Verdugo Hills/Lake View 5 A Good Place for Firsts

The Verdugo Hills/Lake View series of shows has concluded the first half of the season, and adding the TVHSA approved classes proved popular for many Los Angeles area riders.  A wide range of classes to choose from, quality courses and jumps, and a welcoming atmosphere all add up to good shows for first time exhibitors, young riders with seasoned horses, seasoned riders with new or green horses, and any combination in between.

Kacie Lehner was one of these, having had a great show on Savoy (Diedra Davis, owner), a young horse that is still quite green. Together, they won all of their Children’s/Adult Hunter classes and earned the section championship, along with ribbons in their equitation and medal classes. “It was really exciting,” Lehner commented. “He really shines as a hunter.”
Lehner has known Savoy since he was born. “I really love him. We’ve always bonded. I was with him through his terrible twos and nursed him through an injury when we were starting him. I feel like we’ve both grown since I’ve been riding him.” She has not had as much time to ride the past couple of years with college and work, but she still tries to get three rides in each week when she can. Some of those rides have to be early in the morning, and Davis has been very flexible with her to make it work.
After studying business in film at school, Lehner now works for a production company as the assistant to the President of Production. While this may seem like a different world from riding, she notes that there are a lot of similarities.
“For both you need dedication and a positive attitude. You need to be willing to do the grunt work and learn the basics before you can move up. You have to do your homework.”
Twenty-one-year-old Lehner has been riding with Diedra Davis since she was nine. “She’s a strong rider,” said Davis. “She’s an intelligent rider who is able to work through things and figure them out. Savoy is young and can be naughty, but he’s a good horse. They make a nice pair.”

While Lehner has known her horse all his life, 14-year-old Emma Shupper (Diedra Davis, trainer) had only known her horse for a week and a half when they went to the show. SIG Pamir had been a jumper and ridden by a man. When he came to Davis’s barn, he had a tendency to be strong and hollow, and to spook or bolt. However, Shupper said, “He’s a completely different horse now. He’s gotten much softer, but he’s still learning.”

She had intended to just show him in the hunters to get him to go around smoothly and quietly, but decided to try equitation as well at the last minute. Her decision turned out to be a good one, because she placed high in all of her classes. “He was a really good boy. It was a good show,” Shupper added. With her new talented horse, she plans to move up to the 3’6” classes and try for the 3’6” medals. “I’ve been waiting for it for kind of a long time. I feel like I’m ready, and I work better when there’s pressure on me.”
Like Lehner, Shupper sometimes finds it a challenge to balance school and riding, especially since both girls spend a lot of time at the barn taking care of their own horses, feeding and cleaning tack. “I try to get all my work done during school so I don’t have to worry about it. Then I can just go and ride.”
Twelve-year-old Morgan Dickerson (Diedtra Davis, trainer) also had a first at Verdugo Hills 5. He competed in the 3’ classes for the first time, placing second in his LAHJA Horsemanship Medal and getting ribbons in his other classes as well.
“He was excited. He’s set some big goals for himself,” commented Karle Dickerson of her son, who looks up to riders like Rodrigo Pessoa and Theo Boris when competing in a ‘girl’s world’. Currently, he has his sights set on the Onondarka Medal. “He shows at the Verdugo Hills shows a lot, so he’s comfortable, but he rides against some good riders so he feels like it’s an accomplishment. He likes the way the jumps are set at these shows.  They’re challenging, but they aren’t too intimidating.”
Kim Tasker, assistant trainer at Rainbow Canyon, agrees that Verdugo Hills is a good place to show for many reasons. Jennifer Jacky has owned her horse Discreet for several years, but she decided to try the jumper classes for the first time. She handled her first trips in the jumper ring with aplomb and won both of her classes.
“She was shocked,” recalled Tasker. “She didn’t go super fast, but her horse has an enormous stride.”

Jacky added, “I didn’t think I was that fast, but my horse turns really quickly. I went in the classes to practice for equitation and the WCE Medal, and it was really good. The course was colorful and fun.” Jacky has won several medal finals on Discreet, including the 2008 PCHA and LAHJA medals, but has never done the WCE. At this show, she was champion in the Equitation 18 and Over after winning all of her classes in the section. She also took top prize in the CPHA Foundation Equitation Medal class.

Joann Niffenegger usually just does hunters with her Just A Hunch, but decided to work on her equitation at this show. “She put down some of her best trips in equitation,” Tasker said. “She made some good progress getting control over her hunter, making some good turns and bending lines. It was nice to see her do that.” Niffenegger was Equitation 18 and Over Reserve Champion behind Jacky after earning several ribbons in the section, and she placed in her Children’s/Adult Amateur Hunters classes as well.
For Tasker’s student Christina Bauer, it was not her first show ever but the first in several years after taking some time off. “It was nerve wracking,” she commented. “Plus, it was 90 degrees, and I wasn’t performing as well as I could.” Performance up to par or not, she impressed the judges enough with her rides aboard Buccaneer to win all of her Children’s/Adult Amateur Hunter classes as well as the equitation, which was a combination of 12-17 and 18 and over riders. “My horse was absolutely perfect. Every time I made a mistake, he made up for it.”
Donna Chopp’s challenge at this show was that her horse has been off with ringbone for a year, and she can’t practice very much or push him too hard. Despite that, she pulled off seconds in nearly every class she entered, was named reserve champion in the “B” Equitation 18 and Over and met her goal of qualifying for the SFHJA 18 and Over Medal.'
Debbie Burke rounded out Tasker’s group, taking some first places in Restricted Children’s/Adult Amateur hunter and equitation classes along with several other ribbons. Tasker explained, “This was only her second show ever, and she was a little nervous, but it all paid off. She’s a doll and really dedicated.”
Tasker finished by saying, “It’s a nice show; I really like Hansen Dam and they’ve really improved the facility. The show is welcoming, and the rings are nice. The courses are inviting: not too hard for the B ring, but interesting for the A ring. Plus, the staff is friendly and the fees are low.”
For complete information, including schedules and results, visit the Verdugo Hills/Lake View website at
While this was the last of the combined Verdugo Hills/Lake View shows of the season, there are two more Verdugo Hills show this fall: the League Preview October 29-30 and the Finale November 6-7. Meanwhile, there is still plenty of jumping in Southern California at the Gold Coast shows, with the fourth in that series running June 18-20. Further north, the Woodside Circuit Opener will take place June 23-27, and Colorado riders can look forward to the Circuit Preview July 1-4.
For more information on Langer Equestrian Group and all the shows, visit

Photos: Lehner and Savoy take a fence in fine style; Shupper and SIG Pamir; Jacky and Discreet won all their classes   Photo Credit: AC Custom Photo