First Show of Verdugo Hills Season is First Rate

Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Posted by LEG Up News

Not only was Verdugo Hills 1 (Jan 28-29) the first show at Hansen Dam for the 2012 show year, but it was also the first show of the Verdugo Hills series with a new show secretary. Melessa Lee has taken over the reins of the Verdugo Hills division of Langer Equestrian Group. Although she is putting on a new hat as a show secretary, Melessa is well-known and highly respected as a USEF steward and for her involvement in the local horse show scene, including as a Director of the Los Angeles Hunter Jumper Association.
Melessa  likes being able to help exhibitors have the most enjoyable show experience possible. “Verdugo Hills shows are great for riders to gain experience at quality shows, because LEG standards are the same across the board, from the staff to the ribbons," she expressed. "Everything is the best quality.”

Rebecca Bruce of Sunnybrook Ranch couldn't agree more. “These shows are a great place for the kids to get miles at a great facility with a friendly atmosphere. We normally start riders at our Santa Barbara County shows, but the girls wanted to show with their friends and this was a great opportunity.”  Verdugo Hills 1 was the first show for Rebecca’s student Bella Gauasse. Bella took the title of Opportunity Walk-Trot Reserve Champion aboard Nocturnal Bliss, just behind champion Lucy Vidana (Sheri Moser, trainer) and Hoffman. Macy Christal, also at her first show, demonstrated her skills by piloting Count the Diamonds to a win in Opportunity Future Rider Pleasure. 

Rebecca’s student Maeve O’Connor emerged with a blue ribbon and a big smile from the Short Stirrup Under Saddle aboard her new pony, Picture Perfect. “I feel like I gained some experience this weekend, which is good because my pony is still green.”

Rebecca also brought some more seasoned riders, including Krista Borgers and her Cheval Blanc, who topped both the Foxfield Medal and the CPHA Foundation Equitation Medal and placed third in the SFHJA Challenge Medal. Katie Browne, following a year spent abroad in Europe and moving up from ponies to horses, triumphed in both the SFHJA Futures Medal and the ‘B’ SFHJA Medal, and she was Equitation 14 and Under Champion aboard Cirque Du Soleil (Rebecca Bruce, owner).

Katie also shone aboard her Leonardo in hunters, winning ‘B’ Short/Long/Rusty Stirrup Champion just a few points ahead of Eden Ritholz (Lisa Stroway, trainer) aboard Paramour. "Katie has been riding at Sunnybrook since she was six, but she has been riding ponies until purchasing Leonardo and leasing Cirque Du Soleil,” Rebecca explained. “Katie is only ten, but she has dedication, drive, and she's a hard worker. That's what makes her a great rider.”

Elsewhere in the hunter ring, Makenna Thrasher (Gabe Belluomini, trainer) was a three time champion at the show with her Safe Keeping, winning the tri-color and numerous blues in Children's Hunter 17 & Under, Modified Child/Adult Hunter, and 'B' Children's/Adult Amateur Hunters. Alicyn Roy (Kim Tasker, trainer) was champion in Amateur Owner Hunters and Equitation 18 & Over with Setero, plus she won the LAHJA Junior/Senior Medal class. The title of Adult Amateur Hunter Champion went to Alicyn's barn mate Joann Niffenegger and her Nautique. Joann also did well in equitation, winning the SFHJA Junior/Senior Medal.

Over in the jumper ring, Sally Bilodeau (Susie Postel, trainer) was reserve champion in 1.00M Jumpers aboard her Canadian Thoroughbred, Finnegan, and she earned some ribbons in the 1.00M Child/Adult Amateur Jumpers as well. “Verdugo Hills shows are my favorite," she explained. "The courses are challenging, but having the same course several times in a row helps me to concentrate on my ride. The shows are also very cost effective and low pressure. Then after every show, I take my horse for a trail ride around the beautiful area.”

Sarah Berry was happy to take advantage of these offerings at Verdugo Hills 1 to get some jumper miles on her five-year-old eventing horse, Counterpoint. She was even happier with her decision when he did well in his classes, winning both his 1.00M and 1.15M Jumpers with trainer Gina Economou in the irons.

Just starting out in her show career, five year-old Alexis Azarian (Sandrine Seifert, trainer) had a difficult ride in the Opportunity Walk-Trot over poles aboard her Celebrity, but she persevered. “Despite tears streaking down her face, she came back to win second in the under saddle class,” explained Alexis’ mom, Nga Azarian. “For me, that has been the highlight of all the shows she’s ridden in. We love doing Verdugo Hills shows and will continue to show in them. We enjoy being a part of it.”

Several other riders from Sandrine Seifert's D&D Stables had success at the show. Dylan Laiken was reserve champion in the Opportunity Crossrail section, one point behind champion Bella Lundeen (Julie O'leary Van Loo, trainer) riding Thumbelina. This was Dylan’s first show with her new pony, Maestro.

Also from D&D Stables, Erin Rosser won the title of  'B’ Restricted Child/Adult Champion aboard Brilliant Disguise (Sandrine Seifert, owner). Erin was thrilled with her multiple first place ribbons, especially since this was her first rated horse show. “Brilliant Disguise and I have really developed together," she said. "She’ll do just about anything I ask her to do. Winning made me feel really good about myself. I especially loved getting awards other than just ribbons.” In honor of LEG’s 40th Anniversary, class winners received both a $15 gift certificate valid at L.A. Saddlery or Glenroy’s Equestrian Gifts and a $10 show credit toward any LEG show held at LAEC.

Sandrine was equally proud of Erin’s performance. “Erin is one of the newest additions to D&D Stables. She has greatly improved already and has a lot of potential.”  Ariel Jablonow (Sheri Moser, trainer) was reserve champion in the 'B’ Restricted Child/ Adult section behind Erin with Sooner or Later (Sheri Moser, owner).

Verdugo Hills 1 proved to be a great way get acquainted with a new horse or kick off the LEG 40th Anniversary show season.

For more information on results and future Verdugo Hills shows visit

The next LEG show at Hansen Dam will be Verdugo Hills 2 (March 3-4), while the Gold Coast Show Series will get under way with Gold Coast 1 (February 17-19) at LA Equestrian Center. Come celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Langer Equestrian Group and test out the Olympic Mix footing in the Large Oval for jumpers!

Photos: Dylan Laiken celebrates with Maestro and trainer, Sandrine Seifert LEG Up News file photo; Erin Rosser and Brilliant Disguise triumph in their first rated horse show  LEG Up News file photo