“You have to be bold and you have to want it,” says Zoe Kornberg of navigating the courses at the Spruce Meadows Skyliner Tournament. Zoe, of Portola Valley, was part of the Northern California Hunter Jumper Association (NorCal) 1.30m Prix de Nations team at the event held June 18-22 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The best in the world of show jumping compete at Spruce Meadows, an internationally-renowned equestrian complex in the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. The third week of the Summer Series consists of the Skyliner tournament, designed specifically for juniors and amateurs. Riders from around the world compete for points throughout the week.
Three qualifiers lead up to the “Final Four” event, run in the format of the World Equestrian Games finals. Four riders with the fewest faults during the week ride their own horses over the course, and then ride the other three competitors’ horses over the same course.
Four riders: Maggie Massie, Ashley Norris, Justine Dodds and Leslie Wright, along with captain Sue Lightner, comprised the NorCal 1.10m team, finishing in sixth place for their division. The seventh place 1.20m team was represented by Julia Nagler, Shannon Wright, Ramsay Kubal, Courtney Bohart and captain Sue Ellen Wright. Lindsay Archer captained the sixth place, 1.30m team of Zoe Kornberg, Peggy Munkdale, Aundra Urban and Carol Bird. Morgan Caplane joined riders on the West Coast Active Riders team to win the 1.40m Prix de Nations event. Peggy Munkdale won the gold medal in the 1.30m individual event and Julia Nagler captured the individual silver medal at the 1.20m level.
Aundra Urban and Deja Blue.
To become part of the NorCal teams, riders participated in three of four qualifying events and a final qualifier held during the year at horse shows in Northern California. Qualifying horse and rider pairs were granted $1,000 from NorCal toward their participation in the Skyliner Prix de
“You don’t just have one shot; you have to prove you are consistent enough to do several events and do well,” Ashley Norris, a 1.10m team member from Ripon, says of the qualifiers.
In addition to backing from their captains and teammates, NorCal riders enjoyed the support of a number of sponsors. The riders express their gratitude to all of the sponsors for
Team 1.20: Julia Nagler, Shannon Wright, Ramsay Kubal, Courtney Bohart.
“We had many generous sponsors that donated items ranging from horse attire such as ear bonnets donated by Jake’s Place and saddle pads from Boundary Gate to rider attire such as team hunt coats from Ariat and Carousel Saddlery, Equitex team jackets, team polo shirts from Shaw’s Saddlery and embroidery by Paradise Embroidery,” says Lindsay Archer, the organizer of the program and captain of the 1.30m team. “Don’t forget the $1,000 that went to every participant. We could not have succeeded without our sponsors.”
NorCal team members recognize that participating in the Skyliner tournament is an invaluable learning experience and they are all grateful for the opportunity to rise to the challenge.
“The course designers at Spruce Meadows are amazing and provide a great arena to learn about riding your track,” says Peggy Munkdale, a member of the 1.30m team. “You learn about what the course designers are asking of the horses and riders. The courses really make you think and what may look quite easy is not necessarily the case.”
Team members express their support for NorCal’s participation and most intend to try their hand at the qualifying process again next year.
“By creating teams, NorCal has made going to Spruce Meadows a much more attainable goal for riders,” says Ramsay Kubal, 17, of Atherton, a member of the 1.20m team.
With regard to the importance of the program for NorCal, and consequently, Northern California equestrians, Munkdale says, “It really provides a great venue to all jumper riders in Northern California. It takes our riders to a whole new level of international riding and everyone on the 2008 teams was very successful in competing strongly in the international venue.”
Two of the 2009 NorCal Spruce Meadows qualifying shows took place in September and October and the remaining four will be held at the Pebble Beach Championships this month, the Pickwick Spring Preview and the Pebble Beach Spring Classic, both in March, and the mandatory final trial at the Pickwick Spring Show in April.
“Our goal is to continue to offer more and more to our team members, but it is so important that we continue to get support from our sponsors and hopefully attract more sponsors,” says Archer. “We were definitely able to reach out to kids and adults that never would have planned on riding at Spruce Meadows without this program, and our goal is to continue to attract those participants and more every year.”
NorCal is a non-profit organization that promotes hunter, jumper and equitation divisions at Northern California horse shows. NorCal represents the interests of Northern California riders, promotes educational activities and sponsors special events. NorCal offers equitation medal classes at horse shows throughout the year and sponsors a year-end awards program.
More information about NorCal can be found on the NorCal website: www.norcalhunterjumpers.com.