Verdugo Hills Shows Warming Up at Hansen Dam

With the 2011 show season still young, Verdugo Hills 2 was the first show of the year for many riders. The new show season brings new opportunities, new challenges, and the promise of a lot of fun. For some of the riders at Verdugo Hills 2, it was the perfect time to meet those new challenges.

For trainer Mark Purcell and his group from Dry Creek Farm, this show was the first of the season and the opportunity to move up to higher fences. Emily Kerr moved up from Children's to Junior/Amateur Owner Hunters and rose to this challenge by winning three of her classes and the tri color for the section.

"It was really fun and a good experience," Emily remarked. "I was pretty nervous, because it was a new show ring and I hadn't shown at that height before. I didn't expect to do so well, but my horse took really good care of me." Emily rode her Dicaprio, AKA Leo. She has been riding him for about two years.

As for the rest of the year, Emily added, "I want to start showing more at the 3'6" level and get more comfortable at that height. I'd also like to do some medals."

"It was good to get everybody out for the first show of the season," Mark commented. "They always put on a good horse show at Verdugo Hills. The footing is much improved, which was very nice, and they offer all the right classes. Of course, the Maui trip is a good trainer incentive. When I went on the trip in 2009, it was fantastic. I loved it." The Maui Trainer Incentive is awarded to the trainer with the highest scoring equitation rider, the highest scoring hunter, and the highest scoring jumper. For specifics, visit

Ashley Brien also competed at the show under Mark's tutelage and tied for reserve champion with Emma Shupper (Deirdra Davis, trainer) in Equitation 15-17 after placing second in two of her classes in the section. She rode Manhatten (Garland Farms, owner).

The championship in the Equitation 15-17 went to 16-year-old Sierra Swaffar (Chris Chastain, trainer) after winning all of her classes in the section. "I was really happy I did so well at the show," Sierra reported. "I've won classes before, but being champion really made this show season start out right. I feel super confident now, and I think that will show in my riding and continue to give me good results."

The sophomore at Foothill Technology High School has been riding for eleven years, but she just started riding her horse Pharlee one year ago. "He has come a long way from being the green horse we bought. Pharlee is very opinionated and will do whatever he wants. While in the turn-out, he often jumps over jumps all on his own."
While Sierra likes hunters and jumpers, she likes equitation the best of the three divisions. "I really like equitation and how it is judged on how the horse and rider work together to make a beautiful picture. I like being judged on how my horse and I perform together as a team."

Bayne Bossom makes a great team with his horse, Butterfly. His mother Amza took him to the show and found it to be fun and easy to attend for one day. Bayne and Butterfly competed in the Opportunity section last year, and they moved up to Green Rider at this show. They won three of their classes and the Green Rider Championship.

"Bayne was thrilled to be champion," Amza reported. "He did each of his over fences classes back to back, coming out of the ring for only a moment to learn his new course. Richard Spooner uses a tactic to learn his courses. I taught it to Bayne, and it really works. He goes over the course from beginning to end, and if he gets anything wrong he starts all over again. Of course, there are other parts of his process that Bayne will use as he gets more advanced."

Although he is only nine, Bayne has been riding for a few years already. "He was Gold Coast Series Champion and LAHJA Reserve Champion, which has helped to build his confidence," Amza added.

As for Bayne, he gives a lot of the credit to Butterfly. "I am very proud of my horse. I love jumping her. She is a great little horse and does her job well." Of course, Butterfly isn't the only one who deserves some credit. "Gretchen Tank (of Martin McAllister Training) gave me a lesson the day before, and she always gives me a few things to concentrate on."

In the jumper rings, Sally Bilodeau showed Finnegan (Nancy Turrill, owner and trainer) to a win in the .75m Jumpers, a second in .85m and third in .80m Jumpers. Emily Mulhausen rode Peaches (Carrie Adamson, owner and trainer) to championships in the .75m Jumpers and a tie for the championship with Amy Lucks (Becky Abeita, trainer) in the .80m Jumpers. Nile Verlour (Wynn Morrow-Peck) also earned two championships with her Mac, in the .85m and .90m Jumper sections.

The quality management, excellent facility, and Maui Trainer Incentive gave Verdugo Hills 2 some of the feel of a bigger show, but the wide range of classes and comfortable setting made it a great one for new riders or those moving up to higher fences.

For more information on Verdugo Hills, including a prize list and complete results, visit

The next Verdugo Hills show at Hansen Dam will take place April 2-3. Meanwhile, Southern California riders will head over to LAEC March 18-20 for the LAEC Winter Horse Show. The show year will kick off in Northern California April 28-May 1 at the Woodside Horse Park, and in Colorado, the jumping excitement will kick into gear May 12-15 for the High Prairie Spring Preview.