The Los Angeles Hunter Jumper Association holds two of its five medal finals at the annual Gold Coast 6 show: the LAHJA Horsemanship Finals and the Rosewood Medal Finals. LAHJA has a comprehensive set of medal classes, with the LAHJA Horsemanship serving as an entry level final for both amateur and junior riders with fences set at 2’9” to 3’0”. Stephen DeFisher did a masterful job with the courses by offering challenging options for the more advanced riders and allowing the less experienced riders to take a slightly easier track. The Rosewood is one of three fourteen and under medal classes in California and the various finals are held at 3’3”. The Rosewood is also held in an indoor setting, thus giving riders heading east an opportunity to gain valuable indoor experience.
This year Elvenstar students led both victory gallops. Henley Atkins was fourth after the first round of the LAHJA Horsemanship Final. “The first round, we were just getting used to it. The fences were lower than we had been jumping at home.” She came back in the second round, posted a solid performance, and moved into the lead going to the work off. For the work off, the top four riders had to hand gallop a jump. There were also two lines and the riders had to pick the shortest route between the lines, weaving their way past other jumps. To get the shortest distance, they had to use inside turns, and quick transitions. Next, there was a trot jump, halt, and posting trot back to line.
Atkins rode an accurate work off test and held on to her lead. She gave credit to her horse, Wupicor a horse she has had for almost two years. “He’s almost like a human; he understands what needs to be done. He’s better at equitation than hunters so we’ll keep on doing equitation.” Atkins’ parents were on hand to cheer for their daughter.
In the LAHJA Rosewood Finals, Olivia Esse rose to the top with polished riding. “The Rosewood work off wasn’t too hard,” stated Esse. “There was an in and out, a trot jump, a bounce, a hand gallop, and two lead changes on judges’ side of the arena.” However, she was worried about the trot jump. “There was only a four point gap going into the work off. I wanted a good forward distance for the hand gallop jump. Guns and Roses has great rhythm, is very brave and scopey, and he’s always cooperative.” Esse also nailed the trot jump she was concerned about. “Hopefully I will go to Harrisburg and do the USEF finals using one of my jumpers.”
Elvenstar head trainer Jim Hagman explained that their focus is on basics. “Everything about Elvenstar is about basics. We work on pace, staying on track, and balance. We are old fashioned. Olivia is the seventh rider from Elvenstar to win the Rosewood.” Esse is petite and Hagman noted that she is little for horses. “Olivia has quite a record. She’s very consistent. With the technical courses the riders have to know their horses well. Both Olivia and Henley are terrific students with excellent concentration.”
Olivia Champ, who trains with Peter Lombardo has put everyone on notice that she is someone to watch for the future. Two weeks ago she finished in the top four of the CPHA Foundation Final, and the eleven and under rider finished 4th in the Rosewood. All three of the other riders were in their final year of eligibility to ride in the Rosewood. Champ showed great poise and promises to be a serious contender in the Onondarka Finals later this year held during the Los Angeles National in November.