Ninth-grader Saige Bryan (Abriana Frith, trainer) piloted her six-year old green pony to victory in the $500 Carousel Hunter Derby at the Verdugo Hills League Preview (Oct 24-25). “I was so happy to win,” said Saige with a smile. “It was such a blessing because it’s my pony’s first show and we have really come a long way together. I’ve only had Lyrical for about six months and she’s a Thoroughbred-Welsh pony cross. The course was pretty straightforward for us, but the trot jump was a little challenging. I think the $500 Carousel Hunter Derby is a really cool opportunity to both riders and horses that are looking to gain experience.”
Although Saige’s pony was new to the ring, Saige has been riding her entire life and more recently has been sponsored by Alex Arias and Jose Duran, owners of Dark Veil Inc. “My mom got me on a horse at age two,” Saige explained. “I have several horses and another pony. I do hunters, jumpers, and equitation. I think riding in all three rings has helped me become a well-rounded rider. If I ever have to catch ride a horse, I feel comfortable because I can adjust to different types of rides.”
Andrea Smice (Sandrine Seifert, trainer) and her off-the-track Thoroughbred Tabaluga placed second behind Saige in the class, and won the year-end perpetual trophy for accumulating the most points throughout the series. “This class is great prep for a bigger derby, which I really want to do,” she said.
Verdugo Hills also added a new class to the schedule, the two-round $1,000 Amateur Owner Hunter Classic. Laura Wasserman (Archie Cox, trainer) won first and third place aboard her two horses, Fine Design and Safari. With her winning horse, Fine Design, she received scores of 88 and 89. “I just wanted to try to be consistent and patient,” she explained. “I wanted to make sure I was really clear about my track for my corners and also have a good time. I had to re-group and re-focus for many rounds. It’s really exciting especially since I am getting used to a new horse.”
Laura just retired her two long-time horses last year. She purchased Safari about a year ago and Fine Design just a couple months ago. “Fine Design reminds me of a combination of my two previous horses,” she expressed. “It’s been amazing getting to know him. I rode Safari first in the classic, so I got all of the mistakes figured out by the time I rode Fine Design. I wasn’t as concise about riding my corners properly and later figured it out. I am really working hard on finding the right track. Watching my barn mate, Karin Binz, really helps me a lot since she is so accurate.”
As a wife, a horse show mom, and an equestrian, Laura works hard to manage her time and gets to ride about three days a week while her two children are at school. “I got back into riding after having my second child, my daughter Stella,” Laura explained. “Riding has been a lifelong passion, but I took a break to start up my career. When my career got to a point where I could afford lessons, I kept riding and got more into it. Later, I became a music supervisor at Fox, putting music into movies. Then I got married.”
Laura’s nine-year old daughter, Stella Wasserman (Lesley A. Bulechek, trainer), also competed at Verdugo Hills, following in her mother’s footsteps by earning the championship in the Children’s Pony Hunters aboard Benjamin Buttons (Erika Luter, owner). “I only rode him for about two weeks before the show,” fourth-grader Stella explained with a grin. “I wanted to keep my eyes up and stay out in the corners during my courses. I like watching my mom. She encourages my riding a lot. When we are at the shows together, we like to hang out together. I was really excited to be champion and had a lot of fun.”
As for Laura’s barn mate Karin Binz, she earned a second place in the $1,000 Amateur Owner Hunter Classic aboard her Walnut Creek with scores of 86 in both rounds. “The two round classics are the way that classics used to be run,” shared Karin. “It really feels more special. You are competing against other amateurs and it can put you in a position where you have to ride your best. The most challenging aspect was the long gallop to single oxer and the long approach to the in and out because you had to be patient.” Karin and her horse were also Amateur Owner Hunter Champion.
Elsewhere in the hunter ring, Kathy Vincent (Chris Land, trainer) and her Vienna topped the Training Hunter Division, edging out many professionals, which was quite an accomplishment for Kathy. “We just moved up to 2'9" this year as my trainer felt we were ready,” she commented. “Our plan we set out at the beginning of the season was to move up to 3' next season. The transition has been quite exciting and a great learning experience about focusing on the flat. With Vienna, height is not an issue because she comes from a line of grand prix jumpers. We are starting to gel as a partnership, and it is magical.”
In the equitation ring, high school senior CeCe Manze (Joe Thorpe, trainer) topped the 3’3’’ CPHA Foundation Medal Class aboard Curacao (Michael Chaney, owner). “Going into the CPHA medal class, I didn't over-think it and just rode the course to the best of my abilities.”
As CeCe is looking at her educational goals, she is making plans for her future. “I'm applying to schools both in-state and on the East Coast. I plan to continue riding, and hope to major in biochemistry. My interest in the subject initially arose through my stem cell research at UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine, where I've been a part of a lab for two years.” Outside of her busy work in the research lab, CeCe is Captain of the equestrian team at the Marlborough School.
In the Outreach classes, Ashley Ziman (Erin Rorabaugh, trainer) earned Rusty Stirrup Reserve Champion with her Merlot. “I’ve had Merlot for less than three months,” explained Ashley. “He’s a super sweet boy who knows his job. We bought him mostly as a confidence builder for me. He knows whenever I need help or I get nervous. Right now, I have my classes at Mount St. Mary’s University arranged all on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I can ride and show more often. Next year, I hope to do the 2’9’’ hunters with Merlot and the 2’6’’ hunters and equitation with my other horse, Radiance.” Merlot was also champion of the Modified Low Hunters with Deni Hird.
In the jumper ring, Eve Adair (Lisa Stroway, trainer) took a break from her busy career to spend some time both competing and supporting her daughter who showed in the Outreach classes. “I’m a freelancer in the entertainment business,” she shared. “Sometimes I can’t ride for a week and sometimes I’m able to get to the barn nearly every day. I’ve been riding ever since I was four years old, but I took a break for about 15 years due to my career. When I got back into riding last year, I decided that I wanted my daughter to really learn how to ride as well.”
Although she just recently returned to showing, Eve’s ride was anything but rusty as she snatched up the reserve championship in the .85M Jumpers. “My plan is always just to ride each fence as I’ve been taught. My horse is very fast and I have a harder time staying on stride. Sometimes we end up leaving out a stride and getting too flat.”
Eve works hard to stay fit for riding and keeping up with her nine-year-old daughter. “I do Pilates and lots of power walking,” she revealed. “I also train by doing mild core strengthening exercises with weights. My goal for 2015 is to be showing at the 1.00M level and eventually work my way up to being comfortable at the 1.10M.”
Eve and her barn mates helped push her trainer, Lisa Stroway, into the lead for the Verdugo Hills Trainer Incentive, which awards getaway trips to South Lake Tahoe, Newport Beach, and other locations. “I love going to the Verdugo Hills shows,” Lisa said. “The venue is nice and clean, and they have beautiful jumps and great classes. The Trainer Incentive is just icing on the cake. More trainers should try these shows.”
Sandrine Seifert’s students also worked hard all year in the Outreach classes to help Sandrine win the Verdugo Hills Outreach Incentive. “It’s awesome that LEG recognizes trainers and realizes that best thing for us is a couple of days off,” Sandrine commented. Both Lisa and Sandrine will enjoy a trip courtesy of LEG to their choice of Lake Tahoe, Newport Beach, Las Vegas, or Palm Desert.
Stay tuned for more exciting news about the LA Season Finale, Gold Coast Series Year-End Championships, and the Trainer Incentive winners.
The 2014 LEG shows conclude with the LA Season Finale (Nov 13-16), so watch for coverage of the LEGIS League Finals and LAHJA Medal Finals. It’s also your last chance to get any year-end points for LAHJA or SFHJA at a LEG Show.