in 1995 as part of the Volvo World Cup Finals, the Festival of the Horse (March 30 – April 2) has become one of the largest dressage shows in Southern California. Cornerstone Event Management strives to combine top competition with special activities surrounding the show. “The sponsors play a large part on the success of the Festival,” said Glenda McElroy, Festival manager. “We try to find a niche for all our sponsors; Markel Insurance, a long time partner, sponsors the High Point coolers, LA Saddlery the exhibitor welcome party, Marta Kauffman the Head Set Commentary, and so on. This year one of the new events that we added was the book signing with Stephen Clarke (FEI O judge) to introduce his new book, Dressage Dreams. We try to provide fun social activities as well as top competition.” And exhibitors seem to agree.
The Festival of the Horse CDI draws horses and riders from all over the Western United States and Canada, with the timing of the show making travel easier than those earlier in the year as the winter weather wanes. In fact, when the CDI filled to the limit of 40 horses, Cornerstone applied for and received permission to include two additional horses. There were also 196 horses in the open show, and some of the brightest stars at the show hailed from Southern California.
David Wilson and Special Agent: Markel/Cornerstone High Point Open Cooler Winners
David Wilson of W Farms (Chino Hills, CA) had the distinction of earning the highest score not only of the show, but of his career. After earning a respectable score of 76% on Friday in his First Level test, Wilson asked Special Agent (Kathryn Phillips, owner) to kick it up a notch and the big stallion delivered—earning an 82.286% and winning the Markel/Cornerstone High Point Open cooler. “He’s a phenomenal horse,” said Wilson of the five-year-old Oldenburg by Sandro Hit. “Just when you think you have enough, he gives you more.”
Wilson imported Special Agent from Germany in December, when Phillips told him she wanted a special horse. Although horse and trainer are still getting to know each other, Wilson discovered a fun trait of the stallion. If you rub his muzzle, he’ll stick his tongue out the front of his mouth and let you hold it.
“The Festival of the Horse has always been a nice show for me,” Wilson said of the show. “The judging was really good, the show was run well, and everything went smoothly.”
Jan Ebeling Sweeps CDI Grand Prix
Jan Ebeling and two horses, Sandrina and Rafalca (Ann Romney, Beth Meyer, Pat Crow and Amy Ebeling, owners) rose to the top of almost every class they competed in. In the CDI Grand Prix, Rafalca earned 67.532% for the win, followed closely by Sandrina with 67.064%. Ebeling then rode Rafalca in the Grand Prix Special and came in second with 68.167%, and he won the Grand Prix Freestyle on Sandrina with 70.850%--a full five percentage points above the second place team.
“Sandrina was a big surprise,” Ebeling noted. “We knew she was a good horse, but we didn’t expect her to do so well in her second CDI Grand Prix.” Sandrina had only competed in one open Grand Prix before her two CDI rides. “The judges were very complimentary,” he went on to say. “She received 8s on her passage. It was very, very exciting. This is a horse with a great future.”
The group bought Rafalca at the same time as Sandrina, although she has been competing in Grand Prix longer. “Every year, Rafalca gets a little better,” Ebeling explained. “We’re working on getting her stronger and getting her so she’s as good at the show as she is at home.” He went on to say, “She gets a little better every time she gets out. She’s more settled in her most difficult movements, piaffe and passage. Her overall strength has improved, she’s carrying more behind, has more self carriage, and is more balanced.” He shared that the two mares love to travel together, and if one leaves without the other, the one left behind gets mad and will buck and kick in her stall.
As for The Festival of the Horse, he said, “It’s a really nice show with a great atmosphere. The management is good—Glenda knows what she’s doing.”
Ebeling’s student Ann Romney (part owner of Sandrina and Rafalca) rode her Happy Day to a second place finish in the Prix St. Georges Amateur/Junior/Young Rider class with a 60.526% on Friday and a third on Wednesday with 60%. Ebeling also rode Amanda Harlan’s young horse Rosenzauber 8 (“Rosie”) in the Developing Horse Prix St. Georges test, earning 69.714% in the warm-up and 67% in the Qualifying class. “She did awesome,” gushed Harlan. “She’s still so green, but she’s really coming along. I’m so proud of her, and it was really neat to see Jan show her.” While Harlan was also supposed to show her other horse, her ride times conflicted with school and she had to scratch. “School comes first,” she explained.
Rosie will be eight this year, and Harlan said that she is “the sweetest horse” and “doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.” She loves to lie down and be cuddled so much that the groom braided her for the show while the mare reclined in comfort. Harlan also appreciates the helpful office staff at The Festival of the Horse. “The office staff is a big help, and the show is run really well.”
Marisa Festerling and Big Tyme Ready for the Big Time
Marisa Festerling took her Big Tyme through the CDI Prix St. Georges test with great skill, earning a 68.596 and second place in this large class. Festerling was less than two percentage points behind Olympian Steffen Peters. She repeated the feat in the Intermediaire I class, garnering a 68.947. However, the Intermediaire Freestyle was all hers, and she took it with 71.750%.
“I think that his gaits, his intelligence, and his beauty are what make him such a special dressage horse,” explained Festerling. “We hope to qualify for the Festival of Champions at the Intermediaire I level this year in Gladstone, NJ, and hope that he becomes a successful Grand Prix horse in the future. He had a very successful Young Horse career and represented the U.S. at the FEI World Breeding Championships in Vereden, Germany in 2006, so our goal is to progress now at the FEI level.”
Festerling has trained with Marie Meyers for 16 years and has been her assistant for many of those years. Their student Suzanne Smith, riding Kasanova, was Upper Level Amateur High Percentage Champion thanks to her score of 64.419% in Fourth Level. The pair won both of their Fourth Level Test 1 classes.
Festerling noted that she likes showing at The Festival of the Horse because, “The show is usually a qualifier for many USEF programs or a CDI, and it happens at a good time during the year, so we usually try to make it one of our shows.”
The next Cornerstone Dressage shows will head to Parker, Colorado for Dressage at the Horse Park I, II and III (April 30 - May 2), and then on to Woodside, California for the Woodside Spring Dressage (May 21 – 23), before returning home for Dressage at Flintridge (May 28 – 30) in Flintridge, California. For more information, schedules, and complete results, visit the Cornerstone website.
Grand Prix Results:
1. Jan Ebeling/Rafalca 67.532%
2. Jan Ebeling/Sandrina 67.064%
3. Gunter Seidel/U II 66.085%
4. Elizabeth Ball/Orion 66.000%
5. Wendy Christoff/Pfalstaff 65.830%
Grand Prix Freestyle Results:
1. Jan Ebeling/Sandrina 70.850%
2. Jo Moran/Minna 65.800%
3. Kathy Pavlich/Komo 65.750%
4. Alisa Wilson/Weltclassiker 65.600%
Grand Prix Special Results:
1. Gunter Seidel/U II 69.875
2. Jan Ebeling/Rafalca 68.167
3. Elizabeth Ball/Orion 63.583
4. Christine Traurig/Sambuca 62.875
4. Wendy Christoff/Pfalstaff 62.875