January 2015 - CPHA Honors Nine Members of H/J World

Hat’s Off! CPHA honors nine members of hunter/jumper world with special awards.

produced by Kim F. Miller & Alicia Anthony

Jim Hagman with Halie Robinson

Horseman Of The Year: Jim Hagman

By Vanessa Bartsch

Jim is the sort of professional who inspires me to strive to do more, teach better and think bigger – while never forgetting that the students we teach and the horses we care for must be our first priority.

I came to know Jim when we were starting to build the program at Stanford 10 years ago. A dozen different people I respected – trainers, owners and students alike – all said that if I wanted to model our new program after the best, I had to look at Elvenstar. Of course they were right.

Over the past 30 years, Jim’s vision has remained steadfast from the day he laid the first brick, developing the rarest of equestrian programs – where youngsters can safely take their very first ride while talented juniors and amateurs can succeed in the upper echelons of our sport on horses Jim has found, imported and molded into brilliant partners.

The things that make Jim stand out are his intellectual curiosity, his gift for teaching and the unending care he extends to those around him. Jim’s careful study of the art of education makes him a truly dynamic teacher. He’s been one of the lead clinicians at Stanford for a decade, spending time teaching everyone from Walk Trot riders in their first year of showing to some of the top collegiate riders in the country. What’s remarkable is his ability to teach to any level, dynamically and creatively, without ever diminishing his respect for their effort and accomplishments, equally delighted when a middle school IEA rider pilots their first course of cross rails as he is when a rider goes double-clear in their first Grand Prix.

A big factor in Jim’s exceptional aptitude as a teacher (besides an unwavering sense of humor, which we all know helps… a lot!) is his own insatiable delight in learning and exploring. While most trainers can’t wait to rest up during the few days or weeks a year they aren’t on the road, Jim immediately schedules time to go off and teach a clinic, or take classes at Oxford. Whenever he comes up to Stanford, he asks to go to classes and lectures between practices, or draws the student athletes into an impassioned debate on world politics or economic theory. Usually a long day of teaching is finished with a side trip to the city to hear the symphony, or a “quick trip” up to Napa the morning of his travel day to talk to a wine maker about his newest hobby (wine making with the grapes planted at Elvenstar).

But, I believe that the most notable part of Jim is the size of his heart. Anyone who knows Jim personally would agree that his love of family (instilled by his mother and father) extends to so many: students, friends, staff, fellow trainers and the horses. Over three decades there are now thousands of members of his extended family, and even a new generation of former Elvenstar alums bringing their little ones for their first ride, all of whom have a great fondness for their time with Jim.

Little did I know all those years ago that I would gain such a cherished friend and mentor, but with Jim, once you are part of his family, there you remain for life, through ups and downs, wins, losses, graduations, weddings and the many challenges and joys we all face over time.

It is wonderful to see the CPHA honoring Jim and exhibiting their acknowledgment of his skill as a trainer, teacher and loyal supporter of so many in the horse world.

Author Vanessa Bartsch is executive director and head coach of Stanford Equestrian.

Photo: Lisa Slade -The Chronicle of the Horse

Junior Achievement: Sydney Callaway

By Lori DeRosa

Sydney was recognized for this Junior Achievement Award from the CPHA for many reasons. I’ve had the pleasure of watching her grow up and all of us at Newmarket are very proud of her. She has been with Newmarket since she was 7 years old. That says a lot in itself!

She’s not afraid of hard work and she always puts her horses first. When there’s a rough spot - we work through it as a team. Over the years she has matured into a rider who understands what it takes to be successful: the whole picture of your horses, your trainers, your grooms, your vets and the your commitment as a rider.

She knows how lucky she is to have her horses in her life and two amazing parents who have been supportive, but also have kept her understanding that, in life, you have to take the good with the bad and, in the process, be calm, sympathetic and feel fortunate for what you have. Horses have a way of teaching you so many valuable lessons if you just listen and learn. I feel that Sydney has learned to do just that.

Best Buddies: Sydney Callaway, left, and Halie Robinson are fellow Junior Achievement winners.

Sydney won the Onondarka Finals aboard her horse at the time, Cassius, when she was 11. That horse, I believe, was the horse that taught Sydney what a true partnership can be. Also, she and Cassuis won the PCHA Finals and were second in the Taylor Harris Medal at Capital Challenge and consistently won in the equation until it was time to move on. Sydney recognizes the fact that every horse can teach you something if you let it. Later on, she again formed another great partnership with Van Raja, with whom she qualified every year for Indoors in the equitation and won the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Classic at Thermal in 2014. He, together with her jumpers, helped her finish her junior career successfully and have a lot of fun along the way.

We set goals together and she reached those goals with the support of her team and her horses and she realizes that, to be truly successful, it takes the whole team.

Sydney also manages to consistently further her education, which is so important because horses are so demanding -- as we all know. She has always kept a high grade average and does extra curricular work to ensure that. This fall, after we had the pleasure of being invited to show in Paris at the Gucci Masters, she stayed on with a family to study French. She will also be attending Mount Holyoke College, where I know she will study hard, learn and take full advantage of her time in school.

Author Lori DeRosa is a long-time trainer at Newmarket in San Diego.

Junior Achievement: Halie Robinson

By Jim Hagman

Halie has that special gift for bringing out the best in each and every horse she rides and she showcases their strengths and abilities in an amazing way.

She has this effect on her two-legged friend as well. Her smile is infectious and her quirky sense of humor has the ability to light up any room or arena she enters. For such a little person she packs quite a punch.

I first saw Halie catch-riding ponies many years ago and thought, wow, that kid has quite a feel. Over the past three years our barn, Elvenstar, has been fortunate enough to work with Halie. She has a very teachable spirit and always wants to improve, learn and grow. Her love of the sport, the horses and the competitors makes her a joy to teach. More often than not I will receive an e-mail from Halie referencing an article about a new technique or training exercise, a book she has read or a training video and I am thrilled to see her thirst for learning.

I have watched Halie grow from a sweet young girl who loves horses into a confident, albeit quirky, and beautiful young woman who is an excellent rider and horsewoman. Everyone at the barn will miss her smile and presence but are so excited to see her make this next step in her life.

In simple terms, Halie has a rare combination of character, desire and talent with unparalleled enthusiasm and work ethic. We will miss her.

Author Jim Hagman is founder of Elvenstar in Moorpark and is also the CPHA’s Horseman Of The Year.

Special Achievement: Dale Harvey

By Linda Starkman

Dale deserves every award that our horse show industry can present to him. He is the giant behind the scene. I have known Dale for as long as I can remember – from his Maple Leaf Farms training days to his West Palms Events Management company, which was created on a dare. How lucky are all of us that he took the dare!

This Canadian is a quiet and gentle soul with an extremely creative mind. An example of this was at the LA Masters, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center a few months ago. Dale was part of the team to help with its creation from the shows that were done in Hong Kong and Paris.

A day before the show started, with “all hell breaking loose,” Dale said, “Hop in the golf cart and I’ll give you a tour.” I must say that after being involved in shows for 40 years, this event was “over the top.” Best of all, it was held on the West Coast. His personality stayed at an even pace and he is a good listener. He likes being behind the scenes and the creation of it.

When he said he would like to work with me at my soon-to-open Paso Robles Horse Park in Central California, I was excited and, most of all, honored.  He has made my passion for the Park even greater with his energy and unique ideas. He has moved the Park many years ahead of its schedule. His knowledge and energy have created four  “A” shows starting in May of this year.

You can’t keep up with this “road warrior.” You are with him one minute, and the next he is in Canada enjoying a family visit.

His accomplishments are many in the hunter/jumper world. He has been a chef d’equipe and manager of the U.S. Equestrian Team Olympic Trials and everything in-between.

I am privileged to call Dale my friend.

Author Linda Starkman is a long-time equestrian and industry supporter. She breeds sporthorses in Central California and owns the Paso Robles Horse Park.

Special Achievement: Lane Clarke

By Anne Cole

If you have spent more than 10 minutes with Lane Clarke you already know that he is sincere, funny, generous, hardworking, tenacious, self-effacing, loyal and an amazing horseman. Spend a little more time with him and you will also see that he is a man of great integrity with a clear sense of who he is and what is important.

I have been privileged to know Lane for over 10 years and I have watched him grow and develop both as a horseman and a person. I have had the honor of sponsoring one of his early Grand Prix mounts, I have been his student and I have enjoyed the camaraderie that only horse shows and barn life can bring.

Lane Clarke with Anne Cole.

After all this time I can say that not only does he possess all of the above attributes, but that his true gift is his deep commitment to helping those around him be successful. Lane will always go the extra mile to help someone, whether they are a good friend, a colleague or a mere acquaintance.  You can see this at home and at horse shows, but I think it is most evident when he is teaching.

I have many times watched as he works with young students who are just learning to get their horse on the bit. Without fanfare he will walk up next to horse and rider and tell the student to drop the reins, which he then picks up as if he were the one in the saddle. He tells the student to start trotting and he will literally run alongside them while he works the reins until the horse is soft and round. In this way he gives the rider an experience of roundness that no amount of talk can communicate. He has done this for me and it is a powerful tool. But being Lane, he doesn’t stop there. Just when you think he should take a break, and with no concern for his own safety or personal dislike for jogging, he tells the student to pick up a canter while he continues the exercise running at their side.

This is the thing about Lane. Whether you are his student, his friend or a family member – you always feel that he is right there by your side, willing to do whatever it takes to help you succeed.  He makes people believe in themselves by going the extra mile for them, by seeing them honestly and then choosing to focus on the best in them.  Which is what he does for himself as well – he works harder than anyone I know to bring out the best in himself, his horses and the people around him. This is why I admire him deeply and feel privileged to have him as my friend and trainer.

Author Anne Cole is a student of Lane’s at Hayden Show Jumping in Laguna Hills.

Lifetime Equine Achievement Hall of Fame: Lifetime

By Stephanie Danhakl

Lifetime and his owner of 14 years, Stephanie Danhakl.

Lifetime, aka “Daniel,” won my heart from the moment I first saw him at HITS Desert Circuit in 2001. He was standing beside the ring, and I remember thinking to myself, “That is the most beautiful horse in the world.”

Well, my trainer Archie Cox gave me a leg up and I started trotting around. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I was in love! What I didn’t know until later was that Daniel could be a bit of a rascal, especially at home. Even at the age of 21, he’ll spin and put you on the ground faster than you can blink an eye.

Lifetime and his owner of 14 years, Stephanie Danhakl.

When I first started riding Daniel, I was a complete beginner. Nevertheless, he patiently piloted me around and was a perfect angel. I like to think he knew he needed to take care of me and hid his wild streak until I could handle it. From the time I was 13 and onward, he took me from Children’s Hunters to Large Junior Hunters, to my first Indoors, to equitation at Devon, to the Regular Working Hunters and, finally, to the Amateur-Owner Hunters.

He was circuit champion at HITS Desert Circuit, earned multiple championships at Del Mar, Menlo, the Oaks and Showpark, and was champion at the Junior Hunter Finals, the National Horse Show, and the Washington International Horse Show. He was overall Zone 10, PCHA and USEF National Champion.

When I finished up my junior years and moved away to college, I tried to retire Daniel. However, he never adjusted to his idyllic new locale in Northern California and he stopped eating. He just wasn’t ready to end his career. At that point I had stopped showing but brought him to live near me in New York and rode on the weekends. When I decided to start showing again a few years ago, I wondered if Daniel would like to show again just for fun.

Well, he was champion his first show back after a several-year break and earned more championships in the Amateurs on the East Coast. Last year, at the age of 20, he was champion at Washington, his final show. He deserved to end his career a champion and couldn’t have received a better send-off. Now nearly 22, he still isn’t ready to fully retire, but he’s enjoying semi-retirement at River’s Edge, splitting his time between New Jersey and Florida. We joke that even at his ripe old age he’s still the soundest horse in the barn.

He really is the love of my life. He’s moved with me all over the country. He patiently taught me how to ride, put up with all my mistakes and never held them against me. He taught me how to see a distance, and when I didn’t see one, he usually found it for me. He has perfect balance, perfect rhythm and can clear a jump of any size from just about anywhere you put him.

In our 14 years together, he has never stopped at a single fence. He might spook at the barn, but he knows how to turn it on at a horse show. He’s a true show horse through and through, although he’s very opinionated. When he picks what he does or doesn’t like there is no turning back.

Luckily he picked me. I am blessed to have him in my life and honored to accept the CPHA Lifetime Achievement Award on his behalf.

Author Stephanie Danhakl is Lifetime’s owner. The California native rode with Archie Cox through her super successful junior years and now rides with Scott Stewart back East.

Hall of Fame Inductee: Mary Gatti

By Rebecca Bruce

Mary Gatti has touched and improved the lives of so many people and horses over the years. Not only are her clients important to her, but all her grooms, assistant trainers, barn managers, etc., become family when she takes you into the Rainbow Canyon Ranch family. Mary not only improves her client’s riding skills; being involved with Mary Gatti enriches your whole life.

I was 10 years old when I was lucky enough to be taken into the “Rainbow” family by Mary. She turned my passion for horses into success in and out of the show arena, as she has done for so many riders before and after me. She taught me that my focus should not be on blue ribbons, but always on doing my personal best -- every day before, during and after you get on and off your horse.

The horse industry is a hard, tough business. Mary has managed to thrive and give her personal best to the horse community for almost 50 years. Not a day goes by, as a working professional with my own training barn, that I don’t ask myself in tough situations, “What would Mary do?” How would she handle this? Many times I still call her and ask her advice, and I have found over the years that if I just follow her advice, and give my personal best, things have a way of working out.

One of the biggest challenges in the horse business is finding and keeping good staff. A training barn is only as good as the support staff.  I am now 27 years old and Mary still has the same outstanding barn manager, assistant trainer and grooms she had when I rode at Rainbow 17 years ago. Kim, Candy, Jesse, Carmelo and Rigo have all been with her for over 30 years!  Mary is devoted to them and they are equally devoted to Mary. To keep happy staff for that many years, you know Mary is doing something right with her Rainbow family.

While there are always new clients and horses at Rainbow, there is also a strong contingency of “old time” clients who have spent their entire lives happily riding at Rainbow. Mary is now teaching third generations of grandchildren of grandmothers and mothers she taught as children. I have watched Mary’s own grandchildren, Rachel and Claire, grow into successful adults. Mary never forced them to ride, but offered it as an opportunity to learn important life lessons. Both girls have grown into charming, well-rounded individuals. I feel honored to be part of Mary Gatti’s legacy and be included in her Rainbow family.  There is no one more deserving of this CPHA Hall of Fame award than Mary Gatti.

P.S: Her “Famous Friday Tuna Sandwiches” should also be inducted into the Hall of Fame. I think they are more famous than she is!

Author Rebecca Bruce operates Sunnybrook Farm in Santa Barbara.

Sportsmanship Award: Emma Waldfogel

By Hope Glynn

Emma Wadfogel and trainer Hope Glynn. Photo: Gail Morey.

I have had the pleasure of training Emma for the past three years. She not only has a great love for her horses but is passionate about the sport and her friends in the sport. A person who demonstrates good sportsmanship has to be able to demonstrate this on good days as well as bad days. Emma Waldfogel can be found cheering on other competitors whether she is in first or last. She has continued to support her biggest competitors and will cheer them on even when it means she might lose the championship.

I think a great deal of her success has come from the fact that, as competitive as she is, she consistently is positive about the outcome of the class and the future ahead of her. I think she is a great friend to both her peers as well as young kids looking up to her, and to older competitors. She takes the time to reflect on a positive round she watched or encourages a fellow equestrian to keep trying on a hard day.

She has been a pleasure to have as a part of our barn family. I know her smile and funny laugh will carry her into the amateur ranks and off to college with great success and plenty of people cheering her on.

Author Hope Glynn and her husband Ned operate Sonoma Valley Stables in Petaluma.

Lifetime Achievement: Dianne Grod

By Cheryl Erpelding

Photo: Kandece Brown Photography

I first met Dianne when she had her Continental Farms in San Marcos when I first started California Riding Magazine back in the 80s. Although short in stature, Dianne was big on talent in the saddle and also as a coach on the ground. She was a top rider in the Grand Prix field and her show team always brought home a large share of the champion ribbons.

Dianne has many awards to date, including CPHA’s 1996 Horsewoman of the Year, the Desert Hunter/Jumper and Dressage Assn. named her Equestrian of the Year in 2002 and the Virginia Horse Shows Assn. added Dianne to its Hall of Fame in 2011. The Godfather was one of the many equine stars she developed and campaigned.

Dianne is currently coaching young rider Chase Fine and he is doing well under her guidance and years of experience teaching young talented equestrians. When not coaching, Dianne is busy judging all across the country, doing clinics and also is quite sought after as an appraiser and legal expert.

A Maryland native, Dianne grew up riding half-Arabians and Thoroughbred crosses and her talents were evident early on. She moved to California in 1965 and, under the Continental Farms banner, became well known and respected on both coasts. She represented the States in international competition at various points in her career, and was a dominant player in the Open and Grand Prix jumping classes up until her retirement from competition in 2001. From 1985 to 1996, Dianne regularly competed in team penning events and she is also famous for jumping over a car during the opening ceremonies for the National Finals Rodeo in 1997.

It has been an honor to know Dianne and see what a big impact she has made on our California horse industry.

Author Cheryl Erpelding is founder of California Riding Magazine.