West Dominates Dressage Festival
Maybe it's time to bring the National Grand Prix Championship out West. Riding Four Winds Farm's Legolas 92, San Diego's Steffen Peters earned an unprecedented seventh national title and two familiar Californians were right behind him. Guenter Seidel of Cardiff finished in reserve and Kathleen Raine of Murrieta was third.
The Dutta Corp/USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship is the marquee event of the USEF Festival Of Champions, held at the Kentucky Horse Park in mid-October.
Steffen pulled out all the stops with the 11-year-old Westphalian gelding as he produced strong piaffe and passage, as well as improved one-time changes. The talented combination concluded their Freestyle with an impressive pirouette in piaffe directly into halt on the centerline as they scored 79.450%.
"This was the best freestyle for sure. He felt great in the warm-up and I just hoped I could do that in the ring," said Steffen of Legolas 92. "Right-off from the first step he felt as supple as in the warm-up. He stayed right with the music. I couldn't be happier."
The pair finished on a championship total of 76.476%.
Looking toward the future and preparation for the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, Peters will rely on advice from Chef d'Equipe/Technical Advisor Robert Dover in planning for the future months.
"I have not thought about it," said Peters. "California, Florida, we'll think about it and I'm sure Robert will weigh-in on that."
Earning second place in the Freestyle and Reserve Champion honors overall was Guenter Seidel (Cardiff) and Coral Reef Wylea. Coral Reef Ranch's 13-year-old Westphalian mare earned a 76.450% in the Freestyle to finish on a championship score of 72.404%.
Despite a mistake in the two-time changes, Seidel was extremely pleased with the mare and believes she improved from Friday night's Grand Prix Special.
"I thought she was great; there was the obvious mistake in the twos but it worked out great. In general, I thought she was better than the night before. Definitely, she felt good."
Kathleen Raine rode her own, Jennifer Mason and David Wightman's 13-year-old Hanoverian mare, Breanna. The pair finished the Freestyle with a score of 70.225% and earned a championship score of 71.213%.
Sarah Lockman and Vinterpol.
Hafner and Lockman Earn USEF Training Grants
California dressage trainers Sarah Lockman and Brian Hafner were among eight USEF Developing Dressage Program participants to receive training grants, made possible by a gift from top owner Akiko Yamazaki and the Red Husky Foundation. Also recognized as "showing great potential for the future of dressage in the U.S.," were California-based Elizabeth Ball and Cadence, Sabine Schut-Kery and Marques and David Wilson and W. Royal Winner.
Brian Hafner, based in Penngrove, was recognized with his own and Dr. Rebecca Hafner's Lombardo LHF and Sarah was recognized with Pamela Munson's Vinterpol.
Both Brian and Sarah were featured in recent issues of California Riding Magazine and Sarah was happy to give us a report on her latest doings. She's grateful to Debbie McDonald, Robert Dover and others who were instrumental in putting the Developing Dressage Program together. "It's a huge opportunity for someone like me who might otherwise not be able to afford to train and push toward the next step." Sarah plans to use the grant for more lessons and clinics as she aims for the Grand Prix arena.
Sarah and Vinterpol, a Dutch Warmblood, contested their first Prix St. Georges test less than a year ago. This year they qualified for the Festival Of Champions in the National Intermediare I Championships and went to Kentucky in mid-October as the ninth-ranked pair in the country. The competition consisted of a Prix St. Georges test and an I1 and I1 Freestyle and Sarah was thrilled to finish overall fifth.
"It was great even just being in Kentucky," Sarah says of the USEF Festival of Champion's Kentucky Horse Park venue. "To see your name up in the big lights is a dream come true, and to experience the camaraderie among all those top riders and coaches was wonderful. I'm kind of a newbie, but they treated me like I had known them all my life."
Sarah is based at Shadow Ridge Equestrian Center in San Bernardino County's Highland.
Three-Peat For John French & Small Affair
The $25,000 World Champion Hunter Rider Professional Challenge was won by John French for the third time in class history on Small Affair. The class was the highlight event of the Capital Challenge Horse Show, held in Maryland in
Photo: Maria Morgan @ Captured Moment Photography
Good Luck & Good Night!
Good Luck, by More Than Luck out of Molly Malone, bred and owned by Tish Quirk, won it all at the West Coast International Hunter Futurity and the Sallie B. Wheeler/US National Hunter Breeding Championship. Handled by Carleton Brooks, the beautiful, dappled brown, 2 year old filly won the following titles:
- Best Young Horse - International Hunter Futurity
- Best Young Horse - Sallie B. Wheeler/US National Hunter Breeding Championship
- Best Young Dutch Horse - Sallie B. Wheeler/US National Hunter Breeding Championship
- Best Turned Out Horse - International Hunter Futurity
And her sire, More Than Luck, was the Leading Sire of the Sallie B. Wheeler/US National Hunter Breeding Championship. The prestigious championships were held at Showpark the last week of August.
Making Sense at Twin Rivers
Emilee Libby and Nonsensical rode to victory in the Advanced division at the Twin Rivers Horse Trails in Paso Robles Sept. 19-22. An East Coast native, Emilee contested the Rolex Kentucky Three Day event in 2007 and 2008, but had taken a few years break before moving to San Diego and picking up the sport again under Hawley Bennett-Awad's watch. Nonsensical is an off-the-track Thoroughbred by the famous racer Point Given and he'd been brought along by Hawley until Emilee bought him two years ago.
Breakwell Surprises at Sonoma Season Finale
Peter Breakwell of New Zealand took top honors on Sunday, Sept. 22 in Sonoma Horse Park's marquee class, winning the $25,000 Balancing Tonic Grand Prix to close out the 2013 SHP finale, the final show of the popular facility's seven-week season.
Just a week after winning the $20,000 Stable Mix Grand Prix aboard his veteran show jumper Lucas, Breakwell took a new mount to the winners circle in Finnley 5, a 9-year-old Westfalian gelding that was jumping in just his second career Grand Prix start. In fact, when the dust settled after a seven-horse jump-off, new faces, both human and equine, filled out the top three placings. Nineteen-year-old Haley Schwab of San Francisco recorded her best Grand Prix finish to date by jumping double clear to second place aboard Rydam Regis. And Sweden's Mattias Ekeroth finished third with The Governor, a 10-year-old Dutch-bred gelding that just stepped up to the Grand Prix level this year.
Breakwell, of course, is a familiar face on the West Coast circuit, although it's been quite some time since he's won a Grand Prix with a horse other than Lucas, a 14-year-old, German-bred Hessen gelding. "His owners bought him in Germany and I've had the ride for just a few months," Breakwell said of Finnley 5. "He's got a little bit of an unorthodox jump, I started him in the 1.20m classes, then the 1.30m and the 1.35m, and last week (at Sonoma) was his first Grand Prix start."
While Breakwell was riding for a confidence-building clear round, the cards fell in his favor a bit to allow for the win; Australian rider Harley Brown had the fastest time by more than a second in the jump-off with his own veteran partner Cassiato, but an unlucky rail pushed him into fifth place. Schwab, a North American Junior/Young Rider Championship medalist who trains with Macella O'Neil of Diamond Mountain Stables in Calistoga, was thrilled with her horse's performance. She's been working on strengthening her effectiveness in the saddle in order to put in better clear rounds and faster rides, and has spent considerable time strengthening her connection with Rydam Regis, a 9-year-old Anglo European Warmblood from the Aisle of Mann. "It was nice to come here and jump clean and go into the jumpoff and be pretty quick," she said. "I've done so much work this year, now I can finally walk these courses and confidently say 'ok, I can do this'." Schwab, who graduated high school last spring, is taking a gap year before beginning classes at the University of Chicago. She plans to spend time in Europe this winter, riding with Olympic gold medalist Peter Charles of Great Britain.
Another new pair, Mattias Ekeroth and The Governor proved that a week's time makes all the difference on Sunday. Their 12th place finish in the previous week's grand prix inspired Ekeroth to concentrate on rideability and control with his young horse, and he was rewarded with a super double clear and a new personal best for The Governor. "Last week I did two classes to warm up, and this week I did three so he was a bit more under control; I went as fast as I could with my horse. I'm focused more on going clean right now, he's still green when it comes to these types of jumps" Ekeroth detailed.
Despite a rainy Saturday the day before, the fabulous Martin Collins footing in the Wells Fargo Grand Prix Arena was in top form, and the last day of Sonoma Horse Park's 2013 season was held under brilliant sunny skies.