October 2018 - Kudos to Krupnick Geffen, Buckingham & Sanders
Written by CRM
Thursday, 27 September 2018 19:22
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Counter intelligence carries the day for CPHA Foundation Equitation Championship winners.

As summer draws to a close, 119 equestrians in three age sections hit the books - the USEF Rule Book, that is - to practice the equitation tests that are uniquely built into the two rounds of the California Professional Horsemen’s Association Foundation Equitation Championships. Those who had put in extra hours with the counter-canter had an edge throughout the Championships, held Aug. 25-26, at the Showpark Summer Classic at the Del Mar Horse Park.

With over 50 starters, the 21 & Under division was the biggest of three. Designed to be more of a jumper-oriented test than the 14 & Under and 22 & Over divisions, the 21 & Under was held on the expansive grass Grand Prix field and included a liverpool. Notably, the courses held in the smaller sand arena for the other two age groups were no less demanding.

Counter Canter Required

Judges Bobbie Reber and Frank Williard worked with course designers Catsy Cruz in the big field and Scott Starnes in the sand ring to establish the tests asked within the track.

CPHA President & Shadowbrook Farm trainer Jeni Brown has a busy day with three students competing, one in each of the CPHA Foundation Championship’s three divisions: Sara Markham, Charlotte Murray, and Morgan Yorlando.

Among other tests such as a trot jump and a required number of strides, riders in the 21 & Under section were asked to execute the counter-canter midway through the course on day one and between fences 3 and 4, connected by a 90-degree turn on day two.

For the 22 & Over and 14 & Under sections in the sand arena, tests included a halt and counter canter on the first day and on day two a set number of strides from fences 2 to 3 as well as a counter canter on a left bend from a swedish oxer to a grass-draped vertical option towards the end of the 3’3” course.

There were no instructions on how to get the counter-canters and various interpretations were seen, with those who pulled off landing on and holding the counter canter nicely rewarded by the Judges.

Consistency paid off for Jaime Krupnick Geffen aboard Conux. Her 83 and 82 scores from Saturday and Sunday put her first in the 22 & Over’s four-pair work-off, which she nailed for an 85.  With scores of 81 and 82, thirteen-year-old Stella Buckingham was sitting second going into the work-off. She and Nom De Guerre were smooth and efficient with the two lead changes the judges requested as the work-off’s finish, leading to an 84 score to secure the win in the 14 & Under section. Finishing the day, 16-year-old Sophia Sanders and Cipriani logged one of their biggest victories yet, thanks to 85.5 and 88 initial rounds and a commanding 88 score in the work-off for the victory in the 21 & Under section.

22 & Over winner Jaime Krupnick Geffen gets a hug from 8-year-old son, Cole.

Jaime Krupnick Geffen: Mother, Business Owner & Amateur

Mother and busy business owner, Krupnick Geffen has a full plate to keep riding at a top level since she returned to the sport two years ago, after an 18-year hiatus.

Riding Georgy Maskrey-Segesman’s Conux, Krupnick Geffen relished the challenging questions asked. “With courses, the harder the better,” she said. “I love it when they’re technical and you just go turn to turn.”

Alex Maida & Calligraphy get their third place swag in the 22 & Over division.

Precise riding made the most of Conux’s adjustability, resulting in consistently smooth efforts. “The best part for me was the counter-canter. My goal was to land on the right lead and hold it. I wanted to jump the Swedish oxer with some impulsion because it’s a big jump, and I knew he could hold the counter lead. It was just a matter of whether I gave him the correct aids.”

Jaime Krupnick Geffen & Alex Maida.

Saturday’s leader Kassy Perry and Cappo 7 were just one point behind in the work-off, with an 84 score, to finish overall second on Sunday. Alex Maida and Calligraphy had a two-round average of 81 and a work-off score of 82, for third. Rounding out the adult contenders was Jessica Smith and Rexar. They finished with scores of 81 across all three rounds and fourth place.

As the 22 & Over Champion, Jaime went home with a cooler, the Victor Hugo Memorial Trophy, and other prizes.

14 & Under winner Stella Buckingham with reserve champ Stella Wasserman, left, and Amber Ayyad, third place finisher.

Stella Buckingham Didn’t Need Her Back-Up Plan

Referring to the Round 2 test, champion Stella Buckingham had a plan. “I was most nervous for the counter canter,” she said. Although she landed on the counter canter and held it, she was ready for an alternate ride. “Whether you held it or did a simple change, either way it was difficult because the next jump was so close. If my horse swapped leads I was going to change through the walk right away. But I hoped for the best and got it.”

Returning for the work-off with an average of 83.5, and sitting second, Buckingham impressed the judges with a bold work-off, and the highest score for the win.

Looking forward, the 13-year-old is excited about venturing into the jumper ring with a new horse, but will continue to build a solid foundation in the equitation arena.

Along with more great experiences, Buckingham earned the opportunity to add her name to the perpetual trophy sponsored by Grand Prix legend Hap Hansen, who was on hand to present.

Stella Wasserman was a close contender with a two-round average of 80.25 that was boosted by an 84 work-off to earn the Reserve Championship aboard Sky Hawk. Also earning spots in the work-off, Amber Ayyad and Theodore were third, while Sophie Bluhm and Quadro ‘D’Ag finished fourth.

Sophia Sanders, winner of 21 & Under division.

Sophia Sanders & Cipriano Took the Grass Field in Stride

In only their second appearance on a grass jumping field, 16-year-old Sophia Sanders and the 8-year-old Hanoverian Cipriano excelled. Their first experience was a month ago for the USHJA Hunterdon Cup, which “didn’t go as great as things did today,” Sanders laughed. “You live and learn.”

During the intervening month, the Northern California rider, who trains with Patty Ball, emphasized balancing exercises, especially counter canter and tight turns. “It paid off,” she said.

In their 18 months together, Sanders and Cipriani have won a few Northern California medals, but “this is the biggest by far.”

Once again, the winning pair mastered the counter canter in their first Sunday round by landing and holding it between fences 3 and 4, which likely sealed their top seat for the work-off.  “I think that really helped us, because few others did it.”

With the leading two-round average of 86.75,  Sanders had to wait it out as the other top three pairs tackled the work-off. “Seeing everybody do so well made it especially nerve-racking,” she said.  Sanders held her lead, earning the highest work-off score of 88.

Reserve Champion Tessa Darling came into the final round with an  84.5 average, topped by an 85 work-off score.  Third went to Katherine Dash and Need I Say, with an 85.75 average and score of 82 in the work-off.  Rollin Sykes and Nat King Cole were fourth after an 83.5 average and an 80 work-off.

Trophies, boots, sashes, stall plates, caps & more!

California Professional Horsemen’s Association president Jeni Brown was thrilled with another strong turn-out for these West Coast competitive finals that enable the region’s riders to be challenged without having to travel back east. And, she feels that they are great preparation for those who do go East for medal finals. Brown expressed gratitude to host show Blenheim EquiSports for “always making these something very special.”

Trainer’s Row.

Winner Jaime Krupnick Geffen seconded that opinion. “The CPHA always does such a great job: the nicest finals and the nicest awards.” Much appreciated sponsors are a big factor,  including DaMoors Tack & Feed, Outdoor Outfitters, James Klein Insurance and Great American Insurance.

Championship prizes include a ribbon, rider and horse sash, a perpetual and keeper trophy, flowers, a medal, coolers, a stall plaque, cap and a pair of DeNiro Solento Boots, with the champion trainer also receiving a stall plaque. Reserve and third place finishers were decorated with a ribbon, rider and horse sash, flowers, a medal, a cooler and hat, while fourth through 10th placed finishers received a ribbon, medal, flowers and a hat. All entries recieved CPHA gift bags.

Press release provided by Blenheim EquiSports.