Ashley Bonds Wows the Crowd & Theo Boris Shows His Talent

The Grand Prix of Los Angeles (Sept. 19) was nothing short of spectacular as it opened with a live performance by Mishavonna, an American Idol Semi-Finalist (www.mishavonna.com), the National Anthem performed by a duet of violinists, and then there was the grand prix itself. After the exciting opening ceremonies the crowd was primed for an exhilarating night of world class show jumping, and the riders did not disappoint them. However, course designer Leopoldo Palacios made sure the riders worked for the accolades.

Santiago Rickard aboard his own Jet Star was the first to post a clear round and the crowd went wild. The crowd was assured of a jump off when Lane Clark piloted Kiss The Sky (Horsemanship Unlimited, owner) to a clear round and the crowd was even more enthusiastic. Ashley Bond, fresh off her rookie international tour representing the USA showed why she is becoming America’s darling of show jumping when she and Cadett 7 jumped with room to spare. Olympic gold medalist Will Simpson joined the jump off group as did Harley Brown. Stefanie Saperstein, last to go in the field of 24 wowed the crowd and herself when she posted a clear round with El Sueno’s Quanto VI (El Sueno del Amistad, owner) making for a six horse jump off.

While Saperstein showed everyone a hint of what is to come of her talent, Ashlee Bond ruled the night. She and Cadett 7 blazed around the course and left all the rails in place. No one could catch her and during the awards ceremony with George Morris presenting her awards, she was serenaded by Mishavonna who sang the National Anthem with Bond proudly wearing her red team coat.

Langer Equestrian Group, Inc. partnered with Show Jumping Unplugged to provide a live webcast of the event. The event will be available online for one month for viewers to enjoy. Don’t miss a bit of show jumping action. Visit Show Jumping Unplugged’s live webcast site: http://www.showjumpingunplugged.tv/sjutvlive.html

USEF Platinum Performance Talent Search Finals West riders shared the limelight with the grand prix riders during the Los Angeles International Jumping Festival. On Saturday the riders faced the Show Jumping Phase, the third phase of the competition, and then concluded with the ride-off of the Final Four. George Morris’ track on the Los Angeles Equestrian Center’s grass cricket field proved challenging and required the bold riding he and co-judge Susie Schoelkopf were looking for. Less than half the class jumped clear, but in a regular jumper class that statistic is to be expected for the Talent Search is about much more than equitation.

Some lower ranked riders moved up due to strong performances in the show jumping phase and some top ranked riders fell due to major mistakes. However, Navona Gallegos and Theodore Boris, the top two ranked riders after the first two phases went into the Final Four in those same positions. Cayla Richards and Jocelyn Neff joined them, and the excitement began.

First the riders rode their own horses around Morris’ shortened course set with a tight time allowed, then they began rotating, FEI World Championship style, to the other competitors’ horses. Boris proved the most masterful. "He reminds me of Conrad (Homfeld) at that same age," said Morris sagely. "He is soft, lovely, but bold. This boy rides fantastic." When Morris found out after the class that Boris rides as a 15 year old his only reaction was, "What?" with a look of utter disbelief.

Boris himself felt a moment of disbelief when Cayla Richards, who rides as 14, was called as the reserve champion, leaving the limelight to Boris. "I didn’t really know how everyone did because I only saw parts of each round," explained Boris of the Final Four ride off. "When I had a rail on Jocelyn’s horse I didn’t’ know how the judges would react. I had no idea of where I was in the standings."

2009 was only Boris’ second time in the USEF Talent Search Final, and he found his experiences from 2008 helpful in preparing for this year. "I also got the opportunity to ride Carol Bird’s horse, W.C. Swing. I knew I could count on him. He is brave and has all the qualities you want in a quality competition horse." Last year Hannah Selleck rode the talented chestnut gelding that Bird has shown in the Amateur Owner Jumpers to victory in the Talent Search.

"I try to set goals that are realistic. I go with my current situation and I know it is up to me to ride well," explained Boris of his attitude toward his riding and all things in his life. A poised, focused young man who belies his sixteen years, Boris set his mind on riding consistently throughout the competition. "I like to learn and I knew I’d learn a lot doing the Talent Search, especially with Karen’s (Healey) coaching." Little did he realize how far that attitude would take him.

Boris walked the majority of the courses by himself so he could focus on his plan and what he knew would work for himself and his horse. "I didn’t want to be influenced by everyone else and I didn’t want to walk things over and over." Boris made his plans, discussed them with Healey, and then carried them out.

Boris is heading east for the various other national equitation championships with his Talent Search win, victory in the USEF Regional Zones 8, 9 and 10 Junior Hunter Seat Medal Finals (during the LA International), and a second is last week’s Maclay Regional as serious confidence builders. "I’d like to get a Junior Jumper and ride on the Zone 10 Young Rider (NAJYRC) team next year." As far as his long term goals, Boris keeps an open mind. "I’ll do whatever is right. I’d love to ride in the grands prix. Of course the Olympics are a dream, but what rider doesn’t dream about the Olympics?" Boris clearly understands the difference between a goal and a dream, and puts his efforts toward his goals. He enjoys learning about horses. "George (Morris) asked me I want to be a horseman and I told him I did." Boris is well on his way. He knows what his horses eat, he reads about horsemanship and horse care, and pays attention to vet care. "I think it is up to a rider to become a horseman," and clearly this attitude will carry Boris far and to great success regardless of the pursuit.

Schedules and results are listed on the LEG website at: www.langershows.com.




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