Rebecca Rigdon & Steffen Peters Reign in the Rain at Pacific Coast CDI Opening Day

Saturday, March 11, 2023
Posted by Kim F. Miller



The Pacific Coast CDI & Open Show opened on a weekend forecast to see another "atmospheric river" hit the Golden State. But that was for Central and Northern California, with milder forecasts for Galway Downs' Southern California location in Temecula.

And, mild it was through most of the opening day - right up until the CDI3* Grand Prix and exhibitor party were set to start in the late afternoon. And, then came the downpour.

Rebecca Rigdon and Lauren Fisher's 13-year-old Heide Spirit rode last and emerged the soaked victors with the mare seeming relatively unfazed by the heavy rain. Their 65.891% from ground jury members Sandra Smith, Cesar Torrente, Clive Halsall, William Warren and Sarah Geikie led the division. Tina Caldwell and Lagerfield K were second a 65% and Sharon Warner and Rubico were third with a 64.891%.

(Rain-related delays prevented an interview with the winners of this division tonight, but we'll get them Saturday!)

No Grand Prix for Suppenkasper Today

Coming off three consecutive World Cup Qualifer wins during the Desert Circuit in Thermal, Tokyo Olympic team silver medalists Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper were set for a final strut of their special CDI Grand Prix stuff before heading to the FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha in early April. But that was not to be after "Mopsie" sustained "a pretty good cut" on his leg during the night. It required four stitches.

"Most likely it would have stayed shut, but if there had been even just one drop of blood, we would have risked elimination," Steffen explained. So, they sat it out and Steffen joined the exhibitors party to watch the CDI Grand Prix action under the shelter of the VIP Pavilion.

While this much rain is rare in California, Steffen noted that shows around the world go on in similar circumstances. "We've had days like this in Aachen and really anywhere in the world. It is what it is. The horses did their jobs, and it's a bit more challenging. Mother Nature always wins!"

CDI 1* FEI Prix St. Georges

While he was disappointed to miss a final outing with Mopsie before the World Cup Finals, Steffen enjoyed another happy outcome with his own horse, Be Happy, in the CDI 1* FEI Prix St Georges.

The 8-year-old gray Hanoverian earned a 71.029% to top the 8-horse field. "In November, she did 3rd Level, in December, she did 4th Level, and today was her first Prix St. Georges," Steffen explained of the mare's ascent at the Desert Dressage over the winter.  "She was a little nervous coming into the ring, but she settled down nicely and did a clean test." Steffen acknowledged the weather may have amped up the atmosphere a bit, "but she's a good German horse so I think she's probably seen this before."

Staffen Peters and Be Happy (Photo: Terri Miller)
Steffen Peters and Be Happy (Photo: Terri Miller)

The weather for this PSG was relatively mild compared to what the CDI Grand Prix field withstood later in the day, but it heightened an atmosphere that's already impressive. Galway Downs' Grand Prix Arena has a VIP Pavilion on one side, grandstands on the other, and today, international flags flapping behind the judge at C, Cesar Torrente, who was joined by Clive Halsall and William Warren on the ground jury.

Jo Moran and Victoria Cotchett's Reine Noire GWF finished in reserve on a 67.696%. And Nick Wagman and Heatcliff, owned by Beverly Gepfer, were third with a 67.255%.

Young Riders

2021 NAYC Team Gold Medalist Miki Yang is a seasoned contender in this division, but this year's journey is all new thanks to sharing it with Grey C Carrus, a 9-year-old Oldenburg. Miki's previous Young Rider horse, Donovan, "was like a school master. He'd done the Small Tour for so long, he could do it with his eyes closed." With Grey C, Miki is the teacher. "It's a real learning opportunity for me," she said.

In only their third show together, Miki and Gray C topped the CDI Y FEI Young Rider Team test with a 66.422% that the rider was "very happy with." The gelding is a puppy dog in the barn. "He licks my face and my helmet when I put the bridle on," Miki shared. "But he also can get very hot and he's still very sensitive. Going around the arena today, he was looking at the flags and I think the temperature had just dropped by about 10 degrees. He was saying, 'Oh, I'm definitely in the arena now.' He just needs to look at everything and then he's back to business. I really like his overall work ethic."

She was particularly pleased with Gray C's pirouettes and of her own work finding the balance between pushing for enough and pushing too much. "He has a lot of talent for the pirouettes, so it's up to me being able to guide him through without getting him too worried about it."

And his trot work is coming along, too. "It's about the fine tuning," Miki said. "How much expression can I ask for while still maintaining lightness and suppleness." She described today's win as a solid milestone on their current Young Rider path.

Ellanor Boehning and Sir Junior were second in the class, with a 65.441%, followed by Tiggy Gates and Shadow's Dream on a 65.196%. William Warren, Clive Halsall and Sandra Smith judged the CDI Y FEI Young Rider Team test.

Canadian Dynamic Duo

Canadian mother and daughter duo, Claire and Carol Robinson, started their first visit to Galway Downs on a high note. Claire and Glamour Boy won the CDI U 25 FEI Intermediate II and Carol and Lightfoot continued their first year in the CDI arena with a solid test in the CDI Amateur FEI Prix St. Georges.

Claire and the Glamour Boy earned a 66.667%, continuing a journey in which the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood has "fulfilled all of my childhood dreams about riding at this level," Claire said. Which is not to say their four years together have been easy. "He is such a good boy and also such a huge character, so it's taken a long time. He's very ticklish -- he doesn't like anything touching him, like certain fabrics, shavings, etc. That's part of why It's taken a while to build the trust with him."

Today's weather and the general atmosphere resulted in a bit more tension than Claire would have liked, but "overall I'm pretty pleased."

Mom Carol had the CDI Amateur FEI PSG division to herself, but that took nothing away from the satisfaction and fun of topping the leaderboard on a 64.412%. "As a parent, it is a complete joy to be able to do this with my daughters. And it's gone full circle. It started with me doing everything for them with their ponies - losing 5 pounds at a horse show getting everybody to the ring. Now, they do everything for me!"

Miki Yang and Grey C Carrus
Miki Yang and Grey C Carrus (Photo: TheWestEquestrian.com)

While it's a long way from their Alberta, Canada, home, Galway Downs is a place the Robinsons will happily come back to. "The facility is lovely, the footing is great. We will definitely come back," Carol said.

Amelia Newcomb On A Roll!

Fingers are crossed that Saturday's forecast for milder weather will hold true as competition continues in the CDI and National show.

Amelia Newcomb will be one to watch in the National show. In the FEI Grand Prix sponsored by Lisa Bradley and Este Vista Farm, Amelia rode first and last and finished first and third aboard her own Harvard, an 11-year-old KWPN, and Karen Drown's Natasha, and 18-year-old Oldenburg. Harvard earned a 69.348% and Natasha earned a 66.739%.

Marie Meyers and Double Dream Plus slotted into second place on a 67.717. Double Dream Plus, a 16-year-old Westphalian owned by Marie.

Today's Intermediate II, sponsored by Lisa Bradley and Tracy Roenik, was won by Elizabeth Ball and Escarigo, a 14-year-old KWPN owned by Cadence, LLC. Guenter Seidel and Beltano, a 14-year-old Hanoverian owned by Louise Leatherdale, finished behind them, followed by Steven Paulson and his own Wilton II, a 20-year-old KWPN, in third.