Markel/Cornerstone High Point Series Winners at the Festival of the Horse Burbank

Amateur in the Spotlight - Leah Forrest and Winnica M Jump Right In

Even the massive LA brush fire which made national news, during the Festival of the Horse, did not upset her horse, although Leah Forrest said she felt that she lost a bit of concentration and was very grateful the fire was put out so quickly.

Forrest won all three of her classes at Training and First levels, to win the Markel/Cornerstone High Point Coller with the 71.60 percent in her Training Level Test 4. She said her plan is to qualify for the CDFS and USDF Championships later this year. " But we may try for Second Level. I've been schooling the other horses around this level, and this mare has the most wonderful mind."

Some people regard dressage as art, others as analytical and competitive. The high score winner for the amateur category can see both the artistic and analytical sides of life, and dressage. Leah Forrest has a B. A. in Fine Arts and a Doctorate in Law.

Forrest rode as a child, stopped while growing up, and started again "about six years ago," she said in a precise and charming manner. She started back competing in the jumper division and still shows in the 3'6" - 3'9" divisions.

"But the jumpers are Warmbloods," she explained, " and they need some extra suppleness and strength technique." Her jumper trainer recommended well-known FEI trainer, Donna Richardson (most recently in the League Finals with her well-regarded Dutch gelding, Jazzman).

Forrest started working with Richardson three years ago, and said her jumpers are working 'about Second Level." But they are jumpers. So roughly one month ago, Richardson found a horse for sale, Winnica M, a 12-year old Weltmeyer mare. Forrest tried her, liked her, and bought her. Festival of the Horse was their first show together.

Forrest giggled when she said, "Well, Donna was going to the show. So we thought, 'Why not?' And I guess it worked. Dressage – just jump in!"

She said she is used to setting goals for herself, both short and long-range. The good part of dressage, "is trying for the harmony of communication. With Winnica M, this is just starting to develop."

She admitted that getting ready for dressage shows means that she cuts back a bit on jumping, but has no plans to give either sport up. " If you are going to dream, " she said, "you might as well dream big. Whether you are thinking in terms of life or horses."

McCool Photo: Cornerstone Management Jennifer Killinger presents the Markel/Cornerstone High Point Series cooler to Leah Forrest and Winnica M

Check out the growing list of Dressage Riders in California, winners of the popular Markel/Cornerstone High Point Series, with more to come!

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