This year's Woodside Summer Dressage show (July 15-17) was host to one of the three Regional Adult Amateur Competitions (RAAC) held every year to provide California Dressage Society (CDS) members a developmental path toward the highly competitive Annual CDS Championship Show. Bridget Walker (Christine Rivlin, trainer) is grateful for the opportunity to compete in the RAAC, especially after she and her ride Valentino (Christine Rivlin, owner) won her class in the Second Level Test 3 Novice with a solid score of 69.762%. "The RAAC is a great opportunity for amateurs because it recognizes how hard we work and how devoted we can be to the sport," she commented. "It is nice to have such a forum in a sport about which we all have great passion and devotion. I am learning every ride and I view every show as another opportunity to gain some experience. Showing teaches me to be disciplined about my riding."
Bridget had ridden the 17.3 hand gelding in the past, but she was off of him for two years and just started riding him again recently. "Valentino is elastic, steady and very big," she shared. "He is a lot of horse to move around, but is so talented, willing and good natured that he makes it easy."
Bridget also saw success with her second mount, Araripe dos Pinhais (Elizabeth Graham King, owner), a six-year-old Lusitano stallion born in Brazil. Araripe means "where the sun rises" in Brazillian and reflects his sire and breeder's farm in Brazil. Bridget and Ari earned the title of Markel/Cornerstone High Point Amateur Champion as well as Lower Level Amateur High Percentage Champion for their 71.892% in First Level. Jamie Meyer was Reserve Champion with Lujoso.
"Ari has a steady workmanlike attitude and great gaits," Bridget explained. "He likes doing his job and is not easily distracted by influences other than his rider. He is a very talented little horse and I especially love to ride the lateral movements with him. He got a 9 on one of his leg yields."
Elinor (Ellie) Armstrong Kennedy, also a student of Christine Rivlin, is another proponent of the RAAC. She showed in the Prix St. Georges Elite and placed second with her Sanset with 64.211%. "I think it's really good for amateurs who don't typically get to go to the big shows or championships, because they can't afford it and it's very competitive. It's a good opportunity to participate in something that has the awards presentations and everything; it's really fun, like Championships light."
The pair also won the title of FEI Junior/Amateur High Percentage Champion with their 64.737% in Prix St. Georges in the regular show, although she had hoped to ride better. "I was frustrated with myself because I made the same mistakes in all the tests and the horse is capable of so much more. Overall, I was really pleased with him, and it was a good show. I love the facility and the footing has really improved." Stacey McCarthy was reserve champion with Lyra.
This is the first year Ellie has shown the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood, sired by Lancet, at Prix St. Georges. "I got him at a bargain price five years ago because he was imported to a sales barn and had behavioral issues. I took a chance on him and he's turned out to be a really nice horse. I can take him anywhere, tie him to the trailer, and he goes around the ring and does everything I ask, as long as I ask correctly. He has a killer walk and super changes, and as long as I count he does well in the tempis. He also has a great trot extension."
Other competitors in the Elite division of the RAAC included Kristine Hegglin, won both of her classes on her Hanoverian, Davaughn. They scored 69.286% in Second Level and 65.641% in Third Level. Katrina Christy and Winterstarr won all of their Fourth Level tests in both the RAAC and the regular show with scores ranging from 64-68%, and their 68.286% earned them the title of High Percentage Upper Level Amateur Champion. Helle Rasmussen was reserve champion with Mr. Donneroy.
In the Open divisions, eventing and dressage trainer Matthew Brown of East West Training Stables was Upper Level High Percentage Champion with Fausto (Sara Schachter, owner) after receiving 71.026% in Third Level. Sara purchased the Hanoverian gelding, now nine years old, when he was three from Lucchetti Ranch and he's been in training with Matt ever since. "He's big and flashy, loose moving, and a very powerful horse," Matt remarked. "He's fun to ride and watch just because he's so powerful. He likes to work and is very engaged in it. Being an eventer, when we get to the extended canter I like to really go for it and take advantage of the chance to gallop in the dressage ring. When he knows it's coming, and he knows I'm going to go for it, it's game on. I have done some jumping for cross training, and when he sees the jump he wants it."
Matt was happy with the horse's performance, although they are still working on getting the changes to be consistent and reliable. He hopes to have them ready in time for CDS Championships this fall. "If his changes are good he could do really well, I'll take him. We ride with Volker Bromman, so I defer to him a lot on the training process."
As an event rider, Matt feels that cross training over jumps is good for the horse and rider. "I think for the most part jumping helps to apply the dressage work for me and the horses. If there's a jump in front of you, there's a specific reason why you have to be balanced and relaxed and on the aids--all the things you need dressage horses to be. I think it's easier for horses to figure out the job sometimes. Plus, I just think it's important to get out of the dressage ring sometimes. I love dressage, but I think it's important to get out and gallop and do something else, too. It keeps the horses happier and more willing if they understand the job."
Matt had 11 horses at Horse Park at Woodside just for cross country schooling while at Woodside Summer Dressage, which kept him busy going back and forth between jobs and changing gear. He also took several young horses and five clients, including Heather Steffen who rode in her first dressage show ever. It was also the first dressage show for her horse, Azuro Z, and they won several the Green Horse/Green Rider and Training Level tests. "I like bringing the clients and young horses to multiple day shows like this because it gives them multiple chances to get in the rings. I like the Horse Park and the grounds management, and the show office at these shows is always well run."
The Cornerstone Northern California Dressage series concludes September 16-18 with the Woodside Autumn Dressage & Breed Show, featuring the Woodside Series Championships.
For more information on Woodside Summer Dressage and other Cornerstone events, please visit http://www.cornerstonedressage.com and visit Cornerstone Event Management on Facebook for news and updates..