The first round of coveted titles were presented on Thursday as the 49th Annual California Dressage Society (CDS) Annual Championship Show, being held September 29-October 2, got underway at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank. Once again featuring the GAIG/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Region 7 Championships as well as the GAIG//USDF Breeders Championships West Coast Series Final, this year’s record-setting competition showcases the talents of 370 competitors from up and down the West Coast and Southwest across a multitude of CDS and USDF championship divisions.
The very first GAIG//USDF Region 7 Championship sash of the year was presented to Diane Abraham of Los Gatos, Cal. (Santa Cruz Chapter) who cruised to an easy victory with her Oldenburg mare Dasha, earning 74.917% for their Beach Boys-themed First Level Freestyle. Despite being only six years old, the lovely gray remained calm, cool and collected in the imposing atmosphere of the Equidome. “It was just fun today,” said Abraham. “It was a joy to do our freestyle, and she internalizes the music so she had a good time too. It’s also really special to me because the medley is sung by the University of Rochester Yellow Jackets and it’s my daughter’s boyfriend singing the music, so it’s all in the family.”
Kendall Brookhart of Cave Creek, Ariz. may have been a long way from home, but she stayed close to the winner’s circle as she rode Rianna to claim the Region 7 Second Level Freestyle Championship. With music by Madonna perfectly matching the elegant Oldenburg mare’s gaits, the pair earned the win with 70.917%. “Her canter work was so super and her trot is amazing,” said Brookhart. “It’s so special to do this on a horse that I bred and raised – I still have her mother, and she has two younger sisters coming up too.”
At Third Level, Paula Paglia of Scottsdale, Ariz. (San Diego Chapter) earned the narrow victory in a hard fought freestyle battle by earning 73.667% with Sherrill Tripp’s elegant black Oldenburg mare Slipstream for their ABBA-themed performance. “I didn’t have a very good warm-up ride yesterday, but today we got it together and we were both more focused to get the job done,” Paglia explained. “She was really with me and I felt like it was going to be a good ride as soon as I entered the ring.”
Kristen Aggers of Windsor, Cal. (Sonoma Chapter) also had a good ride with Victoria Andrews’ black Andalusian gelding Arturo to earn 73.000% and win the Fourth Level Freestyle Championship title. “We hit all of our music points and it just flowed,” she noted. “We use songs from One Republic because I love the message about living life to its fullest and enjoying every moment. It really resonates with me, and I’m so proud of him today.”
Less than one-tenth of a point and a toe-tapping routine was all Lucia Rapalyea of Yucaipa, Cal. (Inland Communities Chapter) needed to claim the Intermediaire Freestyle title with Amani (69.438%), who she’s brought along since the Dutch gelding was just three years old. “I had a great warm-up with my coach Kathy Pavlich and then he went in and was really relaxed in the Equidome, so I had a great ride. He loves his music and I think he felt at home as soon as he heard it,” said Rapalyea.
Thursday afternoon featured in-hand sport horse breeding competition with the GAIG//USDF Breeders Championships-West Coast Final. For the Current Year Foal Championship, the adorable Shagya Arabian filly Bajara Silver SH (Sterling Silver AF x Brook PFF by Bold Bravo AF) earned top honors for owner/breeder Shelley Child with 72.550%.
In the hotly-contested GAIG//USDFBC Filly Championship division, judges Melissa Creswick and Carter Bass rewarded Bryce Quinto’s two-year-old Oldenburg mare Dendera (Destano x Reika by Fidertanz) with a top score of 79.150% for the win.
Sherrill Tripp’s U.S.-bred Oldenburg mare Slipstream (Sir Donnerhall x Red Hawk’s Picoletta by Pik’s Pride, bred by Red Hawk Ranch) also impressed the judges, earning the biggest in-hand score of the day with 84.750% in the Mare Championship class.
Hidden Springs Ranch’s yearling Oldenburg colt Leander HSR (Lord Carnaby x Haverford’s Red Hawk by Hohenstein, bred in the U.S. by Anita Nardine) bested the boys in the Colt/Gelding Championship with 81.000%, while Karen Cornelius’ four-year-old Hanoverian stallion Fiderello (Fidertanz x Dancing Queen by Diorello, bred in the U.S. by Bjoern Kommerell) won top Stallion division honors with 78.050%.
The show also featured the debut of the GAIG//USDFBC Materiale Championship classes, where Ashlyn DeGroot rode Margaret Young’s Oldenburg filly Cremona (Franziskus x Cassis by Diamond Hit) to win the three-year-old division with 78.200% while Amy Ewing rode the U.S.-bred Oldenburg mare First Belle (Fuerstenball x Leonora by Chenook) earned an impressive score of 87.900% to win the four/five-year-old class title for owner/breeder Dr. Linda R. Wudl.
Wrapping up a busy first day of competition across six arenas was the CDS Adult Amateur Dressage Seat Equitation Challenge, where Frankie Thieriot Stutes of Occidental, Cal. (Sonoma Chapter) rode her black Oldenburg gelding Chatwin straight to the winner’s circle. “We thought it was a very strong class with riders who rode well, sat well, and were very in tune with their horses,” said judge Joan Macartney. “But it was the winner’s equitation skills that put her on top. She was very elegant, the horse was totally in front of her aids and into a soft contact, and she showed her horse to an advantage. There was total harmony between the two and it was very pleasing to watch.”
Fellow official Bill Warren agreed, and applauded both competitors and show organizers for promoting equitation classes. “I think a lot of people mistakenly think these classes are only for kids, but it’s important for everyone to have good equitation,” Warren explained. “I’m a stickler for position, and I believe that without the proper skills, you can’t train a horse let alone yourself nor can you progress through the levels properly. So it was great to see so many riders participate in this class and I applaud all of them for a job well done.”