California Riding Magazine • April, 2009

Winner's Circle

John McConnell on course during the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix.
Photo: ©Flying Horse Photography

John McConnell Wins $25,000 HITS Grand Prix

Some of the top riders on the West Coast challenged course designer Florencio Hernandez’s (Mexico City, Mexico) course, and only John McConnell exited the first round with a clean effort and captured the $25,000 HITS Grand Prix aboard Klein Ranch’s Carolina in Thermal.
John got the best of 49 riders to win his first Grand Prix class ever in California. “I was very fortunate to go sixth and the other riders didn’t think it was going to be so hard.”

Guy Thomas also jumped clear in the first round, but could not make it home under the time allowed of 91 seconds. Guy and Vicki Juelsgaard’s Urian stopped the clocks in 92.172 and finished with two time faults and grabbed a red ribbon when the class was complete.

Taking third place was Mary Manfredi and Saer Coulter’s Chilan as she was the fastest of the riders with four faults. Richard Spooner and Oscany Inc’s Quirino 3 took fourth place and John Pearce was fifth aboard Forest View Farm’s/Gerald Moore’s Chianto.

Jena Dick and Walhall, Dressage Affaire 2009.
Photo: ©2009 Terri Miller

Jena Dick Wins High Point Dressage Award

Jena Dick and Walhall received the overall High Point award for Adult Amateurs at the Dressage Affaire CDI***at the Del Mar Horsepark on March 12-15 with a winning percentage of 68.684 at Intermediare I. The 22-year-old Jenna has been working with Rebecca Rigdon for the last six years. Together they found Walhall, a Hanoverian by Wolkenstein I, four years ago as an 8-year-old schooling Third level. Jena’s younger sister Tessa, also won the PSG in the Junior Division on the Holsteiner mare Milan that Rebecca bred and trained, with a 66.567% receiving two 9s. Congratulations girls!

Jill Henselwood and Special Ed on course during the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix.
Photo: ©Flying Horse Photography

Canadian Olympian Jill Henselwood Wins $75,000 HITS Grand Prix
Canadian Olympian Jill Henselwood captured the blue aboard Juniper Farm’s Special Ed in the $75,000 HITS Grand Prix to conclude Desert Circuit V.

“I was hungry for a win,” said Jill. “Special Ed was just kind of hanging around waiting to get some work in because he has not done any of the Grand Prix classes that were held indoors. He was kind of dormant and goofy earlier in the week, but then he realized it was time to get some
work done.”

Florencio Hernandez’s course boasted only four double-clear efforts, including Joie Gatlin who set the pace aboard her mount Suncal’s King on the fourth trip of the jump-off. Joie and her trusty Grand Prix horse stopped the clocks in 50.802 and would finish the afternoon in fourth place.

Richard Spooner and Canadian Olympian John Pearce had back-to-back clean rounds to conclude the class. First it was Spooner’s turn, when he showed 10th in the jump-off order and rode Oscany, Inc.’s Quirino 3 to a clean round in 50.581 to eventually finish in third place.
John and Forest View Farm’s Son Of A Gun held the enviable last-to-ride spot and were fast and clean stopping the clock in 48.196, just missing the time set by Jill to finish in second place. John also placed fifth aboard Forest View Farm’s and Gerald Moore’s Chianto as they finished with four faults.

Richard with his very first saddle signing request!

Richard Winters is the 2009 Winner of Road to the Horse

Richard Winters of Ojai was crowned Road to the Horse Champion in Franklin, TN last month. The competition matches three top clinicians with three unbroken colts and culminates in an obstacle course competition after just three hours of training. Richard, John Lyons and Tommy Garland competed for the coveted title in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,000 spectators.

Richard trained his colt just like he would in any other setting, which included riding the obstacle course in a halter rather than a bridle and bit, making him the first champion to ride his colt to victory bitless.
Additional information is available at

John French and Rumba.
Photo: ©Flying Horse Photography

John French Wins Rainbow Canyon Ranch High-Score Hunter Award
HITS crowned its winner in the Rainbow Canyon Ranch High-Score Hunter Award when John French rode two horses, Mountain Home Stables’ Rumba and Liz Reilly’s Small Affair to a tie for the triumph in Thermal.

The Rainbow Canyon Ranch High-Score Hunter Award for the highest announced score in Hunter 1 and Hunter 2 was presented to Rumba and Small Affair during Sunday’s Parade of Champions in the Grand Prix ring. John had the high scores for the week when he was awarded an 89 aboard Small Affair in the First Year division and Rumba in the Second Year division.

John has had quite a circuit in the desert this year winning countless classes and championships, as well as $10,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby during Desert Circuit III.

“I have had the privilege to ride some great horses this circuit,” said John. “I would also like to thank Mary Gatti and Rainbow Canyon Ranch for sponsoring this special award. I am very proud to have won it.”

Jamie Cook and Especial Minniehuna.
Photo: Debi Mann,

Especial is Special in Tulare

All eyes were on Jamie Cook and Especial Minniehuna when they ran a 15.156, the fastest time of the weekend and clinched the 1D Open Average at the BTM South Barrel Race held February 5-7 in Tulare. Especial Minniehuna (Mini) made a perfectly smooth run which netted the duo a paycheck of nearly $1,000 for the weekend. Especial Mnniehuna is by Especial Peppy J owned by Dale Tingle in Corning. An Especial mare just won the rodeo at Rapid City.