The Grand Prix Special Test became a hard-fought battle for top honors on the second day of competition at California Dreaming Productions' Festival of the Horse CDI 3*/Y/J/U-25 (presented by Hof Kasselmann) at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, Cal. The right to claim the blue ribbon came down to hundredths of a point as 2012 London Olympic U.S. Team member Jan Ebeling and Rafalca earned 71.294% to narrowly maintain the lead over former World Equestrian Games Bronze medalist Kathleen Raine on Breanna with 71.235%. "Today we some very solid performances from the top two as well as a couple promising new combinations, and that made it a fun class to judge," noted FEI judge Jane Weatherwax (4* USA). "Everyone looked more committed today and had fewer mistakes. Breanna looked really 'on' today, and Rafalca's piaffe is just wonderful. Jan (Ebeling) handles the pressure of competition well and Rafalca is very solid." Ebeling was thrilled with the consistent performance of his 17-year-old Oldenburg mount (Argentinius x Ratine by Rubinstein I), owned by Amy Ebeling, Anne Romney, and Beth Meyers.
"She was super and I was very pleased with our test. I remember a few years back when we really had to work for the piaffe and she could only do a few steps at a time, and now I can take my leg off and she's just a machine. It makes me happy to think about how far we've come."
The afternoon's Intermediaire I Test turned into a sweep for Team Peters, as Steffen Peters rode away with the top two placings aboard Four Winds Farm's Rosamunde (2007 Rheinlander mare [Rock Forever x First Lady by Fidermark]) and Tracy Roenick's eight-year-old black Oldenburg mare Apassionata (Sir Donnerhall x Amelie by Friedenfurst) on scores of 75.833% and 71.842%, respectively. In addition, Peters' assistant trainer Dawn White-O'Connor earned 71.447% aboard Carla Hayes' nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood Aristo (Olivi x Selina by Krack C), good enough for third-place honors. "When you have a horse like Rosie that's so willing, supple, elastic, and good in the contact, it's a thrill to ride," said Peters. "Usually you get that when they're eight or nine years old, but for her to be like this at seven is incredible. Pia (Apassionata) is getting better and better, especially in her trot work - she's taken a giant leap forward from her CDI debut last month in Burbank. And like last week, Dawn almost caught me again with Aristo. I'm so excited for her to be doing so well with him."
Anna Buffini's collection of blue ribbons continues to grow as she once again topped the CDI Young Rider Individual Test with a score of 72.018%. "He's such a hard worker, and even though he was a little more tired this week he gave me his best," said Buffini of her 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Sundayboy (Kennedy x Eezelma by Zevenaar). "The Individual Test is more compact with a of movements happening very quickly, and it's tough because Sundayboy is a big horse, but I like the challenge." Finishing second was Catherine Chamberlain and Verdicci (Dutch Warmblood gelding [Krack C x Nadine's Monday by Jackson]) with 69.386%. Meanwhile, Hannah Beaulieu of Canada improved upon her previous day's performance to earn 65.044% with Pharoah (14-year-old Rheinlander gelding [Fidermark x Winzerin by Worldchamp], owned by Nancy Olson) in the Junior Individual Test.
With the generous support of Four Winds Farm, riders had the opportunity to ride for their favorite charity in the new Pro/Am Team Challenge. After two days of competition, Team W Farms (composed of David Wilson/W Royal Winner, Johnny Ruth Harrison/Venus, and Evelyn Murphy/Delphino) had the highest combined average of 69.815% to earn a $1,000 donation for the Child Help Foundation. Special qualifying classes were also held for the Markel/Cornerstone Young Talent Search, which offers over $10,000 in prize money and awards and will culminate with Finals held at Star Spangled Dressage in San Juan Capistrano this June. In the four-year-old division, Sean Cunningham rode Hilda Gurney's Trakehner gelding Lotta Silver (by Silvermoon) to top the leaderboard on a score of 75.625% in Training Level Test 1. Catherine Chamberlain rode her own Westfalen mare Sophina (by Spielberg) to win the five-year-old First Level Test 1 class with 74.655%, while the six-year-old Hanoverian gelding Prime Time SF (by Pablo) carried owner/rider Marisa Festerling to victory with 74.286% in Second Level Test 1.
Complete results are available on the California Dreaming Productions website. The final day of competition at the Festival of the Horse resumes Sunday at 8:00am PT.
Formed by a partnership between long-time show organizer Glenda McElroy of Burbank, CA and Grand Prix riders and trainers David and Alisa Wilson of Chino Hills, CA, the goal of California Dreaming Productions is to bring a fresh face to international-level dressage competition on the West Coast. Additional show information is available on the new California Dreaming Productions website, as well as regular updates posted on Facebook.