Riders Vie for Medals at Gold Coast 5

Friday, July 30, 2010
Posted by LEG Up News

The deadline for qualifying for medal finals is looming, and Southern California riders had the opportunity to get the points they needed at the Gold Coast 5 show July 23-25.
Erinn Lew (Heidi Misrahy, trainer) was one such rider. She attended Gold Coast 5 as her first “away” show outside of the Intercollegiate Equestrian League. “Heidi said it would be a good show for me, because it’s local and has a relaxed atmosphere where I could get some good horse show experience. They also had a lot of classes that were suitable for me. I’ve been doing jumpers and need to get back to basics, so the .80 and .85 meter classes were good. They were spread out over the three days, so I got to do six of those classes. I especially liked competing in the Equidome, because it was cooler and quieter than outside. I hope to do the next Gold Coast show and some other shows soon, too.”

Erinn earned several ribbons in those jumper classes, but where she really shone was in equitation. In addition to placing at or near the top of her flat and over fences classes, she capped the weekend with a win in the CPHA Horsemanship Medal. This was her first medal class other than the IEL. “I didn’t have time to think about the class before I went in. I was helping Heidi with jumps when I heard my name called for a class. We ran back to the barn, got ready and got to the arena. That was for the class right before the CPHA, and then I went first in the medal class. We didn’t even walk the course; Heidi just told me what I should do. I just went in and did what she said, and it worked.” Erinn plans to do more medals and hopes to qualify and compete in the finals this fall.

Magic Trax (Olivia Warner, owner) was Erinn’s ride for the show. “He was extremely successful with his owner, Olivia, and he’s been a good teacher. He doesn’t put up with any nonsense from me. I’m learning what mistakes will get me in trouble in the ring.”

Olivia added some more blue ribbons to her own collection, winning two of her Children’s Jumpers classes and placing in the others with Entourage (Leslie Nelson, owner). She also showed off her equitation skills by placing second in the WCE Medal class.  Susan Azad rounded out Heidi’s group by winning the Foxfield Medal class and earning many other equitation ribbons aboard her Hemmingway, plus placing near the top of her jumper classes with her Mozart Z.

The medal wins continued with Michelle Morris (Karen Healey Stables, trainer), who won the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search in addition to her USEF Adult Equitation class. “Winning both the USEF Adult Equitation and the Talent Search on Saturday felt great, because they are two completely different types of classes. The Talent Search is set more like a jumper class, so you have to be aware of time, and there is a flat phase to think about. The USEF Adult is set more like a hunter course with natural fences, and it involves a work-off. Normally, it is very hard for me to do both at the same time, so I was happy I was able to do that on Saturday. Winning the Talent Search also helped me qualify for the Talent Search Final, and I plan to do the East Coast Finals. This also got me one win closer to my silver medal.” 

Michelle rode her Bergerac in the Talent Search. “He was the very first horse I did junior hunters on, and he is the most reliable horse I have ever owned. He is also very low maintenance: he doesn't wear shoes, he lives in a paddock and hardly needs any lessons. I can literally come home from school, pull him out and take him to a show and he will be perfect.” She rode her first equitation horse, Conrad, in the Adult Equitation. Although he is currently leased to another rider, Michelle was able to borrow him back to get the qualification she needed in the class. “He is such a gentle giant and so much fun to ride. It was definitely a blast from my junior past to ride him again.”

Michelle has been riding with Karen Healey Stables for years, although she is now riding for the University of Georgia where she was the Varsity Equestrian National Champion in Equitation on the Flat. “She’s a great rider,” said Karen’s assistant trainer and barn manager, Melissa Jones. “She’s developed so much since going to college, where she rides a lot of different horses. She’s a great kid and a great student.”  

Three of Michelle’s barn mates joined her at the show specifically to qualify for their medal finals. Holly Dickinson was second in her Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal and CPHA Foundation Equitation, Grace Shelton won the CPHA Junior Medal and placed in the ASPCA Horsemanship, and Haley Harrison earned ribbons in the CPHA Junior Medal and Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal. Melissa commented, “Gold Coast is great for us, because all the medals we need go the same day. We can bring a group in and hopefully get them all qualified in one day. Plus, it’s a nice atmosphere and the competition is great for our students.”

Rachel Thurman (Kay Altheuser, trainer) placed second behind Michelle in the Talent Search and earned blues of her own in the LAHJA/LA Saddlery Junior, ASPCA Horsemanship and Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal classes, then earned the championship in the 1.10M Jumpers class as well.

In all, 13 riders from Kay’s Two Goals Farm took home six championships, five reserve championships and many first and second place ribbons in the hunter, jumper and equitation rings. Kira Zelman was Kay’s jumper star, clinching championships in 1.00M and 1.05M jumpers with her Lancelot and the .90M championship and .85M reserve championship aboard her Arco. Kayla Lott and her Kif Kif D’Elle were 11 and Under Hunter Champions.

Gabriella Barsocchini (Ginny Plancke, trainer) was another star in the equitation ranks, winning her three over fences classes and placing well in several others. “She is a wonderful student,” Ginny said. “She started with me when she was very small and afraid to trot. She has grown tremendously in her riding ability since then. She’s a beautiful young lady.”

The Gold Coast shows are more than an opportunity to have fun, qualify for medal finals and win ribbons. LEG carries a strong tradition of education, and Friday night, Gabrielle Sutton of KAM Animal Services gave a seminar about better health for the horse through nutrition. “It’s a unique program,” explained Steve McAllister of Martin McAllister Training, who coordinated the event. “Jenni (Martin) and I found it at Thermal, and we’re always looking for ways to improve what we do. KAM’s system made a lot of sense to us. We chose Gold Coast as the venue for this seminar because LEG has a tradition of education—Larry Langer has been educating people his whole life—and education is important at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center as well.”

The main theme of the seminar was that of returning to a more natural way of feeding and nutrition. Trainer Jeni Brown of Shadowbrook Stables commented, “It was a very interesting talk. I went because I have a horse on the program and I wanted to learn and understand more about it. It was very eye opening, because a lot of the things we do when feeding our horses aren’t as good for them as we thought. I think what Gabrielle talked about is very important, and I need to do more research on the subject.” Steve and Jenni like to coordinate several educational seminars per year, and plan to offer another one in September.

Medal riders will have their chance to prove their mettle this fall. The Rosewood and LAHJA Horsemanship Finals will run during Gold Coast 6 September 2-5, which serves as the Los Angeles Hunter/Jumper Association Benefit Show. Attendees at this show will have the opportunity to bid on a variety of silent auction items, with proceeds going to LAHJA educational programs. Gold Coast 7, which takes place October 21-24, will host the CPHA Horsemanship and CPHA Child-Adult Regional Finals. Finally, the LA Saddlery Junior and Senior Medal Finals and the LAHJA Pony Medal Finals will run during the National Preview November 10-14.

For more information about Gold Coast 5, including complete results, visit

LEG shows take a hiatus during August, but the action returns September 3-6 at the Woodside Labor Day Classic, and Colorado jumping fans can look forward to the High Prairie Fall Preview September 9-12.

Photos:  Erinn Lew shares a treat with a friend  Photo: Celeste Woo
Michelle Morris won the Talent Search and the USEF Adult Equitation  Photo: Lena King