Mid Winter Dressage Fair at Los Angeles Equestrian Center

Young Horse Talent Emerges in California
By Lita Dove for DressageDaily

The Markel Adult Amateur High Point proved to be Sandy Harper riding her own Walking On Sunshine, a young Hanoverian mare recently bought at the Verden Auction in 2006. "She will be 4 years old on March 16," says a very proud Sandy Harper. " She came out of quarantine in November, and we took her to the LAEC show in February--so Mid-Winter is her second show."

Harper has worked with FEI trainers David Wightman and Kathleen Raine since the early 1990's. (Raine represented the US at the Olympics and World Cup, David has been to World Young Horse Championships and just started the Grand Prix with his promising horse, Partous). Walking on Sunshine is related to Raine's mare, Breanna--which means she is also related to Brentina. "We're not really ready to show," confides harper, "but she is just so easy--she just gets out there and does the job."

McCool Photo of Sandra Harper with Markel's John Seger

Harper has several horses, almost all of them bought as youngsters and trained up the levels by herself--and she says this is the best part of dressage. " Feeling the improvement as the schooling goes on--knowing that, wow!, a month ago we couldn't do this!--that's the best reward."

Maria Lind Dickerson and the well-named Superman won the Open High Point. Superman is a 5 year old Oldenburg (Sunny Box x Landfrieden) owned by Dickerson friend and client, Glenn Lajewski. Dickerson's coach, FEI trainer Marie Meyers, found the horse in Holland. "When he arrived here," says Dickerson, he had no name--just a tag reading 'Sunny Boy gelding'. "

The more Meyers and Dickerson saw of the horse, the more they made up their minds to call him Superman. "Indoors, outdoors, on the freeway," laughs Dickerson, " he doesn't care. he has the best mind ever. Last year, he was 2nd in the nation USDF Training Level. He arrived in May, started showing in June, stays happy."

The plans for this year are to do the FEI 5 Year old Classes, starting with Dressage Affaire next week, then there Scott Hassler Young Horse Clinic as preparation for the Festival of the Horse. The clinic is at LAEC, Dickerson points out, so Superman will not have to travel too much, and in between can have nice hacks around the facility.

Dickerson, who has her USDF Bronze and Silver medals and is working on final score for Gold, bases her business at Equine Performance Center (EPC) a barn away from that of coach Marie Meyers, in Moorpark, California-- a small horsy town that has an entire roster of top dressage trainers .

Kristina Harrison-Naness Goes Baroque - Jan Ebeling Has Powerful Stable
By Lita Dove for DressageDaily

The Open Grand Prix was won by Kristina Harrison-Naness on Rociero XV--and as his name suggests, this is a PRE Pura Raza Español stallion. "He is the horse of my life", says Harrison-Naness, who represented the U.S. for team gold at the 2003 Pan-American Games. Last year, the pair were 2nd nationally in USDF Intermediaire II, and this year, they have begun showing the Grand Prix.

Rociero VX (Rociero VIII x Bombardina II) is owned by Symphony Farms in Auburn, California. Farm owner Margaret Carrera bought the then 6-year-old stallion from Spain on the advice of FEI trainer and rider Juan Matute. Last year, Carrera contacted Harrison-Naness to see if she would be interested in showing Rociero.

"I watched the video, and as soon as I saw him-- I knew this was my horse," says Harrison-Naness. "It was his eyes, his face--even on the video, you could tell how intense and focused this horse was. And he is like that in real life. He comes out every day the same, very consistent in the work."

She showed him to long-time coach, Olympian Debbie McDonald, and together they agreed-- a good horse is a good horse. "I ride him exactly as I would any other horse, " says Harrison-Naness. "He does not really have any weak spots in his basics."

What do they work on? Harrison-Naness laughs. " Connection. Throughness." She says that she did go last year for one solid month to McDonald's base in Idaho, and felt the systematic work is really beginning to pay off. The talented pair won the Open Grand Prix classes at LAEC's Winter Dressage show in February. Their next show will be Festival of the Horse, where they will compete in the CDI High Performance division of Grand Prix for the first time, and will try to qualify for the finals at the USEF festival of Champions in Gladstone, New Jersey in June.

Also on the leaderboard at the show was Harrison-Naness' Pan-Am teammate, Jan Ebeling. With Raffalca, he was unbeatable at Intermediaire II, and says that his time spent training with coach Klaus Balkenhol really helped him to focus and prepare for the upcoming show season. "The United States is so fortunate to have a coach of this caliber," says Ebeling., whose own trainers have included the legendary Herbert Rehbein and Harry Boldt.

Raffalca is schooling all the Grand Prix, says Ebeling, but Mid-Winter was only the second and third Intermediaire II tests she has done, and he wants her to feel everything is easy, so will wait to bring her out at Grand Prix later in the show season.

He is aiming another of his mares, Sandrina, for the Pan-American trials. Doing well in the open division of the small tour was an 18-hand gelding, Waterford, that Jan first met as a 6-year-old. Known as "Bentley" around the barn, the very talented Weltmayer gelding was only recently purchased for Ebeling to ride, and has just started back in the show ring .

"I am so fortunate with these horses, " notes Ebeling. Looking at his wife, Amy, and their son, Benny, he smiles. "Life is good."


Harmony’s Sandro Rides For The 10
by Trysta A. Bissett

The cleverly nicknamed “Golden Arches” of judging--Jeanne McDonald, Lorraine Macdonald, and Joan Macartney--couldn’t stop raving about the performance given by Harmony’s Sandro at the Mid-Winter Dressage Fair. The 10 year old Oldenburg gelding won the High Performance Prix St. Georges with a score of 73.083 and the High Performance Intermediaire I with a 72.083. “He rode for the 10 and was the clear winner in both classes,” according to Joan Macartney. Lorraine MacDonald agreed, “He is elastic and fun to watch.” Sandro’s rider for the past two years, Leslie Webb, attributes the horse’s success to his incredible movement. “He’s all leg,” she said of her petitebodied mount.

Sandro is owned by Harmony Sporthorses of Kiowa, Colorado. Leslie Malone was on a shopping trip in Europe when she just happened upon Sandro, who was a stallion at the time. Malone was drawn to his “presence and strong hind leg.” Sandro’s sire, Sandro Hit, is one of Germany’s most sought-after stallions, having produced World Cup competitor Salieri and many other up and coming young horses. Webb admitted, “It was a big change [for Sandro] coming from Europe, and it took a while for us to trust each other.” But it didn’t take long for the pair to make an impression. Webb and Sandro were 2006 Region 7 Champions in the Open Prix St. Georges CDS Horse of the Year, winning over the other competitors by a solid four-point lead. This year, Sandro and Webb are preparing for Grand Prix and plan to try out for the Pan Am Games.

Listening to Webb chuckle about the 17.1-hand wonder, it sounds like the real fun in watching Sandro happens outside of the show ring. “In the stable area, he will stick his head out and tilt it to the right so you can scratch his chin. That’s his signature.” Always in need of attention, Sandro won’t hesitate to lick his human companions. “He’s worse than any dog I’ve met,” laughed Webb. Even after a hard workout, Sandro is a big mover. He makes the most of his pasture time by rolling and then bucking for a good five to ten minutes. But there’s nothing Sandro loves more than a good scratching from his favorite tree. “When we see the tree shaking in the field,” Webb mused, “we know what he’s up to.”