Alicyn Roy (Kim Tasker, trainer) showed how amateurs can hold their own against the professionals in the $1,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby at the LA Finale (Nov 13-16). She piloted her Evermore to the victory, taking top honors in a competitive field. “Evermore is pretty new to me,” Alicyn explained. “This was his first hunter derby and my first time winning one. Evermore is very brave and talented, but still new to showing so we’re both getting a lot out of training each other. It’s fun when there is progress every time out. I love to bring along green horses.”
After the first round, Nicole Husky was in the lead aboard Too Cool (Reeve Sykes, owner) with a score of 89, four points ahead of Alicyn’s 85. Nicole had a near flawless second round until a rail dropped them out of the top placings. Alicyn and Evermore stayed strong by scoring an 87.5 in the second round and vaulting to the top of the second round to clinch the win overall.
Alicyn also won the award for being the top amateur rider in the class. “It’s no pressure to go against the pros when you don't plan on beating them,” Alicyn joked. “I just wanted to put in the best rounds I could to make my horse’s first hunter derby a positive experience. My horse has a lot of jump, so my plan was to keep my first round as smooth as possible between the jumps then to show off my horse’s handiness and gallop in the second round.”
Not only did Alicyn excel in the hunter ring, but she also did well in equitation, earning a third place in the LEGIS League Adult Medal Final behind Deborah Scanlon Walsh (Alanna Snowden, trainer) and Joann Niffenegger (Kim Tasker, trainer). “There was a fence right by the judges,” course designer Brett Starnes explained of the medal final course. “There was no set distance, so they could be as handy as they wanted and really shine. They had options. They could have done whatever they wanted in that turn right in front of the judges.”
Being handy was no problem for Alicyn. “Anyone who rides with me at home knows that I have never met an inside option I didn’t like,” she said with a smile. “This class was no exception. Going into the work off, we completed all of the jumps flawlessly, but sadly Evermore’s confusion with the halt and stand portion at the end caused us to move down to third. I was still pleased with him. Three months ago my test wouldn't have been nearly as good.”
The pair really showed how multi-talented they are, also competing and placing in the LEGIS Jumper Medal Final, which was won by Renee Rodda. “I thought the format was great to remind you to keep flowing and turning,” she added. “I think equitation should be a requirement for anyone who wants to do jumpers. It teaches you control and finesse, and that translates into great turns and balance instead of just wild running.”
Elsewhere in the hunter ring, nine-year-old Stella Wasserman (Lesley Anne Bulechek, trainer) won the LEGIS League Children's Pony Hunter Final with Benjamin Buttons (Erika Lutker, owner). The class consisted of three phases: showmanship, under saddle, and over fences. “It was a big class and it was my first time ever modeling a pony in the showmanship,” Stella shared. “I liked the jumping portion the best.”
Stella had a plan and she stuck to it. “I knew to stay out in the corners, count my strides, and keep my pace my consistent. You have to get Benjamin going, but once you get him going he’ll carry himself. There was a bending line with an oxer, something I’ve never really done on him. It was at a different angle than just a diagonal line, which was tricky. My favorite part was leading the victory gallop at the end.”
Stella also earned a third place overall in the Children’s Pony Equitation Finale behind Natalie Templeton (Robyn Stiegler, trainer) and Grace McReynolds (Emily Tuttle Trowbridge, trainer) with the medium pony Yellow Brick Road (Charles Moorcroft, owner). The class also consisted of written phase, flat phase, and over fences phases. “Benjamin moves a little bit better, but Yellow Brick Road is easier to sit the trot on and do equitation with,” she explained. “He’s also easier to do sharper turns on, but it was still challenging. I had never ridden a course that challenging before. At the barn, I did a lot of rollbacks and tight turns to prepare. The written portion was also difficult because they asked us questions about our ponies. One of the questions I knew right away was which gait can you use to identify if your horse is lame. It is the trot.”
Also in the equitation, fifth grader Reeve Sykes (Nicole Husky, trainer) celebrated her first medal final win in the 2’ LEGIS League Mini Medal Final with her large pony, Pele. “The second fence of the first round had no flowers and looked a lot different, which was challenging for some of the horses,” Reeve remembered. “There was also a rollback that I took pretty tight while getting a lead change. I was really proud that we got that lead change.”
The pair placed fifth in the first round and first in the second round with scores of 75 and 83, respectively. “My score in the second round was my highest score ever,” shared Reeve with a smile. “My focus was on keeping my heels down and my hands quiet.”
Brett Starnes designed the LEGIS League Mini Medal Course knowing he would have riders on horses and ponies in the class. “I tried to give riders a good approach to the first fence followed by a rollback to a vertical. It’s hard at 2’ level to know what experience levels you're dealing with, so I left it with a lot of options for the more experienced riders. A handy class is as handy as you want to make it. I wanted to make the course a fun learning experience for everyone.”
And a fun experience it was for 26 horse and rider combinations. When it came time for the work off, the judges decided to test four riders on the flat: Reeve, Tate Beteta (Robyn Stiegler, trainer), Jordyn Chafee (Jeni Brown, trainer), and Grace Lackey (Heatherly Davis, trainer). “The flat work off was challenging,” Reeve acknowledged. “They asked us to walk, trot, canter, and sit the trot both ways. They also asked for a halt. I felt pretty prepared and since my pony was good over fences, I had confidence that he would be good on the flat. I felt really excited in the award ceremony when it came down to the last two people. When they said Tate’s name for second place and I realized that I won, I gave my pony a big pet. I was happy to get a LEGIS League Champion jacket.”
Trainer Nicole Husky really appreciates having an entry-level medal final available for new riders. “It is so important to have that 2’ intro medal final,” Nicole commented. “I also love that they did a flat work off. There’s no other 2’ medal final like it. I hope that even more people get involved in it next year.”
Busy tax attorney Renee Rodda (Kim Tasker, trainer) made a clean sweep in the LEGIS League Jumper Medal final aboard her Notable. Although Renee’s horse did the jumpers in Europe before she bought him, Renee’s expertise lies in the equitation. “Aside from the LEGIS League Jumper Medal classes to qualify for the final, I had never competed at the Table II, c format,” Renee explained. “I normally just do the equitation. Several years ago, I won the SFHJA 18 & Over Medal Final and the CPHA Child-Adult Medal Final.”
Renee’s seven-year-old mount may still be a little green, but she put her experience to work to get the best ride possible. “I just got him last year,” she shared. “He has well exceeded our expectations. He is really careful, so I knew that I could just focus on having fun. We decided not to jump the Liverpool option in either round since it was a slightly tighter turn to the other option. It just rode better for us.”
The pair had fun venturing into the jumper ring, but didn’t leave their equitation roots too far behind. “It’s nice to be able to get out there and gallop,” she commented. “In the LEGIS League Jumper Medal, we tried to go inside any time we could to be time efficient. There was a little bit less pressure for me because jumpers isn't something I usually do. I was really surprised to win. It was just sort of the icing on the cake.” They also earned a fourth place in the LAHJA/LA Saddlery Senior Medal Final.
While Renee is new to the jumper ring, Kathryn Burdett-Griffiths feels right at home there. She won the 1.10M Jumpers aboard her own Wow Van Het Lindehof, AKA Mini, and came close to winning the $1,000 1.20-1.25M Jumper Classic aboard her Ledinos. “Mini’s very fast across the ground and easily handles difficult inside turns,” Kathryn explained. “Ledinos is not as quick as Mini, but very reliable, careful, and consistent. In the $1,000 Jumper Classic, I missed the first inside turn because Ledinos jumped the second oxer pretty hard, so instead of awkwardly zig-zagging inside the end jump, I decided to just gallop around. I think that is where Emma Lindstrom beat me.” In fact, Emma beat her by just a fraction of a second on Summer Solstice (Stacey Bacheller, owner).
Kathryn has been riding and showing her entire life, but now that she’s the coach of the USC Equestrian Team, the owner of her own training barn, and a wife, her priorities have shifted. “My goals with my horses have changed quite a bit over the years,” she admitted. “I use to be on the road at big horse shows all year round. Now, there are so many other aspects of my life that require me to be home so my main goal is to just enjoy each day with them. I love getting on bareback and strolling around the property just as much as I love competing in a major horse show with them. I’m blessed to have these horses in my life and I’m thankful for each day I get to do what I love.”
The riders from Shadowbook Stables had a great show all around. Assistant trainer Emma Lindstrom won the $1,000 1.20-1.25M Jumper Classic, students excelled in the LEGIS Medal Finals, and trainer Jeni Brown won a trip in the LEGIS League Medal Final Trainer Incentive as the trainer who won the most points based on her highest scoring rider in each of the LEGIS League Medal Finals. “We brought six riders to do LEGIS League Medal Finals,” Jeni explained. “It’s nice that they have it divided up in all the different levels. You really feel that all the riders will be competitive because they are against riders who are at the same level. They go in with a great shot to be competitive and place well. For two of our riders, Alyssa Flamm and MacKenzie Kelley, it was their first medal final. Having that beginner level of rider being able to compete at a quality, well-organized show is really nice. The course design and the prizes were also great.”
Jeni is looking forward to her heard-earned trip. “We were thinking of going to Newport Beach because it’s not too long of a drive,” she shared. “For me, winning this trip was a complete surprise. I really don't take a lot of time off and am really looking forward to it. The last time my husband and I got away was when we went to Tahoe for our ten year wedding anniversary.”