Nor Cal Medal Finals Horse Show at New-Old Location a Hit

Hope Glynn reigns supreme in the ,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Photo: Sheri Scott
Hope Glynn reigns supreme in the ,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Photo: Sheri Scott

Returning to the spot where it originated, the Nor Cal Medal Finals Horse Show ran at Brookside Equestrian Park once again (Oct 9-13). Professional rider Hope Glynn also returned home in a manner of sorts. Though Hope and her husband Ned now own Sonoma Valley Stables in Petaluma, she hails from nearby Roseville. Brookside and the Nor Cal Medal Finals Show are nothing new for Hope as she was the 1996 Nor Cal Senior Medal Champion. With a number of students competing in the four medal finals, Hope and her team were a busy group. Thursday evening was especially eventful, as they had ten horses entered in the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby, accounting for nearly one-third of the entire class, and Hope displayed her prowess once again when she won it on Roccoco (Avery Hellman, owner).

Spectators enjoyed food and drink ringside with Brookside’s own “Octoberfest” taking place during the derby. The first round offered riders three higher options, coupled with a handful of jumps that were brought in especially for the derby like a coop and brush boxes to give the course a rustic, natural look. “Roccoco (Avery Hellman, owner) led after the first round with a 90 and was handy enough to do all the inside turns and high options to secure the win,” recalled Hope. “I hadn’t shown him in a derby for about a year, so when the Hellmans offered to take him there, I jumped at it. We had several horses in the derby ridden by my students. Paige Pastorino placed fourth aboard Crusader and Emma Townsend was eighth on CR Haribo, and they were high scoring junior and amateur riders, respectively. It was a beautiful evening and fun for spectators and riders.”

Rachel Penner and Don Juan win the beautiful Carousel Perpetual Trophy. Photo: Sheri Scott
Rachel Penner and Don Juan win the beautiful Carousel Perpetual Trophy. Photo: Sheri Scott

As a stepping stone to the USHJA National Hunter Derbies, LEG offered a Carousel Hunter Derby Series, set at an inviting 2’6” height, at its Woodside shows and culminating with the Nor Cal Medal Finals Show this season. Eleven-year-old Rachel Penner (Jill Hamilton, trainer) and Don Juan (Paseo Farms, LLC, owner) placed first or second in all of the classes they entered of the series and earned themselves the historic Carousel Perpetual Trophy, presented by Sandra McKeon.

Though the majority of the excitement during the week took place in the medal and hunter rings, the jumper riders had their fill of quality tracks and exciting victories while navigating the courses designed by Peter Holmes (Cowichan, BC). Keely Laughlin, last year’s Nor Cal Pony Final winner, has made quite the leap over the last twelve months. Aboard her own Refugio Latino, she captured the win in the $1,000 Childrens/Adult Amateur Jumper Classic. “I was on my mom’s horse and it was the first show I took him to, so it was a pretty big accomplishment,” Keely shared. “He’s only seven, so I was really proud of him. We had done okay throughout the show, so I really wanted to do well in the last class. I was really happy we got around and went clear. I took all the inside turns and took the chance to gallop when I could but then I had to balance him so he’d be ready for the next jump and not hit the rails.”

Jessica Harrell and the team from California Riding Academy definitely proved to be a powerful force in the jumper arena as well, taking home either a section championship or reserve in the .70m Jumpers, .80m Jumpers, .70 Children’s/Adult Amateur Jumpers, and the .80 Children’s/Adult Amateur Jumpers. Jessica also led the standings for the 2013 LEG Northern California Maui Trainer Incentive after Bay Area Summer Festival (June 26-30). She was thrilled to learn that at the conclusion of the show, she had officially come out on top, earning her a trip to Maui in December. The top five trainers each receive $1000.

Paris Harrell helps her mom and trainer, Jessica, win the LEG Maui Trainer Incentive. Among other accomplishments, she and Little Leo (pictured above) were Small Pony Hunter Reserve Champion. Photo: Sheri Scott
Paris Harrell helps her mom and trainer, Jessica, win the LEG Maui Trainer Incentive. Among other accomplishments, she and Little Leo (pictured above) were Small Pony Hunter Reserve Champion. Photo: Sheri Scott

“Team CRA was absolutely thrilled to hear of our LEG award and trip to Maui! We have all worked hard and it was definitely a team effort,” Jessica said. “I have an incredible team of talented and budding students; from the first-time show kids to the more seasoned competitors, everyone was a winner to us. A special thanks to Michael Traurig and his unending enthusiasm and outstanding wins and coaching in the jumper and derby rings. The Nor Cal show grounds at Brookside were fantastic and Bill [Madden] was a lovely and generous host. Woodside, as always, is hard to beat; but every location this year had fantastic staff. From the gates to the office, I don’t think I met one person I didn’t like.”

In addition to all of the great classes and the Octoberfest party during the derby, there was a horse show party to enjoy each night. Wednesday night featured “Wine Down Wednesday” at the new Brookside Pavilion, adjacent to the Jumper Arena. Friday evening featured a draw party for the Nor Cal Medal Finalists, as well as a dinner for the show exhibitors followed by the always popular Horse Show Idol. The vocal talents of many Northern California riders could be heard echoing throughout the property, including but not limited to Nor Cal President Cindi Perez, as well as trainers Michael Traurig and Ned Glynn.

The combination of special events, technical courses, and superb hospitality did not go unrecognized, even for trainers who are accustomed to showing at Brookside. Debbie Stone trains out of Brookside, running Nighthorse Farm with the assistance of her daughter, Haley Stone. A fixture at almost every hunter/jumper show that the facility hosts, Stone noted some refreshing qualities of the Nor Cal Finals Show in particular. “Ben did an incredible job technically and visually designing the courses. I really liked that there was a variety of different jumps, which always seemed to add a fun element to the courses. The footing was good. Plus, if you put Bill Madden and Peggy Fackrell together, you know there will be a party!”

The Elk Grove facility, which is widely revered for its hospitality and customer service, features an on-site bar and restaurant, pool, complementary trailer unloading assistance, and nightly events for the trainers and exhibitors. With Peggy Fackrell taking the reins as this year’s show manager for Langer Equestrian Group and teaming up with facility owner Bill Madden, the event had a nostalgic feel that coupled with an energizing sense of new tradition.

“It was so much fun managing the show I have been a part of so many times in past years,” Peggy commented. “It was also an honor to manage the event that showcases the most important medal finals in Northern California. Being a native born Northern Californian, I take very seriously the traditions and events of our area. I think it was a great show with perfect weather, perfect conditions and perfect exhibitors. I want to extend my thanks to Nor Cal Hunter Jumper Association and Langer Equestrian Group for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great event.”

Amidst the fun of the parties, the traditions that have been perfected by the Nor Cal Hunter Jumper Association over the years remained steadfast, and their efforts did not go unnoticed. “This year’s Nor Cal Finals Show was a pleasure to be a part of,” noted Nicole Bloom of Round Meadow Farm. “This show always does a great job of organizing all the special classes, especially the medal finals. The ‘swag’ the finalists get is great.” Admitting she herself still has Nor Cal hats dating back 15 years, Nicole noted that this show in particular is an annual barn favorite.

Horse showing continues in Southern California with Gold Coast 7 (Oct 17-20) at LAEC and Verdugo Hills League Preview (Oct 25 – 26) at Hansen Dam. The year-end fun is just getting started, with many finals and Pony Palooza to look forward to at National Preview (Oct 30 - Nov 3) and the Los Angeles National Horse Show (Nov 6 – 10), so get your entries in!