Deni Hird and Freedom C have had a successful year.
Photo: Flying Horse Photography
It was an exciting end of the season when the LA Season Finale (Nov 15-17) hosted the second annual LEGIS League Finals and the final week of the all-new Ponypalooza. Pony riders wrapped up three wonderful weeks at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center filled with pony classes and fun activities. Emily Reaves (Ginny Plancke, trainer) and her Summitview Clairvoyant finished the year with a bang by winning the LEGIS League Children's Pony Hunter Finale.
Twelve-year-old Emily is a familiar face at LAEC and is known for her work ethic. "I work for Ginny in exchange for lessons so I clean tack, walk horses, and do other barn chores. I also work at the horse shows to help pay for my entry fees," Emily explained. "I help pick up the judge's cards and hand out ribbons all day." Though she is usually the girl who hands out all of the ribbons, this show it was her turn to receive the blue ribbon.
"This is my last year that I'm showing in the ponies, so I was happy to do so well," Emily noted. "I've had my pony for about six years and I've worked really hard to get her to where she is today." The two shone throughout the three phases of the LEGIS League Pony Hunter Finale: showmanship, under saddle, and over fences. "I thought it was a great class overall. I've never done a showmanship class before and it was really fun."
Emily's barn mate and good friend Roxy Fisher placed second in the class on her pony, The Pinto Panther. Roxy also works with Emily at the horse shows, and the pair were inseparable even in the victory gallop. "After the first round of the victory gallop, I was supposed to do a lap alone. But her pony took off after me so we did the lap together," Emily recounted with a laugh. "It was so exciting that Roxy got the reserve championship, and we were both thrilled."
Emily credits her focus and work ethic to her trainer. "When I first came to Ginny, I was all over the place as a rider. She's really helped me improve so much," Emily said. "She also lets me be a working student and I've learned to be much more responsible and professional." Next year, Emily will move up to a horse and might try something new. "I've done the hunters for so long that I'd like to try equitation or maybe jumpers. I'm not sure yet. I do want to someday compete in hunter derbies and eventually go to the Olympics."
The LEGIS League Jumper Medal Final combined equitation and jumper skills as riders had to execute equitation tests like the counter canter, but still show jumper pace and efficient turns as if on a jumper course. Freedom C (Vicky Dimitri, owner) proved his versatility yet again with a win in the jumper medal final with Deni Hird (Stephanie Haney, owner) in the irons. The pair have been unstoppable this season and also took home the championship in the Junior Hunters, 17 & Under, and Equitation, 12 thru 14, and reserve championship in the 3'3" Performance Hunters.
"I think this final was great practice for us because I want to do the USEF Talent Search and Maclay Medal, which are focused on equitation and jumpers," Deni mentioned. "It's definitely a fun change from normal equitation classes." Freedom was particularly suited for the class as he was a jumper before starting in the hunter and equitation rings at the beginning of this show year. "Since Freedom was a jumper, he definitely gets more excited when he sees the jumper fences," Deni commented. "He was a little fresh, so I just planned to go for the forward ride and have fun with it. He was great and landed and held the counter canter so well."
Emily Reaves finishes the year with a bang.
Photo: Flying Horse Photography
Also in the jumpers, Lili Marshall (Cha Cha Jago, trainer) and Waldman (Gold Creek, owner) earned first place in the LEGIS League Finals – Low Child-Adult Jumpers. "We came here specifically for the LEGIS League Finals, so it meant a lot to me to be able to win it," Lili stated. "We competed in some of the jumper medals too, which was fun. Waldman is such a great horse and he performed so well this weekend."
Lili has been riding for about 12 years, and she got into riding because of the movie Seabiscuit. "My parents actually were two of the producers for Seabiscuit, and after being around the horses and seeing all of the great riding, I decided I wanted to try it. I've been riding with Cha Cha ever since," Lili recalled.
In the equitation arena, Beth Espinoza (Julie Conner-Daniels, trainer) and her Destre won every class they competed in, including the LEGIS Child-Adult Medal Finals. "The LEGIS League medal finals are what brought us here this weekend. I've never done the LEGIS League Finals before, but I enjoyed the experience," Beth elaborated. "I loved the prizes and the ribbons." Beth's trainer, Julie, added, "I think the ribbons are beautiful! LEGIS League did a really nice job with the whole thing. From a trainer perspective, I feel like it was super well organized and it was nice that we didn't feel rushed at all. We were very happy with the format."
Beth balances a busy work schedule with her riding. "I live in Ventura and ride with Julie in Santa Clarita, so it's a bit of a trek for me," Beth explained. "Luckily, at work I have a 'flex' day, which is a half day, so I ride then. I only get to ride twice a week, but I always make it a priority because it's my stress relief." Beth has owned Destre for seven years and the two have had a successful season together in the 2'6" medal classes.
In addition to the LEGIS League Child-Adult Medal Finals, the LEGIS League offered four other medal finals as well as a trainer incentive for the leading medal finals trainer: a choice of a weekend stay in Lake Tahoe, Phoenix, or Palm Desert. With a win in two of the five medal finals and several other riders in the top five, Mary Gatti of Rainbow Canyon Ranch earned the LEGIS League sponsored weekend getaway. Mary's riders took top honors in the LEGIS League National Children's and Adult Medal Finals. Claire Sears rose to the top of the Children's Medal Final aboard her Magnifique, and Christina Bauer took home the win in the Adult Medal Final on her Buccaneer. Christina also placed third in the LEGIS League Jumper Medal Finals on her Corsair.
"You work all year with your students and it's great when they do well at the shows, so you're rewarded that way," Mary remarked. "Then when the show gives a trainer incentive and you can win a trip on top of that, it's doubly sweet. I was so happy to support the LA Season Finale last year and this year. I think the show will just grow and grow and it's fun to be in on the ground floor. The prizes and the trainer incentive were great and everyone at the show is so nice. I think it will really catch on."
In the LEGIS League Mini Medal Finals, beginner riders took on over fences and flat phases in the 2'0" medal. Eight-year-old Stella Wasserman (Cross Creek Farm and Marla Amormino, trainers) was thrilled to win with her new pony, Ice Breaker. "I was so happy that I nearly cried with joy," Stella remembered. "This was my first medal final ever. I was nervous, but Marla, who was my trainer for this show, told me to keep my pace up and think of it like practice, not like a show."
Stella's mom Laura, who competes in the hunters, was on hand to watch her win and has passed her love of riding on to her daughter. "I started riding my mom's horse when I was little and then began doing walk trot at Thermal. I'm happy to have come so far," Stella related. "I just got Ice Breaker a few months ago. The day I got him, I was the most excited girl alive. He's a great pony and hopefully next year we can move up into the children's pony hunters."
While Stella rode in her first medal, Kiyomi Calloway (Karen Perlow, trainer) experienced her first show at LAEC. "The facilities and the staff were so nice," Kiyomi noted. "I also loved the footing and enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere. It was less intimidating and helped calm my nerves."
The 15-year-old earned the reserve championship in 'B' Long Stirrup, which was a testament to all of her hard work. "The reserve championship meant so much to be because I've put so much time and effort into riding," Kiyomi explained. "I've had some trouble in the show ring because I can get so nervous, but this weekend proved that if I focus and listen to my trainer, I can do really well."
Kiyomi just started riding Markelo about a month ago, but the pair are working well together. "He's a great teacher. Because he's so sensitive, he has already taught me a lot about my body and leg position," Kiyomi commented. "I had a really great experience and it was so much fun. I don't do horse shows often, so when I do get to do them and have a great experience as well, I really appreciate it."
The 2013 show season was a great one with lots of fun memories. Though the show season is drawing to a close, we are already looking forward to next year. The LAEC Opener Horse Show will start Jan 17-19. Hope to see you there. Connect with Langer Equestrian Group on Facebook for news, photos, and more.