2022 – A YEAR IN REVIEW – California Dressage Society Members Earn Notoriety Nationally and Internationally

by Regina Antonioli • photos: ©www.TerriMiller.com

Following the Olympics in 2021, where three out of the four horse/rider combinations on the Team were from California, it was hard to imagine what would follow. But CDS dressage riders are proving there is both quality and depth in their talent. While there are some familiar faces on the winner’s podiums, it’s is exciting to see so many new faces emerging.

It started last spring in Leipzig, Germany. Anna Buffini (San Diego, CA) and her 2007 Hanoverian mare, FRH Davinia La Douce were the first combination to enter down centerline, at the FEI Dressage World Cup Final. In their debut at a World Cup Final. The pair earned a 74.011 percent in the Freestyle for a twelfth place overall.

Genay Vaughn & Gino

“I was so happy with her today, said Buffini, “The atmosphere was massive and it’s the biggest stage we’ve ever been on together and she was definitely feeling it, but for her to go in there and trust me shows the hard work we’ve put in and the harmony we have, and I couldn’t have asked anything more from her today”

Two CDS Young Riders were selected to the U.S. Young Rider European Tour. Erin Nichols (Yorba Linda, CA) and Handsome Rob AR, a 2012 Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Diane Nichols and Christian Simonson (Ventura, CA) and Zeaball Diawind, a 2012 Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Christina Morgan spent over a month in Europe under the guidance of U.S. Youth Coach, Georges Williams who commented, “It is exciting to see them have this wonderful opportunity to gain invaluable European experience in the international arena and compete against some of the best young riders in the world.”

Sage Chacon & Apfelkorn

The combinations along with Mackenzie Peer (Leawood, KS) concluded their tour at the Youth Nations Cup at the Hagen Future Champions CDIOY in Hagen, Germany, June 14-19 with a team finish in the Hagen CDIOY, taking eighth place. Simonson and Son of a Lady were very impressive in their FEI Young Rider Freestyle, earning a personal best 75.875 percent to finish fourth overall in the class.

Few Dressage competitions in the world have the elite allure of Aachen, Germany. The U.S. was represented by two combinations in the Prix St. Georges, including Charlotte Jorst (Reno, NV) and her own Zhaplin Langholt, a 2013 Danish Warmblood gelding, took fifth place with a score of 71.647 percent.

In the Grand Prix Jorst rode Kastel’s Nintendo. The pair have been competing at the FEI level together since 2014, having completed nearly 154 CDI classes together during their career. The duo received a 71.565 percent for second highest score of the team results. But it was the five-time Olympian, Steffen Peters (San Diego, CA) guiding Suppenkasper, the 2008 KWPN gelding owned by Four Winds Farm and Akiko Yamazaki, to a team-high score of 75.261 percent. The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team took seventh place in the FEI Dressage Nations Cup CDIO5*.

Kristina Harrison-Antell & I Felix

Two CDS Young Riders were also on hand in Aachen. Christian Simonson on Son of a Lady joined Miki Yang (Los Altos Hills, CA) aboard Donavan, a 2009 Hanoverian gelding owned by Four Winds Farm. Both participated in the FEI Young Rider classes where they earned scored over 70% to finish the week.

In September US Equestrian selected two Californians to represent U.S. Dressage at 2022 FEI WBFSH Dressage World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in Ermelo, Netherlands. Jennifer Hoffmann (Carlsbad, CA) and Mani’s Endeavor, a 2016 Hanoverian gelding owned by Nasrin Mani, scored 8.16 in the FEI Six-Year-Old Preliminary Test, moving directly to the finals and a quality finish. Sabine Schut-Kery (Vista, CA) and Gorgeous Latino, a 2016 Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Sandy Mancini, scored 8.14 in the Preliminary and moved to the Small Final improving their score, to an 8.34, and a fourth place in the small final.

“We went there with two horse-and-rider combinations to be competitive and really represent the United States in the way that we are known for in the international sport,” said Chef d’Equipe, and U.S. Dressage Young Horse Coach Christine Traurig. “We had well trained and well ridden horses, being aware of how competitive that competition is.”

The Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team officially qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games as a result of their sixth place finish at the Blue Hors FEI World Team Dressage Grand Prix Championship presented by Helgstrand at the 2022 ECCO FEI World Championships in Herning, Denmark. The team finished on a final team score of 220 with Steffen Peters and his 2021 Olympic partner Suppenkasper earning the highest score for the team with a 74.767 percent. They were joined by their Olympic Team-mates Adrianne Lyle (Wellington FL) on Betsy Wood’s, Salvino.

California riders representing Region 7 at the 2022 North American Youth Championships in Traverse City Michigan enjoyed a “lot of depth of talent,” according to Regional Youth Coordinator, Ann Boehning. One of only two regions able to field complete teams in both the Junior and Young Rider Dressage Competition earning two Team Medals and four Individual Medals.

Maggie Evans & Fuengirola

The FEI Junior Team comprised of Emme Chisholm (Ramona, CA) on her own Improv; Maggie Evans (Agoura Hills, CA) on Fuengirola, co-owned with her parents; Jojo Hinnemann (Murrieta, CA) on Copa Cabana owned by Natalie Hinnemann; and Anna Yost (Mountain View, CA) on her Irieno-S won the Team Bronze. Hinnemann and Yost both finished in the top ten in the FEI Individual Test. Hinnemann, Yost and Evans finished in the top ten in the Musical Freestyle test.

The FEI Young Rider team including Erin Nichols on her own Handsome Rob AR; Ellanor Boehning (Rancho Santa Fe, CA) on Sir Junior, co-owned with her mother; Lucienne Bacon (Atherton, CA) on her Do Re Me; and twin sister, Lily-Rose Bacon (Atherton, CA) on her Warm Night took home the Team Silver Medal. Nichols garnered the high score of the Team Competition with a 70.147%. Boehning was third in the FEI Individual Test and second in the Freestyle, while Nichols went on to win the Individual Gold and was first in the Freestyle, earning her the Fiona Baan “Pursuit of Excellence” award for the rider that receives the highest combined average score for all three of their dressage tests, FEI Young Rider Team, Individual, and Freestyle.

“I am very proud to represent the West Coast at a big championship like NAYC,” sad Nichols following thee event. “I always enjoy being a part of the team and we always become great friends during the competition.”

Jackie Ahl-Eckhaus & Jett MVS

A total of 168 horse and rider combinations competed at the 2022 U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions HITS Chicago / Lamplight Equestrian Center. California Dressage Society had a strong presence with over twenty competitors vying for top honors.

The charge was led by Para rider, Mia Rodier-Dawallo (Santa Barbara, CA), who captured the Championship title (Grades I-V) on her own KWPN gelding, Jayden. This was the first time Para Dressage was offered at the Festival and Mia’s first trip to a National Finals.

Eight CDS combinations competed in the three Markel/USEF Young Horse Divisions.

Alyssa Doverspike Burkett (Murrieta, CA) and For Edition, the 2018 Westphalian gelding owned by Doverspike Burkett, Kimberly Pribble, and David Wightman, were third overall in the USEF Four-Year-Old Horse with a score of 86.040. Dawn White-O’Connor rode Tiggy Gates KWPN gelding, Nobility LH to a fourth-place finish overall with an 83.720.

In the Five-Year-Old contest, Rebecca Rigdon (Cardiff by the Sea, CA) earned a fourth place finish on MSJ For Vips, a 2017 gelding owned by Lauren Fisher. Doverspike’s second horse, Dorri also made the trip as part of the qualified top 15.

Three Californians made it to the top 15 in the Six-Year-Old Division, including Rigdon on Lauren Fisher’s Lionell VE. She and the Dutch Gelding scored an 82.400 for the Reserve Champion honors. When asked about her mount Rigdon said, “I’m very happy with my guy today. He was gelded last fall and needed some time to get strength and he’s new to me as well since December. And I’m really, really happy with him. The one mistake he made was totally my fault, which I’m thrilled with. That I can fix easily! I’m super happy with that.”

Genay Vaughn & Fleur Noir WSHS

Making it a family affair, Rigdon’s husband, David Blake (Cardiff by the Sea, CA) picked up eighth in the Six-Year-Old Preliminary on his own KWPN gelding, Lion Heart (78.000) and sixth in the Seven-Year-Old Preliminary on Delilah (74.700), a Hanoverian mare owned by Leslie Albright.

Rounding out our ‘Young Horse’ contingent were Carla Schulz (Vacaville, CA) riding Christiane Noelting’s AHS gelding, Quinique and Amelia Newcomb (Simi Valley, CA) who finished tenth in the Seven-Year-Old on her own Dutch gelding, Kensington.

Newcomb returned in the Developing Horse Grand Prix with a seventh place finish on another of her mounts, the 2012 KWPN gelding, Harvard.

Carla Schulz & Qunique

Jackie Ahl-Eckhaus (San Luis Obispo, CA) and Jett MVS, her 2014 KWPN gelding, were third in the USEF Developing Horse Prix St. Georges. Ahl-Eckhaus: “I bred him. I foaled him at my house. And I kept him in the beginning because he was really little. The saddle would slide up the withers when he was four. But there was something about him. That’s how he got the name Jet. He used to spark around, and he thought he ran the farm.”

Kimberly McGrath (Yucaipa, CA) was also in the Developing Horse Prix St. Georges and earned sixth overall on her Oldenburg gelding, MSJ Celebrity with a 67.638.

Five West Coast riders were in the top fifteen of the Small Tour, made up of Prix St. Georges for 40%, Intermediate I for 45%, and Freestyle for 15%. Rigdon topped the list with a third place over all finish on her own 2013, KWPN mare, Iquem (71.350). Kathleen Raine (Murrieta, CA) was a close fourth on Figaro (70.698), a Westfalen gelding she owns with Marti Foster. US Olympic alternate, Nick Wagman (San Diego, CA) was sixth on a new mount, Heatcliff (69.900) a KWPN gelding owned by long-time sponsor, Beverly Gepfer. Kim Yacobucci rode her own 2013 KWPN gelding, Ichibam (69.832) and Teri Patton-Rich rounded out the top 12 on her 2012 AHS mare, Belissa SVS.

Daniela Groenke (Hope, ID) was our only representative in the Large Tour, earning a overall 66.237 on her own Oldenburg gelding, Bardolino.

Ava Dingley & Sir Furstenhanz

Several young competitors gave us a sense that the future of Dressage in the West may indeed be in good hands. In the FEI Children Division, Mia Folk (Fullerton, CA) rode her German PWE, Alastor to a sixth place 74.690, followed in ninth by Sage Chacon on her KWPN gelding, Apfelkorn (73.793). In the Adequan/USEF FEI Junior Championships Josephine Hinnemann (Murrieta, CA) and Copa Cabana MRF, picked up third place.

The high quality and depth-of-quality of horses and riders were on full display at 55th Annual California Dressage Society Horse of the Year Championships and the 2002 GAIG/USDF Region 7 Championships. Over 200 horses competed in four rings, over four days at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. More than seventy-five championship titles were awarded to Open, Amateur and Junior riders, including 33 in the CDS Futurity and more than 50 Musical Freestyle rides. Over $55,000 in prize money and awards were at stake, as well as the Championship Titles.

One rider, who exemplified this quality was 22-year-old Carla Schulz (Vacaville, CA). Riding the flashy chestnut Qunique N, owned by Christiane Noelting, Shultz won every class entered on the 6-year-old, Hanoverian gelding. The pair never earned below a 73% in any test at Third Level, earning the CDS Third Level Horse of the Year title, the GAIG/USDF Region 7 Championship title. And with their 76.305% in the Freestyle the captured both the CDS Third/Fourth Level Grand Championship and the overall Freestyle Championship for First-Fourth Level competitors.

Mia Folk & Alastor

For a complete list of results and champions go to the CDS website, www.california-dressage.org.

All these top results have positioned a number of CDS riders and horses on U.S. lists of National competition programs:

The Elite Program’s aim is to provide support and resources to those athlete/horse combinations that have been proven they are internationally competitive. Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper (owned by Four Winds Farm and Akiko Yamazaki) are one of only three named to this program, while Anna Buffini and her FRH Davinia La Douce, Charlotte Jorst with Kastel’s Nintendo and Nick Wagman with Don John (owned by Beverly Gepfer) are named to the Pre-Elite Program.

The Aim of the Kundrun USEF Dressage Development Program is to provide strategic guidance and resources to selected athletes with the perceived ability to make the Podium or contribute to Podium scores, within the following two quadrennials. Honored to be named for this program are CDS riders, Claire Darnell (Moorpark, CA) with her own nine-year-old KWPN gelding, Harold S; Kristina Harrison-Antell (Burbank, CA) with I Felix, Jocelyn Towne’s eight-year-old KWPN gelding; Jennifer Hoffmann with Rondoro Noblesse, her own nine-year-old Austrian Warmblood stallion; Charlotte Jorst on her nine-year-old Danish Warmblood, Zhaplin Langholt; Amelia Newcomb (Simi Valley, CA) with Harvard, her own eight-year-old KWPN gelding. Genay Vaughn (Elk Grove, CA) with Fleur Noir WSHS, her and Michele Vaughn’s eight-year-old Hanoverian mare; and Dawn White-O’Connor (San Diego, CA) and Hudson M, Four Winds Farm’s nine-year-old KWPN.

Rebecca Rigdon & MSJ For Vips

Aimed at providing strategic guidance and educational opportunities to athletes under the age of 25, the USEF/USDF program, will provide access to educational opportunities and competition planning for qualified athletes, Our CDS representative is Christian Simonson and Zeaball Diawind, Christina Morgan’s ten-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding.

On the Emerging Athletes list are Erin Nichols and Handsome Rob AR; Dennesy Rogers (Thousand Oaks, CA) and Chanel, Dorriah Roger’s 15-year-old Danish Warmblood mare. Christian Simonson and Son of a Lady; and Miki Yang on Donovan.

CDS boasts five on the Developing Horse List including, Willy Arts (Hanford, CA) with Koning DG, DG Bar Ranch’s KWPN Stallion and L Primo DG, DG Bar Ranch’s KWPN stallion; David Blake with Leslie Albright’s Delilah and Lion Heart his own Dutch Warmblood Gelding; Jennifer Hoffmann with Mani’s Endeavor; Rebecca Rigdon with MSJ for VIPs; and Sabine Schut-Kery with Gorgeous Latino.

Two CDS riders were awarded prestigious grants. Ava Dingley (Simi Valley, CA) was selected by the Dressage Foundation as one of five Young Riders to participate in the Dream Program: Wellington 2023. Thanks to generous donors, the Dream Program is a fully funded opportunity for riders who are 18-22 years old, riding Third Level and above, and who have never trained or competed in Wellington, Florida. The selection committee based their decision on candidates’ merit, riding proficiency, a history of volunteering in the dressage community, and commitment to training in the sport of dressage.

Genay Vaughn (Elk Grove, CA) and Fleur Noir WSHS were selected by Dressage Foundation to receive this year’s $25,000 Anne L. Barlow-Ramsay Grant for U.S.-Bred Horses.

Fleur Noir WSHA is an eight-year-old Hanoverian mare bred by Lawrence and Janet Jones of West Sierra Hanoverian Sport Horses and owned by Genay and her mother Michele Vaughn and CDS Board Member. The 28-year-old Genay, a past Young Rider Champion and USDF gold medalist, has been partnered with Fleur for three years. She has taken the 17.2 hand black mare from First Level to Prix St. Georges and Intermediate I. In 2022, Genay and Fleur qualified to become members of the Kundrun USEF Dressage Development Program. Earlier this year, they were the USDF Region 7 Reserve Champion in Intermediate I, and Third in the CDS PSG Horse of the Year Championships.

Proving to be a true “Developing” candidate, Vaughn was also the CDS Grand Prix Champion and Great American/USDF Reserve Champion on Gino, a ten-year-old, KWPN gelding she and her mom imported from Europe.

About her selection, Genay said, “I’m so incredibly grateful for TDF’s Dr. Anne L. Barlow-Ramsay Fund for U.S-Bred Horses and their truly remarkable support. To be the recipient of such a prestigious grant means the world to me. I look forward to utilizing this gracious commitment from the Fund to push even more aggressively toward my dreams of representing the USA at the highest level with my U.S.-bred mare.”

Vaughn plans to use her grant funding to train with German Olympic team member, Frederic Wandres during the Florida winter season and then travel to Europe in the spring. Her goal is to compete with Fleur in Intermediate II in 2023.