Parker, CO - The Colorado Horse Park hosted the Area IX Championships in conjunction with its Fall Horse Trials on Oct. 12-13. Entries were high as riders from across the region came to compete for championship titles at Beginner Novice through Intermediate levels.
Kathy Cain of Park City, UT, rode Legal Limit to the Intermediate Championship. Their strong performance in dressage earned them a score of 29.6 penalties and put them in the lead after the first phase. They dropped one rail in show jumping, but had a clean and fast cross-country run to finish on a score of 33.6 and secure their win over second-place finishers Hailey Rich and Kingfisher II.
"The Colorado Horse Park is a fabulous facility," Cain said. "We weren't planning on doing the championships, but it just fell into our calendar perfectly, knowing it would be a great course and it's lovely in the fall."
She said the cross-country course, designed by James Atkinson, was a good fit for Legal Limit, a 10-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred. "My horse was absolutely wonderful around the course. I thought there were lots of good questions but it was a nice galloping course - that's why I like the Colorado Horse Park. It's a good challenge, with different terrain and hills and going in and out of the trees."
Cain is pointing Legal Limit for the Galway Downs CCI2* in Temecula, CA, Oct. 31-Nov. 3. "The run in Colorado was a great setup for doing the 2*," Cain noted. "I think my horse came away confident and ready to tackle the next step. The best part of the weekend was his dressage score, which we had been struggling with all season. That was the biggest thrill, to improve on it and have a competitive score. We're putting all the pieces together."
Rochelle Costanza and Lionhart claimed the Preliminary Championship, finishing on a score of 37.7. They had one rail and two time penalties in show jumping to add six penalties to their dressage score of 31.7. Summer Peterson and Tim took second place with a score of 42.2.
Costanza has owned the 8-year-old Lionhart since he was 3 and has brought him up through the ranks. She is the trainer at Platinum Farms in Franktown, CO, and had 13 of her students competing as well.
"I really like the venue," she said. "My horse has run there quite a bit so he was pretty comfortable, and the footing was good so it was easy to gallop and make the time. There are three waters, which is fun."
"You have real dressage arenas for the dressage," she continued. "We have the ability to use the derby arena for jumping and that's a really fun arena. It's a neat venue and people like to sit in the grandstands. The cross-country course is one of the few that's big enough so you can get galloping - horses really like it. It's everyone's favorite venue in this area, and they did a great job organizing everything."
Costanza's goal with Lionhart is to complete a 1* event next year and possibly step up to Intermediate.
A large field of 17 horses and riders came out for the Training Championship, and it was a close battle for first place. Angelika Beutel and Varekai earned an impressive dressage score of 23.2 penalties, putting them into a clear lead after the first phase. A rail in stadium jumping over a challenging course designed by Brian Curry opened the door for challengers going into cross country, but Beutel and Varekai held on to first place with a clear cross-country effort.
"He's one that I just got in August, so he's new to me, but he's done really well," Beutel said of Varekai. "He was really good in the dressage. In the stadium course, we had a rail, but many others had a rail as well."
"The cross-country course was pretty tough, which I think is nice for championships," she continued. "I think they did a great job mixing it up from the courses this spring. The cross-country was a lot of fun and he jumped around really well."
Beutel, who lives in Longmont, CO, brought several students to compete and was happy with their results. "It was a great weekend for us," she said. "My students did really well."
"I think it's one of the nicest horse trials we have here," Beutel added. "Vivien always does a great job putting on the show. The food was great, the organization was great and all of the volunteers are awesome."
Organizer Vivien Van Buren said the weekend was a success. "It really went well - I was extremely pleased. I had a great team who worked with me to make it happen. The cross country and stadium jumping courses, designed by James Atkinson and Brian Curry respectively, were excellent for championships and regular horse trials alike and rode very well."
The Novice Championship went to Linda Quist and Belle Gambe with a score of 27.5. Anna Weatherford and Inspired Edition finished second with 31.5. Lauren Jost and Wink at the Judge took the Beginner Novice Championship, scoring 28.1 penalties to finish on top in a competitive division of 26 pairs.
Riders also competed in non-championship divisions at Beginner Novice through Intermediate. Amanda Hund and Pik Pilot won the Open Intermediate while Madeline Backus and P.S. Arianna won the Open Preliminary.
Other weekend winners included Reed Ayers and De Rien (Open Training), Ashlee Ashlock and Indy 500 (Training Rider), Julianne Calder and Lismore (Open Novice), Laura Baxter and Clearwater Bandit (Novice Rider), Lauren Patton and Ricky (Open Beginner Novice), Melinda Hofmeister and Ashes West (Beginner Novice Rider), and Kayla Gunsauls and Jellybean (Jr. Beginner Novice Rider).
View full results: http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/15408.html