The San Francisco Peninsula Chapter (SFP), a charter chapter and one of the largest chapters in the California Dressage Society (CDS), is making some significant changes – and the impact was already being felt at its annual show, held June 8th-9th at Gilroy Gaits Equestrian Center in Hollister, CA. SFP-CDS has several new board members, all of whom are very active in the equestrian community. The new board members are Katie Hoefs-Martin, Kelly Douglas and Karen Cate. Said Gigi Cunliffe, Chapter Chair, “New Board Members always bring fresh enthusiasm, ideas and viewpoints. Something extra these new board members bring is experience: they are all competitors, either as a trainer, rider, and/or owner/sponsor.” According to Cunliffe, the SFP’s primary goal is to improve the quality of all of its member activities. For example, in 2012 the SFP sponsored a symposium with Debbie McDonald, U.S. Olympic and World Equestrian Games medalist, World Cup champion, and U.S. Developing Dressage Coach. The Chapter now also hosts four clinics a year with Lisa Wilcox, U.S. Dressage Olympian. Moving forward, the SFP intends to bring in other top quality clinicians.
Another of the SFP’s goals is to host two Level 3 Dressage Shows each year – a goal that has required the chapter to substantially up-level the quality of its shows in every way. Said Cunliffe, “To achieve Level 3 status with our shows, the chapter first had to find a new show venue, which is difficult. A Level 3 venue must have two to three arenas, ample stabling, comfortable viewing for spectators and good footing.”
Said Michele Deluna, Chapter Vice Chair, “We originally hoped that we could host our shows at The Horse Park at Woodside, but the venue’s other contractual obligations won’t allow it. Fortunately, we found all of the elements we needed at Gilroy Gaits.”
Gilroy Gaits is a high quality equestrian facility located on 500 acres in Hollister, CA. The facility offers 12x16 pro-mat stalls with four crossties in each barn, five 150'x 275' arenas, including three with all-weather footing, and a lighted state-of-the art 140' x 300' indoor arena with wind walls for seasonal changes.
In the past the SFP’s annual show offered numerous perpetual trophies, some of which were won by competitors such as Debbie McDonald. “The SFP Chapter show used to be a show people came to from all over,” said Deluna. “It was very prestigious to win one of our trophies. It was a show that top riders planned their show season around. We want to re-gain our reputation.”
The SFP’s 46th Annual Show, and its first Level 3 show, was held this past weekend, June 8th-9th. Judges included “O” Judge Francis Verbeek from The Netherlands and “S” Judge Janet Curtis, from Laguna Hills CA.
By all measures, the show was a success, with twice as many entries as previous years and upper-level competitors from the SFP, Gavilan, East Bay, Santa Cruz, and Carmel chapters attracting spectators. Said Deluna, “For the first time, the chapter offered cash prizes to winners of the freestyle classes – something that was made possible by a generous sponsorship from former board member, Judy Nagy.”
To top it off the show made money. “This was a big concern for the board because we took on much bigger expenses this year and I think we had a much better show because of it,” said Deluna. “Our goal with trying a new facility was to try to bring the upper level riders to us and bring big name trainers – and we succeeded.
The SFP is also sponsoring a clinic series with Francis Verbeek June 11-15th.
"I love this facility,” said Heidi Gaian. I didn’t participate in the previous chapter shows because I didn't care for the show facility. But Gilroy Gaits is a competitor’s dream.”
“The stalls are amazing and my horses were very comfortable, said Margie Lee. “The whole environment was great – and that makes showing more fun and less stressful!”
Profits from SFP shows go back into education such as clinics and lectures for the chapter. “With the money we’ve made, we can now afford to bring in top notch clinicians and do a similar type of program as we did with Debbie McDonald,” said Deluna. “Those types of programs are expensive, but a great way to educate our riders.”
In summing up the success of the SFP’s annual show, Cunliffe said, “Gilroy Gaits is a beautiful facility and a great choice for our annual show. We saw a lot of new faces at this year, and everyone was excited about our future shows!”
For show results: http://www.sfpcds.org