) 3yr old gelding, they will compete in the FEI young horse this year.

Amber De Groot handling the youngster Maserati DG (Gaspard De La Nuit DG x Ferro).

“They all grew up here at the horse barn,” Willy reflects of DG Bar’s unique three-generations of family business. Now, the fourth generation is starting to become involved. The youngest are starting their riding life with vaulting, a discipline that Ashlyn pursued for several years. “It’s a great way to establish a good seat while getting acquainted with the horses and riding,” Willy observes.

“Whether it’s caring for, working with or riding the horses, there’s always something going on, everybody is always willing to help and everybody works hard.”

All of that hard work leads the way in filling the sporthorse pipeline with talented U.S.-bred horses and gives equestrian travelers a great reason for trekking to Central California’s Hanford.

For more information on DG Bar Ranch, visit

December 2019 - ASPCA Takes on The Right Horse Initiative
Written by CRM
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:39
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Initiative is now an official program of the ASPCA, in an effort to increase equine adoption efforts nationwide.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is expanding its equine welfare efforts by welcoming The Right Horse Initiative as an official program of the organization. As a program of the ASPCA, the Initiative will remain focused on massively increasing the number of successful horse adoptions in the United States and improving the number of positive outcomes for horses in transition as they move from one home, career, or owner to the next.


Established in 2016, The Right Horse Initiative hosts a collective of industry professionals, equine welfare organizations, and advocates working together to reframe the conversation around equine adoption and improve the lives of horses in transition through a dialogue of kindness and respect. In collaboration with over 60 industry and adoption partners, the Initiative has launched innovative programming focused on shattering the stigma surrounding horses in transition, who frequently end up at risk of inhumane treatment as they move between careers or owners.


“With a shared vision for increasing adoptions and elevating the welfare of all equines, we are thrilled to combine forces with The Right Horse Initiative to help even more horses across the country,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President and CEO. “The Right Horse Initiative has been pivotal in bringing together leading voices from all corners of the equine community -- an approach the ASPCA employs in our own equine welfare work -- and together we will continue to improve the lives of countless horses through innovative adoption programs, training, and increased public awareness.”    

ASPCA research suggests there could be at least 2.3 million adults in the U.S. with the resources and desire to adopt a horse in need. The ASPCA is committed to reaching these potential adopters through The Right Horse Initiative’s online adoption platform, My Right Horse.

The ASPCA is focused on ensuring horses nationwide have good welfare by helping horses find homes, supporting equine safety net programs, combating cruelty and responding to disasters. As part of the ASPCA, The Right Horse Initiative will further develop positive systemic change for at-risk horses by continuing to innovate best practices in adoption, promoting adoption among horse-seekers, and fostering collaboration within the equine industry including adoption agencies, rescues, breed and discipline associations.

Press release provided by the ASPCA. For more information about the ASPCA’s efforts to help horses, visit

December 2019 - Dressage News & Views
Written by by Nan Meek
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:31
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dressage news

California dressage riders shine at the US Dressage Finals.

by Nan Meek

California is recognized around the country for the quality of its dressage, but our location “out West” is regarded by our sport’s “back East” governing bodies as too far for eastern-based riders and officials to travel for national competitions. Such is the case with the US Dressage Finals, held annually at the Kentucky Horse Park, which admittedly is a fantastic location for many reasons, but a heck of a trek for West coast competitors.
Despite the distance and the cost in travel time and expense, 10 California riders and a dozen horses made the journey to Kentucky for the US Dressage Finals, this November 7-10.


What they brought home, in addition to three championships, two reserve championships, and numerous top 10 awards, was a wealth of experience, camaraderie, and dreams for even more dressage competition.

Ruth Shirkey & Wyleigh Princess. Photo: Susan J. Stickle

Ruth Shirkey & Wyleigh Princess

With her 9-year-old Hanoverian mare Wyleigh Princess (Weltmeyer x Heiress B by His Highness), Ruth Shirkey brought home the Intermediate I Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship with a score of 73.900%, as well as the Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur Reserve Championship title on 70.843% and third in the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship on 70.294%.

“This was my first time going to Kentucky, and I thought I would be happy with a top five, so these championships were a little surreal, quite frankly,” Ruth commented. “It all seems like a fairy tale!”

Ruth and Wyleigh were part of the KEFA Performance Horses contingent headed up by Kevin and Ericka Reinig. “It’s great to have all the mutual support and camaraderie, knowing they’re there for you. They know us so well, from the in-hand training Kevin gave Wyleigh as a youngster to Ericka, Lindsay and Chelsea helping start her under saddle back in the day.”

Ruth and her husband Eric Drew did their own hauling, with EMT and medical transport professional Eric behind the wheel while tax accountant Ruth worked on phone and laptop. Their seamless teamwork and comprehensive preparation paid off, with a trouble-free trip and safe arrival at the Kentucky Horse Park, a round trip of 5,600 miles there and back to Wyleigh’s home base at Carolyn and Patrick Adams’ Yarra Yarra Ranch in Pleasanton.

These days, Ruth works with Wyleigh on her own and in clinics with US Equestrian Dressage Young Horse Coach Christine Traurig, who is helping them continue advancing up the levels.

Reflecting on her fairy tale experience, Ruth remarked, “The best part of it all was the opportunity to compete against the top riders from other regions. We have a wonderful pool of talent in California, and we have the opportunity to show against each other at our own Annual Show. Then the US Dressage Finals are yet another level. With the top riders from other regions, it’s a broader pool of competition. We’re tested and compared directly against our peers. While we can read the USDF listings each year, they don’t tell the whole story – those scores are from different judges, different show conditions, etc. At the Finals, we were all riding in the same conditions, for the same judges, and it was clear who was the best on the day.”

As a rider who likes to get the most education out of every experience, Ruth said she appreciated the chance to see others riding. “You can see what the judges see, and all the rides are videoed so you can see the marks score by score. It was interesting that the nicest moving horses didn’t always score dramatically better – it was more about riding the movements properly and building the flow of the test so it was fluid and presented a harmonious overall picture.”

Looking ahead, Ruth remarked, “This experience reoriented me. Next year I’d like to get into the CDI arena and qualify for Lamplight.” That’s the USEF Dressage National Championships held at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois, next August, where national championships are contested at Grand Prix and Intermediaire I, among other national titles. Here’s betting that’s the next cross-country trek for Ruth Shirkey, Eric Drew, and Wyleigh Princess.

Brian Hafner & Enjoy Point J

“She went into the arena like she owned the place,” Brian Hafner said proudly of Enjoy Point J, his 10-year-old KWPN mare (Westpoint x Invisible by Wagenaar). They clinched the Fourth Level Open Reserve Championship on 69.074% and added a seventh place finish in the Prix St. Georges Open Championship on 69.314%.

Brian describes his mare’s strengths as being very consistent and brave, adding that she’s quite a personality with a little sensitive side, as well. Their outstanding performance meant even more after being unable to ride for a few days before the long haul to Kentucky, due to the wildfires affecting air quality at their Santa Rosa home base.

Remarkably, the US Dressage Final was only her fourth show at Prix St. Georges, and as Brian remarked, “She gets better scores at Prix St. Georges than she does at Fourth Level.” Brian bought her two years ago as a sale horse, and noted that an option to selling her would be an in-barn lease.

Brian also showed Wendy Roberts’ Dreamcatcher to fifth place in the Intermediate II Open Championship with a score of 65.539%.

Jocelyn Towne and her trainer Kristina Harrison after the rainy day warm up ride in Kentucky.

Jocelyn Towne & Bandini

Jocelyn Towne returned to riding four years ago after a 20-year hiatus, and with her 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding Bandini (Bon Fatious x Shakira by Sandro Hit) she’s already won the US Dressage Finals Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship with a score of 70.833%.

“When I won the USDF Regionals, I didn’t know if I should go,” Jocelyn recalled, “and I’m glad I listened to friends who told me I wouldn’t regret it if I went!” Her concerns included not only the trip itself, but apprehension about the combination of nerves with the kind of cold weather to which California girls just aren’t accustomed.

“There were a lot of firsts for us on this trip,” she explained. First trip to the Finals, first hack for this city-based horse and rider across the rolling green Kentucky hills, the expansiveness of the Kentucky Horse Park, and the long walk to the Alltech Arena on the “green carpet” that made them feel like stars.

“A lot of things came together for us at this show,” Jocelyn said. In addition to her regular lessons with trainer Kristina Harrison, Jocelyn has just ridden in a clinic with US Dressage Technical Advisor Debbie McDonald a week before Kentucky. “She just used some different language about using half halts and the short side and the corners to balance and set up for the movements. It’s nothing that I hadn’t heard before from Krisi and in clinics with Button Baker, but for some reason it all came together, and we had the best ride ever. After the class, I didn’t know if we’d won, but I knew it was the best we could do.”

Kimberly Frederick & Fantastica CS. Photo: Susan J. Stickle

Kimberly Frederick & Fantastica CS

“I couldn’t have asked for more,” Kimberly Frederick said of her 5-year-old Hanoverian “red-headed mare” Fantastica CS (Furst Romancier x Lady Liselo by Londonderry). Not only did they win the Training Level Adult Amateur Championship with a 70.172% score, they also placed fourth in the First Level Adult Amateur Championship on 73.565%, all in their first main competition year together.

Kevin and Ericka Reinig helped her find Fantastica, who was imported from Germany about a year ago, as a 3-year-old just turning 4. “It takes a village to get a horse down centerline,” Kim said of the group of family, friends, and supporters who pitched in for all of the KEFA competitors.

“I’m just getting the connection with my mare, and having her trust me,” Kim explained of their first year together, in which they’ve been working on rideability to bring out the beauty and harmony. “Of course, you have to have the basics, and we’re just starting.”

Not a bad way to start, with a US Dressage Finals championship. “I was almost in tears of joy during the victory lap in the Alltech Arena,” Kim recalled. “It was so much fun, and I hope to attend the Finals again.”

But Wait, There’s More

There are more California riders who brought home a rainbow of ribbons and a priceless array of unforgettable experiences from the US Dressage Finals.

At first level, Kristina Harrison and Emily Murray’s Juilliard DG placed third in the First Level Freestyle Open Championship with 77.122%, and fourth in the First Level Open Championship on 72.546%.

At second level, Rebecca Clare Evans and Donna Stutzman’s Tom Collins stood ninth in the Second Level Open Championship with 66.032%.

Third level saw Elena Flaharty and her own Royal Chrome take third in the Third Level Freestyle Open Championship with a score of 72.756%, while Ericka Reinig and Alanna Sellers’ Bellisambrosso RTH stood eighth in the Third Level Freestyle Open Championship with a 71.856%. In the Adult Amateur Third Level Championship, Elaine Lamotta and Caribbean Veluv scored a 59.792%.

FEI level competitors included Ericka Reinig and Elaine Lamotta’s Stanford LR with a 66.235% in the Prix St. Georges Open Championship and a 64.510% in the Intermediate I Open Championship, while Jaclyn Pepper and Cooper scored at 64.853% in the Intermediate I Open Championship.

If I’ve left anyone out of this impressive compendium of riders who deserve nothing but massive congratulations, my apologies – especially since even someone like me who didn’t qualify for the Finals knows that hard work, dedication, perseverance, and talent (plus a little bit of good luck) are traits shared by all these riders.


A lifelong horse owner, author Nan Meek lives on the scenic San Mateo County coast where dressage courts and riding trails overlook the Pacific Ocean. She competed in dressage to the Prix St. Georges level with her late beloved Lipizzan Andy (Maestoso II Athena II-1), and now practices the discipline of dressage with her handsome Spanish warmblood Helio Jerez 2000 and dotes on the newest family member Mischa (Neapolitano Angelica II-1). Yes, dressage is embedded in her DNA.

December 2019 - First Person From China
Written by by Rachel Long
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:20
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West Coast star enjoys a Far East adventure in the FEI Jumping Junior Nations Cup™ Tianjin CSIOJ.

by Rachel Long

China was a place that I had always wanted to visit someday. Little did I know that “someday” would be coming sooner than later. The US Equestrian Jumping email update arrived in my inbox: “Applications to FEI Jumping Junior Nations Cup™ Tianjin CSIOJ, China open soon.” The competition would be held at a polo club outside of Beijing on Oct. 31-Nov. 3, on borrowed horses. The U.S. was planning to send a team of three junior riders, but the application didn’t open for another week. Excitement and impatience kept interrupting my packing and organization for our upcoming show.


Jumping in the Junior Grand Prix (Friday).

After one long week my application was in the hands of the selection committee and I was focusing on the show. The phone call went to my grandmother and trainer, Debbi Long. Her expression gave nothing away, but once she signed off, she sang, “Guess where weeeeee’re going?” My confusion must have been evident: “China!” She exclaimed. The decision was in. I had been chosen to represent the U.S. alongside Madison Rauschenbach and Kyle Perkovich. DiAnn Langer was to be the Chef d’Equipe. At the moment I had no idea of the long, incredible, fun road we were starting on.


Opening ceremony with (from left) Rachel, DiAnn, Maddie, and Kyle.

We had a whirlwind week—plane tickets, visas, team uniforms, saddle pads and jackets. We organized the logistics and coordinated with the rest of the team. The day before we left, I rode almost every horse in the barn to refresh my borrowed-horse skills.

On Monday morning, my grandmother and I were off to China! The flights and navigating the airports were simple and we arrived in Beijing on Tuesday evening for a good night’s sleep. Once we were recharged, we met the rest of the team for breakfast. The three of us knew of one another, but we had not officially met before.

Jumping in the Junior Grand Prix (Friday).

After breakfast we joined the Jamaican team for a tour to the Great Wall. After some photos we eagerly went to climb the stairs up the wall. The area was very mountainous, and most of the sections of the stairway were quite steep. From the table in the coffee shop, DiAnn fixed us each with a stern expression, “If any of you have sore legs tomorrow when we have to ride I will not be happy.” With a grin, we nodded obediently and eagerly scampered up the wall… for about five sets of stairs. We made about a third of the way before we began eyeing the remaining distance and glancing at each other. Of course, we didn’t turn back, but the pace was definitely not as brisk as when we started. Photo op from the Wall complete, we made our way to the base for the return to Beijing and transfer to the Goldin Metropolitan Polo Club later in the evening.

Meeting the young riders in the square at the market.

Wednesday morning we were able to get an idea of how spectacular everything was. The hotel was incredible with everything from automated curtains to self-flushing toilets in the rooms. For all the grandeur, however, there were very few people around the hotel, polo club or on the streets. The part of Tianjin where the polo club is located is a relatively new part of town and although there are numerous buildings, most are still under stages of construction. After a nice breakfast, we headed across the street to check out the barn.

A barn is somewhere all horse people understand, no matter where in the world it is. All of the horses looked happy in their stalls bedded with rice hulls rather then shavings. After cruising around the show grounds for the morning, we had the horse draw and riders meeting in the afternoon.

Tasting a rice-based dessert with DiAnn in the square at the market.

The Draw

The format for the draw was very interesting. Each country would draw a group of three horses and were free to distribute the horses as they wished to the athletes. On schooling day, we were allowed to switch horses if need be. In each group there was one horse from each of three levels, they had show records of jumping courses 1.10M, 1.15M or 1.20M in height. After the official draw, each country was given one hour in the ring with the horses. Our three horses had very similar characteristics and records so we each drew out of the hat.

I pulled a gelding named Quintino, Maddie pulled the stallion called Lord M and Kyle had the mare, Chiquirina. We were able to take all the horses out for a ride to get to know them and hop over a few fences. Quintino went off to a good start. He seemed very simple on the flat but got a little stronger over fences.

Walking the crowded market streets.

Friday was the first competition that helped us get to know our mounts better. Once in the show ring Quintino perked up quite a bit. He was adjustable and jumped well for most of the course, but in one line he got a little heavy costing us the rail at the vertical. Maddie’s horse also jumped well, having one down and Kyle’s jumped well after a circle at the first jump.  Maddie finished up 4th, Kyle in 10th and I finished up in 6th. In the prize ceremony, Maddie and I were presented with ribbons, flowers and an adorable stuffed horse mascot.

That evening was the Welcome Gala. After dinner the Junior teams were called up to a small stage. Not knowing exactly what was happening, Kyle, Maddie and I glanced nervously at each other. We were given a clip board to play a quiz game. “Oh my gosh, this is not going to end well,” Maddie laughingly said. The first question totally threw us off. “How does China rank in size?” We threw out a wild guess and were completely wrong. To make us feel better none of the four teams got the correct answer, including the Chinese team. After the first question we got in our groove and totally killed it (with the assistance of some excellent sign language from our table) to take the win.

On Saturday, we had a chance to do some flat work with the horses before a tour of Tianjin. It was not crowded, but there were tons of mopeds and bicycles on the roads. We passed many shops, hotels and housing buildings on the way to the bustling market that was our main stop. The group split up into teams and were given a guide to help navigate the market. We stopped at various galleries of statues, clay sculptures and paintings that were nestled between the small shops. After spending time at each gallery, we gathered in a courtyard where there were groups of children waiting to greet us. They rode at a local riding school and were elated to talk to us. Many had small gifts to offer, pro tips on which vendors had the best snacks, and some even asked for autographs. I was given a bookmark, a paper with calligraphy that a little boy had written, and a hair pin. After attempting to use my hair pin in my ponytail, the little girl’s mother swooped in to show me how it was done. Lots of photos were taken and the kids were able to practice their already-great English.

Entering the ring for the opening ceremony.

Better Than Gold

Sunday was the day that we had really been waiting for. We had a great draw going in to the competition with Team USA going last in the three-team rotation. I would be the first American rider, Kyle would follow and Maddie would finish up. I really wanted to start round 1 off right with a clear score. I was careful throughout the course, remembering Quinitino’s quirks and customs. It paid off and we had the first clear of the class!

Kyle followed close behind me. He rode his hot horse really well and laid down the only other clear of the class so far. Maddie was next in and she finished with a beautiful four-fault round. After round one, we were leading with a score of four, China was in second with 12 and Thailand was in bronze position with 32.

The second round came after a break of only 10 minutes. Going into the second round I wanted to have the same consistent and smart ride. Quintino was a little stronger towards the end of the course in round two but I was still able to hold it all together and keep him clean. DiAnn’s face when I came out of the ring said it best—she was all smiles but had to rush back to the schooling ring to help get Kyle ready. Kyle’s second round was a little less consistent as well, with his horse getting a little bit tired. He kept her going and crossed the timers with a big 0 on the score board. Team USA was still leading with only four penalties.

All the flags lined up in the opening ceremony.

As Maddie started to warm up we all got quiet. Her horse tripped in the schooling ring and walked away very lame. DiAnn quickly found the show manager, vet and the horse’s owner to discuss options. All three concluded that because she started the competition on the horse, there was no option of a substitution and the horse was unable to jump the second round. The Ground Jury decided that we would take the Bronze position as we were unable to complete round two. Although by FEI rules, we should not have been awarded any prizes, the horse show decided to unofficially gift us each flowers, stuffed mascots and a glass trophy.

Although we did not have the ideal ending that we had been dreaming about, the three of us walked away with something much more valuable then any medal: experience. The experience of flying to a country that none of us had been to before, to compete on borrowed horses was invaluable. We formed lifelong friendships and just had a good time. I am incredibly grateful to DiAnn Langer, US Equestrian, and my entire team at home who all helped make this opportunity possible. The CSIOJ in Tianjin is an adventure that will be with me for a lifetime.

December 2019 - Show Report: AON/USHJA National Championships Highlights
Written by CRM
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:10
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Augusta Iwasaki, Elise Broz, Skylar Wireman & Ashley Young among many Californians to clean up at Las Vegas National Championships. 

Featuring competition from 14 USHJA Affiliate Organizations across nine different states, the USHJA Affiliate Hunter 2’ and 2’6” Championships wrapped up Friday, Nov. 15 at the AON/USHJA National Championships in Las Vegas. The USEF/USHJA National Jumper Championships also concluded with the 1.10m Children’s and Adult Amateur, 1.20m Junior and Amateur, and 1.30m Junior/Amateur Divisions. Juniors and Amateurs capped off an exciting day of competition with the $25,000 Junior/Amateur National Hunter Derby.

USHJA Affiliate Hunter 2’ Championship
Ashley Young, 15, of Clovis, California, captured the USHJA Affiliate Hunter 2’ Championship aboard Racketeer, owned by Katie Flannigan. Young, riding for USHJA Affiliate the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, had top finishes in all four of the Affiliate Hunter 2’ classes including a win over fences. Taking home the Reserve Championship aboard Stanley Cup was Ellen Brown, of Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada, riding for USHJA Affiliate organization the Oregon Hunter Jumper Association.

USHJA Affiliate Hunter 2’6” Championship
Winning three of the four USHJA Affiliate Hunter 2’6” classes and the title of Champion was Joann Niffenegger, of Corona, California, representing USHJA Affiliate the Los Angeles Hunter Jumper Association. Niffenegger, riding her own Notorious, also received the USHJA 2’6” Affiliate Championship Perpetual Trophy, sponsored by the USHJA Executive Director.
After earning Champion in the 2’ division, Flannigan’s Racketeer returned to the 2’6” division with rider Rachel Lancaster, of Reedly, California, to capture the USHJA Affiliate Hunter 2’6” Reserve Championship. Lancaster represents USHJA Affiliate organization the Orange County Hunter Jumper Association.

Capping off a stellar two weeks, Skylar Wireman captured the USEF/USHJA 1.30m Junior/Amateur Jumper National Championship. Photo: Tricia Booker/USHJA

USEF/USHJA 1.10m Children’s Jumper Championship
Portya Muenke, of Boulder, Colorado, and her own Eurohill’s Alcatraz claimed the USEF/USHJA 1.10m Children’s Jumper Championship title, as well as the division’s Leading Owner title and placed first in the $10,000 division Grand Prix. As such, her trainer, Mark Mead, earned the Leading Trainer title. The Reserve Championship went to Annabella Harold, of Mundelein, Illinois, riding her own Upsilos Vida.

USEF/USHJA 1.10m Adult Amateur Jumper Championship
Riding to the top of the 1.10m Adult Amateur Jumper Championship was Catherine Brock, of Innsbrook, Missouri, on her own Bullit. Brock, trained by Kris Cheyne, also took home the blue ribbon in the $10,000 Grand Prix and the Leading Owner title, while Cheyne as her trainer earned the Leading Trainer title. Brenna McGovern, of San Luis Obispo, California, claimed the Reserve on her own Grey Goose.

USEF/USHJA 1.20m Junior Jumper Championship
After much success in hunter, jumper and equitation divisions in last year’s inaugural Championship, Elisa Broz, of Freedom, California, returned to Las Vegas and claimed the 1.20m Junior Jumper Championship aboard Constance Broz’s Colorado. Ava K. Myers, of San Antonio, Texas, rode to the Reserve Championship title and the win in the $10,000 Grand Prix.
Constance Broz was awarded the Leading Owner title, as owner of Colorado, and Cassie Belmont earned the Leading Trainer title as Broz’s trainer.

USEF/USHJA 1.20m Amateur Jumper Championship
Traveling from Arlington, Washington, Olivia Hernandez and her own Parees Horsenaes earned top honors in the 1.20m Junior division, earning the division Championship and first place in the $10,000 Grand Prix. She also earned the Leading Owner title and her trainer, Vinton Karrasch, earned the Leading Trainer title. Jayme Omand, of Sacramento, California, rode her own Zador to a Reserve Championship finish.

Augusta Iwasaki & Iwasaki & Reilly’s Illusion. Photo: Tricia Booker/USHJA

USEF/USHJA 1.30m Junior/Amateur Jumper Championship
Fresh off a second-place finish at the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session at the University of Findlay (Ohio) last week, Skylar Wireman, of Bonsall, California, continued her success on the West Coast earning the Champion title of the 1.30m Junior/Amateur Jumper division. Her trainer, Lisa Halterman, earned the Leading Trainer title while Shayne Wireman earned the Leading Owner title as owner of Wireman’s mount, Avalon.
After a first-place finish in the $10,000 Grand Prix, Trent McGee, of Granada Hills, California, piloted his own Boucherom to the Reserve Championship title.

$25,000 Junior/Amateur USHJA National Hunter Derby
Juniors and Amateurs took the spotlight Friday evening in the $25,000 Junior/Amateur USHJA National Hunter Derby in the South Point Arena. Taking home top honors was Augusta Iwasaki, of Calabasas, California, whose consistent scores of 89 in the Classic Hunter round and 89 in the Handy round secured her win aboard Iwasaki & Reilly’s Illusion. Hot on her heels heels was Ariana Marnell, of Las Vegas, Nevada, aboard Marnell Sport Horses’ aptly named Casino Cash. Marnell’s impressive score of 91 in the Classic round shot her to the lead, and she secured her Reserve-place finish with an 83 in the Handy.

Free Educational Opportunities
In addition to competitive opportunities, free educational sessions hosted by the USHJA took place Thursday and Friday, including an interactive and engaging session with renowned sports psychologist Mario Soto, and a course walk of Friday’s $25,000 Junior/Amateur USHJA National Hunter Derby. A Judge with the Judge clinic, led by R Hunter and Equitation Judge Mark Bone, took place during Round 2 of the WCE Finals on Saturday. Competitors who placed in the top three in an AON/USHJA National Championship class were invited to attend a course walk of the $100,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Las Vegas Grand Prix, Saturday night.

The USHJA extends special thanks to presenting sponsor AON with Great American Insurance Group; USHJA official sponsors Charles Owen, CWD, Parlanti and Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital; award sponsors Essex Classics, FITS, Prize Possessions, Schneider’s, Shapley’s, SmartPak and State Line Tack; Championship competition manager Pat Boyle, and Stephanie Lightner and the entire Las Vegas National and Blenheim EquiSports team.

Report provided by the USHJA.


December 2019 - A Tale of Two Stables
Written by CRM
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:00
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Urban horse keeping is a challenging and evolving endeavor.

Horsekeeping in the Los Angeles area has been a challenging proposition for many years now. Horse boarding is typically a break-even proposition to begin with and urban sprawl combined with ever-rising land values make even that a big challenge. The different histories and realities of two stables in the area illustrate the challenges of keeping horses close to those who enjoy them.

Photo: Kristin Lee Photography

Hansen Dam Horse Park in Lake View Terrace

Since buying a majority share of the City Of Los Angeles Department of Parks & Recreation concession to operate the 38-acre equestrian facility in 2017, veteran equestrian businessman Larry Langer has been struck by the range of stories people tell him about the property. “They range from people telling me they’d never heard of the place before to those who remember it before Eddie Milligan bought it, in about 1989, when it was basically a field where you could rent horses.”

Blue Shadows Mounted Drill Team Lieutenant Colonel Janet Johnstone is one of those storytellers. She grew up in the area and recalls riding near what is now the Horse Park at a stable called Osborne Stables. “There was an arena, a paddock, and a public rental place. It doesn’t look anything like what it does now!”

During the 1990s, the late Eddie Milligan built the facility into a full-on equestrian center. Before that, Milligan and the late Don Burt had worked out a similar arrangement to build and operate the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. When Milliken sold the Hansen Dam concession to a group led by Sterling Champ in 2008, Milliken went on to build the Huntington Park Equestrian Center, another property on leased public land.

Photo: Kristin Lee Photography

Larry had owned and managed an equestrian facility in the Sacramento area early in his long career in the horse business. That, plus many subsequent years as a horse show organizer and industry leader, gave him reason to consider Hansen Dam a uniquely viable venture in which to invest.  It was also a relative bargain. Instead of having to buy the land, his buy-in cost was the majority ownership of the concession agreement – Sterling Champ retains a minority share of the agreement. Larry adds, “Because I didn’t have to buy the land, I can afford to make improvements.”

And that he has. Significant investments range from the major costs of arena footing and stabling upgrades to less expensive landscaping enhancements. The end result of ongoing improvements is a multi-faceted approach to overall profitability. In addition to boarding, Hansen Dam has a growing Riding School, it hosts a busy schedule of equestrian competitions, Mexican cultural entertainment events in a purpose-built arena and special events from horsemanship clinics to quinceaneras.

“You can’t make any money on board,” he explains. “But if you can break even on board, that allows you to profit from ancillary things.” Along with the concession agreement, rent paid to the City of Los Angeles is another cost of business. But it’s very reasonable compared to rent a boarding facility operator would typically have to pay a landowner, especially in the densely populated area that Lakeview Terrace now is.

“No one is getting rich in the horse business,” acknowledges Larry, who currently does not draw a salary from Hansen Dam Horse Park. “But the unique situation here gave me the incentive to take it over and try to make it profitable. I plan to have it turning a profit by June of 2020.”

In the meantime, the Southern California equestrian community is grateful for Hansen Dam’s existence, especially in its ever-improving state. “The Langers are doing a great job,” says Janet, a longtime area resident. “It’s so important because the horse-owning way of life is dwindling.” She’s grateful to Hansen Dam for welcoming the Blue Shadows Mounted Drill Team, which initially practiced at the property when it started in 1957. The non-profit endeavor remains true to its original mission of enabling those who typically can’t afford their own horse to have a regular way of enjoying them. The team practices on horses rented from and delivered by Scott Perez, whose family is intertwined with Los Angeles horsekeeping history through renting horses for trail riding and movie making.

Hansen Dam Horse Park is also highly valued as an evacuation site in emergencies. It has been a designated safe haven for horses in all of the area’s recent fires.

Bella Vista Stables in Sunland/Shadow Hills


The privately-owned boarding facility is of the same vintage as Hansen Dam, but has followed a much different trajectory. Currently the subject of unhelpful rumors swirling about its supposed closure, the 9.7-acre property is for sale, acknowledges Cheryl Winton, who owns it with her stepsister Cathy Pfeifer. It was not dire circumstances that put the property on the market but the more regular life reality that Cheryl and Cathy inherited Bella Vista from their recently deceased stepfather. After his passing, they agreed to sell it.

Since Bella Vista’s for-sale status became known, what had been a head count of 80 to 85 horses became the current 60 fairly fast. “I’m telling everybody the truth, which is that there’s no way to know if it will be sold today or six months from now.”

Cheryl’s mother Evelyn grew up in Chicago and had horses all her life. She first came upon the 9.7-acre Shadow Hills-area property by representing it as a real estate broker. The listing lingered without takers for about a year, Cheryl recalls, so her mother and stepfather Carlo Scialanga decided to buy it. It had a small barn, corrals, an arena and a main house on it. The board was $65 a month, Cheryl recalls.

The property was remodeled extensively and built into a its eventual capacity in keeping with is Conditional Use Permit for 100 horses. Cheryl managed the property for many years and recalls good years, business-wise, as occurring when they had a busy lesson program. California Rangers and other groups constituted a regular and sizeable clientele that enjoyed a string of about 30 lessons horses.

Two things made it more difficult to maintain a profit: kids’ interest in riding seem to go down and the cost of safe, reliable school horses soared, along with the cost of their care and insurance, Cheryl reflects. Somewhere along the line, Bella Vista closed up the riding school portion, letting their school horses enjoy a retired life, and turned to boarding as the only revenue stream.

Cheryl says she’s not in a big hurry to sell the property, and that she’d love to find a buyer committed to continuing with the equestrian operation. A significant board increase and bringing on trainer-based businesses would likely be needed to make that a viable business venture, she acknowledges. Both steps would involve attracting a horse-owning clientele of those willing to spend more on their hobby. “We cater to people who mostly keep and love their horses as their pets,” Cheryl explains.

Despite development, the area surrounding Bella Vista retains much of its horsey heritage. It’s in-between the 210 and 5 freeways and five miles from Hansen Dam Horse Park. Most of the area is still zoned for horse keeping, though many of the residential lots don’t have any. Bella Vista’s Conditional Use Permit is assured into perpetuity, Cheryl adds, a plus for any buyer looking to continue the equestrian operation.

December 2019 - Learning To Fall
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Sunday, 01 December 2019 08:36
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toc training

Minimizing injury risks is the focus of four Landsafe Equestrian clinics in California this month.

by Kim F. Miller

Nobody doubts that riding is a physically dangerous sport, but there is disagreement over what can be done to reduce risks. Some accept the risks and carry on and some accept the risks and do everything possible to minimize injuries when the inevitable falls or necessary sudden dismounts occur.

The three-year-old program Landsafe Equestrian is firmly in that latter camp. Staging four clinics in California this month, during a larger West Coast tour, the program was created by riders Danny and Keli Warrington. It is steadily growing the ranks of proactive riders intent on improving their odds of walking away from potentially terrible falls without devastating injuries.

The core of the two-day clinics are gymnastic exercises and work on a mechanical horse programmed to dislodge riders in a realistic simulation of the speed and impact of a real fall.

The first day starts with two hours of gymnastics skill building. The emphasis is on rolling safely and with a body shape most able to protect the head and neck and to decelerate the impact. Later that day, these new skills are transferred to the mechanical horse. The second day revisits those skills, then spends more time on the simulator working with various of types of falls and dangerous situations: like the right way to roll off and away from the horse in a rotational fall and developing the instincts for when to eject from the saddle when a horse rears.

In all phases, the goal is building muscle memory, body awareness and control and the rider’s confidence in activating the training in the heat of what Danny calls the “Oh crap!” moment. “It’s a training program designed to teach the best practices of fall prevention and response,” he explains.

Danny is a former steeplechase rider turned FEI level eventer. His first wife, Amanda Warrington, died of injuries sustained during a 4* competition in 1998. He has since been a strong voice for riders taking personal responsibility for “playing the sport safely,” as he wrote in a moving 2008 Chronicle of the Horse article. Keli has an extensive background as a gymnast.


s horsemen, both are eventers, and that’s the discipline that first embraced this still-new Landsafe Equestrian program. In 2018, the United States Eventing Association offered members a grant-funded discount on the cost of participating in the clinics. With its cross-country phase in which horses and riders gallop over permanent obstacles, eventing has been in the rider (and horse) safety spotlight for many years so its embrace of Landsafe is not surprising. More recently, the United States Hunter Jumper Association reached out to Landsafe, Danny reports. The training will be incorporated into USHJA educational programs in the fall of 2020, he says.

No need to wait until a governing body formally adopts the program, Danny stresses. Some professionals make Landsafe participation a prerequisite of joining their training program. Danny hopes the safety training will become as ubiquitous in equestrian sports as it is in many mainstream sports.  Gymnasts, he notes, learn to fall safely and avoid their sport’s most common injuries in their earliest phases of participation.

Any riding style has its risks, and Landsafe seeks to reduce those across all disciplines. Rotational falls in which the horse hits a jump between its knees and chest, causing the horse to flip over the jump, are the most dangerous. “The risk of having a serious injury is once every 55 falls,” Landsafe reports. “A rotational fall, however, increases the risk to once every five falls.”

Even as the Landsafe clinics fill to capacity, skepticism persists. The biggest doubts concern any program’s ability to train the mind and body to respond in the split-second moment of a potential or actual fall and how much can be accomplished in a two-day session. In what little time he has for such doubters, Danny begins by stating that any form of training is better than none. Landsafe’s two days of core-building somersaults, vaults and controlled falls off the simulator do build muscle memory, he asserts. Repeating the course annually or with some regularity is ideal. Adopting or continuing an active, play-oriented lifestyle is a big help in maintaining the strength and body control lessons learned in the clinic. Activities that increase hand-eye coordination are also valuable.

Part of the Landsafe education is countering myths, like the idea that it’s best to relax the muscles in a fall. “What we are teaching is body shaping as it applies to decelerating the force of impact when hitting the ground,” he explains. “This is rider education regarding falling safely. It teaches riders not only a better way to navigate a fall, but also using these skills, in many cases, may reduce chances of injury or prevent a fall all together.”

Danny feels the training is perhaps even more needed now than in the past because many young people spend more time in safe, sedentary activities than in rough and tumble outdoor play of earlier times.  Such physical activity contributes to body awareness, balance and strength that are critical to the muscle memory reactions Landsafe emphasizes. Participants of all ages and auditors will benefit from the clinic, Danny asserts. Even though an older rider might not be so swift with the somersaults, they can still learn skills to minimize the risk of severe injury in a fall.

He equates Landsafe to seatbelts and child safety seats when they were first introduced. “Your kids won’t want to do them, but you’ve got to get them into them.” He expects that acceptance will eventually follow the same trajectory as those everyday safety precautions.

February 2020 will mark Landsafe’s third year of giving clinics. “I can’t believe this isn’t mandatory,” is one of the most common participant comments, Danny relays.

For the contact information on each clinic, visit


Landsafe Equestrian Clinics this month in California


  • Dec. 7-8 at Kingsview Equestrian Center in the Sacramento area’s Woodland.
  • Dec. 15-16 at Red Fox Farm in the South Bay Area’s Gilroy
  • Dec. 22-23 at Shea Therapeutic Riding Center in San Juan Capistrano
  • Dec. 28-29 in Twin Rivers Ranch in Central California’s Paso Robles. Eventing star Buck Davidson, Jr., is partnering in this clinic with cross-country jumping coaching. He’s a longtime friend of Danny Warrington and was one of the first international riders to instantly understand and promote Landsafe’s benefits, Danny explains.
December 2019 - What's Happening
Written by CRM
Sunday, 01 December 2019 07:49
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whats happeningCalifornia Riding Magazine Event Calendar

Does your special event deserve special coverage in California Riding Magazine’s What’s Happening Event Calendar? If so, let us know and don’t forget a photo. Send it all to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Our deadline is the first of the month for the following month’s issue. Please submit your events by December 1st for the January issue. It’s the place to be and it’s free!

No Shows
Dec. 1 & Jan. 4 in Orange County’s San Juan Capistrano

These are popular opportunities to get show experience at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park venue without the related show fees. Instead, at $30 per round, riders and horses gain experience over “A” show caliber jumps and courses, including an option with the open water jump. Set in two rings, courses range in fence height from .70M to 1.4M, and rounds are unlimited. Show stalls are available to rent for the Saturday night before each show.

Clients of Apollo Equine Transport and Horseflight participate in the No Show for no cost.

For more information, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Ladies Night at Big Horse Feed
Dec. 3 in Riverside County’s Temecula

It’s Ladies Only after-hours shopping at Big Horse Feed and Mercantile in Temecula on Tuesday, Dec. 2. From 6-8 p.m. this Southern California one-stop shop for all things equestrian welcomes women to enjoy store-wide discounts on everything from horse care supplies and equipment to jewelry and apparel, for riding, everyday wear or a night on the town. It’s also a perfect time to identify wish-list items for Big Horse’s popular gift registry.

For more information, visit

Straightening the Crooked Horse
Dec. 5-9 in Los Angeles County’s Agoura Hills

Renowned author and trainer Klaus Schoneich and Gabrielle Rachen-Schoneich have taught their holistic training system at their Center for Anatomically Correct Horsemanship in Germany for over 30 years. They’ve trained top FEI Grand Prix dressage horses and Olympic FEI dressage riders and rehabilitated thousands of incorrectly moving horses.

The Schoneichs’ method teaches the horse to carry itself freely with a swinging back, resolving 90-95% of motion-related problems. Their system is described as the “missing link” when preparing horses for performance, whether they are Olympic hopefuls, “problem” steeds or everyday riding partners.

The clinic will take place at Lion Heart Ranch. For more information, visit

Holiday Fun Schooling Show
Dec. 7-8 in Alameda County’s Pleasanton

Alameda County Equestrian hosts this day of dressage practice, with the added attraction of a holiday boutique and crafts. Divisions include dressage, hunters, equitation and jumpers in front of dressage judge, USDF L official Ivette Harte, and Jay Arend, a USEF R judge for the hunter/jumper classes.

The venue is the Pleasanton Equestrian Center, located at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. This series of fun, community focused competitions continues in the new year with January, February, March and May dates. Team competitions, barn challenges and fun and functional prizes are more highlights.

For more information, contact organizers Greg and Dawn Benson of Alameda County Equestrian at

Landsafe Equestrian Clinics
Various dates, starting Dec. 8, & locations throughout California

Physical training on gymnastic mats and a mechanical horse teaches techniques for minimizing injuries in falls. Excellent for riders in all disciplines. See story, this issue.

Anne Kursinski Clinic
Dec. 13-15 in Burbank

Anne Kursinski is a five-time Olympic show jumper with two team silver medals. Her teaching resume is approaching similarly high status with many years giving clinics throughout the country. She is a tough taskmaster with clear explanations of the reasons behind her instructions and insights from her many years of success.

The clinic will be held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. For riding and auditing information, call organizers Stacie Ryan and Karen Perlow at 818-309-5001.

Indoor Eventing
Dec. 14-15 in San Juan Capistrano

The Pacific Indoor Eventing Series began in 2014 as a “way to rally excitement for eventing, bring new riders into the sport and allow current event riders to school cross-country questions in a contained environment,” says its website. “Inspired by similar shows in Canada, the PIE shows are heavy on fun and have plenty of classes for all abilities of riders.”

Divisions range from Walk/Trot to Preliminary with 3’6” fence heights, plus special classes including a Training Level Gambler’s Choice and a Pony Club Challenge for U.S. Pony Club Members. Each regular division has two rounds, one over a course of show jumping style fences, and another over cross-country style jumps, both in the covered arena at Sycamore Trails Stables. The Pony Club Challenge has a third phase: a written horsemanship test administered in the office.

For more information or to sign up, visit

EquestFest presented by Wells Fargo
Dec. 29 in Burbank

Get up close and personal with the 2020 Rose Parade equestrian units at EquestFest presented by Wells Fargo. Watch beautiful horses and talented riders perform drills and dances and demonstrate trick riding and roping.

Attendees can also stroll through the stables, talk to riders and learn about the various tack and the many different breeds while enjoying the vendor court, displays, great music, food, and drinks.

Staged at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, this is a great reminder of the many ways in which horses are enjoyed and the role they’ve played in much of our country’s past and present. Excellent event for experienced horse people and those new to the equestrian world.

Doors open at 10 a.m., the show begins at noon and the vendor court and activities continue until 3 pm.

Advance tickets are available through and day-of tickets are available on a first come, first served basis.


December 2019 - The Gallop: Prison Program Prepares Grooms
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Sunday, 01 December 2019 10:01
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Determined horsewoman fulfills dream to have horses help people in yet another way.

by Kim F. Miller

Transcendent moments grace Heidi Richards’ life with horses, but none quite compare to the sight of Pleasant Valley State Prison inmates interacting with horses as her students in a new program that prepares them for careers caring for horses after their release. A version of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Second Chances Vocational Training Program, the Pleasant Valley endeavor had its grand opening in the San Joaquin Valley’s Coalinga in October.  It’s a joint venture between TRF, West Hills College, Harris Ranch and the prison, but it’s Heidi who had the vision and saw it through five years to fruition.


“There are days when I drive to work and I can’t believe it actually happened,” she acknowledges.

The Pleasant Valley Equine Rehab Program is the first California manifestation of TRF’s Second Chances program. It provides vocational training for incarcerated men. During a rigorous 18-week training program, inmates learn anatomy, injury treatment, nutrition and other aspects of care. After their release from prison, graduates of the TRF Second Chances Program in other states have gone on to careers as farriers, veterinary assistants and caretakers.

In Coalinga, the curriculum is sanctioned by West Hill College, which offers Equine Science classes and degrees. It includes natural horsemanship-based desensitization methods, learning to tack up a horse for various disciplines and basic farrier work to safely trim a hoof after a lost shoe or other minor incident.     

In keeping with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s mission, the program also helps horses. At Pleasant Valley, two 12-year-old horses now have careers as “instructors” helping the inmates learn to care for them. Two young horses belong to Harris Ranch and will rehabilitate from injuries with the students’ help, then go on to other careers. A third young horse will join the program soon, meeting the total of five horses for which the program is designed and funded by a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Innovative Programming Grant. A hoped-for later phase is hiring a trainer to take the young horses after they’re rehabbed to provide the training foundation needed to increase their second-career options.

The courses occur in the fall and spring semesters, with 15 students each for a total of 30 expected to be certified each academic year. Candidates must apply and are carefully screened. They all reside in the prison’s Level 1 minimum security facility and are interviewed by Heidi, the West Hills College Farm director and a psychologist. “We are very careful to pick people who have the kind of personality needed to work with horses,” Heidi explains. In its inaugural run, 67 people applied for the 15 available spots. Most are very close to earning parole. The few with more time to serve will continue working with the horses as assistant instructors.
“Wow!” Moments

Midway through its first semester, the equestrian program has already created many “Wow!” moments, Heidi says. While working with a horse in the facility’s round pen, one student had a moment of true connection with the horse, including the horse starting to follow him around the pen. “He told me it was the best feeling he’d had in eight years,” Heidi relays. Another had already lined up a stable job, with help from his wife. After the Oct. 16 ceremony christening the program, several participants expressed deep appreciation.

It’s already obvious to Heidi that horses positively affect people inside the prison’s walls as much as they do the people outside them. “The TRF Second Chances began as a vocational program,” corroborates Second Chance’s website. “It wasn’t long before other benefits of the program were realized; inmates not only learned a viable skill but also gained confidence and a sense of empathy. Studies have shown a reduction in recidivism rates at facilities that host the program.”

Participants’ enthusiasm is conveyed in daily actions, starting well before there were any horses on the property. The horses live in 24’ by 24’ stalls, with 6’ high walls and shade covers. Along with the round pen, there are wash racks and an arena, all built by the inmates in the program.

A Horse Helper

Supporters include Harris Farms’ John Harris, right

Heidi with future horse care professionals.

Heidi Richards

Despite Heidi’s occasional disbelief that the multi-faceted project came together, the accomplishment is the latest – and biggest – in a life dedicated to helping horses. “I’ve been rescuing horses since – oh gosh – since I can remember,” Heidi laughs. “I started rescuing them from auctions and from people who weren’t able to take care of them. I made sure they had good homes and I always tried to find people, like 4-H or Future Farmers of America, who maybe couldn’t purchase a horse but could take care of one.” Some of these included wild Mustangs she started while in high school.

After earning an Associate’s degree in Equine Science from West Hills College, Heidi went to work for Harris Ranch. The renowned racehorse, breeding and training facility has long advocated for post-racing careers. She worked there for 10 years, primarily on foal watch and delivering babies.

Heidi joined the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation 15 years ag, while continuing to work with and enjoy horses in her off-time.

About 10 years ago, she began thinking about merging horses and prisoners. Her own experience working with BLM Mustangs inspired her to investigate the Wild Horse Inmate Program, in which inmates gentle and start wild horses. “I hit a roadblock with that because of the requirement for permanent fencing,” she says of a program introduced to much of the public via this year’s movie, The Mustang.

Five years ago this month, Heidi reconnected with former Harris Farms manager Dave McLaughlin. She also found the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which agreed to back Heidi’s idea. The next milestone was discovering the CDCR Innovative Programming Grant. She turned to West Hills College for help with the application, a process that entailed, among many steps, documenting the success of a similar program elsewhere and demonstrating that it did not yet exist in the intended location.

Working with two state entities, the Prison and the College, was a new challenge, she notes, as were the safety issues of pairing horses with people not accustomed to working with them.

Harris Farms’ support was relatively easy to secure, given the family-owned company’s commitment to doing good while doing well in the horse world and beyond. It was the same with the like-minded Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

The CDCR grant funds the program for three years. After that, Heidi is optimistic that that West Hills College, Harris Ranch and the TRF will continue their various forms of support and that the program’s success will assure its continuance at the prison. Occasional fundraisers will help with needed equipment additions and there are plans to attain long term self-sustainability.

“Sometimes it feels like a big dream because I wanted it for so long,” Heidi concludes. “It’s the best feeling ever when I walk out there and see how the inmates are responding to the horses.”

The Gallop welcomes news, tips and photos. Contact Kim F. Miller at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

December 2019 - Holiday Gift Guide
Written by CRM
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:44
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Last minute gift-giving ideas!

Look Holiday Haute | Ride Cool

Made of recycled water bottles, and featuring anti-bacterial and wicking performance technology, as well as UPF 50 sun protection built right into the fabric, these luxury performance shirts will keep you looking good and feeling good all year and in all climates.  


Fashionable & flattering enough for the barn or the bistro, An Capall polos are soft, comfortable and they fit all body types like a dream. They have an outstanding level of breathability that keeps you comfortable even on the hottest day. And they feature stretch comfort with slight compression to give the most flattering fit that will hold its shape and not ride up no matter how many horses you ride a day.

Best of all, they are machine washable, quick drying, and never need ironing ever! Made proudly in the USA.

Merry, Bright & Beneficial

The Kenyan Collection offers dog collars, browbands and belts beaded by the mamas of the Maasai Tribe in Kenya.  In the Maasai culture, the beaded creations they wear say something about who wears them - age, marital status, social status, special events in their life (like a new bride). With guidance from a talented leather worker/designer, the mamas were given the opportunity to use their natural sense of color and design to create these.

Muck Boots

Most equestrians are in that rare category of people who get excited about extremely practical gifts. The Original Muck Boot Company offers exactly that. The turning-20 years old brand has a wide line, highlighted by the Derby, a pull-on with a stirrup-ready design that’s also stylish enough to wear into town after riding and barn chores. Work-only days are well suited for the Chore Boot line. These are comfortable, rugged boots for rugged tasks in rugged weather. The Classic Chore Wide Calf edition features blaze yellow high visibility linings for additional safety, plus a steel toe and non-metallic plate for additional protection. 

Lock It Down!

Tack and equipment theft is a crummy topic to think about during the holidays, but unfortunately, it’s a timely topic year-round. Perhaps more so this time of year with thieves counting on people being too distracted to carefully secure their valuables.

Padlocks on tack trunks, tack room doors, trailer compartments and elsewhere can help, but that means remembering the combination and preventing it from being shared with the wrong people.

The mainstream product, Tapplock one+, has many applications in the stable environment. It is a “smart padlock” that opens with a touch of the finger and can store up to 500 fingerprints to allow others access. The hi-tech lock has a waterproof rating of IP67, meaning it can be used outdoors and unlocked in any weather conditions and users can utilize the Tapplock app to manage other users, track the access history of the lock and grant mobile access to others via a Bluetooth feature. The finger print ID opens the lock in .8 of a second.

Riding For The Team

The U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation’s Riding For The Team features the stories of 47 athletes who have served on championship teams for the United States in all eight international disciplines. Edited by renowned equestrian journalist Nancy Jaffer, it recounts their struggles, triumphs, and journeys to the top of the sport. Highlighted by fantastic photographs, the 302-page coffee table book also includes behind-the-scenes moments and images of top riders in their younger years, such as Margie Engle’s pony ride as a five-year-old and Phillip Dutton in his Australian Pony Club days.

It’s the third in a series: The first version, also edited by Jaffer, covered 1976 to 1990. That version followed on from The USET Book of Riding: The First Quarter Century of the USET, by the late Olympic gold medalist show jumper and USET chairman emeritus William Steinkraus.

The book is published by Trafalgar Square Books and can be purchased on the USET Foundation website, Proceeds benefit the Foundation. The limited edition with a slip cover is $70; and the standard edition is $40.

We have a copy of this book available for review! If you’d like to review it for a future issue of California Riding Magazine, and get to keep the book in return, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . First come, first served. Must live in California. (We also have several other books available! View them here:

A Beautiful Book

An Illustrated History of Equestrian Sports: Dressage, Jumping, Eventing documents the history of competitive horse riding through fascinating stories and record-breaking events. Organized by decade, with both the individual and team achievements listed across the sport’s three Olympic disciplines—showjumping, dressage, and eventing—the coverage in this coffee-table quality volume begins when the sport first appeared in the 1912 Olympic Games and continues through present-day competitions.

It includes portraits and profiles of some of the sport’s most ground-breaking equestrians: show jumper Bill Steinkraus, dressage star Charlotte Dujardin and show jumper Kevin Staut among them. A perfect gift for fans and students of the sport – of all ages—the book includes previously unpublished information, archival photography and memorable anecdotes.   

Published by Flammarion with the International Equestrian Federation’s blessing, the book was written by Marie de Pellegars-Malhortie and Benoit Capdebarthes. “It becomes apparent that each of these exceptional riders has a touch of madness, a hint of genius, deep resolve, a singular gift and the tenacity to overcome every challenge,” the authors write in the forward. “By recounting the development of the sport through anecdotes and reminiscences, we hope to give readers a sense of participating in every great equestrian contest since the Stockholm Olympics of 1912.”

The book is widely available:

December 2019 - Carol Dean Porter Tributes
Written by CRM
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:36
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Late horsewoman’s legacy lives on through friends.

As Carol Dean Porter’s many friends prepare to celebrate her life on Saturday, Dec 7 at the Hansen Dam Horse Park, we asked some to share stories of how she touched them as a person and a horsewoman. Carol passed away on Oct. 21 and is missed by many throughout the equestrian world but her legacy will clearly live on through the many she influenced.

Celebration of Carol’s Life: Saturday, Dec. 7, 11 a.m. at the Hansen Dam Horse Park in Lakeview Terrace. Friends of Carol’s are invited to celebrate her remarkable life and contributions to the sport. Please RSVP to Marnye Langer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Marnye Langer

I loved to share my horse and riding related ideas and questions with Carol. I would explain what I was thinking or feeling, Carol would listen thoughtfully, and then she would share some observation or insight that made the lightbulb go off in my head. When I implemented her suggestion, inevitably I got improvement. She was an astute, empathetic observer of the horse and always wanted to see horses happy and successful in their jobs.

When I was frustrated, she would give me perspective. When I was lacking confidence, she would give me courage. When I was delighted in an accomplishment, she would cheer and reinforce the things that led to the success. I could count on Carol being honest and always in a constructive manner. I knew Carol always put the horse first and so I listened carefully when she gave advice.

Carol was also a fan of horsemanship and helping people maximize their enjoyment with horses. When I needed help with the Los Angeles Hunter Jumper Association Horsemastership Scholarship, a three-phase program that emphasizes horsemanship, Carol was one of the first to raise her hand to help. She contributed to judging the Riding Phase, and she also actively helped with the Hands-on Phase. She loved talking to the participants and coaching them through tasks they were unsure of. She made sure they finished the Hands-on Phase with more knowledge and confidence to encourage them to maintain a life-long love and respect for the horse.

I miss my friend, but I know her spirit is carried forward by many of us. When I work through something with one of my horses or have a particularly good jumping round, instead of texting Carol I send a little thought out to the universe. Wherever or however she is, I am sure she appreciates my intent and appreciation.

And I am honored that the entire LAHJA Board of Directors renamed our scholarship program to: The Carol Dean Porter LAHJA Horsemastership Scholarship

Diane Grod

I could never adequately describe the emotional toll the loss of Carol Porter has had on me. She was a friend, fellow competitor and judge. Carol was more like a sister to me and she was the largest contributor to me in my appraisal business. So, I guess you could call her a partner as well.

Not long after I became a Certified Equine Appraiser in 1997, Carol insisted that everyone thinking of donating a horse to National Park Trust hire me before she would take them for her charity. I literally appraised over 300 horses for her through the years. We collaborated together on a weekly basis and sometimes just talked about “stuff.” I had the misfortune of breaking the news of Rob Gage’s death to her. I will never forget that moment in time.

Carol passed the torch, so to speak, to Jonelle Ramsay of Ramsay Equine Select to keep donations going to the charity she loved so much, National Park Trust, and Jonelle will continue to do that in Carol’s memory and as a legacy to her past support.

I think about her every day as she was truly one of the greatest people I know. I am sure she is looking over (her husband) Dan’s shoulder constantly. She passed away on their 30th anniversary.

Rest in peace, dear friend. I wish we could have talked more when I went to see her in the hospital. She was in so much pain but now she is finally pain free and with God.

Denise Finch

How do you put into 400 words or less what your hero meant to you? It’s also hard to find any words at all when your heart is still so sad. The lessons I learned from my years with Carol as my mentor go far beyond horses. Yes, I learned a lot about horses from her, an immeasurable amount, in fact. But as I find myself missing her every day since her passing, it is her advice and voice of reason I miss the most. Sometimes this was telling me it will all be OK and sometimes it was putting her boot up my butt with a necessary reality check. Because of her guidance and positive influence, I am a better person, wife, mother and, of course, trainer.

Carol was someone I could always count on in life, which is something I find rare these days. If I had questions, she always answered regardless of where she was, what she was doing or how she felt. I will probably miss that most of all and I’m thankful she’ll always be a voice in my head.

Carol was a true horseman, which besides honesty and accountability, is also becoming increasingly rare these days. She believed that kids should be taught all aspects of our sport and the horse, not just how to find the distance to 10 jumps accurately. She encouraged everyone to continue teaching the next generation what it means to be a horseman, not just a rider. I am thankful that she instilled these values in me and, in turn, I will pass them along to everyone I have the honor of teaching.

She also gave back to the masses with Judge My Ride, where she shared her tips, knowledge and guidance with those that couldn’t have access to her on an everyday basis. It is hard to know how many people and horses she touched and helped with Judge My Ride alone: it has to be countless.

Carol was one of the greatest horsemen and people you could ever hope to know. Her legacy will carry on in her many students and people that loved her. Even though she’s gone, she’ll always be right here.

December 2019 - The Power Of Hope
Written by by Dr. Suzi Lanini, DVM
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:26
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Riding in the Rose Parade represents realized childhood dreams from the back of a remarkable Arabian, Just In Kayce.

by Dr. Suzi Lanini, DVM

Horses have always been my inspiration and my motivation through life. I grew up in a disadvantaged household; we barely had enough money to get by. I dreamed as a child of becoming a veterinarian. I also dreamed of having enough money to own a prize-winning Arabian horse. A dream that was big enough to have a horse that was worthy of being in a magazine. I stayed focused on my dreams even when the dreams seemed too big.


Once I graduated vet school and had the opportunity to ride horses again, I realized there is no better experience than being in the presence of a horse. I purchased Just In Kayce, known as “Justin”, a purebred Arabian gelding in 2008, about a year after finishing veterinary school. I had no idea the impact one single horse could have on my life and others in the community.

Justin has become that show horse that I always dreamed of as a child. He and I have won hundreds of awards over the past 11 years of showing him. He has won 29 Horse of the Year Awards, over 27 Regional Championship Awards, three United States Dressage Federation All Breed Awards, and achieved over 50 rosettes from the California Dressage Society. He has been showcased in multiple publications over the years for his achievements. We have competed at some of the top competitions in the nation. In 2013, Justin was awarded the Arabian Horse Association Ambassador Award. He has touched the hearts of many with his personality and presence in the show ring competing in dressage through the international levels and working with international instructors.  

The Rose Parade: From the Scaffolding to the Saddle

Justin made another childhood dream come true when I participated in the 2013 Tournament of Roses Parade. My aunt lived on Alta Dena Drive in Alta Dena when I was a child. We would stay at her house overnight and push a scaffolding down the street to the school yard where my uncle used to teach. We would sit on the scaffolding and watch the Rose Parade. I dreamed of one day owning a horse that was good enough to be in the Rose Parade. Well, Justin made that dream come true when we participated with the Costumed Arabians of Region One. It was a dream to ride him down the parade route waving my hand and making eye contact with the spectators. The entire time, I hoped I was giving just one child the ability to dream as I had done as a child.  

Justin and I have volunteered for the San Bernardino Sheriff Department since 2011. We became members of the Equestrian Patrol Unit out of the Rancho Cucamonga Station. We volunteer our time to patrol the trails of the city, participate in community events and attend the Annual Sheriff’s Rodeo in Devore. In 2018 we joined the West Valley Mounted Posse out of the Fontana Station and participate in Search and Rescue efforts for the county as well as participating in community events.

Dr. Suzi Lanini & Justin in the 2013 Rose Parade. In January’s Rose Parade, they’ll ride with the Arabian Horse Association’s unit, helping to represent the breed’s versatility. They’ll be outfitted as the dressage stars they are.

When we are out in the community, it has been truly rewarding because Justin loves to get petted. I try to interact with the public as much as possible and give every child or grown person the opportunity to feel the horse hair between their fingers and the softness of Justin’s nose. For me, the feel of the horse gave me the biggest hope that life would eventually work out. I would love to find out that I kept one child’s dream alive or had an impact on one person’s life with the touch of Justin’s hair or his soft nose. I would love to find out by giving my time to the community that I had given hope to just one person’s life.

Justin has also now become a Warrior Horse, a designation for horses capable of bringing new focus to kids battling cancer. ( Justin is a well decorated horse with all of his winnings and his work in uniform. This, combined with his calm demeanor, makes him the best horse to give hope to someone who may have lost all hope. It is amazing how much a single interaction with a horse can change your outlook on life.

Justin truly represents the theme for this year’s parade “The Power of Hope.”

Author Dr. Suzi Lanini is a small animal veterinarian in San Bernardino County’s Rancho Cucamonga. In addition to her community activities, she is an active dressage competitor. She and Justin ride in the Rose Parade as members of the Arabian Horse Association’s entry.

Meet Justin and “Dr. Suzi” and all the riders and horses in the EquestFest presented by Wells Fargo, Dec. 29 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

December 2019 - So You’re A Horse Owner in Fire Country
Written by by Alice Chan
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:16
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If fires are the “new normal,” horse savvy preparation must be part of that new reality.

by Alice Chan

Living in California—especially in the north or south—it’s hard to deny that we have an established pattern of wildfires that make it scary to own a horse in the late Fall. Many of us have now experienced two or three years in a row, faced with the prospect of evacuation, or worse: having to open gates to give your horse the best chance of survival, and run, with fire at your heels.
So, what’s a responsible equestrian to do? How can you best prepare yourself and your horse for this seemingly annual occurrence? Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve picked up along the way both from owning horses in fire danger areas, and also from helping to care for evacuated horses at Petaluma and Santa Rosa Fairgrounds in Sonoma County.

1. Have a disaster plan
Does your barn have an evacuation plan? If so, ask for a copy and if not, ask the barn owners to create one and share it widely. Do you have all your horse’s papers in one place, readily on hand? Do you have good, clear photos of your horse and any distinguishing markings? Consider creating a laminated card with your contact information, a photo of your horse and your vet’s phone number, to hang on a stall at an evacuation center.

2. Make sure your horse will load in a trailer easily
Trailer loading is a basic but crucial skill for you and your horse to have. When crunch-time comes, you may not have 30-40 minutes to load a scared horse, so use the rainy season to practice loading until it’s second nature for both of you.

Author Alice Chan at the Santa Rosa fairgrounds in 2017

3. Make sure your horse is microchipped
You’ve no doubt seen harrowing Facebook posts from owners looking for their horses in the aftermath of a fire, or rescuers trying to find owners. Ensuring your horse is microchipped and the registered owner and address on file is up-to-date, will give you some peace of mind and make it easier to reunite you with your horse should the worst case scenario occur.

4. Weave an I.C.E. tag into the mane
As disasters become more prevalent, there are some neat gadgets that have come onto the market to help ensure your horse is readily identifiable In Case of Emergency (ICE). I particularly like the I.C.E. ManeStay Equine Emergency ID tag which can be clipped into a braid in the horse’s mane. I bought mine from For me, this is preferable to leaving on a halter which can easily get caught on something and cause an accident.

Benjamin Heckman volunteering at Santa Rosa Fairgrounds in 2017

5. Keep your vaccinations up-to-date
During my time volunteering at the fairgrounds, I’ve seen a lot of horses that are usually kept at home and don’t go out and about. Keeping up-to-date on vaccinations will protect your horse in the event that it does have to be housed at an evacuation center in close quarters with other equines.

6. In the worst case scenario
If you find yourself in the awful position of not having the time to haul your horse to a safe place, and you can do this without endangering yourself, make sure you open your horse’s stall door or paddock gate to give him or her the best chance of survival. They will, amazingly often, find the one spot the fire doesn’t burn if they are free to run. Never ever padlock the door or gate. There have been tragic outcomes for horses that were locked in their living quarters and no one on site had the key.
We are all fervently hoping these crazy fires are not the new normal, but either way, being prepared for the worst is definitely a good idea.

Author Alice Chan is based in Northern California. When she’s not riding or being a show mom to her son Benjamin, an accomplished young eventer, she continues her work as the founder of the Flock Marketing Collective.


December 2019 - Double Time
Written by CRM
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:06
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Back-To-Back World Cup Jumping wins for Adrienne Sternlicht.

Despite recording a World Cup victory just a week prior in Thermal, Adrienne Sternlicht and Bennys Legacy came to Las Vegas’ South Point Arena with some unanswered questions. The duo had never before competed indoors, but the smaller venue proved no problem for them, as they recorded a second straight World Cup™ victory.


They topped the $100,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Las Vegas via a two-horse jump-off and were the only double-clear performers on the evening, crossing the timers of Leopoldo Palacios’ shortened course in 37.68 seconds. Andrew Ramsay and Stranger were faster, but a rail put them in second; they finished on 4 faults in 35.90 seconds. In a unique result, Sarah Segal and Uma O’Neill finished in adjoint third, as both riders recorded a single time fault in the first round with identical times of 73.39 seconds.

The class took place Nov. 16 as the marquee event of the Las Vegas National Horse Show, organized by Blenheim EquiSports.

“Tonight, I mainly learned that he was super indoors,” Sternlicht said of her still-new mount, having only debuted with the 11-year-old gelding in September. “I really had no idea how he would be! In some ways, I found him easier to ride inside. He’s a horse that goes exactly the way I like to ride: strong and aggressive. I like to help and support the horse, and he leans on me as a rider in that capacity.”

Knowing there were just two clear rounds and having to return first in the jump-off, Sternlicht approached the shortened course with a nothing-to-lose mentality while being wary of the quick challenge that followed her.

“I think Andrew has the fastest horse in the class, probably the fastest horse in FEI this week,” Sternlicht said. “I knew that if I didn’t stick to my plan, it might be costly. I think my jump-off round showed the quality of my horse. I think, personally, there are a few things I want to work on, but I couldn’t be happier with the way he jumped, and I’m happy that I stuck to my plan.”

The win moved Sternlicht into third in the east coast sub league standings of the North American League with 46 points. Brian Moggre leads those standings with 56 points, while Beezie Madden is second with 49 points. The top six from these standings at the end of the 2019/2020 season will advance to the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final, which will also take place in Las Vegas at the Thomas & Mack Center in April.

“World Cup Finals are 100 percent on my radar,” Sternlicht said. “I am planning already. [My trainer McLain Ward] is a big planner, and we had a meeting and planned out my schedule for the next five months. I plan on being here and look forward to coming back!”

On the West Coast, Karl Cook maintains his lead in the standings with 49 points, followed by Ashlee Bond, who represents Israel, with 39 points and Will Simpson with 34 points.

The North American League continues in Guadalajara, Mexico, on January 25 of 2020.

Article provided by Blenheim EquiSports, organizer of the Las Vegas National Horse Show.

December 2019 - Show Report: Galway Downs
Written by photos by Sherry Stewart & Kim F. Miller
Sunday, 01 December 2019 08:42
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Mittleider, Smith & Koss top international divisions.

photos by Sherry Stewart & Kim F. Miller

The Galway Downs International wrapped up the West Coast eventing season on a high note, with competition up to the CCI4*-L level. It started on Halloween Thursday, Oct. 31, and ended on time-change Sunday, Nov. 3, with high spirits, high jumping and lots of fun in between at the ever-improving Galway Downs Equestrian Center in Riverside County’s Temecula.


Sara Mittleider and La Paz, of Idaho, logged their first major international win in the CCI4*-L; Temecula-based Tamie Smith’s awesome week of accomplishments was highlighted by a CCI3*-L victory aboard Ruth Bley’s Danito; and David Koss enabled Stunner to live up to his appropriate name with a win in the CCI2*-L. Another local favorite, Whitney Tucker-Billeter had a great show, winning the Hylofit USEA Classic Series Training Three Day with Bill’s Midnight Magic.


Here’s highlights from the weekend and some of its big winners, plus several whose “victories” took the form of great moments with their horses – ribbon or no.  

Kudos to Robert Kellerhouse’s organizing crew and to sponsors Devoucoux, Equine Insurance, CWD and California Horsetrader. Next up at Galway Downs is a One Day event Dec. 8, then the big annual fundraising clinic Jan. 18-19, headlined by Ian Stark.

For more info, visit


Sara Mittleider & La Paz: winners of the CCI4*-L.

Jolie Wentworth & Goodnight, 3rd in Open Intermediate.

Meg Pellegrini & Connemara powerhouse, Ganymede, 3rd in the CCI2*-L.

Britt Sabbah & Rickamore Rafferty, Training Three Day contenders.

David Koss & Stunner: wire-to-wire winners of the 46-horse CCI2*-L division.

Too bad Gina Economou & friends don’t know how to have a good time. Gina and Exclusive finished third in the CCI4*-L. She’s pictured here with, from left, Sara Berry Rajoy & Springvale, Karen Bristing and Moonlites Ranger, and Kristin Terris & Rathcash Olympia, all T3D contenders.

A certain USEA Area VI leader shows off her Horse With No Name costume at the Halloween party. Hint: while she covered up the name on the front of her jacket, the back says Sabo Eventing.

Young professional in ascent mode, Kaylawna Smith, tied with her mom Tamie Smith for the 3rd standing in the CCI3*-L. Tamie and No App For That’s cross-country time was closer to optimum, so they got the yellow rosette, while Kaylawna and Passepartout got fourth.

Organizer Robert Kellerhouse and his wife, professional trainer Erin Kellerhouse, join friends in a Halloween night mariachi band.

Professional Olivia Loiacono-Putrino rode Under The Spotlight to 2nd in the CCI2*-L, but wouldn’t take any credit. That all goes to her student, 16-year-old Lauren Gillis, who produced the mare all the way up to this point.

Whitney Tucker-Billeter & John Herich’s Bill’s Midnight Magic enjoy their T3D victory.

Sophie Click & Quidproquo were 8th in the CCI3*-L. As the highest placed young rider, she received the Mia Ericksson award.

Junior rider Taylor McFall & High Times head home on CCI2*-L cross-country toward an eventual 10th finish in the big division.

December 2019 - Adrienne Sternlicht Tops Thermal World Cup
Written by text and photos by Kim F. Miller
Sunday, 01 December 2019 08:26
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Nice touches from new owners at National Sunshine Series II in the desert.

text and photos by Kim F. Miller

After a two-hour drive out to the Desert International Horse Park, I was greeted with a complimentary water bottle at the spectator in-gate, then by a completely re-done women’s restroom, clean and thoughtful down to a sink-side tray with ponytail elastics and bobby pins.


Although the new Steve Hankin-led ownership and management group had only owned the venue formerly known as HITS Thermal for three months, it was instantly clear they meant business. Throughout my one Saturday, Nov. 9, at the National Sunshine Series II, compliments arose about the all-important footing and other amenities. As a fan and reporter, I was impressed by what is now a venue and series of shows owned and managed by local horse people and exhibitors.


East Coast-based Adrienne Sternlicht and Benny’s Legacy topped the 40-horse field in the $100,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ class. A student of McLain Ward’s and a member of the U.S.’ gold-winning World Equestrian Games team in 2018, 26-year-old Adrienne went last in a five-horse jump-off over Alan Wade’s track. Overcoming a case of “four-fault-itis,” she was clean and trusted the horse’s big stride to leave one out in two lines for the fastest time among three who were also clear in that round.

San Diego-based Keri Potter added another impressive finish to Ariell La Sirene’s resume for second. Hailing from Virginia, Adam Prudent and Baloutinue were fault-free, but, riding first in the jump-off, about two seconds slower than the winners for third place.

Longtime California-based favorite Jenni McAllister now lives in Santa Fe. She enjoyed a successful “homecoming” with Escada VS for fourth place. Canada’s Ben Asselin and Veyron were fifth.

With the 2020 World Cup Finals returning to Las Vegas, the quest to qualify is more intense than usual. Adrienne’s finish vaulted her to #3 in the East sub-league, and Keri’s finish put her into the #3 spot in the West.

Many of the Thermal contenders were headed to the following weekend’s Las Vegas National, where the Nov. 16 qualifier would likely mix up those standings.

The schedule was jam-packed with special classes and finals, but I focused on one I hadn’t seen before: the National Collegiate Equestrian Association Junior Hunt Seat Medal Finals. After two jumping and one flat round, the field of 28 was whittled to four pairs for a “bracket” style work-off modeled on the collegiate format: #1 and #4 and #2 and #3-ranked riders rode a shortened course on the same unfamiliar horse, then the top two of that round faced off on the same, again unfamiliar, horse.

Elisa Broz topped the standings going into and out of the work-off, followed by Devyn Stringfellow, Hannah Rohrback and Ireland Fravel in this interesting introduction to varsity collegiate competition. It was a super weekend for 16-year-old Elisa: She also won the USHJA’s 1.2-1.25M Junior Jumper Championships, one of several divisions of Zone Jumper Championships held during the Sunshine Series.

For complete results, visit


Winners Adrienne Sternlicht & Benny’s Legacy.

Elisa Broz won the NCEA Junior Hunt Seat Medal Finals.

Devyn Stringfellow was 2nd in the NCEA Junior Hunt Seat Medal Finals.

Adam Prudent & Baloutinue were third.

Jenni McAllister & Escada VS were fourth.

Canadians Ben Asselin & Veyron were fifth.

Ashlee Bond & Boheme De Fleyres were 9th, helping Ashlee into the #2 spot in the FEI Longines World Cup West sub-league and following her win in Del Mar in October.

Ringside misters were a nice touch on a 90-degree November day.

Pre-Grand Prix leadline cuteness.