March 2016 - Eventers Reflect, Project & Celebrate
Written by Chris Scarlett, Area VI Chair
Tuesday, 01 March 2016 08:02
PDF Print E-mail

Spurring growth at lower levels is a priority as Area VI tries to top a stellar 2015.

by Chris Scarlett, Area VI Chair • all photos by Stephen Boyer

On the National level, Area VI has much to be proud of and many to congratulate for their success in 2015. Several of Area VI members were presented with some of the most prestigious awards the USEA offers during that organization’s national convention in December. (See California Riding Magazine, January 2016 issue.) Special thanks to one of those award winners, Bea DiGrazia, for her recent tenure as our Area Chairman from 2012-2015.

Boyd Martin

Beth Cannon, Area VI awards banquet organizer.

In 2015, Area VI saw an increase of 300 starters from 2014 in the Preliminary and above divisions. We rank third in the nation for the number of starters at these levels but we drop to sixth of the 10 areas in the number of starters in Training and below. Our goal in the coming year is to work to encourage participation at these levels so we can continue to feed our upper levels and improve our standing at the national level in the lower divisions.

Locally, we had one of the most exciting and successful meetings this year on Jan. 23-24. As always, we must thank Robert Kellerhouse for his devotion to the sport and for sharing Galway Downs with us.

Brian Sabo worked his magic as emcee to get the festivities off on the right foot. He wasted no time thanking Beth Cannon for the days and weeks of preparation. She is a master at procuring fabulous silent auction items, orchestrating the prize giving and setting up a gala for everyone. Her biggest strength may be in generating momentum and jumping in to capitalize on Boyd Martin’s entertaining auctioneer skills. Her timing and enthusiasm generated the largest income from our silent auction to date.

Dawn Robbins, our Adult Rider Coordinator, ran a successful silent auction again this year and, with the assistance of Linda Paine, they collected the money hand over fist. We can’t thank everyone enough for their generous donations and support of the Area.

Area VI Owner of the Year, Judith McSwain, with Tamie Smith.

Volunteer of the Year, Cassie Harkins

We want to thank Cavalia, Sunsprite Warmbloods, Suzanne Leonard,, Escada, Pam Fisher’s Sea Lion, Red Mare Wines and Boyd Martin and his signed chair for making our Area VI Live auction a great success! (Best wishes to Boyd, who sustained a broken collarbone two weeks after our meeting. We wish him a speedy recovery.)

Area VI is strong in supporters of the sport and we were happy to reward many for their years of devotion.

First we must give great appreciation and gratitude to our devoted owners. Truly, without them, we have a very limited sport. They stay behind the scenes and support, support, support. They quietly beam for the success of their horse, happy in its achievements and as well as their rider, with whom they share the joy of success and the agony of defeat. Their financial, emotional and endless support must always be celebrated.

This year’s “Area VI Owner of the Year” is Judith McSwain. A humble and willing owner, Judith does everything she can to support her horses and riders. She has always been a generous fan of the Young Rider and Adult Rider programs for Area VI and the USEA. Fleeceworks and Judith truly love three-day eventing. Tamra Smith was overwhelming in her praise of Fleeceworks Royal and her good fortune to ride for Judith McSwain when she presented this award. She looks forward to continuing this long time partnership with Judith and her horses.

Taren Hoffos, Margie Davis and Dawn Robbins.

Christine Trayham.

This year our “Volunteer of the Year” award went to Cassie Harkins. Cassie became a volunteer after starting as a competitor in Area VI. For 40 years she has painted jumps, scribed, been a ring steward and a co-organizer. She was the starter at the Ram Tap Horse Trials, she has volunteered at The Horse Park at Woodside since it was established as CTETA. And today she still organizes volunteers and supports the community of eventing. She can do any task. Cassie is the kind of individual that keeps our sport moving forward and makes it possible for us to have the kind of efficiently run events that we are lucky to have in Area VI. When you see Cassie please tell her thank you!

The “Sunsprite Warmbloods Sportsmanship Award” which was presented by Wendy Webb in recognition of her sister Wanda Webb, went to Margie Davis from Copper Meadows. Taren Hoffos said “Margie competes at the Preliminary level and has been the volunteer coordinator for Copper Meadows for approximately 10 years.  She also works for the Copper Meadows’ one-day shows as our cross-country controller – a role in which I’ve seen her drive her motorbike around the course next to a rider who is doing their first ever cross-country, cheering them on. Around the barn she’s a big supporter of her teammates; she is known for the sweet things she does – getting everyone matching stock ties, for example, and making all the horses at the barn a bran mash with peppermints for Christmas.  She’s a very caring person who is genuinely excited to watch others do well in the sport.”

Bec Braitling.

Donald Trotter & Louise Blankenship.

Best buddies and biz partners Tamie Smith and Heather Morris

We want to thank Margie Malloy as she steps down from the Board of Governors and the Area Council. Margie, an FEI steward, will continue participation in the sport as an official.

Christine Trayham, our new Young Rider Coordinator, thanked Kim Littlehale for her many years of service to the Young Rider program. Kim will continue to work behind the scenes offering advice and experience. Raising money, organizing educational clinics, and arranging transportation for horses and competitors are just a few of the tasks that the coordinator must do. Kim held the position for six years and will embrace a well deserved break from the responsibilities.

Bec Braitling was also thanked for her Area VI devotion to the teaching and support of the young rider program as well as having been the Chef d’ Equipe. We look forward to Bec continuing in this role.

Donald Trotter showed his appreciation for the many hats Louise Blankenship wears at the events with a Junior Black & Decker tool set. You can’t drive a water truck, fix a fence, or announce cross-country without the right tools.

This year all the divisions were awarded with third place as well. Please check out the 2015 Area VI Leaderboard online to find out all those who received these awards. Thank you to all who came and enjoyed the festivities. We look forward to another successful year of eventing in Area VI!

For more information, visit