June 2019 - 32nd Annual CALNET
Written by photos: Kim F. Miller
Tuesday, 28 May 2019 03:17
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Abilities and great attitudes were showcased and celebrated at an event that all equestrians can be proud of.  

photos: Kim F. Miller

One hundred thirty riders and at least 200 volunteers celebrated the 32nd annual CALNET State Championship for Riders with Disabilities, May 17-19 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. It was organized by Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship, aka “Ride On LA,” and spearheaded by Ride On’s Bryan McQueeney and Sara Jones. The San Fernando Valley Rangers and their Sidekicks helped with everything from safety to handing out ribbons, as they have for an estimated 30 of the show’s 32 years.

Friday kicked things off with afternoon clinics for dressage, showmanship and obstacle courses, plus a session for coaches. The weekend was full of classes in those divisions, plus equitation, pole bending and dressage. Saturday afternoon’s coaches’ bareback class was a highlight as riders and families rooted for their favorites and contenders struggled to keep a dollar bill under the legs as the judge called out increasingly challenging instructions. Twenty-dollar bets were turned into an impromptu fundraiser, adding to the fun.

One of the country’s most respected and effective adaptive and therapeutic riding facilities, Ride On has a variety of programs, for the physically and mentally challenged, and for able-bodied riders, too, plus veterans, occupational therapy and many training and educational opportunities.

As one of the USEF’s International Para-Equestrian Dressage Centers of Excellence, Ride On is leading the way in establishing therapeutic riding centers as launchpads for the para dressage path, as they are in Europe. Partly toward that end, CALNET held a well-attended open dressage schooling show on Sunday, using USDF tests from Intro Test A to First Level Test 3.

Saturday’s beautiful weather gave way to nighttime rains, then cloudy skies and cool weather on Sunday. All classes were moved into LAEC’s Equidome, divided up into 60- and 40-meter dressage courts, a ring for obstacle and pole bending courses, and a warm-up arena. Some trusty steeds were a bit more spirited than usual, but otherwise all proceeded smoothly thanks the organizers’ 32 years of staging CALNET and other major competitions.

Southern California programs dominated the roster of participating centers: Equifriends of Riverside; Gypsy Nation of Corona; Happy Trails Riding Academy of Visalia; JR Sporthorses of Thousand Oaks; Leaps and Bounds of Norco; Ride On centers in Chatsworth and Newbury Park; Shadow Hills Riding Club in Shadow Hills; Total Equestrian Experience of Chatsworth; and the Therapeutic Riding Center of Huntington Beach.

Whether they were walking, trotting, cantering, pole bending and obstacle-coursing on their own or with three aids at their side, the equestrians had the most important thing in common with their able-bodied counterparts. As one equitation rider said of his horse while leaving the ring with a fourth out of four rosette: “He is absolutely the best horse in the world.”

Congratulations to all! Here are just few stars of the show.

For more information on Ride On, visit www.rideon.org. To find a trustworthy therapeutic or adapative riding program elsewhere, visit www.pathintl.org.

CALNET organizers Bryan McQueeney & Sara Jones, of Ride On.

Ella Holly & Gately Guinievere of Leaps & Bounds.

Equifriends team members navigate the obstacle course.

Keelin Kaslow of Leaps & Bounds.

Marshall Bond rides for Leaps & Bounds.

Mary Margaret of TRCHB.

Megan McQueeney & Steven Carlson kick off Sunday’s open dressage schooling show.

Mia Rodier and Fizz of Ride On.

Michael Driscoll & Boom representing Shadow Hills Riding Club.

Ride On team members.

Shadow Hills Riding Clubbers.

Sophia Flores & Cash, of Leaps & Bounds, are tested in Western Dressage.

The coaches’ bareback class winner Alex Johnson celebrates with a spin demo.

The Opening Parade.

TRCHB coaches & cheerleaders.

TRCHB members celebrate Ava Vanhartung’s win.

Zander Noflin & Pharoah Khan are winners for Gypsy Nation.