November 2017 - A Fine 50th
Written by photos: Jennifer M. Keeler
Monday, 30 October 2017 21:27
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Golden Anniversary California Dressage Society Championship has many highlights.

photos: Jennifer M. Keeler

In 1967, the idea of the California Dressage Society (CDS) was born among friends gathered in a living room. One of their main objectives was to create an annual showcase event where competitors could gather to pursue their passion. The Championship show has grown from its debut with 67 entries paying $5 per class to the 50th anniversary show this year where 330 competitors rode for more than $30,000 in prize money.

Dr. Lisa Teske’s leap of faith in purchasing a youngster paid off with a Great American/USDF Region 7 victory at the 50th Anniversary CDS Championship Show.

Jennette Scanlon and Bronson are on a roll at the 50th Anniversary CDS Championship Show, winning the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Open Training Level Championship on the second day of competition.

The excitement was palpable in all six rings of competition on the first day of showing. This year’s event was held September 21-24 in Rancho Murieta at the Murieta Equestrian Center.

One of those appreciating the festive atmosphere was Karen Cornelius from Nipomo, with her five-year-old Hanoverian stallion, Fiderello. The eye-catching pair was presented with the first championship title of the year in the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 First Level Freestyle Championship for their ‘80s-themed performance earning a score of 76.750%.

Cornelius’ journey to this show with Fiderello was literally years in the making. She purchased the colt when he was just four months old from breeder Bjoern Kommerell in Southern California. “I knew that the only way I could afford a super horse was to buy one young, and he is my dream horse,” she explained. “This is hopefully just the start of a long journey and a promising future with him.”

At Third Level, Hilda Gurney from Moorpark, topped a hard-fought freestyle class with 72.833% aboard Lotta Silver, a seven-year-old Trakehner gelding she bred, raised, rides and owns. Gurney has been a legendary figure in CDS’ 50-year history, having attended the inaugural Championship show in 1968 and almost every edition since.

Hailing from Auburn, Jennette Scanlon and four-year-old Oldenburg gelding Bronson won the Four/Five-Year-Old Materiale performance on day one as part of the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Breeders Championships-West Coast Final, and on day two, they claimed the Region 7 Open Training Level Championship as the only pair to impress the judges enough to break the 70% mark (71.932%).

“I feel so fortunate that his owner really understands the proper development of a young horse,” said Scanlon, who has trained the promising youngster for the last year for owner Leslie Blaney. “Because Bronson is so talented, it would be easy to push him too fast. But my philosophy is to make sure to develop a horse’s mind and body together, so we are taking it slow with him and we do different classes like the materiale to get mileage and experience for him. I don’t want the act of going in the ring to get redundant for him, and we do lots of different activities to keep the work fun and eliminate mental stress from the equation. So far I’m very impressed with how he’s handling everything about this show like a pro.”

To top a large field for the Second Level Adult Amateur title with a score of 71.037% was Kasey Cannon of Moorpark with her Hanoverian stallion Diesel CF, who she purchased sight unseen off of a video from Europe 18 months ago. “I actually saw him for the first time in the Amsterdam airport when he was on his way to the States. Sure, it was a gamble, but it worked out, and I think we’re lucky to have each other,” Cannon explained. “He keeps impressing us. He’s so consistent and reliable and handles travel well, so it’s no problem being away from home. Plus it’s fun because there’s no stress in riding him. He seems to easily handle Second Level because he has a talent for collection and is really coming into his own, very rideable and adjustable. He’s the horse of a lifetime.”

Fifty years after her first CDS Championship Show in 1968, Hilda Gurney earned yet another championship title by topping a hard-fought Great American/USDF Third Level Freestyle class with 72.833% aboard Lotta Silver.

Adrienne Bessey of Thousand Oak was all smiles as she rode her charismatic Oldenburg gelding, Wintersnow, to win the Adult Amateur division with a score of 66.250%. The pair then returned to the winner’s circle for the second time in one day, this time to accept the Rubinstein Memorial Trophy for CDS Adult Amateur Grand Prix Horse of the Year. “What keeps him going? I think he genuinely enjoys his job,” said Bessey. “Even if you try to give him a day off, he’s always looking around for something to do. He’s so enthusiastic and always wants to go.”

Horses Of The Year

Music filled the air as the CDS Horse of the Year titles were presented for Third and Fourth Level Freestyles. After winning the CDS Dressage Seat Equitation Challenge for the 14-21 division, Katelyn Mosle piloted the Hanoverian gelding, Diavolino 5, to victory over a full field of adults and professionals in the Third Level Freestyle division with a top score of 72.067% to claim the Alexsandra Howard Memorial Perpetual Trophy, while Hilda Gurney earned her second freestyle title in as many days by winning the Ran Averett Memorial Perpetual Trophy for CDS Fourth Level Freestyle Horse of the Year with her Oldenburg mare, Iris.

FEI World Cup competitor, Charlotte Jorst of Reno, Nevada, put her international experience to good use in guiding her Danish Warmblood gelding, Kastel’s Akeem Foldager, to win not only the Great American/USDF Region 7 Grand Prix Freestyle title with a score of 70.750% but also proved to be the best of 10 competitors in the CDS Open Grand Prix Horse of the Year division (69.500%) and claimed the Sherry de Leon Memorial Trophy for the second year in a row.

Karen Cornelius and Fiderello were foot-perfect in their First Level Freestyle to earn the first championship title awarded at the 2017 Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Championships, held as part of the 50th Anniversary California Dressage Society Championship Show.

Dr. Lisa Teske, DVM, of Solvang, wasn’t looking for a horse quite so young when shopping for a new mount in 2014, but little did she know that taking a chance on importing a three year old named Safari would eventually result in her winning a regional title in Rancho Murieta. “He was a bit of an emotional purchase,” said Teske. “I was looking for a new horse, and a friend in Germany had this nice Westfalen gelding; but at just three years old, he was younger than I was looking for. But I just had a feeling. I kept trying to talk myself out of it, that I should find something a little older, but Safari was the one I kept circling back to. I couldn’t put my finger on it.

So three years later, here we are.”

Teske’s leap of faith in her now six-year-old partner ultimately paid off as the elegant pair cruised to victory on the third day of competition in the Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Adult Amateur First Level Championship with 73.824%. “We’ve taken our time bringing Safari along, so this is only his first year of showing and just his fourth show ever,” she noted. “He can still get a little distracted by the whole show environment, but today was the first time he’s really felt with me the whole time in the ring. I’m very proud of him.”

Katelyn Mosle and Katrina Ragsdale proved to be unbeatable in equitation classes this year. The first day, each claimed their age division title in the CDS Equitation Challenge, and the third day both riders again were presented with top honors in the USDF Dressage Seat Medal Semi-Finals. In the 13-Under division, Ragsdale confidently rode Thoroughbred gelding Wrigley to victory with 75.000%, while Mosle and Diavolino 5 ran away with the blue ribbon in the 14-18 Division on a score of 76.200%. “We were very impressed with the overall quality of all the riders and especially how well everyone performed their individual tests,” said show judge Sarah

Geikie. “But the winner of each division really stood out. For such a young age, they were very accomplished riders and had such effectiveness, confidence and poise.”

On the final day, at First Level, Teske and Safari went two for two by earning the Full Cry Perpetual Trophy and CDS Horse of the Year title with a top score of 71.751%. And to close out musical freestyle competition for this year it was Karen Cornelius and Fiderello who once again wowed the crowd and the judges to win the perpetual trophy for CDS First Level Freestyle by a double-digit margin and a mark of 77.750%.

Wrapping up a memorable anniversary weekend was the presentation of the CDS Grand Champion awards, determined by the highest percentage from CDS Horse of the Year classes and freestyles. Earning the Atherton Dressage Society Perpetual Trophy for Grand Champion at First/Second Level was Karen Cornelius and Fiderello, while Hilda Gurney earned the Major Guy de Roaldes Trophy as Third/Fourth Level Grand Champion with Iris. Finally, presentation of the Doug Downing Memorial Perpetual Trophy went to Chelsey Sibley of Sonora, California, who rode Carol Di Maggio’s 10-year-old Oldenburg stallion, Don Francisco, to win the Intermediaire I Grand Championship, while the Keen Memorial Perpetual Trophy for Grand Prix Grand Champion was earned by Terri Rocovich of Ramona, with her 16-year-old KWPN gelding Uiver (Iver).

Report excerpted from press releases provided by Yellow Horse Marketing. For full results from the show, go to