California Riding Magazine • January, 2011

Winner's Circle

Finishing Strong

Barbi Breen-Gurley and her Dutch gelding Octango experienced the highlight in their competitive career at the California Dressage Society Annual Championship Show at the LAEC in October. They won three of their four Grand Prix and Freestyle classes, attaining Reserve Champion in the fourth class. "Octango did the most consistent and polished performances so far in his lifetime. A dedicated year of hard work with some of the best coaches in the world certainly paid off," expressed Barbi. "I look forward to even more improvement this next season."

Fitting Finale

The Southern California hunter/jumper season always ends in an exciting way thanks to the LA National Horse Show. This year, Ashlee Bond furthered her World Cup league lead by beating her mentor Richard Spooner in the $50,000 Grand Prix of Los Angeles. Riding her own Cadett 7, Bond's tight track over round one got a primed, Saturday night crowd going. When Spooner and his handsome stallion Cristallo entered the ring toward the end of the class, spectator hopes were high for a jump-off. Spooner did not disappoint. In course designer Olaf Petersen Jr.'s jump-off, Bond was fast and clear, while Spooner was fast, but at the price of two late-course rails.

Thursday night's $30,000 Welcome Stake saw Rich Fellers seek to continue his November reign at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. With his two longtime partners, Flexible and McGuiness, he finished first and second.

Lindsay Ramar (Mariano Alario, trainer) was very proud of her Dance and Jump when they won the PCHA $5,000 Junior-Amateur Owner Jumper Championship and the $5,000 Junior-Amateur Owner Jumper Classic. In the classic, just three of the 11 horses made the jump-off, Ramar and Katie Harris (Kelly Van Vleck, trainer) with her two horses, Parrandero and Urvine.

"I knew I had to go out there and go for it, but leave all the jumps in place," Ramar recalled. "This is the last show of the season for me, so I figured it was now or never."

Langer Equestrian Group, USHJA Zone 10, and Pacific Equestrians honored jumpers from ponies to grand prix at the Celebrate Jumpers banquet on Friday night, sponsored by O.H. Kruse Grain & Milling. Numerous awards were given throughout the night, including the first-ever Pacific Equestrians Lifetime Honoree, which was awarded to Linda Allen for her lifetime of outstanding service to the sport. Another first-time award was the Pacific Equestrian Visionary Award, given to those who have shown great vision in the industry. USHJA President Bill Moroney and Show Jumping Unplugged founders Paul and Tammy Peterson were honored with the inaugural award. The Petersons were particularly touched by their surprise honor.

Theo Boris (Karen Healey, trainer), who won the WCE earlier in the evening, was honored at the dinner as well. The West Coast Equestrians Junior-Amateur Medal Final was one of the highlights of the weekend, and this jumper style competition had a field of 42 top junior and amateur riders. After two challenging rounds, the top 15 returned for the third and final round, which was judged over a jump-off course where both riding style and time were critical factors.

Boris showed up to win, attacking each round with confidence. His combined score of 88 put him at the top of the leader board going into the final round, and a 92 clinched the victory. Alicia Gasser (Jenny Karazissis, trainer) rode well in all three rounds and earned the reserve championship.

At the other end of spectrum, the Onondarka Medal Final showcased the West's top 12 and under riders. Because of the rain the final was consolidated to one day and run in the indoor Equidome. The riders handled it well and the top 15 showed their stamina by putting in strong rides through three rounds and the work off all in one day. Alexandra LaDove (John French, trainer) was on top going into the work off. "Sophie Simpson was quite good, so I knew Alex was going to have to nail it to win," French explained. "The other riders went straight to the first jump like a typical hunter course and then hand galloped around to fence two. I told her to turn right from the gate and approach the first fence on the left lead, which put her at a slight angle so she could have an inside track for the hand gallop to the second fence." LaDove's stellar execution led her to the victory with Sophie Simpson (Will Simpson, trainer) finishing in the reserve spot.

Article excerpted from a more detailed Langer Equestrian Group report.