California Riding Magazine • August, 2012

Genay Vaughn
Continues Family Tradition of Sports Stars

by Nan Meek

Genay and Waranja show the harmonious result of patient, consistent, correct training. Photo ©Tamara With The Camera

Number-one ranked United States Dressage Federation Region 7 Young Rider Genay Vaughn pulled off a double-header at the United States Equestrian Federation Dressage Festival of Champions, held June 9-10 at the historic USEF Foundation Headquarters in Gladstone, NJ.

In an unusual feat for a Young Rider, Vaughn qualified and competed on two horses in the USEF National Dressage Championships, bringing home third and sixth place awards in her first year in the Young Rider division. Only the top 12 ranked horse-and-rider combinations in the United States are invited to compete, an honor well worth the long journey to Gladstone from her family's Starr Vaughn Equestrian in the Sacramento area's Elk Grove.

"Three seems to be my number, but I'm aiming to change that in the future," Genay comments, referring to her third-place results in the USEF National Dressage Championships Junior Division for 2009 and 2010, plus 2012 in the Young Rider Division.

As we went to press, Genay had just helped the Region 7 Young Riders team to a silver medal at the Adequan FEI North American Young Riders Championships and put in solid performances in the individual rounds.

Double Debut in Young Rider National Championship

Genay debuted this year in the Young Rider Division with two very different horses: Starr Vaughn Equestrian's 11-year-old Hanoverian stallion Donarweiss GGF, who she has ridden for less than year, placed third in the competition on a two-day average of 67.869%. Michele Vaughn's elite Hanoverian mare Waranja, who Genay trained herself with help from her coaches, took sixth with a two-day average
of 64.698%.

Donarweiss was acquired by Starr Vaughn Equestrian, Inc. last autumn thanks to Hilltop Farm's Chris Hickey, who trained and competed him up to the Grand Prix level before endorsing the stallion as Genay's new competition partner. At the time, Chris commented, "I expect this combination to be very competitive in the Young Rider and Brentina Cup divisions."

Genay Vaughn and Donarweiss have had a great connection right from the start. Photo ©Tamara With The Camera

Chris helped turn that expectation into reality at Gladstone by coaching the pair to their third-place standing in the Young Rider National Championship. "Chris is a great coach," Genay reports. "He knows how to bring the best out of me and my horse. You can tell he really loves teaching. He makes it fun and easy to learn, and dressage is not a sport that is normally described that way! Chris really knows how to train horses and riders to move up the levels."

Waranja's sixth place result with Genay was a sweet reward for their years of work together. Originally acquired by the Vaughn family as a 4-year-old elite mare candidate, Waranja was a broodmare before being trained by Genay with periodic assistance from clinicians such as Jan Ebeling and ongoing coaching from her mom.

"She's amazing," Genay says about Michele Vaughn, who recently received the USDF Gold Medal for her own competition achievements. "She coached me and Waranja at Gladstone, and she always gives me great training and showing advice."

NAJYRC and USEF Dressage Seat Medal Competition

Genay's sizzling summer isn't over yet. To crown her summer competition season, Genay will represent USDF Region 7 in the 2012 USEF Dressage Seat Medal Final presented by Dressage Today, at Lamplight Equestrian Center in St. Charles, IL, during the August 23-26 Dressage at Lamplight August I/II shows. Her October 2011 win in the USDF/USEF Dressage Seat Medal Semi-Finals qualified her for this national competition.

Sports Success is Vaughn Family Tradition

It's no accident that Genay has become so successful, so young. Sports psychology and the mental and physical fitness needed for success in sport are interests shared by the entire family. Genay's father Greg helps her with sports psychology, her mother Michele coaches her and her brother Cory is one of her greatest fans. It's not unusual for family gatherings to include watching competition videos, critiquing performances and identifying improvements. Everyone knows what it takes to succeed.

Vaughn family stars: Greg, Genay on Farrah, Michele and Cory.

Greg Vaughn was a left field power hitter for more than 15 years, playing major league baseball for the San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, and the Tampa Bay Rays. His lifetime stats – 355 home runs and 1,072 runs batted in – still impress.

Cory Vaughn, a 2010 fourth-round draft pick for the New York Mets, is a right field power hitter who looks set to make his mark in America's favorite sport. In his first major league game, he hit a home run over the left field wall in a ballpark described as a place "where home runs go to die."

Michele Vaughn is a focused dressage competitor in her own right. She recently earned her USDF Gold Medal, and coaches Genay, trains Starr Vaughn Equestrian's horses, teaches dressage and manages Starr Vaughn Equestrian boarding, showing and sales business. She also serves in multiple capacities on the California Dressage Society Board of Directors.

Equine Stars of Starr Vaughn

Starr Vaughn Equestrian Center is a leading breeder of Hanoverian sport horses, featuring a select number of well-bred youngsters, winning show horses and fine breeding stock for sale. Starr Vaughn hosts recognized dressage and hunter/jumper shows, USDF clinics and other events at its world-class facility, in addition to its boarding, training and rehabilitation services.

The addition of Donarweiss GGF to Starr Vaughn's roster of outstanding sporthorses has been a perfect fit. He is building a winning reputation not only in the show ring, but as a breeding stallion as well.

A standout in the 2012 crop of Donarweiss foals, Descant was bred by his owner Rebecca Neff. Photo ©Rebecca Neff Photography

His track record in competition speaks for itself: In 2004 Donarweiss was USDF Horse of the Year for Three Year Old Colts & Geldings and champion of his 30-day Stallion Performance Test. Under the tutelage of Hilltop Farm trainer Chris Hickey he successfully rose through the levels of dressage competition. In his first year of Grand Prix competition in 2011, Donarweiss ranked third nationally for USDF All-Breeds Awards.

Donarweiss offspring are already demonstrating his value as a sire of future sporthorse stars. His 2011 daughter Dior CCF, an Oldenburg filly bred by Charlotte's Creek Farms, out of their mare Akino by Enrico Caruso, was named USDF Horse of the Year for 2011 Fillies with an impressive median score of 81.4%, among other top honors.
Hilltop Farm Breeding Manager Natalie DiBerardinis describes Donarweiss and his offspring as intelligent, athletic and charismatic, with his offspring consistently winning at breed shows around the nation. In 2012 breedings to Donarweiss will continue to be available via frozen semen through Hilltop Farm.

Bright Future, Big Dreams

This fall, Genay begins her college education at the University of California, Davis, where her goal is to become a small animal veterinarian. As for dressage, she sees more Young Rider and Brentina Cup competition in her future, as well as much
bigger goals.

"I would love to represent the US at the FEI World Cup Dressage for Young Riders in Frankfurt, Germany," the USDF Bronze and Silver medalist explains. "My dream would be to someday represent my country in competitions like the Olympics and the World Cup. I know this sport takes a team, and I am so grateful for my horses and the support of my family and my coaches. I know I couldn't do it without them, and I can't thank them enough."

Genay Vaughn on Donarweiss GGF. Photo by Tamara With The Camera

For more information about Starr Vaughn Equestrian, visit www.svequestrian.com or call 916-869-7942. For more information about breeding to Donarweiss GGF, contact Natalie DiBernardinis at breeding@hilltopfarminc.com or call 410-658-9898.