The Queen's Farewell: Rafalca makes her final show appearance before an appreciative California Dressage
Society Championships crowd at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Photo: TerriMiller.com
After four days, six rings, and nearly 1500 rides scheduled to come down centerline, the Annual California Dressage Society (CDS) Championship Show, held in conjunction with the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Dressage Championships, officially entered the record books as the largest edition in the 47-year history of the event. It was held Sept. 25-28 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
"This Championship show has been great," said CDS President Kevin Reinig. "The turnout has been unbelievable, the level of competition has been amazing, and everyone has worked so well together to make this show happen. I think dressage is thriving in California and this show is a reflection of that trend."
Alexa Brown warms up her adorable Haflinger gelding, Tigger, before winning the Christian Simonson, aboard Zambo FRC, is the proud winner of the CDS JR/YR Dressage Seat Equitation Challenge. Photo: Kim F. Miller
A highly anticipated highlight was Saturday evening's emotional career celebration for the superstar Grand Prix mare Rafalca. Over seven years of competing at the international Grand Prix level with Jan Ebeling, the charismatic mare owned by Ann Romney, Beth Meyer and Amy Ebeling garnered headlines in mainstream press and made "dressage" a household word as part of the 2012 United States Olympic Team.
Devoted fans packed the Equidome stands for one last chance to see Rafalca as she entered the arena for a very special encore of her wildly-popular musical freestyle. From the moment the familiar Usher-themed music started, fans were cheering and by the end of the performance were on their feet. "Being from the West Coast we wanted to make sure that CDS members got to see her on her very last outing," said Jan of Rafalca, who looked fit and fresh in her final public appearance. "It was an enthusiastic crowd and she loved every minute of it."
Junior Team Test champions Brianna Relucio and Wynsum also won the Third Level Freestyle with a 70.417 score. Photo: Kim F. Miller
Jan was busy in the winner's circle, too. The Moorpark-based rider expertly guided the talented Oldenburg gelding Santo Domingo to an average score of 73.197% and a huge win over 32 other entries in the CDS Open Third Level Horse of the Year division, earning his second title of the weekend and the Judith Elias Perpetual Trophy for owner Anne Romney. Jan and Romney's Hanoverian gelding Bakari were unbeatable at Open Fourth Level, the Region 7 Championship on a score of 72.875%.
The last round of coveted CDS Horse of the Year titles saw several hard-fought battles. In CDS Open Training Level Horse of the Year, Kristina Harrison of Burbank and her 4-year-old Dutch gelding Finley earned big marks in the second of two tests to take the overall lead and the Peter and Bonnie Lert Perpetual Trophy with a score of 75.063%. Tiffany Mahoney of Rancho Santa Fe also scored a come-from-behind victory with her Oldenburg mare Sans Souci DE in the Adult Amateur Training Level championship to earn an overall 71.436% and claim the Melissa Creswick Perpetual Trophy. The Full Cry Perpetual Trophy for Adult Amateur First Level was awarded to Kate Mullen (Livermore) who earned a huge score in the first of two classes and couldn't be caught with Kelly Casey's Dutch mare Elnieta to finish with 72.926%.
Show organizer Glenda McElroy deemed all entrants in the Cute Dog Class winners, but the Jack Russell Terrier, JoyJoy, was clearly a crowd favorite. His owner Shelby Suelzie, in the breeches, says he loves to ride, including on trail and the hot walker. He shares his wonderful mount, the Arabian gelding K-Love, with Shelby, who is shown here with her twin sister Allyn Rutherford. Photo: Kim F. Miller
Lisa Bradley (Aliso Viejo) and her Oldenburg mare Finesse have been unbeatable this week, scoring another victory today at Second Level for Adult Amateurs and the Two-Tone Malone Trophy for CDS Horse of the Year on an overall score of 72.404%. Adult amateur Alix Curry will drive north to her home in Pescadero with the Stanford Dressage Club Trophy for Third Level thanks to a winning performance with her Rheinlander gelding Don Frederic (71.817%), while Carrie Rasmussen of Simi Valley claimed the Fox Run Perpetual Trophy at Fourth Level with her Hanoverian mare Dolce Bella (68.168%).
Juniors and Young Riders also competed across multiple Region 7 championship divisions. Shelby Rocereto of Livermore and her Dutch mare Chapeau scored a top First Level score of 73.548% while Paris Richman (Monte Nido) rode her Hessen gelding Il Primo Toscano to victory with a score of 63.782% at Third Level. Paige Dobbie (Moorpark) competed with her Dutch gelding Romulus to win the JR/YR Prix St. Georges Region 7 Championship with 68.092%, while Genay Vaughn of Elk Grove also finished off her weekend with a win in the JR/YR Grand Prix division aboard Starr Vaughn Eq. Inc.'s Hanoverian stallion Donarweiss GGF (65.450%).
Jan Ebeling and Santo Domingo won the CDS Horse of the Year title in a huge Open Third Level class on the final day of competition at the Great American/USDF Region 7 & CDS Championship Show.
Photo: Jennifer M. Keeler
In the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Semi-Final (13 and under division), Alexa Brown and her adorable Haflinger gelding Tigger charmed the judges with their dressage skills for a winning score of 78.000%. Already the recipient of yesterday's CDS Equitation Challenge trophy, Kelsea Nataren of Chino Hills, Cal. and her Welsh gelding ME Imagine also won this afternoon's 14-18 Dressage Seat Medal Semi-Final on a score of 76.000%.
Juniors and young riders also competed for top honors in their CDS Horse of the Year divisions. Isabella Macchioni of Livermore earned the top spot in the Training Level division with a winning two-test average of 70.350% with her Hanoverian gelding Danatelo, while Shelby Rocereto and Chapeau scored their second win of the day, this time at Second Level with 70.085%. At Third Level, Ashlynn DeGroot of Hanford rode DG Bar Ranch's lovely KWPN mare DG Bantana to a winning performance and an overall two-test average score of 71.737%, while NAJYRC veteran Mackinzie Pooley (Coto de Caza) topped the Fourth Level championship on a combined score of 68.644% with her lovely black Oldenburg mare Starlet M.
CDS Horse of the Year Freestyle titles were awarded for First, Second, Third and the Intermediaire levels. Stacy Williams will drive back to Ivins, Utah with the First Level Freestyle championship she earned with 69.083% aboard her Wesfalen gelding Frisco Bay. After earning the USDF Region 7 Second Level Freestyle championship on Thursday, Sundi Prechtl of Riverside today also earned the CDS equivalent with her own Lusitano stallion Dotango on a score of 74.00%, while yesterday's Junior Team Test Champion Brianna Relucio of San Ramon, earned another victory with her Hanoverian gelding Wynsum, this time in the CDS Third Level Freestyle with 70.417%.
Alexa Brown warms up her adorable Haflinger gelding, Tigger, before winning the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Semi Final, 13 & Under, with a 78%. Photo: Kim F. Miller
"The CDS Championship Show gets better and better every year," said show manager Glenda McElroy. "But this is the first time that we've had to add a sixth ring and have so many additional stalls. I'm thrilled to see this growth as well as the enthusiasm and support of CDS members for this show. It makes it such a terrific event for everyone."
"There's a lot of excitement in the sport, new horses and fresh faces, and that makes it very exciting," CDS president Kevin Reinig concludes. "I'd like to thank all the competitors, the CDS Chapters, the CDS Executive Board, and the show management and officials for all coming together to make this a record-setting show such a success. And most of all we couldn't have done this without the volunteers who put in long hours to get the job done."
Complete daily results, schedules, and additional competition information about the California Dressage Society Championship Show is available on the CDS website, www.california-dressage.org.