LAHJA Medal Finals Kick Off Gold Coast 6

Bridget Conoscente comes from behind to win her first medal final. Photo: Flying Horse Photography
Bridget Conoscente comes from behind to win her first medal final. Photo: Flying Horse Photography

Third time may be the charm for most, but for Bridget Conoscente (Robyn Stiegler, trainer), once was all it took to win the LAHJA/Betsy Woods Horsemanship Finals. “This was my first medal final ever so it was a great experience just to compete, but of course to get the win made it really special,” Bridget said.

Bridget and her mount, Ed Hardy (Natalie Rae Medlock, owner), topped the field of 18 riders in the LAHJA/Betsy Woods Horsemanship Finals at Gold Coast 6/LAHJA Benefit Show (Aug 29-Sep 1) with focus and determination. “I was fifth after the first round, so I kind of had a panic attack at first because I wanted it so badly,” Bridget recounted. “So going into the second round, my goal was to remain calm. I just tried to trust my horse and act as if I were in a lesson.”

After a solid second round, Bridget headed into the work off in fourth place. The work off began with a single oxer out of a short corner and included several tight turns, a trot jump, and a halt. Bridget went first and made the work off look easy with smooth, sensible tracks. “Since I was in fourth, I just wanted to go for it,” Bridget explained. “I took what I have learned from my trainer, Robyn, and applied it in the work off. She does a great job of preparing me at home. She goes over tons of possible courses so that nothing should surprise me.”

Bridget’s preparation paid off as none of the other riders were able to match her consistency. Tali Dejong (Angel Pitton, trainer) came in second, Lexi Carson (Heatherly Davis, trainer) was third, and Eden Ritholz (Lisa Stroway, trainer) rounded out the top four. Bridget rode well all weekend long and earned reserve championships in the Equitation, 11 & Under, and the USHJA Zone 10 Stirrup Cup Finals – Equitation, 14 & Under.

Bridget’s barn mate, Laura Weske, also had great success in the equitation ring on The Architect (Erin Fry, owner). The pair was champion in the Equitation, 15 thru 17, and also champion in the USHJA Zone 10 Stirrup Cup Finals – Equitation, 15 thru 17. They also had top three placings in the CPHA Foundation Equitation Class, ASPCA Horsemanship Class, and ‘B’ LAHJA Junior Medal Class.

Sydney Hutchins wins in her last shot at the LAHJA Rosewood Medal Final. Photo: Flying Horse Photography
Sydney Hutchins wins in her last shot at the LAHJA Rosewood Medal Final. Photo: Flying Horse Photography

In the LAHJA Rosewood Medal Finals, it was Sydney Hutchins (Elvenstar Farms, trainer) and her Sorcerer who topped the leader board with their sharp equitation skills. Madison Myro (Judy Nielson, trainer) took home the red ribbon, while Finley Burger (Kasey Ament, trainer) came in third and Paris Sommerfeld (Elvenstar Farms, trainer) was fourth.

Sydney entered the work off in second place and rode a flawless test for the win. The challenging work off began with a counter canter fence, and from there, riders had to negotiate a trot fence to a hand gallop fence, several tight rollbacks, and a halt. To make the test more challenging, the riders had to face away from the ring and couldn’t watch other riders work off.

The pressure did not get to Sydney, who felt well prepared heading into the work off. “We practice a ton of equitation tests at home, especially when medal finals season comes up. At the show, we also practiced similar tests in the warm up ring so I felt prepared,” Sydney noted. “Right before I walked in, my trainer told me to remember the first and last parts of the work off, like how to return to the lineup, because those are often the things you forget when you’re concentrating on the rest of the course.”

Sydney certainly left an impression on the judges and came away with the blue ribbon. “This win was very meaningful to me because this was my last year to be eligible for the Rosewood, so I was excited that I was able to do so well,” Sydney enumerated. “I also don’t usually do many medal finals on Sorcerer, but I was able to do the finals with him this year and he was perfect.”

Sydney and Sorcerer are a terrific team and also placed second in the Washington International Equitation Class and third in the USHJA Zone 10 Stirrup Cup Finals – Equitation, 14 & Under, Over Fences. “I’ve had Sorcerer for about two years and he’s just been amazing,” Sydney said. “In addition to some of the local medal finals, I ride him in some of the jumper medals like WCE and USEF. This year, I’ll be doing my first USEF/Platinum Performance Talent Search Finals with him, so hopefully that will go well.”

While younger riders had a chance to shine in the medal finals, adult amateur Christina Bauer (Mary Gatti, trainer) proved her versatility with firsts and seconds in equitation, hunter, and jumper classes on her two horses Buccaneer and Calico Jack. “Buccaneer is my regular hunter and equitation horse and Calico Jack is my very, very green hunter. He’s only been jumping for eight months,” Christina revealed.

She and Calico Jack were champion in the ‘B’ Low Pre-Green Hunters and earned a first and second in the ‘B’ Amateur Hunters. “I got him from North Dakota when he was six months old and he’s seven now. This is his first show year and this show we were just really getting it and doing really well. I think he has turned over a new leaf!” Christina hopes to bring Calico Jack up to the “A” Adult Amateur Hunters.

With Buccaneer, Christina was reserve champion in the Stirrup Cup Finals for Adult Amateur Hunters, 36 & Over, and Equitation, 36 & Over. “I was particularly impressed with the Stirrup Cup ribbons, which I thought were beautiful,” she added.

Christina has owned Buccaneer for four years and though he is usually a hunter, he placed first, second, or third in 16 classes, which included hunters, equitation, and one 0.95M Jumper class. They were also co-champions in the Equitation, 36 and Over. “He’s filling in right now for one of my other horses, which is injured,” Christina explained. “He had big shoes to fill, but he’s been doing a great job filling in. He’s been right on the beat and I am pretty impressed with him.” The pair will take on the San Fernando Hunter Jumper Association Challenge and Foxfield Medal Finals later in the fall.

Christina has ridden for nearly four decades and has showed at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center for many of those years. “I started riding when I was six years old and I’ve been showing ever since. I’ve never stopped and now I’m 45,” Christina recounted. “Believe it or not, I showed at the first show Larry Langer hosted in Burbank. I think it was in 1980!”

The quality of competition and facility has kept Christina coming back. “I pretty much do all of the Gold Coast shows. I love the location, and the Gold Coast shows are great for earning USHJA Stirrup Cup and PCHA Region 1 points. There are always a lot more riders and more competition, which makes a big difference.”

Another adult rider, Mary Cimolino (Ginny Plancke, trainer), had a great show as well, winning both the Equitation, 36 & Over and USHJA Zone 10 Stirrup Cup Finals - Equitation, 36 & Over Co-champion with Christina on her Jovi. “I am ecstatic,” she shared. “It was a super fun show. I didn’t know I’d get the Zone 10 Stirrup Cup Championship, so that was a nice surprise. I’m leading right now for the LEGIS Gold Coast Series Championships, so I’ll be at Gold Coast 7 to hopefully win that.”

Mary has only been riding with Ginny Plancke of Everwood since July. “I am so super happy,” Mary remarked. “I love the people I’ve been showing with and I’ve made so many good friends, and the atmosphere of the Gold Coast shows is so much fun.”

Were you at Gold Coast 6? Join our Facebook contest! Post photos of you and your horse taken in our new Gold Coast Winner's Circle. At the end of the week, we will pick a winner who gets a free stall at Gold Coast 7. Photos need to be posted on the LEG Facebook page.




GET THE LATEST NEWS DELIVERED TO YOUR MAILBOX