Spring may have been slow in coming to California this year, but the Woodside Spring Preview started off with a bang. A combination of beautiful weather, a wide range of classes, and a great facility brought in record numbers of entries to fill some very large and exciting classes. The show served as a selection trial for the Zone 10 NAJYRC teams, and the main jumper ring was a veritable “who’s who” of top jumper riders comprising the Young Rider candidates, top professionals, and strong Amateur Owner riders. Add in world class course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio and the stage was set for keen competition.
Twenty-seven riders faced off in the $5,000 High Junior/ Amateur Owner Jumper Classic and competition was fierce. Alec Lawler was on fire as he and Live Fire posted one of the seven clear rounds and outraced them all in the jump-off. “Any Junior Jumper Classic win is a big win, but the fact that this one had Young Rider points attached made it a little more important. I thought the course was fair for the level of horses in the class.” In 2009 Lawler rode on the gold medal Zone 10 Junior team at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in Kentucky. This year he is hoping to qualify for the Young Rider team.
Richard Neal was second aboard his new horse, Cavalier Tommi Tank, and Taylor Siebel continued her strong and consistent riding by finishing third aboard Thunder-Ball (Mountain Home Stables, owner).
The $7,500 Woodside Spring Jumper Classic served as the qualifier for the Zone 10 Young Rider candidates, and they had to ride against the professionals. Only four riders managed clear rounds over the demanding course. Kristen Hardin led off the class with her 19-year-old Platinum’s Pedro, and then Peter Breakwell rode Lucas (No Drama, owners) to a clear round. Young Riders Taylor Seibel and Lucy Davis also posted fault free rounds.
In the jump off Breakwell left no doubt that he wanted to win. His fast, clear round was untouchable. “The course designer, Anthony D'Ambrosio, did a very good job of building for a mixed group of riders and horses for the class,” Breakwell recounted. “Half of the class were Young Riders on very capable horses, any of which were capable of winning a class like this.” Although Lucas is only 15.3, his careful jumping style more than makes up for his diminutive size.
Hardin and Platinum’s Pedro had to settle for second when they dropped a rail; however, Hardin had nothing but praise for the lanky bay gelding. “He used to be unpredictable and hard to ride, but over the years he has turned into a super horse. I credit Platinum Performance for helping him keep going. At home he lives outside in a pasture with two mares, and I ride him every day--usually on the trail. He never jumps at home, only trots. He only canters in the warm-up area when I begin jumping for the class. It may be a strange system, but it has worked with him for years, and he always comes home from a show with a good prize money check.”
As for the class, Hardin stated, “The class was tough, technical and long. Because it was a Young Rider class, the water was open. I had to go first in the order and just took it one jump at a time, and my horse jumped great. Peter Breakwell's horse Lucas jumped out of his skin and he was the only other professional clean. It was nice that he and I ended up first and second against the up-and-coming kids.”
Taylor Seibel claimed the third spot and the highest Young Rider points with Chawi de Laubry (Mountain Home Stables, owner) and her jumper coach, Bernie Traurig had nothing but positive things to say about her efforts. “Taylor really rose to the occasion. ‘Chowi’ wasn’t at his best and Taylor more than made up for it with a really positive, accurate ride.” At John French’s request, Traurig joined the team to help with Seibel’s jumper goals. “John and I have worked together for many years, including when he was trying out for the Olympics and was only four faults from making the team alternate spot. He is so busy in the hunter rings that he asked me to help with Taylor in the jumpers. John gets the credit for where Taylor is with her riding.” Traurig is a sought after coach and is about to launch a revolutionary online education format with EquestrianCoach.com.
Hunters shared plenty of glory alongside the jumpers. The Woodside Spring Preview offered the new USHJA National 3' Hunter Classic, which is modeled after the extremely popular USHJA International Hunter Derby. Show Manager Chris Collman decided to add the class to the Woodside offerings to give the many 3'0" hunter riders in the sport a place to showcase their horses and their riding talents. “After all,” he explained, “the big International Hunter Derby requires that you jump 4'0".
With 23 entries in the seminal class, the USHJA National 3’ Hunter Classic was a brilliant addition. “We have a really top-notch group of 3' horses and riders,” Collman said. “When you have a high level of competition, why not offer them something more to strive for?” Course designer Brian Post created a fun, challenging and distinctive course, utilizing the ring well and incorporating the adjacent warm-up area into the course. The first round was a typical hunter classic course, and there were also four option jumps where the rider could jump the higher option (3'5" maximum). The second round incorporated more natural jumps and featured a Handy Hunter track with various options such as inside turns and angled approaches. In addition to the standard score, the judges also gave bonus points for well executed handiness.
Hellman, owner) and second on Rienzo (Sarah Draxton, owner). “Placing first and second in the classic was very exciting for me,” Glynn explained. “Both horses executed the course very well, doing all of the bigger options as well as the handier turns in the second round. Their consistency in both rounds was what put us on top at the end. They are both great horses which made my job easy.”
Glynn agreed with Collman’s feelings on the need for this class. “I think it is a great idea, as the USHJA International Hunter Derby is often too intimidating for some horses and riders. This is a perfect way for them to get the excitement of a derby type class without having to jump the bigger fences. I think that this allows for horses to get used to the natural jumps as well as allowing a more inviting format with smaller options for amateurs and children’s riders to participate.” The berm was packed as exhibitors and spectators enjoyed a buffet dinner hosted by the horse show while cheering for their favorite horses and riders.
Junior and amateur riders had a great time in the class, and amateur rider Kathryn Taylor placed with her Maximus. Her trainer, Beverly Jovais was thrilled for her rider’s success. “The new USHJA National 3' Hunter Classic is very exciting for the children’s and adult riders. It is a special class with natural obstacles, longer courses spanning several arenas, and lots more prize money than we’ve had before. All my kids and adult amateur riders love to participate in the class and had a blast doing it. It is pure fun. The just got out there, galloped around, and enjoyed their hunters.”
Jovais’ Chestnut Hill had a great show garnering numerous show championships and reserves. Tylor Powell rode her new horse, Proverb, to the Children’s Hunter 13 & Under championship and then capped off a great weekend by winning the Children’s Hunter Classic. Fellow Chestnut Hill rider Emily Lewis was second with her horse Impromptu.
Hope and Ned Glynn of Sonoma Valley Stables supported the show in a big way. “I brought 24 horses that range from cross rail hunters to junior jumpers, and there is a ring for all of them,” stated Glynn. Derby Hill trainers, Buddy and Vanessa Brown also like showing at Woodside for the excellent facility and venue, as well as the fact that they can bring horses and riders of all levels and abilities.
Junior rider Ali Cornish is emerging as a top equitation rider after capturing the USEF Talent Search, the WCE Junior/ Amateur Medal, and the CPHA Foundation Equitation class. She rode her Van Gogh in the equitation classes, a horse she has brought along nearly on her own at home with her mother. “Ali is an exceptional student,” Buddy Brown said. “She has a lot of natural talent, but she also comes from a riding family, so she is a very understanding rider.” Cornish also won the $1,000 Children’s/ Adult Amateur Jumper Classic on a new horse, Las Palmas, that she bought just before the show. Cornish was also accepted in the Level 1 USHJA Emerging Athlete Program and is looking forward to that experience in a few weeks.
Susan Meadows, who also rides with the Browns, captured the $1,000 Low Junior/ Amateur Owner Jumper Classic on her Topper. She was unstoppable--and unbeatable--as they blazed around the jump off.
“Susan is an inspiration,” Buddy mused. “She runs seven miles a day and is at the barn six days a week to ride. She works really hard and is just a great lady. She has good, positive energy for everyone around her,” he added of his student, who is in her 50s. “She and Topper are an amazing pair. They have more guts and stamina than most of the kids at the show.”
Amazing was a great way to describe Rene Rios’ win in the $1,000 Welcome Stake. With the only clear round of the class, Rios attacked Anthony D'Ambrosio's course with panache aboard Cartier (Connie Fitzgerald, owner). “I have been partnered with Cartier for a little over a year now, and I really feel like we are coming into our own,” Rios offered. “I call him my limo. He gives me a ton of confidence, as he has endless scope.”
The shallow cups and light rails were the bane of all the other horses in the class, but Rios’ big grey Holsteiner left each one in place. “The course rode well and was fun,” Rios recalled. “I was shocked at being the only double clear round. It was my goal to stay on a fluid step and find good distances out of it. My plan worked, and he came through and jumped better and better. The course asked great questions and I thanked course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio for making it challenging and fun.” Rios is a big supporter of the Woodside shows. “Every time we go there, it just gets better.”
For information, schedules and complete results, visit the LEG website: http://www.leghorseshows.com/laec/show_details.php?show_id=148
Spring showing in Woodside continues with the Woodside Spring Classic (May 6-9) and then resumes late in June with the three week Woodside Summer Circuit. Hunter/Jumper action gets underway for the year at the Colorado Horse Park with Langer Equestrian Group’s three spring shows beginning with the High Prairie Spring Preview (May 13-16). Verdugo Hills 4 at the Hansen Equestrian Center is scheduled for May 15-16, and then the third Gold Coast show of the year at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center is May 21-23. May closes out with the ever popular Memorial Day Classic (May 27-31).
Complete information about the shows is on the LEG website at: www.langershows.com.
Photos: 1-Peter Breakwell and Lucas sail over Woodside's signature jump, the Golden Gate Bridge Photographer: Sheri Scott
2-Hope Glynn was the star of the evening, taking first place on Swingtime (Avery Hope Glynn and Swingtime enjoy their win of the first USHJA National 3’ Hunter Classic Photographer: Sheri Scott
3-Rene Rios and Cartier race to the win in the Welcome Stake Photographer: Sheri Scott