The second day of competition at the 48th Annual California Dressage Society (CDS) Annual Championship Show and Great American/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Region 7 Championships in Rancho Murieta shone a spotlight on some of the West Coast’s best dressage horses and riders. Among the many stars of today’s championship competition, one which was shining especially bright was a young Oldenburg named Dehavilland.
Purchased as a yearling by owner/rider Sarah Lockman of Calimesa, Calif. from a bankruptcy sale for just $2,500, the now four-year-old gelding rewarded Lockman’s leap of faith by carrying her to victory in the morning’s USDF Region 7 Open Training Level Championship with a score of 73.750%. But it wasn’t easy – every competitor in the class earned a score greater than 70%. “I knew it would be tough but I didn’t really think about it - I just went in and did my thing,” explained Lockman, a former event rider. “He’s been solid all year, so I just believed in him and had every confidence.”
Lockman’s belief in her mount comes from having raised and trained the youngster herself. “He’s incredible because he’s so easy – he’s so laidback and quiet, but has huge movement and a ‘10’ walk. He grew up working cattle, riding out in the hills and even hanging out at rodeos, so for a young horse he’s super reliable at the shows because he’s already seen so much,” said Lockman. “He’s certainly turned out so well that it feels like hitting the lottery. You only get a horse like this with the talent and the temperament together once in a lifetime, so I’m going to continue to bring him along and enjoy the journey.”
Also in the outside rings, Amanda Apesos from Half Moon Bay rode her four-year-old Rheinlander gelding Ben to lead the victory lap at Training Level for Adult Amateurs thanks to a top score of 73.523%, while in the Second Level Adult Amateur division the smallest entry earned the biggest scores as Kristine Hegglin (Danville, Calif.) and her German Riding Pony Holstein’s Harlequin rode to earn 69.329% for the win. Meanwhile, U.S. High Performance rider Brian Hafner of Penngrove, Calif. showed off an up-and-coming star in Wendy Roberts’ seven-year-old Dutch gelding Dream Catcher when they won the USDF Region 7 Open Second Level title with 70.244%.
Freestyles once again took center stage in the main ring on Friday afternoon, where Terri Rocovich of Ramona, Calif. rode her Dutch gelding Uiver to win the USDF Grand Prix Freestyle with 68.063% for their performance featuring music from the Imagine Dragons track, “It’s Time”. “I wanted my horse’s freestyle to use popular music because I think it suits him, and the minute I heard that song I knew it would be for him,” said Rocovich. “I’m really pleased, especially since he’s only been at this level for a little over a year and it’s only about the fifth time we’ve done this freestyle. He seems to love the music too - as soon as he hears it, he’s ready to go!”
Ari Lopez of Pleasant Hill, Calif. and her longtime partner Corlander II have competed in the FEI Under-25 division all season, and they put that international experience to good use in winning the Open Intermediaire II Championship with a score of 66.711%. In the Intermediaire II Adult Amateur division, Hilda Gurney’s Grand Prix veteran Wintersnow carried Adrienne Bessey of Thousand Oaks to victory with 63.289%. “He’s teaching me so much because even though I’d schooled the Grand Prix movements before, I’d never shown at this level,” said Bessey. “Hilda is so generous to have offered me the ride on this horse, and of course I jumped at the chance. I’m so thankful.”
Thousands of dollars in prize money and awards were on the line as the first group of hotly-contested CDS Horse of the Year classes got underway. Brian Hafner has successfully competed around the world with his longtime partner Lombardo LHF, but the talented pair stayed closer to home this weekend to claim the Sherry de Leon Memorial Trophy and $1,000 CDS Horse of the Year Open Grand Prix title on a score of 69.050%. In the $1,000 Adult Amateur Prix St. Georges division, Adrienne Bessey returned to the ring for the second time today to successfully defend her 2014 title and hang on to the Imaging Perpetual Trophy for another year. This time aboard her own Danish mare Dido, Bessey was the only competitor in the class to break the 70% barrier, finishing with a final score of 70.789%. “She’s just great, everything in the test has gotten to be easy for her and she was right there for me at every movement, so that makes it really fun,” said Bessey.
But in the $1,000 CDS Horse of the Year Open Prix St. Georges class, the possibility of a winning test almost disappeared with the simple flip of a switch. As Tracey Hill (Concord, Calif.) and Victoria Von Arx’s Hanoverian mare Celina entered the main arena as the first horse/rider combination following a tractor drag, they discovered that the huge overhead fans had been turned on due to rising temperatures. Celina freaked. “Since the fans weren’t on for the first half of the class, the judge halted everything while we waited for them to be turned off,” said Hill. “I just kept reassuring Celina, and once they stopped, she surprisingly let it all go and came right back to me.” Overcoming their rocky start, the pair prevailed over a competitive field to claim the Bent Roswall Memorial Trophy on a winning score of 71.842%. “Without question, it ended up being the best test we’ve ever had,” Hill added. “She’s super talented and I love her to pieces, and that moment today was a real highlight of my career.”
In the CDS Four-Year-Old Futurity, a tough field of talented youngsters battled back and forth for scores in two different Training Level tests over two days to ultimately determine a victor. Once again it was Sarah Lockman’s Oldenburg gelding Dehavilland (Diamond Hit x Haverfords Redhawk by Hohenstein, bred in California by Redhawk Ranch) who attracted the judges’ attention to decisively win the second day’s Training Level Test 3 and claim a come-from-behind victory and the CDS Futurity Perpetual Trophy for an overall combined score of 75.498%. “I got a little greedy and made a mistake the first day,” Lockman explained. “My horse always puts in a lovely solid test and makes zero mistakes, so it was totally rider error. I came out today and said, ‘we’re going for it’, and he stepped up for me and put in an even better test.” In the Adult Amateur division, the lovely Hanoverian mare D’Hot Toddy (Domrio x Diliah) carried owner/rider Lindsay-Elisabeth Bridges of Reno, Nev. to sweep the division with an overall two-test average of 68.536% and take home the INXS Perpetual Trophy.
Championship competition continues Saturday, including the five- and six-year-old divisions of the CDS Young Horse Futurity, a multitude of USDF Regional Championships and CDS Horse of the Year classes, and special evening entertainment including musical freestyles and quadrilles.