October 2018 - Leaderboard Leaders
Written by CRM
Thursday, 27 September 2018 20:09
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thumbnail ridingmagMeet four Area VI stars as the Championships are set for the Woodside International Horse Trials.

The Area VI Eventing Championships will be staged as part of the Woodside International Horse Trials, Oct. 4-7 at the Woodside Horse Park.

To honor the occasion, we visited with four riders currently topping the Area VI leaderboard in overall standings for 12 & Under, Young Rider, Adult Amateur and Top Horse.

Tamie Smith leads the Top 10 Rider standings. See page 22, for her recent victory with Mai Baum in the American Eventing Championships.

Gracie Friend — 12U leader


“I used to be terrified to jump,” says 12 year old Gracie, a student of Robyn Fisher and David Koss at R Farm in Moorpark. She started riding very young and rose up with dressage trainer, Susan Pruitt. At 10, Gracie got her first horse, Ted, who “was really good at dressage.” Her stance on jumping changed radically when she attended the Longines Masters Show Jumping tournament in Los Angeles in 2016. Watching the world’s best “was a breakthrough for me,” she recalls. Susan recommended eventing to fulfill her new interests and Gracie’s family started a search for a trainer in that discipline.

Gracie Friend & Feature Presentation. photo: Sofia Friend

A long weekend spent at R Farms took a fortuitous turn. Gracie went for lessons on Ted, but when he came up a little sore, she rode a new horse, Finn, aka Feature Presentation. “The second I sat on him I got this feeling of ‘This is my horse’,” she shares. “It was kind of weird.” She loved his forwardness and describes jumping him as “this incredible feeling of freedom.” Given that they were not in the market for a new horse, Gracie broke down in happy tears when her parents revealed they had just purchased him.

In the exciting whirlwind of a new horse, Gracie found a loving home for Ted and started plotting competition goals with Finn. The purchase took place last September and, in October, they were off to Gracie’s first ever event, at the Fresno County Horse Park, where they won their Intro division. “It was very crazy!” Early this year, they moved up to Beginner Novice and have since ascended to the top of this year’s Area VI leaderboard in the 12U division.

Courage-wise, she’s come a long way in a short time. “My first cross-country round, I was so scared I trotted the whole way around, but actually it was really fun!” In April of this year, Gracie learned of the Area VI leaderboard and set her sights on this month’s Area VI Championships. The venue itself, the Woodside Horse Park, “is my happy place,” says Gracie. She won again there in May, but it’s more than ribbons that make the Bay Area venue a favorite.  “It’s crazy how beautiful it is there, and everyone is so nice, warm and welcoming.”

The North American Youth Championships are a long-term goal for Gracie, while her immediate goal is “to learn more about Finn’s little quirks, have fun and enjoy the sport.” Having plenty of friends, or “teammates,” as she calls them, at R Farms has made the fun part easy. “Everyone is caring and welcoming and we have a group of friends that makes the social side good, too.”

Amber Pearson & Patagonia.

Amber Pearson — Young Rider

Twenty-one year old Amber Pearson spends lot of time on her phone, but not for the usual aimless reasons of which young adults are often accused. A senior at Sonoma State University, Amber is a sales consultant for skin care company Rodan+Fields, she handles administrative tasks at her parents’ excavation business and maintains her horse Patagonia and riding skills at a level that’s put her atop the Young Rider standings.

“My horse always gets a least 15 minutes of walking a day because I’m doing my work while I’m on him,” Amber explains with a laugh.

Pursuing a business degree with a marketing concentration, Amber has a head start on her career thanks to starting with Rodan+Fields at 18. “I never thought it would turn into what it has for me,” Amber says of what she now expects to be her fulltime career after graduation. “I had terrible acne when I started using the product, so I know it works.” Along with believing in the skin care line, she loves the flexibility the work provides. “I’m kind of living the dream already.”

She and “Padi’s” four-year partnership began on the recommendation of Amber’s longtime trainer Andrea Pfeiffer of Chocolate Horse Farm in Petaluma. Even though their first ride “was not what she expected,” Amber trusted Andrea’s judgment and track record in spotting upper level prospects. “He had no brakes, no steering and almost jumped out of the arena,” Amber recalls. “I wondered what the heck I was doing, yet I trusted Andrea when she said, ‘I like this one, let’s bring him home. He’s a nice horse and you’ll learn to ride him.’ I knew that he was the kind of horse that I could build a relationship with and that I could rely on.”

He has become exactly that and continues to be an absolute blast to ride, especially his “amazing” gallop.  “He has a big heart and, if ever there’s an issue, it’s because he is genuinely not understanding something.”

They started at Training Level and in, 2015, represented Area VI in the North American Young Riders Championships Junior 1* division. A solid 2* outing at Woodside a year ago finished a solid 2017 and their 2* win at Twin Rivers this past April was a major 2018 highlight. With all she’s juggling in her final year of college, Amber is riding regularly and enjoying competition without putting undue pressure on the outcome.  “In the spring, I’ll dedicate more mental energy to it, but now I’m trying not to stress too much.”

Padi is just 12 and Amber hopes for a good future with him. More Advanced outings in 2019 are on her docket, with the goals of the CIC3* at Rebecca Farms in July and possibly a CCI toward the end of the year.

As for this month, “It’s exciting to have the Championships at Woodside,” Amber says. “It’s great for everybody. A lot of people are using that as prep for Galway Downs and for Fair Hill International.”

Ebay & Helen Bouscaren. Photo: Sherry Stewart

Ebay (owned by Helen Bouscaren) — Horse

Helen Bouscaren sensed that Ebay was “just my type” well before she ever sat on him. A partner with James Alliston in Alliston Equestrian and the East Bay Riding Academy, Helen was in the market for a 4* prospect when she saw an ad for Ebay.  Tuning into the livestreaming at the Tryon International Equestrian Center jumping competition, Helen watched several of his rounds and liked what she saw. The 9 year old Oldenburg looked to be her favorite “hot, little buzzy type.” Back then, he competed at Beginner Novice eventing and was jumping 1.3M at a hunter/jumper show, impressing Helen with his bravery and scope. Ebay’s owner at the time, Georgia breeder Wendy Sherlock, strongly encouraged Helen to come try the horse before buying him, a cross-country trip, but Helen trusted her gut. “When he got out here he was kind of spirited and I could see what she was hinting at.” The new pair worked at home for six months before competing.

That patience paid off in a relatively quick ascent from Training Level to Advanced this year, where he’s won a handful of FEI victories.

Next up, Ebay will tackle the CIC3* at Woodside with James in the irons, then the CCI3* at Galway Downs in November. “He is really good at Advanced, and a bit wide-eyed at 3*,” Helen explains. “James can give him some good confidence at that level. And James is my jumping coach, so the better he knows my horse, the better he can help me.”

Frankie Thieriot Stutes & Chatwin. Photo: Sherry Stewart

Frankie Thieriot Stutes – Adult Amateur

Frankie and Chatwin have completed 12 FEI events together over the course of their four year-long partnership and have only finished outside the top five once. They’ve won a whopping five of them. Most recently, the pair took home the Rebecca Farm CCI3* crown after leading wire-to-wire over the course of the weekend; quite an accomplishment for any rider.

Frankie’s equestrian accomplishments are all the more impressive because they’ve come while simultaneously raising two young boys and managing two flourishing companies in two different sectors. And she continues to put the sport’s best foot forward as a frequent commentator for networks including NBC and US Equestrian.

She formed the boutique equestrian sports marketing firm Athletux seven years ago, using her background in communications and a passion for all things equestrian. Last year, she launched the Frankie Cameron line of bags, totes and other lovely leather accessories. It sprang from her disappointment trying to find a diaper bag that met her requirements for both function and style and has grown to include 10 styles and designs.

At Rebecca Farms this past August, Frankie and Chatwin picked up only 1.2 time penalties around the CCI3* course. “He’s a magician cross-country,” Frankie told EventingNation.com’s Leslie Wylie afterwards. “It’s unreal. When you stand up to gallop him, it’s like nothing I’ve ever encountered, and my old Advanced horse was so fast. He just has this gear box that I can’t even explain.”

That kind of magic seems likely to keep Frankie in the spotlight, which she’s been in for some time. Her first FEI win occurred in 2008 with her longtime and now retired partner, Fric Frac Berence, and has since slowed down only briefly during her pregnancies when close friend Tamie Smith campaigned Chatwin.

Next up is the cross-country trek to contest the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI Oct. 18-21 in Maryland, where she’ll be part of a strong contingent of West Coasters going to shake things up back East.

For more information on the Area VI Championships, visit www.areavi.org. For more information on the Woodside International Horse Trials, visit www.woodsideeventing.com.