August 2018 - Go Zone 10!!

College-age Grand Prix riders to pony star jumpers are ready to represent in New York and Kentucky.

by Kim F. Miller

A streamlined name is not the only thing new at the Adequan™ FEI North American Youth Championships. West Coast riders are poised to present their best at the jumping and dressage competition formerly known as the North American Junior Young Riders Championship. Competition takes place Aug. 1-5 at Old Salem Farm in North Salem, N.Y.

More new things include prize money for the jumpers: $50,000 in the Junior division and $75,000 in the Young Riders. USEF Network and FEI TV will stream live competition and enhanced social media coverage is intended to keep fans at home abreast of the action. “These championships are a necessity to the growth of equestrian sport and the development of our youth athletes,” says USEF president Murray Kessler, hence the upgrades.

We’ve also included Zone 10 riders heading to Lexington, KY for the Pony Jumper Championships, which are held Aug. 6-12 in Lexington, Kentucky, as part of the USEF Pony Finals. Zone 10 were champs there last year and have fielded another strong team.

Congratulations to all!


We profiled our area’s dressage and eventing NAYC teams in our July issue, which can be found on www.ridingmagazine.com. The Eventing NAYCs were held at Rebecca Farm, in Montana, July 18-22.


YOUNG RIDERS

Ransome Rombauer & Emorkus RE. Photo: SportFoto

Ransome Rombauer & Emorkus RE
Trainers: Daniel Ighani, Spencer Smith

Ransome is well known in the West, having won the USET Talent Search Finals in 2015 and excelled in all divisions throughout her junior years based in Northern California. Since she began her freshman year at Southern Methodist University in Texas, she was out of sight locally, but not out of mind for Zone 10 chef d’equipe Michael Endicott.

Competing at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL earlier this year, Ransome won the $50,000 Hermes Under 25 Grand Prix Series Final aboard her 9 year old KWPN Emorkus RE, vaulting herself into Zone 10 team eligibility by virtue of money won. She didn’t realize her standing until a few months later, while back home at a favorite stomping ground, the Sonoma Horse Park. There, the Zone 10 chef informed her of her status and recruited her.

It was an easy sell. “I wanted to ride for Zone 10. I feel like we are under-rated and I wanted to be part of the team that shows that.” She bought “Marcus” from Canadian Olympian Eric Lamaze and is grateful to her parents for enabling her to continue pursuing her big ring goals, “so long as I keep my grades up.” She loved riding on SMU’s NCEA team last fall, but has since resigned because it was impossible to do that, campaign on the A circuit and continue with her passion for rescuing Miniature Horses.

Marcus stays with Spencer Smith back East and, when she’s home in California, Ransome rides with her longtime trainer Daniel Ighani in Napa. After fine-tuning in her current target division, the U25s, at Spruce Meadows in June, she looked forward to riding and locally showing her three horses that live with the Ighanis before heading to New York. This will be her first and “last hurrah” with Young Riders, says Ransome, and she’s ready.

Hannah Loly & Ayma De La Demi Lune. Photo: Wendy Gleason/Malibu5starnaturals.com

Hannah Loly & Ayma De La Demi Lune
Trainer: Keri Potter

Team gold and individual silver medalists on the Junior team last year, Hannah and “Maya” didn’t let a mere broken foot get in the way of their return.

“It’s not an exciting story,” says Hannah of stumbling en route to a high school track team practice (appropriately, she’s a hurdler) and breaking her foot a week before the third of four Zone 10 selection trials at Del Mar in April. An urgent care doctor diagnosed a hairline fracture and put her in a walking boot for two weeks, during which she rode bareback.

It didn’t feel great to slip the broken foot into a riding boot, but she did it without excessive pain and finished the Del Mar trial a remarkable second to lock in her spot. Once the adrenaline ebbed and she hopped off, however, “I could barely walk.” It was off to another doctor, who put Hannah in a cast for two months. As of mid-July, Hannah felt she was pretty close to 100 percent, with plans to tune-up at Showpark before heading East.

Hannah’s truncated saddle time is counterbalanced. The 16-year-old and her 12 year old mare, an experienced Grand Prix horse, have a full year together and Hannah had two terrific learning opportunities. She began the year riding in the George Morris Horsemastership Clinic in Florida, (with teammate Natalie Dean) then attended the World Cup Finals in Paris in April. She had met Beezie Madden at the clinic, then watched her win in Paris. The riders and horses were all “amazing and so fun to watch!” especially Beezie. “She was so composed in everything. When she had the rail in the third round, there was the big sigh from the crowd. You could tell she heard it but it didn’t affect her riding.”

Hannah’s friendship and shared experiences with teammates Natalie and Hayden were enhanced by representing Zone 10 in Prix Des States competition and they share a pumped up attitude toward the Championships. “It’s going to be good!” she assures.

Natalie Dean & Chacco’s Goldy. Photo: Kim F. Miller

Hayden Zadel & Triskel De Kerliven. Photo: ABJ 2018

Natalie Dean & Chacco’s Goldy
Hayden Zadel & Triskel De Kerliven
Trainers: Willow Tree Farm

Natalie and Hayden return to the Championships leading the “A” team having locked up their spots before the dust settled in the final qualifying process. Their Grand Prix accomplishments and close friendship are detailed in the July issue of California Riding Magazine. It’s available online at www.RidingMagazine.com.


JUNIOR TEAM

Alex Volpi & La Corunja 6. Photo: Sofia Jain

Alessandra Volpi & La Carunja 6
Trainers: Harley & Olivia Brown

This year marks Alex’s third year going out for the Zone 10 team and it may well be the charm. The first year, her now-equitation horse was a tad short on the considerable scope needed and, the second year, an injury occurred. This year, the 18-year-old and her “wild little girl,” aka “Coco,” are good to go. Alex has had the mare for about 18 months, well past early phases of “her being a bit difficult for me to ride. She’s your typical mare, feisty and argues with me sometimes, so I had to learn how to be more delicate in my riding.” Everything came together just in time for the trials. Along with the experience she’s heard so much about from stablemates including three-time Young Riders contender, Sarah Baz, Alex sees the Championships as a great stepping stone to the Grand Prix ring.

After making the team and getting the advice to keep horses as fit as possible for the hot weather and rigorous rounds awaiting in New York, Coco promptly whacked her eye in her stall and has had to take it easy. Treadmill work helped her stay in shape, and Alex stayed on form competing on other horses this summer until she could ride Coco again in mid-July. “It was a little panicky at first, but she’s fine now,” Alex reports.

She hopes to keep on an ambitious jumping path after entering Stanford University in the fall, but knows that might be tough. “Riding has been my main thing since I was a little kid, so I really hope I can continue.” Former Stanford student and Grand Prix pro Eve Jobs has already reached out with tips for that impressive juggling act, Alex shares.

She’s especially excited to be carrying the “X” banner with teammates from Harley and Olivia Brown’s barn, Emma Reichow and alternate Katherine Brewer.

Ty Simpson & Why Not. Photo: Mika Clear

Ty Simpson & Why Not
Trainer: Nicole Simpson

Sixteen year old Ty Simpson got a late start following in his famous parents’ footsteps. Dad Will is the 2008 team gold Olympic show jumper and mom Nicki is an accomplished international jumping rider.

“I had no interest in riding a horse and played every sport in America until, one day, I wanted to ride.” For no particular reason that Ty can remember, that happened about three years ago. He started riding western, for six months, then tried jumping, which was “such a cool feeling” that he was hooked.

It’s Ty’s first Championships, but not his horse’s. Fifteen year old Why Not was big sister Sophie’s gold team and individual partner in 2016, their fourth Championships outing. Ty got the ride in early 2017. They weren’t totally sure they were ready, but a good go in the first Zone 10 trial at HITS Coachella early this year was encouraging. He thought his win in the Sunday trial at Sonoma Horse Park might make him team alternate and was thrilled to get a regular spot instead.

Ty and Why Not continued serious preparation at Spruce Meadows in early summer. The 1.4M division was the original plan, but when the only chance to ride in the venue’s legendary international ring meant stepping up to 1.45, then 1.5M, he was up for it. After getting his mom’s OK that “she was emotionally prepared” to see him tackle a 1.5M track, he finished with one “cheap rail at the skinny” and one time fault. Great preparation, but Ty knows that team competition is a different deal. He’s not worried about the heights. “But when you get to the Championships, the pressure goes up and the nerves get higher.”

His super seasoned parents will likely have good advice for handling that.

Alyce Bittar & Lara Croft B. Photo: McCool Photography

Alyce Bittar & Lara Croft B
Trainer: Georges Bittar

Eighteen year old Alyce returns to the Championships with a new partner, Lara Croft B. The Carthago daughter from Paul Schocklemöhle’s program has major Grand Prix mileage and she and Alyce have been racking up wins all year. She credits riding in the USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Gold Star clinic with Richard Spooner in January as a key to “coming together with her.”

“She’s super hot, strong and very sensitive in the mouth,” Alyce explains. “She requires a more technical ride and the discipline to really ride each jump more.” Being part of the USEF Nations Cup Junior team to earn gold in Langely, British Columbia in early June is another confidence builder for the pair heading into New York.

Emma Reichow & Cubiki. Photo: 2018 ESI

Emma Reichow & Cubiki
Trainers: Olivia & Harley Brown

As an alternate for the A team last year, Emma gained great experience riding all the tracks but “not with the pressure of riding well for the team,” explains the 16-year-old from Menlo Park. “I got to experience it in a more relaxed way, so, hopefully, I’ll be ready for it, with pressure, this year!”

Cubiki is a 9 year old Holsteiner stallion she’s been riding for about 18 months. Her trainers campaigned him briefly, then Emma partnered with the relative green horse early this year, quickly moving up the levels. Simultaneously, she and Apex did well on the even bigger Young Rider courses throughout the qualifying season, earning the A team alternate spot. Choosing the regular spot on the Junior team was her choice and she thinks Cubiki’s consistency will be a big asset. “He’s at the top of his game.”

She’s excited on to be on a “really strong team.”

Katherine Brewer & Kangano. Photo: Wendy Gleason/Malibu5starnaturals.com

Katherine Brewer & Kangano (alternates)
Trainers: Olivia & Harley Brown

Kangano started the year as a back-up horse to Katherine’s 2017 Junior team partner Corleone. When the latter got injured, her Grand Prix goals for the year fell on Kangano’s shoulders. The 11 year old German import “stepped up to the plate,” explains Katherine. “He’s turned out to be an incredible horse and we’ve bonded.” He’s a little different from her previous mounts, requiring Katherine’s confidence expressed through lots of leg. “He gets a little scared, but is so much braver when he knows that I am with him.” Throwing her heart over, Katherine has been followed by her new horse to impressive finishes all season. It helped that she has great faith in her coaches. “They knew we could do it.”

As an NAYC returnee, “I have much more of an idea what we’re getting into and I know exactly what I have to do,” Katherine explains of the electric, pressure-packed environment.

After the Championships, Katherine hopes to keep making progress in the Grand Prix arena. She’ll be starting college at St. Mary’s in the East Bay Area’s Moraga this fall and hopes to trek across the bay four times a week to ride her horses with the Browns.


CHILDRENS

Dylan Laiken & Callao

Dylan Laiken & Callao
Trainer: Georges Bittar & Mary Rivas

 

Dylan leads the team in Zone 10’s defense of 2017 Childrens team and individual gold. With another year of extensive competition and making the most of educational opportunities, she’ll be tough to beat. January’s USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider clinic with Richard Spooner kicked off her year and June saw her take part in the USHJA’s Emerging Athlete Program training session with Kip Rosenthal and Nanci Synder. A golden outing with the Langley, BC Nations Cup team in early summer topped off their preparation.

A pony star with her favorite, Hollywood, Dylan began her rapid ascent in the jumper divisions early. She contended her first Grand Prix last year at 13, and has won on the East and West Coasts. Being part of a team is the most compelling aspect of the Championships. “We work together to produce one thing,” she explains. Walking the courses together and strategizing the riding order and who will go in the speed round are among her favorite elements of the event.

Dylan is also active in giving back to the community. This year, she was named Youth Ambassador for the Hollenbeck Police Business Council & Inner City Games.

Alexa Leong & Hertogin Ter Drie Leien

Alexa Leong & Hertogin Ter Drie Leien   
Trainer: Jan & Jill Humphries

Alexa has been steadily racking up victories and valuable experience. She’s a returnee from last year’s team golden Childrens effort and a two-time participant in the FEI Childrens Nations Cup, most recently helping the U.S. to gold at the Odlum Brown BC Open in Langley, British Columbia in early summer. In the last year, “I’ve progressed with my horse and feel more confident coming into the Championships.” Even though she’s only 13 (FEI age 14), she’s a veteran in the unique art of team riding. “There’s more pressure and a little bit of stress because you don’t want to let your team down. It’s also really exciting to represent your zone.”

Riding in the USHJA Emerging Jumper Athlete Gold Star Clinic with Richard Spooner was a great way to start 2018. “It was unlike other clinics because, along with riding, you learned about taking care of your horse and all the basics of horsemanship.” Richard’s perspective was different and helpful, she says.  Along with being a fun clinician, he emphasized “not worrying so much about the distance and being perfect when you ride,” Alexa says. “Instead, it was about you and your horse and how you can benefit your horse. I got a lot of great information out of it.”

She’s excited to ride with last year’s teammate, Dylan, and getting to know her new teammates.

Caroline Mawhinney & Flashback VDS

Caroline Mawhinney & Flashback VDS   
Trainers: Rachel & Jeff Fields

A member of last year’s gold winning Pony Jumper Finals team, 12 year old Caroline is ready to rock the Childrens ranks aboard Flashback VDS, aka “Bambi” or “Bam Bam.” She found the mare while visiting and competing in Florida early this year and explains that “Bambi” refers to the mare’s small size and “Bam Bam” to her sometimes “sassy” nature. By any name, “She loves to go fast and loves her job,” Caroline reports. “She’s very springy and, even if we have a bad distances, she springs right over the jump.”

Caroline set her sights on the NAYCs as soon as she bought Flashback. A busy show schedule and progressing to the 1.25M division have made them a very competitive pair. “It’s all been perfect timing.”

Goals beyond this summer include continuing upward progress in the jumper divisions to fulfill international dreams and becoming a large animal veterinarian.

Nell Cunningham & Quintana 57. Photo: Andrew Ryback

Nell Cunningham & Quintana 57
Trainer: Meredith Herman

Thirteen year old Nell was a little so-so on the jumper division while dabbling in it with her pony hunter. Her trainer of several years, Meredith, suspected she would love it, and when Nell got “Quin” a year ago, that proved true.

“We clicked immediately,” says Nell, who had scouted the mare online before buying her. She had the Championships on her radar after stablemate Virginia Bonnie contested them last year. On entering the 1.10M division at HITS Coachella, Nell progressed from thinking NAYC would “never happen,” to “real stretch” to “we can totally make this happen!” They entered the 1.2Ms in the spring and quickly racked up enough points.


PONIES

Tabitha Okitsu & Spoot De La Jourlais

Tabitha Okitsu & Spoot De La Jourlais
Trainer: Caroline & David Sterckx

This pair dominated the Pony Jumper Finals last year, logging four perfect rounds to earn individual gold and team gold for Zone 10. It was an exciting, fun experience that Tabitha looks forward to returning to, especially because four of five teammates are also barnmates at Sterckx Stables.

“Spoot” is a 12 year old Arabian/Connemara cross who likes to leave air to spare over the fences. He and Tabitha tuned up in late June by participating in the USHJA’s Emerging Athlete Program Regional Training session with Kip Rosenthal coaching and Nanci Synder leading horsemanship lessons in the barn. Learning about horses’ normal vital signs and what to look for as signs of internal problems were among Tabitha’s take-aways from the late-June event.

Sydney Flashman & Focalize Dew. Photo: Sara Shier Photography

Sydney Flashman & Focalize Dew Drop
Trainers: Caroline & David Sterckx

Another returnee from last year’s gold squad, Sydney is a veteran of the U.S. Pony Finals in Kentucky, which include the Pony Jumper Finals. The 16-year-old is in between horses at the moment and grateful for the chance to ride Dewey, who is owned by stablemates, the Hamilton family. The 7-year-old mare arrived from Belgium early this year and Sydney has been emphasizing flatwork to improve her jumping. “She did not have a big understanding of collecting, extending and lateral work when she first came here,” the rider explains. Over-excitement on course and rushing the jumps were initial issues that have been resolved through flat work.

Sydney has had some rough rounds in previous Pony Finals outings, so she’s especially looking forward to having this year’s work pay off and helping Zone 10 defend its title.

Hannah Attar & Rafale Des Mauvis

Hannah Attar & Rafale Des Mauvis
Trainers: Caroline & David Sterckx

It took a while for 15 year old Hannah to get used to Rafale when she imported him from Belgium two years ago. “He is very powerful and strong and he enjoys bucking!” she reports. Her position has strengthened to be ready for that and she now interprets his bucking as “him expressing himself and being happy and excited. He’s not being mean.” While their partnership took some time to gel, “we now feel super prepared and I really trust him and know he is going to do his job.”

As one of four Sterckx Stables riders on the team, Hannah explains that the ponies David and Caroline find in their native Belgium have a lot do with why the Zone 10 team is so strong. “These ponies are incredible, so much so that a lot of riders in our barn choose to get them instead of horses.”

Zacko Hardin & The Girl Next Door. Photo: Captured Moment Photography

Zacko Hardin & The Girl Next Door
Trainer: Kristin Hardin

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in 12 year old Zacko, whose mom and trainer Kristin is a top jumping rider. A newbie on the Zone 10 Pony team, Zacko will ride the Thoroughbred mare whose “Dinky” nickname comes from her diminutive 14HH height. She is a twin, Zacko explains, and her small size is what makes her eligible for the pony team. She came Zacko’s way as a for-sale horse, and he jumped at owner Patty Arnett’s offer to go out for the Pony Jumper team. Outings on the Arizona show circuit and Showpark were positive and he’s excited to be heading to Kentucky.

Zacko brings the team experience of representing the U.S., with his sister, in the 2017 FEI Childrens Jumper Championship in Bagota, Columbia. “We catch rode horses drawn from a hat and it was a really good experience.” Along with valuable mileage and a talented “pony,” Zacko will be wearing the “lucky boots” his mom gave him as a birthday gift. They are topped with a red dragon made by family friend Mary Jensen, whose intricate and artistic leatherwork is well known on the show circuit.