Monthly Editorials
September 2020 - Editor's Notes
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 21:34


I reviewed the excellent article detailing the Woodside-area Horse Owners Association’s many good deeds early in the week of our deadline. At the end of that week, the story already needed the addition of WHOA!’s efforts to raise funds for large animal rescue efforts for victims of the CZU Lightning Complex Fires that were burning out of control in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.

Some of WHOA!’s past donations have supported the renovation and endowment fund for Folger Stable, location of our cover photo shoot. Folger Stable itself was donated in 1974 to the County of San Mateo, and today it is operated by the Chaparral Country Corporation for public boarding, lessons, trail rides, and camps. You can learn more at

The author of the article, our dressage columnist Nan Meek, filed the piece while standing by to help neighbors in her Montara area near Half Moon Bay. She had one extra horse in her field as we closed the issue.

Equestrians who had been ready to head off to a show -- finally -- were instead hauling their horses and others’ -- with the help of friends and strangers -- to safety. Again. Yet this time with the added complexity of coronavirus concerns.

Once again, social media is filled with equal amounts of solicitations of help and offers of assistance from far and wide as our equestrian community rises to the too familiar task of keeping as many as possible out of harm’s way.

Despite the miraculous efforts of our show organizers to continue holding competitions amid meticulous coronavirus protocols and fires, two big shows had to be cancelled. Following their “safety first” commitment at the outset of the truncated season, Blenheim EquiSports cancelled the All Seasons Summer Classic that was set for the third week of August after some positive COVID cases at the previous show. That sets up a 14-day window before September competitions begin. One consequence is moving the Sallie B. Wheeler USEF/USHJA National Hunter Breeding Championships to Friday, Sept. 18 during the International Jumping Festival.

In Northern California, it was the fires and unhealthy smokey air that caused Split Rock Sonoma International to cancel its “Bonus” week set to start Aug. 26. The organizers hoped it would be safe to hold the CSI2* the following week, Sept. 2-6.  

There’s the obvious hope that fires that had burned 771,000 acres in one week, as of August 21, are under control by the time this issue arrives. That people and their horses are able to escape unharmed. Otherwise, I am at a loss for words amid the latest wave of events and forever in awe and appreciation of those stepping up to help, again and again.

Kim F Miller, Editor
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Starz is a gorgeous arabian mare up for adoption at FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, CA.

She was privately owned in the past with one owner, who became ill and could no longer care for her. She was donated to the rescue. She is 15 years old and stands 15 hands high. Rides well under saddle, healthy and sound, appears to be a very nice mare. Adoption fee $800.

See Starz on our website,, under Horses For Adoption and follow the instructions for adoption.

September 2020 - Book Review
Written by Reviewed by Lori Barron • by Michelle Holling-Brooks with photographs by AJ Morey
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:28


The Horse Cure: True Stories

Reviewed by Lori Barron • by Michelle Holling-Brooks with photographs by AJ Morey

In hard times, we often turn to stories, both fictional and real, for inspiration. The tales in The Horse Cure: True Stories inspire readers in several ways, showing us humans’ capacity for change and horses’ power to heal.


Author Michelle Holling-Brooks, a certified equine therapy professional and founder of the non-profit Unbridled Change, shares individual stories of clients, both adults and children, who have come to UC to work on healing from trauma. She shows her personal connection to the work by including a chapter describing how horses helped her recover from the aftereffects of severe childhood illness.


The book also explains the kind of equine therapy in practice at UC, Equine-Partnered Psychotherapy and Coaching. The horses are not directed by those overseeing the sessions; rather, they choose on their own whether and how to interact with clients (along with a mental health professional, an equine professional is present to watch out for safety and note how the horse is reacting to the client). By interacting with horses, rarely riding them but sometimes working with them to complete a task, clients gain insights into both their own behaviors and feelings and those of others and learn to start altering old, counterproductive behavior patterns induced by trauma.

Both the clients and the horses in The Horse Cure are inspiring. The book clearly demonstrates how survivors of physical and sexual abuse and other painful experiences, dealing with aftereffects such as trust issues, anger management issues, or emotional shutdown, grow as a result of their work with the horses, who are attuned and sensitive healers. In one memorable session, Wiscy, a big piebald, sniffs the arms of adult client Brenda (names are changed for privacy), then repeatedly blocks her from returning to the therapists. Eventually, he allows her to do so, and she explains to them that she recently tried to slit her wrists and that Wiscy wouldn’t let her come back to them until she became willing to tell them what she’d done. The book gives many such examples of horses’ deep intuition.

The Horse Cure is a moving, informative read. It is clearly written and takes readers step by step through the therapy sessions so we can see how the clients’ transformations occur. Having some chapters describe how a client progresses over time, while others focus on a single session, is very helpful because it shows us how equine therapy changes people’s lives gradually but also provides breakthrough moments that, all by themselves, give clients important new insights. If you want to learn more about this therapy, or if you’d like to be uplifted by seeing the power of horses’ healing work, this is the book for you.

Reviewer Lori Barron is a lifelong horse lover from Sonoma whose greatest horseback adventure was riding a half-Arab stallion on a camping trip in Morocco many years ago.

Would you like to review a book for us? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for a list of books we currently have in-house to review. If you’ve recently read a horse-related book on your own, and would like to submit a review, please e-mail us.

August 2020 - Editor's Notes
Written by CRM
Monday, 03 August 2020 05:17


I was grateful to have gotten out to one of the first shows back on the calendar in our area, Nilforushan EquiSports’ Temecula Valley National hunter/jumper competition at Galway Downs in late June. Everybody was in great spirits and compliance with physical distancing and mask wearing rules looked pretty good.

I found it really awkward to not give a hug or handshake to friends I haven’t seen in several months. I haven’t figured out how to project a warm smile with my eyes only. I went off to that show without giving much thought to the “no spectators” rule, I admit. The initial USEF guidelines described media as “essential personnel,” so it seemed OK.


That has changed though and, regardless what each show’s restrictions are, I opted not to attend any other events since that first one in late June. I am fully on board with wearing masks and doing anything else possible to prevent the spread of COVID, including staying home when it kinda kills me not to be out on the scene among people and horses who feel like friends more than story subjects.

We went to press just as California surpassed New York in numbers of coronavirus cases, concurrent with new notices from show organizers detailing the safety precautions, their enforcement and the request for strict compliance from everybody. As several noted, even just a few people not following the rules could put the whole circuit on hold again.

Dressage News & Views editor, Nan Meek, drills deep on the impact of all this on decision making processes for all stakeholders in the sport. Don’t miss her cleverly-titled column, Reality Shows.

The lead story in our Dressage special feature covers Hillary Martin’s wonderful training program in the Bay Area. She has an impressive posse of talented and dedicated riders -- of all ages. We hope several of them get the chance to strut their stuff at the USEF Festival of Champions, this month in the Chicago area. They do a great job of showing the rest of the country that the West Coast is in it to win it. And they do it with best horsemanship and sportsmanship practices, while apparently having a blast!

In the Rehabilitation department, we did venture out for a tour of the Blenheim Equine Rehabilitation program in San Juan Capistrano. Under Jennifer Clarke, DVM’s direction, it has been up and running for a while but our article is sort of a formal introduction in the media. It’s another corner of the equestrian world in which the West Coast is representing excellence.

Thanks to our cover sponsor Premier Equestrian for the great information about arena materials that support equine athletes in all disciplines while handling California’s wild weather extremes. With first-class footing in arenas throughout our readership area, Premier definitely has the right surface for any need.

Very best wishes for a continued recovery to Charlotte Bredahl. She underwent brain surgery for metastatic melanoma and is recovering amazingly. She is working on her physical therapy and even keeping tabs on some of her many charges via video. Charlotte is the US Dressage Development coach and has touched the lives of hundreds of riders and their horses. A GoFundMe page enables friends and fans to donate toward what are considerable medical expenses and we sincerely hope to see Charlotte soon!

We’re very sad to report the passing of Joe Lombardo in mid-July. He was a much-admired course designer, trainer, coach and horseman. In the week following his death, social media was filled with moving tributes to the positive influence he had on the lives of many in the hunter/jumper community.

As always, we welcome story submissions and ideas. And, as I don’t expect to be getting out to any competitions with my camera this month, please consider submitting your accomplishments to me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Happy, safe, riding and reading!

Kim F Miller, Editor
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Available for Adoption: Sadie

Sadie is an arabian mare up for adoption at FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, CA, north San Diego County. She is approximately 5 yrs old and stands 14.2 hands high. She has been saddled and bridled before and sat on, but not actually trained to ride yet. Ready to start under saddle for the committed adopter who keeps their horses for life! Super sweet and cute girl! Adoption fee $500. See Sadie for adoption on our adoption page at

August 2020 - Ask Dr. Darby Bonomi
Written by by Dr. Darby Bonomi
Monday, 03 August 2020 03:44

ask dr darby

Performance psychologist and equestrian answers readers’ questions.

Dear Dr. Bonomi,
As the mom of a 16-year-old equitation rider, I’m wondering how best to support her. She puts so much pressure on herself. She gets really upset when things don’t go as planned or she doesn’t get the placing she feels she deserves. I don’t know whether to stay away from her at shows, or give her space. Should I comment on her rounds or not? Should I meet her at the back gate or stay in the stands? Sometimes I say ‘good job,’ but I know it wasn’t a great round, and then she barks at me. How much and what should I say to our trainer? Finally, the evenings in the hotel after a bad day are excruciating! I could use some advice as we get into Finals season.
Thanks for your help.
K.L., Big Eq Mom, Southern CA

Dear K,
Your letter is a version of questions I get all the time, so please know that you are in good company. To help guide you and all the parents out there, I have a few overall principles to consider. Reflecting on these points will help you answer your own questions.
First and foremost: our job as the mom (or dad) is always to parent. This sounds ridiculous, but I find that a lot of horse show parents become trainers, coaches, and friends to their children at shows and abandon their role as parents. Here is what I mean:

As the parent, we’re the keeper of perspective. Ask yourself: what’s the underlying meaning of being in our sport—is it to win or to learn? It’s our job to keep the life lessons front and center and not get so focused on results. In my view, winning a blue—or a finals—is not the most important aspect of being in sport.

As the parent, we set the rules on expected conduct in any setting. Just because we’re at a horse show doesn’t mean the rules go out the window. What do you usually expect of your child in terms of graciousness, generosity, kindness? Nothing should change at the show. In my book, you get 15 minutes to be upset about a ‘bad’ round or mistake. Then it’s your job to let it go and figure out how you’re going to move forward. Remember, it’s not the last mistake you’ll make, so you better figure out how you can make use of it to improve.

As the parent, we are there to hold our child in victory, defeat, and everything in between. Remember, you’re there for your child, unconditionally. Sure it’s great when our child wins, but they need us even more when they lose.

As the parent, we help troubleshoot issues but don’t solve problems. As much as possible, guide your child toward independent thinking and resourcefulness. Remember our task is to help establish life skills, not just riding skills.

As the parent, we are not the coach (thankfully!)  Let’s leave training to the trainers. It’s important to recognize the difference between trainer questions and mom questions. This can be a tricky one for us rider moms; I know I personally get lured into answering these questions (When should I get on? Should I put on draw reins? Big spurs or small?) Trainer questions need to go to the trainer. In this vein, don’t pass judgement on your child’s rounds. Let the trainer give feedback.

With those principles in mind, here are some specific answers to your questions, K. Sounds like it’s time to revisit the overall ground rules of behavior at the shows. It’s not ok for you to be having excruciating horse show evenings or to be barked at. I’d talk about the 15-minute rule and troubleshoot how your daughter is going to move forward out of mistakes rather than stewing in them. Stewing solidifies poor performance, anyhow. Make clear that your role is to support her, but you expect certain graciousness and respect. Make a game plan of what will feel right to her in terms of your participation at shows. Everyone is different about whether they want to be greeted at the back gate or not. Let your trainer give feedback. If your daughter really seems stuck and frustrated, then I would sit down with the trainer at a good time (not in the middle of a busy horse show) to discuss the situation and craft an effective plan to rectify the technical or performance difficulties.
I hope this gives you some guidelines. Effective parenting of athletes is big and sticky topic and requires constant reevaluation and work. I know this one from both sides.

Darby Bonomi, PhD is a Sport and Performance Psychologist based in San Francisco. She works with equestrians in all disciplines, as well as other athletes, to achieve optimal performance in and out of the competition. She can be reached at

If you have a question for performance psychologist Darby Bonomi, PhD., please submit it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You are welcome to ask a question anonymously, but please provide relevant background regarding your experience and other details that enable her to best answer your question.


July 2020 - Ask Dr. Darby Bonomi
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 03:59

ask dr darby

Performance psychologist and equestrian answers readers’ questions.

Dear Dr. Darby,

After months of being at home, I am considering showing again, but I feel pretty stressed out and overwhelmed just thinking about it. In addition to feeling out of practice, I know I won’t be going into a situation that feels at all like normal. Frankly, I’m not sure I should be showing with all that is going on in the world. Not only the health crisis, but also the civil unrest, leaves me uncertain and also makes showing seem rather unimportant.

As you can see, I feel very confused! Any advice is welcome!

M.D., Adult Amateur, San Diego

Dear M,


Thanks for reaching out. You are not alone in your feelings. We are in the middle of a very confusing, overwhelming, and frightening time. I don’t have a magic answer for you, but I will do my best to address some of your concerns.

First, I want to acknowledge your feelings and affirm that there is no right or wrong way to go about reentering the show world. I believe we all have to make decisions that feel right for us, our horses, and our lives. Some riders I work with feel really eager and ready to jump back in; others feel they want to sit out the year. For each of us it’s important to assess: do we feel safe enough to go back to the show ring? In terms of safety, I’m referring not only to COVID-19, but also to the civil unrest. If you feel unsafe, then I’d say you should seriously consider not competing yet. Unless you can feel comfortable, you won’t be able to be fully present for your horse.

My sense is that if you are uncertain, it might be worth your while to sit out the very first horse shows and instead, see how they go for others. Perhaps you’ll have the ability to accompany someone else or at least hear about your barnmates’ experiences and learn what the new procedures are. In addition, it’s my guess that as the shows go on, we’ll all get more practiced at our new routines, and things will go more smoothly.  

In terms of feeling out of practice, you are in the same boat with the rest of us! We all have to accept that it’s basically a re-start to a very odd and shortened season. I would suggest that if you decide to move forward, focus on the first show as practice rather than as a final exam. Set reasonable goals for the first few days, remembering what those first shows are like in January after your winter break. This advice will be harder to take for those who have to jump right back into Junior Hunter Finals or similar big events, but I still suggest to take a compassionate approach: give it your best and have gratitude for the ability to get back in the ring.

Regarding your comment that showing feels unimportant right now: ask yourself why. Is it because you feel guilty about what you have relative to others? Is it harder to enjoy your life when there is so much inequity in the world? Are you called to spend more time and energy focusing on other aspects of your life or your community? Allow yourself some space to think about your priorities, what has meaning for you in your life, and what you want to change. Rather than feeling stuck or paralyzed, use your feeling as motivation to create an action plan. There are many ways to generate positive change, and maybe this is the time for you to jump in and make more of an impact.

Last, but definitely not least: let’s fully acknowledge the collective stress we are under right now. The world has completely changed in so many ways since a few months ago. We will adapt, we will figure out how to move forward, but we all know we’re not going back to the old ways. It’s going to take some time, compassion, and resilience, but as competitive equestrians, we’ve all got it in us to do the necessary mental and emotional work.

Darby Bonomi, PhD is a Sport and Performance Psychologist based in San Francisco. She works with equestrians in all disciplines, as well as other athletes, to achieve optimal performance in and out of the competition. She can be reached at

If you have a question for performance psychologist Darby Bonomi, PhD., please submit it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You are welcome to ask a question anonymously, but please provide relevant background regarding your experience and other details that enable her to best answer your question.

July 2020 - Review: Best Boots!
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 03:39


I have always worn the Original Muck Company boots every winter so when I had the opportunity to try the new Women’s Chore classic mid boot, I jumped at the chance. This boot is so multi-functional and comfortable at the same time. Since they are 100% waterproof it is so easy to throw them on if it’s raining or muddy to go out to feed.  The premium rubber is easy to clean with just a quick rinse off and the traction of the sole makes you feel safe out there in the slick mud. Since they are designed for a women’s foot and not an overly bulky boot it makes it super easy to grab horses out of their pens and jump on to ride without having to change into different boots if you just need to get one exercised real quick.


These are not just a winter boot, they are great in the summer too. I always use them when I have several horses to bathe so I can save my good boots or tennis shoes from being soaked. Since they are a mid rise your feet don’t get as hot when you are out doing chores in the heat. I can’t say enough good things about the new Muck Company Women’s Chore classic mid boot.


Make sure you check out www.muckbootcompany.comto grab a pair for yourself or buy an extra pair for a friend!

Denise Munson
Pacific Coast Publications

June 2020 - Ask Dr. Darby Bonomi
Written by by Dr. Darby Bonomi
Thursday, 28 May 2020 04:13

ask dr darby

Performance psychologist and equestrian answers readers’ questions.

Dear Dr. Darby,

Can you give me advice on shifting the culture of my barn? Right now there is a lot of competitive tension between riders. They even compete for my attention and get into arguments about how much time I spend with each of them. These conflicts get in the way of my ability to focus on what I need to do to train them and their horses. For instance, sometimes one horse only needs 20 minutes when another horse needs 40. It’s not about preferring one or the other. I feel like I’m tiptoeing around my own place. I have tried to talk to the individuals directly involved, but they seem to feel the problem is with the other or with me. Please do not use my name or location, since that will only fan the flames!


—California Trainer

Dear Friend,


I’m sorry to hear that you are experiencing this uncomfortable situation. Tension between clients is tough on everyone at the barn—from the grooms, to the trainers, to other clients as well. Horses feel the tension too, so there are lots of good reasons to get a grip on negativity — and fast. If you add gossip to the equation, morale will tank quickly.

Perhaps now is a good time to do a barn culture assessment. The COVID-19 shelter in place orders have physically separated us, and offered us the opportunity to reevaluate our priorities and connect with what’s most meaningful. I think most of us realize more acutely than ever how important the barn and the horses are. I know I’m not alone in viewing the barn as my sanctuary. It’s the place where I recharge, refuel, and get grounded. Negativity, tension, and conflict of any sort are intrusive and can ruin the whole experience—and definitely keep us from riding our best.

In my work with trainers, I often get questions similar to yours. Trainers tend to be pleasers—they try to make everyone happy, from the clients to the horses, to their staff—and they run themselves ragged in doing so. Rather than trying to please others, decide what kind of community and experience you want for your program.

Ask yourself:
•    What do you stand for?
•    What are your overall values?
•    What kind of barn feel do you want?
•    What kind of personality traits do you value in clients?

Become really clear about how you want your barn to operate and why. Write a mission statement, and then write down how you will support that mission. Becoming exquisitely clear with yourself about what kind of you barn culture you want, will allow you to start to develop the tools to be clear with others.

As a trainer, you often occupy a parent-like role. In truth, you are the parent of your barn. You have to guide behavior and, at times, set limits. When your kids are arguing about something petty (like who got more, for instance), you don’t get in the middle of it. Similarly, don’t get involved in barn squabbles. (You’ll never win anyhow.) Instead, be clear about the behavioral and emotional expectations of clients in your program. Remember, you, the trainer, are the keeper of the culture. If you don’t want clients to bicker amongst themselves, address it head on and don’t tolerate it. Make sure everyone understands that the barn is a community or team—and as such needs to work as a supportive whole, not warring factions.

Create The Culture

Of course, it’s hard to switch horses in mid-stream (sorry for the pun), so if there’s a lot of conflict among current clients, you’re going to need to intervene and set some new ground rules.

You may need to have a barn meeting to talk about the realignment of the priorities and culture, and put your expectations in a memo. While that might seem tricky, taking things on directly and clearly will be a relief—both to the clients and for you. Once you have made the expectations clear, addressing transgressions will be easier.

Clear, written expectations will also make life easier when potential new clients approach you. Now, instead of just evaluating the client only on the basis of riding skills, experience, and goals, you can also add a values assessment. Do the client’s values and expectations align with your program’s? If not, then think twice about taking them on.

Especially in financially tough times, trainers who have open stalls may feel the need to take in whoever shows up at the barn gate. They may not feel the luxury to choose who they want to work with. Even in this situation, it’s important to remember that as the trainer, it is your program. As the barn parent, you’re the decider. Not everyone will be pleased with every decision—in fact, someone will always be displeased. But if you make decisions based on your values, rather than on pleasing others, you will feel more grounded and aligned in your direction and less vulnerable to the intrabarn tensions and conflict. Best of all, your work environment will be a happier, more creative and vital place to be—not just for you, but for all those around you, including the horses.

If you have a question for performance psychologist Darby Bonomi, PhD., please submit it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You are welcome to ask a question anonymously, but please provide relevant background regarding your experience and other details that enable her to best answer your question.

May 2020 - Editor's Notes
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Wednesday, 29 April 2020 05:25


It’s hard not to be anxious and/or glum over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the continuing event cancellations and many owners being unable to spend time with their horses. While the impact on the equestrian world pales in comparison to the virus’ impact on those who are fighting to protect their own and others’ lives, it’s understandable to have trouble seeing any good news. As much as I value staying abreast of the news, I also know that balancing the bad with good is always important, even when it’s a little harder to find.


Many of this issue’s articles helped sustain my spirits this past month. I hope they do the same for you!


Thanks to Pam Duffy for sharing that she taps Anais Nin’s “Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage” message as her modus operandi for Sunsprite Ranch’s future. She is a very inspiring person and horse woman and I am excited to watch her horses do their spectacular thing for many years into the future.

Thanks to Stanford’s Vanessa Bartsch for suggesting an article on Andrea Cao, the freshman team rider who vaulted to fame on Shark Tank as a 13-year-old entrepreneur. The Central California horsewoman is now mindfully managing the steady growth of Andrea Equine and continuing to work with BLM Mustangs and young horses.

Thanks to eventer Lauren Billys for sharing what it’s like to have earned a spot in the Tokyo Olympics that are now pushed back to 2021. To Susan Ighani for sharing what it’s like to relocate a 20-horse program amid shelter-in-place realities and to our delightful columnist Nan Meek for sharing what it’s really like keeping a horse a home, a dream for many of us, perhaps even more these days.

Thanks, too, to Darby Bonomi, PhD, and Marnye Langer for their wise, helpful perspectives to help us all get through.

My biggest uplift in reporting for this issue was to find there is actually good news interwoven in the virus’ impact on horses newly in need of new homes. Unlike the situation during the Great Recession that started in 2008, now there is more promotion of and support for moving horses out of shelters and into permanent homes.

Don’t get me wrong: the pandemic is hitting horses hard, but the ASPCA’s Dr. Emily Weiss explained that welfare organizations are setting aside past differences to unite in promoting “horses in transition” rather than “unwanted horses.” It’s a concept that worked really well in the small animal adoption world, and there is hope it will help horses, too. Please read about The Right Horse initiative on page 10, and visit and see if you can help. Even if you can’t foster or adopt at the moment, pick a special horse and share them on your social channels. Maybe someone in your circle can.
Thanks to all of those working hard to help humans and horses during these difficult days.

Happy reading and riding. For those who can ride and visit your horse, extra hugs for the rest of us, please!!

Kim F Miller, Editor


Diamonte is a gorgeous grey thoroughbred gelding up for adoption at FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, California.

He stands 16.1 hands high and has been trained to ride trail under saddle.

He is 14 years old and sold for $27,000 in 2007, racing only once.

Looking for a loving intermediate riding home for life.

Adoption fee is $800.

See Diamonte on our adoption page at

May 2020 - Dressage News & Views
Written by by Nan Meek
Wednesday, 29 April 2020 00:26

dressage news

Great expectations: change is afoot at Toyon Farm.

by Nan Meek

It’s been a busy few months for the Bonavito family and Sabine Schut-Kery. In November 2019, the Bonavitos purchased Toyon Farm in Napa, and have been following “stay in place” orders during the COVID-19 crisis with three generations of their family, as well as their horses. In May, Sabine is moving to Toyon Farm.


Toyon Farm was previously owned by Camille and Edward Penhoet, longtime supporters of dressage in California. Camille, who grew up in the Carmel area and was a competitive dressage rider for many years, and her husband bought Toyon in the 1980s and renovated the original facilities into a jewel of a private equestrian facility set among rolling vineyards.


Today Toyon Farm is the new home of the Bonavito family and their horses, along with a handful of longtime boarders, and is managed by Gera Slijkoord, who was the Penhoets’ manager, as well.

The Bonavitos, and especially daughter Danielle, have been part of the northern California dressage community for many years. As a kid, Danielle Bonavito trained with Carolyn Adams at Yarra Yarra Ranch in Pleasanton, just down the road from her parents’ private farm in Danville. “Carolyn taught me on my first pony, Kirov,” Danielle recalled. “She also trained me on my first horse Quincey (Against All Odds) who we bought from Courtenay Fraser in Canada.”

Later, Danielle trained with Katrin and Dirk Glitz at her parents’ farm, and Katrin coached her through her junior and young rider years. In 2014, Danielle played a key role in the combined USDF Region 6/7 dressage team winning the bronze medal at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park.

“When I was ready to make some changes in my riding and training, Anke Herbert and Alix Curry introduced me to Sabine who they thought would be a good match for me and my horses. I was lucky to be accepted into her program,” Danielle remarked. “Plus, I was able to transfer colleges to one that was only 20 minutes from Sabine’s location at El Campeon Farms.”

Retirees To Olympic Hopefuls

Today, Danielle has her three competition horses at Toyon, along with three of the family’s retired horses, which include her Young Riders horse, her sister’s first horse, and her dad’s horse. “Toyon is the perfect home for all of them,” she said. The retired horses will live out their lives in comfort, while Danielle and her competition horses will continue to be coached by Sabine at home and at competitions.

Danielle vividly remembered the moment she saw that farm-for-sale ad. “I showed the ad to my mom,” Danielle recalled, “and she thought the property was beautiful.” What mother wouldn’t fantasize about luring her dressage-obsessed daughter back home from Southern California with a wonderful place like Toyon for her to live and train her horses?

The only issue for Danielle was a big one: Her coach Sabine Schut-Kery was contentedly based at El Campeon Farms in Thousand Oaks. From Sabine’s perspective, any move would have to be carefully considered so that it worked not just for her, but also for her sponsors, owners, and clients.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way – how many times have we all heard that cliché? There’s a certain amount of truth to clichés, however, and this was no exception.

Sabine explained her thinking about the decision to move north. “It was bittersweet to think about leaving a beautiful place like El Campeon Farms and the support of the great group of clients and friends that I made there. But I have always enjoyed visiting Northern California, and the welcoming invitation from the Bonavitos to move to Toyon in the Napa wine country brought the excitement of new opportunities. My first sight of Toyon Farm, nestled in Napa’s rolling hills and surrounded by vineyards, reminded me of Italy.” Sabine’s sponsors, owners, and clients have continued to be supportive of her new plans.

She is bringing six to seven horses north with her, including Sanceo, the 2006 Hanoverian stallion by San Remo and owned by Alice Womble-Heitman and Dr. Mike Heitman, with whom she has been working to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, now rescheduled for the summer of 2021. Also heading to Toyon with Sabine are Marques, the 2004 PRE stallion owned by Rhea Scott, with whom she is looking toward exhibition performances, as well as other horses belonging to her sponsors and a couple of her own horses. With Danielle’s horses already in residence at Toyon, and room for a few new clients, Sabine will be as busy as ever.

“I’m excited to continue Danielle’s development with her three talented horses. She is a gifted rider with a lot of feel, and she is very involved and hands on with her horses. Because of our trips and her commitment to dressage we have built a close relationship,” Sabine said. In 2018, Danielle and her horse traveled with Sabine to Germany to train, and this past winter she joined Sabine in Florida for the season that got shortened by the COVID-19 crisis.

Having lived and worked in the Los Angeles area since 2005, Sabine is understandably committed to her relationships with her clients and students there, so her plans call for traveling south for clinics once or twice a month. As she explained, “I will fly in to teach clinics, while my horses have a cross-training day at home. That way I can continue to work with my wonderful clientele in the Los Angeles area.” Sabine’s own work with Christine Traurig, her longtime mentor and “eyes on the ground” since 2006, will continue at Toyon, where Christine will visit on a regular basis.

Looking ahead, there’s even more to Sabine’s plans. With her time currently concentrated on coaching Danielle and on qualifying Sanceo for Tokyo, her immediate focus obviously remains on competition. But she also enjoys exhibitions, and although her plans to create an exhibition for the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas were derailed by its cancellation, she’s looking forward to revisiting the creative outlet of exhibition riding. “I’m excited and looking forward to being part of the Northern California dressage community,” Sabine said.

Toyon Farm will be a busy place under the ownership of the Bonavito family and with the coaching of Sabine Schut-Kery. Watch for great things to come.

A lifelong horse owner, Nan Meek lives on the scenic San Mateo County coast where dressage courts and riding trails overlook the Pacific Ocean. She competed in dressage to the Prix St. Georges level with her late beloved Lipizzan Andy (Maestoso II Athena II-1), and now practices the discipline of dressage with her handsome Spanish warmblood Helio Jerez 2000 and dotes on the newest family member Mischa (Neapolitano Angelica II-1).

April 2020 - Ask Dr. Darby Bonomi
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 31 March 2020 23:37

ask dr darby

Performance psychologist and equestrian answers readers’ questions.

Dear Dr. Darby,

On a daily basis, I have a lot of different things on my mind. When I get on to ride I find it difficult to shut off those stresses and focus on my horse. What are some things you recommend that can help me focus during practice?
—A.C., Amateur hunter/jumper rider, Carpenteria, CA

This is a common problem for riders of all levels and ages. These days all of us juggle many commitments, along with an onslaught of thoughts, concerns, and emotions. It’s imperative for our horse’s sake and our own to avoid bringing our burdens into the saddle. Horses are extremely intuitive and feel everything. If we’re stressed and distracted, they will become so as well.


First, I suggest creating boundaries around tasks or parts of your day. Designate certain times for work, emails, riding, errands and so on. Mental boundaries help us focus on whatever it is we’re doing rather than all the other things that buzz around in our minds. Let’s face it—it’s very stressful and terribly inefficient to try to focus on multiple things at once.

Boundaries & Time Limits

One way to create boundaries is to make daily, weekly and even monthly lists of tasks. I set time limits around tasks—giving myself 30 minutes to do x, then 45 minutes to do y, and so on. I stick to my plan as much as possible. My lists are designed to organize me, keep me on track, give me a sense of accomplishment—and give me scheduled breathers during the day! I know that when I set the timer on emails, that’s all I get for now; I have to move on to the next thing. If something doesn’t get completed, it goes on tomorrow’s list (or perhaps next week’s.) I can let the task go for now, because I know it’s on another list and will get done later.

A central purpose of setting boundaries is to be able to let go of everything else and concentrate on what you are doing now.

Another tool to leave stress at the barn door is to develop some mindfulness practices to help shed unwanted thoughts and emotions. Remember, mindfulness is a practice, so it takes practice to work.

Try this to start: take cleansing or relaxation breaths as you imagine the contents of your busy mind going into the earth. Pay attention to your body in space, feeling your bottom in the seat of the car or chair, and your feet on the ground, and become exquisitely aware of your present surroundings. Notice smells, signs, sounds to call yourself right to the present. Should a task or a worry come into mind, say thank you and let it go. This practice can be used anywhere—in the grocery line, in the car—even in the saddle! I personally like to start my rides this way, grounding, centering, and connecting emotionally with my horse.

The essence of mindfulness is to be fully aware of your experience at the present moment.

Last, I suggest my riders set intentions for every ride, even if it’s a solo practice session at home. Decide what three things you and your horse are going to work on today, and design your ride with those goals in mind. Having intentions or goals will help you focus your mind, keep you on track, and shelter you from those nagging thoughts about work or outside life. If your mind wanders, bring yourself gently back to the present and connect with the generous animal you’re sitting on. Remember that he or she deserves your full attention and energy.

Actively setting intentions for your day or ride will help focus your mind.

Just as there are a multitude of distractions out there, there are many tools to help draw ourselves back into the present moment and deliberately compartmentalize thoughts. Horses naturally call us to be here and accounted for—it’s part of why most of us consider barn time our therapy!


If you have a question for performance psychologist Darby Bonomi, PhD., please submit it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You are welcome to ask a question anonymously, but please provide relevant background regarding your experience and other details that enable her to best answer your question.

March 2020 - Ask Dr. Darby Bonomi
Written by CRM
Monday, 02 March 2020 19:04

ask dr darby

Performance psychologist and equestrian answers readers’ questions.

Dear Dr. Darby Bonomi

During a competition, I occasionally will get a late ride time and have to spend all day preparing and getting nervous for my ride. Often by the time I ride, I feel tired. How do you recommend I mitigate this ongoing pressure for a later ride time?

—Lauren Billys, International Eventer and Olympian, who recently secured her spot in the 2020 Tokyo Games with Castle Larchfield Purdy.

Dear Lauren,


Thanks for this great question. It’s a common situation for all athletes of all levels or anyone who performs—we don’t always get the performance time that suits us best! Most of us prefer to ride first thing in the morning, when we’re mentally sharp and physically rested. An early ride time doesn’t allow too much time to ponder over the track, watch others, or get nervous.

The preparation path is clear—get ready and go. As the day wears on, it can be harder to focus our minds and get ourselves geared up for competition. We are tired, perhaps amped up from watching our colleagues perform, and our minds can become frazzled from too much thinking. Later in the day, it’s also more difficult to productively channel our energy. Nonetheless, as you well know, many of the biggest events take place in the late afternoon or evening. Whether you’re an elite athlete or an amateur, it’s imperative to hone your pre-performance preparation so that you can gear up no matter when you’re asked to perform.

First, it’s key to manage your energy during the day by developing the skill to turn your performance energy ‘on’ and ‘off.’ I know that sounds funny, but what I mean is, if your ride time is late, you need to be ‘off’ or on ‘low’ most of the day and then deliberately turn it ‘on’ when you need it.

Tip: Envision your energy
like a flame on the stove,
regulated by a knob.
You can turn the flame up or
down, but it’s a waste of energy
to be on full flame all day.

When you’re not competing or getting ready to compete, dial your energy to ‘off’ or ‘simmer’. Being ‘on’ all day will wear you out. About an hour or so before your ride, turn up the ‘flame’. Deliberately start to raise your energy as you begin your afternoon pre-ride preparation.

Second, once you have your energy turned up, it’s time to clear your mind and get focused. I suggest that you develop a deliberate pre-ride routine that is tailored to your needs.

Pre-ride routines have three components—clearing mental chatter, centering and grounding the emotions and physical body, and narrowing the focus (or getting into ‘the zone.’)

We all have pre-ride routines, whether we’re deliberate about them or not. I strongly advocate that all show riders develop ways to efficiently and effectively get themselves fully ready to be in the saddle and present for their horse.

Tip: Develop different
pre-ride routines for different
times of the day or week.

Since we all have different needs at different times of the day, we need to adjust our pre-rides accordingly. Similarly, your pre-ride on Wednesday may look quite different from your Sunday preparation. Why? You’re tired—mentally and physically—by Sunday!

Envision a pilot’s take-off check list. About one hour before ‘take off’, start the check list. It’s at this point you’re gearing up—but not before then. For afternoons, you’ll have to figure out how to get yourself from ‘simmer’ to full flame (energized) and focused. Personally, in the afternoons I need to do some extra physical warm up, get some caffeine and protein, and practice energizing breaths. After raising my energy and grounding my body, I study my course, watch several of the best riders perform—but not too many—and then visualize my own ride while I activate my excitement for performing with my horse. Note that when I’m watching others perform, I’m either ‘on’ (intensely focusing) or ‘off’ (just casually watching). I am explicit in my mind about whether I’m in ‘prep mode’ or just ‘spectator mode’.

Tools for raising energy and focusing in the afternoon include: physical warm up and stretching with energizing breaths, listening to fast music, limited caffeine and adequate sustenance, visualizing the feeling of a great ride.

This kind of preparation is a mental and emotional skill and takes time to develop. I suggest a daily practice of making mental energy choices (on, off, simmer). When you’re at a competition, you will need to both change your thoughts and deliberately change your behavior. Don’t allow yourself to watch too many rounds. If you need to leave the showgrounds, take a nap in your car, or go shopping to be ‘off’, then do it. Even if you can’t physically leave, reframing to yourself that you’re in ‘relaxation mode’ will reduce your stress and give you a mental break so you can gear up later for your ride time. Remember, rest is a necessary component of performance.

Thank you again, Lauren, for the great question—it’s good to know that riders of all levels work on these kinds of challenges!


If you have a question for performance psychologist Darby Bonomi, PhD., please submit it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You are welcome to ask a question anonymously, but please provide relevant background regarding your experience and other details that enable her to best answer your question.

February 2020 - Dressage News & Views
Written by by Nan Meek
Saturday, 01 February 2020 19:36

dressage news

Meetings, Musical Freestyles, and More at the CDS Annual Meeting and Symposium.

by Nan Meek

Convening just blocks from the state capitol, on the riverfront in downtown Sacramento, the CDS Annual Meeting could not have been more perfectly located to highlight the importance of governance as directors, chapter chairs, and dedicated members met on Friday, January 10, for executive board and committee meetings, and on Saturday, January 11, for the CDS Annual Meeting.


Saturday night saw the dressage community dressed to out-bling each other for the gala awards dinner and the wild – and wildly popular – “chapter jog” in which chapters danced, strutted, vogued, and generally competed to outdo each other as dance music filled the room.


The highlights? Sonoma Chapter member and trainer Erika Jansson’s fashion show catwalk skills and the Santa Cruz chapter’s surprise appearance of animal-masked dancers clad in formal shadbellies, otherwise known as trainer, judge, and physical therapist Anne Howard along with her boyfriend Erik Simpson.

CDS Annual Meeting

On Sunday, the dress code shifted 180 degrees to layers of polar fleece and down to outsmart the freezing temperature at the Murieta Equestrian Center for the Musical Freestyle Symposium. Nine hardy riders brought out horses young and older to work with FEI 5* judge and USEF “S” Dressage Judge Janet Lee Foy and founder of Klassic Kur musical freestyle designer Terry Ciotti Gallo.

Concurrent with the CDS events, United States Dressage Federation continuing education in judging freestyles was held at an all-day classroom session on Saturday, with judges and judge candidates attending the Musical Freestyle Symposium on Sunday for continuing education about the technical and artistic requirements and execution in freestyles, and practice in judging.

It was a weekend filled with forward-looking governance, in-depth education, and interesting conversations with friends, old and new. In a surprising “small world” moment, I met a chapter chair – Mary Couch of the Santa Barbara County Chapter – who grew up in my hometown. Of course, our “do you know so-and-so” conversation evoked laughter and reminiscences.

While organizations such as CDS, USDF, and USEF are all about education, competition, and the governance of equestrian sport, they would not exist without all the people who care enough to make the organizations work. It was inspiring, entertaining, and heart-warming to be surrounded by them during the CDS Annual Meeting and Symposium.

Joan Williams and Kevin Reinig at CDS.

Highlights, Challenges & Camaraderie

CDS Scholarship Committee Meeting: Over the past year I’ve had the honor and pleasure of serving on this committee, which reviews applications and makes recommendations to the board for recipients of the many CDS scholarship programs for juniors, young riders, adult amateurs, professionals, and high-performance competitors. At its Friday meeting, Chair Joan Williams passed the baton (or would that be the longe whip?) to new Chair Nancy Szakacs, for the best of reasons: Joan had just been elected President of CDS.

Apart from their volunteer work for CDS, Joan is a popular trainer and “R” dressage judge from the Santa Cruz Chapter who goes beyond teaching and coaching basic dressage to enhancing skills and fostering fun for her students with musical freestyles, quadrille, long-lining, clinics with Arthur Kottas, and more, while Nancy has for many years made it look deceptively easy to balance a demanding corporate career with schooling and showing multiple horses through the levels, under the watchful eyes of the Villa Rosa Dressage dynamic duo Heidi Gaian and “The Mother” Pam Nelson.

There’s a theme here, isn’t there? Strong, intelligent, more than capable women — CDS is full of them.

Chapter jog

Annual Meeting

It would take an entire article to cover everything that took place at this meeting, and CDS will report all the details in its monthly newsletter, Dressage Letters, and online, so I’ll just stick to some of the highlights.

Former CDS President Kevin Reining was recently elected USDF Vice President, and he, along with USDF Region 7 Director Carol Tice, provided a perspective on the issues shared by CDS and USDF, as well as some that generate conflict.

Kevin expressed a concern, shared by all equestrian disciplines, about declining membership. The number one reason given by former members who have not renewed their membership is that they are not competing, so they are not renewing. He emphasized that CDS and USDF are educational organizations first and foremost, not competition organizations – our competitions exist to test the horse’s and rider’s education, just as tests at the end of a school term show how well (or not) a student’s education succeeded.

Moreover, organizations such as CDS and USDF provide governance and organization for the sport of dressage. They need the support of the entire community of dressage riders, whether they compete or not. That’s an issue that should concern us all, and it’s an issue where we can all make a difference. So, renew your memberships, if you haven’t already done so!

Carol addressed one member’s question about an issue that has been batted back and forth for years: What ever happened to the idea of alternating the finals between the East and the West? Holding the dressage finals every year at the Kentucky Horse Park is truly a financial and logistical challenge for West Coast riders.

This is a large and complex issue, with many disparate parts. As it turns out, this is where being one of the largest GMOs (Group Member Organizations) of USDF works against us. USDF Region 7 consists of CDS and three small GMOs from Hawaii. Other regions typically have six to 10 GMOs per region. With each GMO having the same ability to send riders to the finals, many more eastern riders would need to travel west than vice versa. Another logistical issue is that, should the dressage finals leave the Kentucky Horse Park, chances of getting back on their calendar is problematic. There are many more issues than those I’ve touched on here, however, but I found that Kevin and Carol’s perspectives and experiences “back East” at the USDF convention helped me better understand the big picture of our sport.

Some awards were presented, while others were saved for the Gala Awards Banquet later that day. One of the awards that always interests me is the Best Educational Event, which this year went to the Sacramento Valley Chapter for their Adult Camp. The thought of taking my horse away for the weekend, to meet up with friends and their horses, get great instruction and have tons of fun … well, what’s not to like? Only trouble is, I’m not in that chapter! But any chapter can reproduce another chapter’s successful event.

In fact, chapter chairs met for round table discussions by region – northern, central, and southern – to share their successes and challenges, exchange information and ideas, and brainstorm solutions. In the northern region discussion at which I represented the San Francisco Peninsula Chapter, several chapter chairs talked about collaboration with neighboring chapters on events to include both chapters’ members. One topic led to another, with the result that the group decided to set up a Facebook page to facilitate chapter-to-chapter information sharing.

Sunday Symposium

Musical Freestyle Education

As a future musical freestyle rider, I looked forward to auditing the Saturday afternoon USDF continuing education in judging freestyles, and attending the Sunday all-day Musical Freestyle Symposium. I wanted to know how musical freestyles are judged so I could learn how to ride them most effectively, but I also wondered if I wasn’t putting the proverbial cart before the horse, since I’ve only just begun to work on my own freestyle.

Lucky for me, the lecture and symposium both lived up to my hopes and more. I have a lot more to learn and a long road ahead before I enter at A, but thanks to CDS I have a better foundation than if I had not attended this weekend. I discovered the details that go into scoring the technical and artistic requirement, and how the choice of music impacts the execution of the freestyle itself. I also learned – thank you Janet Foy – to never, ever bore the judge!

While I would love to share detailed notes on every horse and rider in the symposium with you, I’m sure your eyes would glaze over, as mine did when reading them afterward. The vision in the arena far surpassed my scribbled hieroglyphics on the page. Suffice to say that I learned something – or many things – from watching each and every pair. So here’s to you with immense gratitude for bringing your horses out in the frigid temperature:

Sandy Savage and Habanero, who demonstrated how matching the metronome tempo with the music could be improved upon with music that’s just a tad faster or slower than the metronome.

Katy Augsburger Katz, who rode a First Level freestyle that gave us our first taste of the discussion that various judges had about actual scores for each movement.

Anne Howard, who rode her late mother Sandy Howard’s Grand Prix horse Rondo in a Second Level freestyle because the symposium needed one at that level.

Elena Flaharty and Charlie, who demonstrated a Third Level freestyle and gave us another opportunity to eavesdrop (legally) on the judges’ scoring rationales.

Ana Gilmour, whose compact black mare I confess I wanted to take home with me, and whose question about the “fan” pirouette movement sparked a detailed discussion of its intricate scoring.

Katy Barglow and Scout, whose Fourth Level freestyle to the music of “Annie” demonstrated a cohesive theme, and was fun to watch.

Ruth Shirkey and Wyleigh Princess, whose Intermediaire 1 freestyle drew the comment “lovely music highlights the horse” – and boy, did it.

Christian Hartung and Desario, in their Intermediaire 1 freestyle, received a comment of “elastic, powerful, well ridden” from Janet Foy.

Barbi Breen-Gurley and Vindicator, with their Michael Jackson music, brought the day to an uplifting end.

Get Your Freestyle On!

This month, there’s another opportunity to ride in or audit a musical freestyle clinic. On February 22-23, at the Horse Park at Woodside, you can learn “how to make your freestyle sing” with professional musician, FEI trainer, and freestyle designer Melanie Michalak.

“There’s a difference between riding a test to music, and riding a true freestyle,” Melanie contends, and she should know – she’s designed more than a hundred winning freestyles, including US Olympic Trials, Pan Am Games, Young Riders, and National Championships.

All the details for this musical freestyle clinic, hosted by the San Francisco Peninsula CDS Chapter, are at


A lifelong horse owner, Nan Meek lives on the scenic San Mateo County coast where dressage courts and riding trails overlook the Pacific Ocean. She competed in dressage to the Prix St. Georges level with her late beloved Lipizzan Andy (Maestoso II Athena II-1), and now practices the discipline of dressage with her handsome Spanish warmblood Helio Jerez 2000 and dotes on the newest family member Mischa (Neapolitano Angelica II-1). Yes, dressage is embedded in her DNA.


January 2020 - Editor’s Notes
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 January 2020 01:01


News of West Coast equestrians receiving impressive honors rolled in throughout our December issue deadline. We have full reports on many of them in this issue, but a few that came too late are:

US Equestrian named 17-year-old Elvenstar rider Julia Stone as Junior Equestrian of the Year. Big kudos to Julia, who is now a freshman at the University of Georgia.


Sarah Lockman’s team silver and individual gold Pan Am Games partner, First Apple, is up for International Horse of Honor. The Dutch Warmblood stallion was purchased for Sarah by Summit Farms, whose owner Jerry Ibanez sadly passed away recently, a great loss to our sport. Temecula-based Nick Haness is a nominee for National Equestrian Of Honor. Super recognition for this young professional, who also received the California Professional Horsemen’s Association Special Achievement award. Along with countless competitive successes, he is known for giving a leg up to talented young riders who may not have the money means to fulfill their ambitions.


The USEF award voting is open until January 2, at 9 p.m. our time, and the winners’ names will be revealed during the USEF Annual Meeting Jan. 10-11 in Florida. Vote at

We hope you enjoy the tributes to recipients of all the CPHA’s Special Awards. Six years ago, we launched the tradition of asking those close to the winners to write about what makes the honorees special and it has become one of our most celebrated features. We hope to share it with many of you at the CPHA Awards Banquet Jan. 3 in San Diego, during the Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association’s annual meeting and awards celebration.

Another piece of late news was sad: the passing of Joan Irvine Smith on Dec. 19. “She had a bigger impact on horses and showing horses than she ever knew,” wrote her friend Kathy Hobstetter in sharing the news.

Big thanks to Edgar Schutte’s Eurequine for sponsoring this month’s cover. It’s great to have these fantastic stallions and breeding services serving the country from California.

I really enjoyed attending Day Of The Horse festivities at the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center. Happily, there were several of these events going on throughout our readership area. They are so important.

Even though the big public boarding, training and show facility is visible from a main street in Huntington Beach, trainer Tracy Burroughs told me that she often encounters neighbors who have no idea there are opportunities to ride and interact with horses close by. The event drew a good crowd who had the chance to learn about show jumping, therapeutic riding, vaulting and the Free Rein Foundation that pairs rescued horses with people in need of healing.

Wishing everyone a very happy New Year.

Happy reading and riding,

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



Otis is a five year old quarterhorse gelding up for adoption at FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, California.

He stands 15.2 hands high and has a very sweet and loving personality. He has lameness on his right hind and therefore is mostly a companion horse. He has been in rehab and not ridden since he arrived, had chiropractic sessions with no improvements. Kids could walk him, or a lightweight adult only. Puppy dog personality.

Adoption fee $500.

See Otis on our adoption page at

December 2019 - Editor’s Notes
Written by CRM
Sunday, 01 December 2019 10:05


Thanks to DG Bar Ranch for sponsoring this issue’s cover and sharing the news of their two young stallions, Koning DG and L Primo DG. These young sires are set to keep the Dutch Warmblood breeding endeavor thriving for another 35 years. In a world of seemingly never-ending “new,” there’s something deeply reassuring in the ongoing success of this family business run with heart, horsemanship and a mix of tradition and forward-thinking ideas.


With Christmas coming, my editorial wish list leans toward stories that inspire and this issue has three that especially stand out. First, there’s the tale of the five years it took Central California horsewoman and corrections officer, Heidi Richards, to see through her vision for a horse handling educational program at the Pleasant Valley State Prison. Next it’s Dr. Suzi Lanini’s first person account of her reasons for riding in this year’s Tournament of Roses Parade. She’s well known as an accomplished amateur dressage rider, but the small animal veterinarian – and her star Arabian Justin Kayce – regularly make contributions that extend well beyond the arena.


Opal Hagerty revisiting her life long passion for horses. Photos: Judy Lucous

Last but not least, loved seeing a big story in the Nov. 19 Los Angeles Times about a 95-year-old San Diegan having her wish for “one last ride” granted by the Temecula Carriage Company. When they learned of the request through the Court Retirement Center in Escondido, Mark and Marika Matson invited Opal Hagerty to come out and meet one of their Draft horses, Blossom, then take a lovely carriage ride through nearby vineyards. Happy holidays, indeed!

A gift we can all give ourselves is learning to land safely from a fall, or at least greatly reduce the risk of serious injury. I’m excited that Landsafe Equestrian has four clinics in California this month and I hope many of our readers – from every discipline – will find a way to participate or audit. Landsafe principal Danny Warrington is a long-time eventer whose first wife, Amanda Warrington, died of her injuries after a fall in 1998. Danny emerged as a passionate proponent for riders taking responsibility for our own safety, rather than waiting for rules and regulations to make the sport safer. The latter are great, of course, but all good change starts with taking individual responsibility.

Now to work on our January issue. We’ll be featuring breeders and our annual spotlight on recipients of the California Professional Horsemen’s Association special awards. It’s an honor we look forward to every year.
Thanks to all our advertisers, our readers and those who’ve submitted articles and story ideas. Please keep them coming in the new year. Warmest wishes for a happy, safe holiday with family members—humans and horses.


This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Adopt Me! Snow White is a 15 year old paint mare up for adoption as a companion horse only with no riding from FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, CA.

She has an old pelvic injury and is unsound for riding. This nice mare spent the last few years as a nonriding therapeutic horse. Gentle and sweet, this girl is darling and would make a great pasture puff family member for life!

Adoption fee $400.
See Snow White on our adoption page at

December 2019 - What's Happening
Written by CRM
Sunday, 01 December 2019 07:49

whats happeningCalifornia Riding Magazine Event Calendar

Does your special event deserve special coverage in California Riding Magazine’s What’s Happening Event Calendar? If so, let us know and don’t forget a photo. Send it all to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Our deadline is the first of the month for the following month’s issue. Please submit your events by December 1st for the January issue. It’s the place to be and it’s free!

No Shows
Dec. 1 & Jan. 4 in Orange County’s San Juan Capistrano

These are popular opportunities to get show experience at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park venue without the related show fees. Instead, at $30 per round, riders and horses gain experience over “A” show caliber jumps and courses, including an option with the open water jump. Set in two rings, courses range in fence height from .70M to 1.4M, and rounds are unlimited. Show stalls are available to rent for the Saturday night before each show.

Clients of Apollo Equine Transport and Horseflight participate in the No Show for no cost.

For more information, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Ladies Night at Big Horse Feed
Dec. 3 in Riverside County’s Temecula

It’s Ladies Only after-hours shopping at Big Horse Feed and Mercantile in Temecula on Tuesday, Dec. 2. From 6-8 p.m. this Southern California one-stop shop for all things equestrian welcomes women to enjoy store-wide discounts on everything from horse care supplies and equipment to jewelry and apparel, for riding, everyday wear or a night on the town. It’s also a perfect time to identify wish-list items for Big Horse’s popular gift registry.

For more information, visit

Straightening the Crooked Horse
Dec. 5-9 in Los Angeles County’s Agoura Hills

Renowned author and trainer Klaus Schoneich and Gabrielle Rachen-Schoneich have taught their holistic training system at their Center for Anatomically Correct Horsemanship in Germany for over 30 years. They’ve trained top FEI Grand Prix dressage horses and Olympic FEI dressage riders and rehabilitated thousands of incorrectly moving horses.

The Schoneichs’ method teaches the horse to carry itself freely with a swinging back, resolving 90-95% of motion-related problems. Their system is described as the “missing link” when preparing horses for performance, whether they are Olympic hopefuls, “problem” steeds or everyday riding partners.

The clinic will take place at Lion Heart Ranch. For more information, visit

Holiday Fun Schooling Show
Dec. 7-8 in Alameda County’s Pleasanton

Alameda County Equestrian hosts this day of dressage practice, with the added attraction of a holiday boutique and crafts. Divisions include dressage, hunters, equitation and jumpers in front of dressage judge, USDF L official Ivette Harte, and Jay Arend, a USEF R judge for the hunter/jumper classes.

The venue is the Pleasanton Equestrian Center, located at the Alameda County Fairgrounds. This series of fun, community focused competitions continues in the new year with January, February, March and May dates. Team competitions, barn challenges and fun and functional prizes are more highlights.

For more information, contact organizers Greg and Dawn Benson of Alameda County Equestrian at

Landsafe Equestrian Clinics
Various dates, starting Dec. 8, & locations throughout California

Physical training on gymnastic mats and a mechanical horse teaches techniques for minimizing injuries in falls. Excellent for riders in all disciplines. See story, this issue.

Anne Kursinski Clinic
Dec. 13-15 in Burbank

Anne Kursinski is a five-time Olympic show jumper with two team silver medals. Her teaching resume is approaching similarly high status with many years giving clinics throughout the country. She is a tough taskmaster with clear explanations of the reasons behind her instructions and insights from her many years of success.

The clinic will be held at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. For riding and auditing information, call organizers Stacie Ryan and Karen Perlow at 818-309-5001.

Indoor Eventing
Dec. 14-15 in San Juan Capistrano

The Pacific Indoor Eventing Series began in 2014 as a “way to rally excitement for eventing, bring new riders into the sport and allow current event riders to school cross-country questions in a contained environment,” says its website. “Inspired by similar shows in Canada, the PIE shows are heavy on fun and have plenty of classes for all abilities of riders.”

Divisions range from Walk/Trot to Preliminary with 3’6” fence heights, plus special classes including a Training Level Gambler’s Choice and a Pony Club Challenge for U.S. Pony Club Members. Each regular division has two rounds, one over a course of show jumping style fences, and another over cross-country style jumps, both in the covered arena at Sycamore Trails Stables. The Pony Club Challenge has a third phase: a written horsemanship test administered in the office.

For more information or to sign up, visit

EquestFest presented by Wells Fargo
Dec. 29 in Burbank

Get up close and personal with the 2020 Rose Parade equestrian units at EquestFest presented by Wells Fargo. Watch beautiful horses and talented riders perform drills and dances and demonstrate trick riding and roping.

Attendees can also stroll through the stables, talk to riders and learn about the various tack and the many different breeds while enjoying the vendor court, displays, great music, food, and drinks.

Staged at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank, this is a great reminder of the many ways in which horses are enjoyed and the role they’ve played in much of our country’s past and present. Excellent event for experienced horse people and those new to the equestrian world.

Doors open at 10 a.m., the show begins at noon and the vendor court and activities continue until 3 pm.

Advance tickets are available through and day-of tickets are available on a first come, first served basis.


September 2020 - Ask Dr. Darby Bonomi
Written by by Dr. Darby Bonomi
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:31

ask dr darby

Performance psychologist and equestrian answers readers’ questions.

Dear Dr. Darby,

I’m a 15 year old rider at a large show barn. Most of my lessons are with other riders similar to my ability. My problem is that during lessons, my trainer compares us, and makes every lesson a competition. I know she does this to try to get us to ride our best, but what happens is that I get very nervous and self-conscious. It’s really hard for me to concentrate because I feel judged. I don’t know how to tell my trainer how I feel. Besides, I think she might tell me to just learn to live with it.

Thanks for your advice,

—R.A., Northern California

Dear R,


Thanks for writing. I’m sorry to hear that your trainer’s motivational approach isn’t working for you. From where I sit, many riders feel the same. Constant competition at home can be stressful, and I believe this approach goes against some very important principles of sport performance.


In my view, we must ride for and against ourselves, regardless of whether we’re at home or a show. I coach my riders to own their rides. Ride for yourself. Don’t ride for me, the judge, your trainer, or to beat your friends.

Create your own plan—based on your own challenges and aspirations—and actualize it.  

Toward this end, I encourage everyone to set three goals for every ride—whether it’s at home or the show. After the ride, evaluate yourself on those three tasks—did you accomplish them? If yes, how well?

If not, what are you going to change? Give yourself feedback and then refine your plan for the next time. And, remember: while the judge might give you only a ho-hum score for your ride, but it might be a complete victory for you, given your goals for your horse and yourself on that particular day.

The more you define your own goals and ride your own plan, the more you will take full ownership of every ride.

With this perspective in mind, comparisons are irrelevant. Even if you and I are in the same lesson or class, we are not working on the same things. It might be helpful to me to see how how you rode a track, or made an inside turn, but I know that I’m working on keeping my horse straight particularly out of my right turns, maintaining a consistent forward pace, and anchoring my right leg. You, on the other hand will have other tasks to focus on. We might ride together, but our goals and challenges are distinct.

If I were you, I’d have a conversation with my trainer when you can sit down in the office. Tell her how her approach is challenging for you and offer up an alternative. Maybe she’ll join you in helping craft a plan for each ride, and then give you feedback based on your own performance in relation to that plan rather than comparing you to your friends.

I also have found that constant comparisons between barn mates really undermines a positive barn culture. Although ours is an individual sport, much of the fun and learning comes from being part of a barn. Intra-barn competition, in my view, is best kept to a minimum. It’s only natural for us competitors to want to be the best, but I find that most everyone performs optimally when they are riding their own plan—whether it’s at Grand Prix or short stirrup. Even if your trainer is not receptive to this point of view, you can change your own mindset, setting up your goals for every round and riding your plan.

Darby Bonomi, PhD is a Sport and Performance Psychologist based in San Francisco. She works with equestrians in all disciplines, as well as other athletes, to achieve optimal performance in and out of the competition. She can be reached at

If you have a question for performance psychologist Darby Bonomi, PhD., please submit it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You are welcome to ask a question anonymously, but please provide relevant background regarding your experience and other details that enable her to best answer your question.

September 2020 - What’s Happening...
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 26 August 2020 20:16

whats happeningCalifornia Riding Magazine Event Calendar

Does your special event deserve special coverage in California Riding Magazine’s What’s Happening Event Calendar? If so, let us know and don’t forget a photo. Send it all to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Our deadline is the first of the month for the following month’s issue. It’s the place to be and it’s free!

(Please visit the organizers’ websites before planning to enter or volunteer to ensure the event status has not changed.)

Twin Rivers Fall Horse Trials: Sept. 18-20 in Paso Robles

Advanced to Intro and CCI2*-S to CCI4*-S are on tap for these Horse Trials that had an unprecedented turn-out last year. Of course, this is a very different year, but the appetite for competitions that can be safely staged seems to be huge, so there are expectations of another big event.

The Baxter family that owns and operates Twin Rivers Ranch and the eventing competitions have added enforcement of COVID safety protocols to their resume of continual upgrades to the property and fostering a fun, family vibe for all exhibitors. Hugh Lochore brought his course design expertise to the Advanced tracks last year and rider feedback from those who ran them in March was very positive.

The inaugural Spring CCI4*-L set for April had to be scrapped because of COVID, but summer events have been successful, safe and popular.

Most likely spectators still won’t be allowed, per USEF and county guidelines, but volunteers are much needed as always and there’s no better seat in the house than jump judge, score runner or gate person.

For more information, visit

CDS & Region 7 Championships: Sept. 24-27 in Del Mar

The 53rd Annual California Dressage Society Championships are set to go, and are concurrent with the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Championships, as usual. What’s new is the venue: the Del Mar Horse Park in San Diego, a carefully considered relocation following COVID restrictions in Los Angeles that affected the original plan to stage the Championships at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

Glenda McElroy is at the organizational helm and, of course, COVID-19 protocols and practices will be strictly adhered to.

For more information, visit

Sacramento International: Sept. Sept. 23-27 and Sept. 30-Oct. 4 in Sacramento

West Palms Events is one of many hunter/jumper show organizers flying through hoops most of the year to keep people and horses safe and shows on the calendar, even if in a scaled down form. The Dale Harvey-led team has staged shows at the Woodside Horse Park and Del Mar Horse Park from mid-summer on, with events also planned for Hansen Dam Horse Park in Lake View Terrace and, of course, the Murieta Equestrian Center in the Sacramento area’s Rancho Murieta.

The Longines FEI World Cup qualifier that is usually the centerpiece of the Sacramento International’s two weeks was cancelled but the rest of the show is on. Welcome Week, Set. 23-27, hosts the NorCal Finals to get things off to a strong start.

Somehow in their free time, West Palms organized livestreamed Zoom meetings with Michael Nyuis Scholarship recipients and two stars. Transplanted Californian Lauren Kardel spoke about being a black equestrian and Olympian McLain Ward answered the group’s good questions. Very cool to be able to listen in on those chats!

For more information, visit

August 2020 - The Gallop: Diversity in Dressage
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Monday, 03 August 2020 05:13


All colors, breeds and body types find their footing in an equal opportunity discipline.

by Kim F. Miller

As the equestrian industry seeks ways to increase diversity and inclusion among riders, they might be heartened by the fact that, at least with horses, it’s possible. While Warmbloods still dominate dressage, their big dramatic movements aren’t the only game in town when it comes to entering the winners circle.

At the highest levels of the sport, Baroque breeds led the way in giving Warmbloods a run for their money. Dressage trainer Allison Mathy has campaigned these breeds for many years, with a special focus on Lusitanos for the last several. In the last major dressage competition in Europe before coronavirus shut things down, “the most prominent breed was Lusitanos,” she reports.   “And the Lusitano Breed Association was ranked fifth in the world in the international dressage scene.


“In European countries, some of the top riders are competing and making international teams with Lusitanos,” she continues. “We’ve yet to have a Baroque horse make the team in the United States., but we have some really good quality horse flesh here and I think it’s going to happen in the next few years.”


As a general rule, Allison has noticed the judging of Baroque breeds at the international level “become increasingly objective.” At lower levels of competition, some prejudicial judging still exists, she shares, but nowhere near as much as in the past.

Legendario. Photo: Tupa

Arabians Are A-OK!

Susanne Lanini, DVM, heard plenty about prejudices in dressage judging over many years campaigning her recently-retired Arabian, Just In Kayce, in Open competition. Yet, she never personally experienced it. “Everybody has been so welcoming,” says the small animal veterinarian and amateur dressage rider from Rancho Cucamonga. “It’s been very uplifting.”

It may have helped that “Dr. Suzi” and Justin began their dressage track with two very open-minded trainers, Sarah Lockman and Sabine Schut-Kery. Sarah’s acceptance of a new client with a sight-unseen Friesian led to her partnership with Summit Farm’s owner Gerry Ibanez. And, Sabine launched her career in the U.S. training Proud Meadow Friesians for both exhibition work and Open dressage competition. Sarah and Sabine rode to their current fame on Warmbloods, but their enthusiasm for the idea that all horses can benefit from and fulfill their potential through correct dressage training inspires students and fans alike.

“When I work with Suzi and Justin, it reminds me and inspires me that you don’t have to have a huge budget for a fancy horse,” Sabine told Arabian Horse Life Magazine last fall. “Having ridden non-traditional dressage breeds most of my life, Suzi reminded me that any horse and any breed will benefit from the correct training of dressage and what a gift it is to be passionate about training horses.”

Sabine first met Dr. Suzi and Justin while teaching a clinic. “The two of them caught my attention because she was riding an Arabian, and it’s not like he came into the ring with this fancy, huge movements we see nowadays that everyone is attracted to. I was more impressed with how correct he was and his good quality gaits and how carefully and thoughtfully he was trained and ridden.” Top 3 Fourth Level Adult Amateur finishes at the 2018 CDS Championship was one of many highlights of Dr Suzi and Justin’s career. Those came alongside Justin being an Ambassador for the Arabian Horse Association, riding in the Rose Parade, being a breed circuit star and doing volunteer Mounted Patrol work in San Bernardino County.

Thys. Photo: Meg McGuire Photography


Even if judging prejudices and the occasional sidelong glance were non-existent for those campaigning an “unconventional” breed in dressage, there are physical and training challenges when it comes to excelling in the discipine.

Stephanie Freeland encountered those when she trained and campaigned the Norwegian Fjord horse, FMF Rivoire, aka “William.” In between working for Helgstrand Dressage in Florida and Sabine Schut-Kery in California, Stephanie spent a six-month break in her native Indiana. Her mother had leased William from a friend and Stephanie tried him out.

“Everything we did he just picked up on,” she explains. “He was an easy horse to ride and we started putting some movement and actual training on him.” With only six months of that work, he went from Training Level to getting 70s at Second Level and to contesting the National Dressage Pony Cup last summer at Lamplight Equestrian Center near Chicago.

Fjords are one of the world’s oldest breeds, originally bred for farm work and known as sturdy, tough and agile. Their good temperaments have made them popular as riding horses in more recent times, but they are rare in dressage. “Even though they are more of a driving horse, William is built for dressage at the lower levels,” Stephanie says. “His neck is pretty and he can prance around.” Physically, collected work was more of a struggle for him, but “He never said ‘no’ and that’s what told me he could go on with more training.”


Prior to coronavirus, William’s owner was planning to send him to Southern California, where Stephanie’s training business is based at El Campeon Farms in Hidden Valley. “When I last sat on him, he was doing Third Level work and we felt there could be a little Fourth Level work possible.”

Welcome was her main feeling from fellow exhibitors and judges, Stephanie shares. Scores needed to qualify for the Pony Cup year-end show were earned against Warmbloods in most cases. At First and Second Level, William earned points for “steady, solid rides,” she says. Mistakes due to spookiness were never an issue. Judges regularly complimented his consistency and “very cute” was a constant comment. Constructive criticism from the judge’s box included “make sure he stays working from behind.”

“The way his neck looks, it looks like he’s always round, but I have to make sure that it’s not fake roundness,” Stephanie explains. “I have to keep working on rhythm, tempo and connection.”

Stephanie sensed William was sometimes initially dismissed as “Oh, just some little fat pony” by fellow exhibitors, but his trot quickly dispelled that. “It’s like a Warmblood’s. It leaves you in the air trying to sit it! Everybody is super welcoming and excited to see something different. That has been great!”

Stephanie’s personal horse is a Haflinger, so she’s accustomed to standing out at gatherings where Warmbloods dominate. Her Haflinger “does a little bit of everything.” That includes Working Equitation, which shares many training principles with classical dressage.

One Fine Friesian

Cameron Wyman had zero familiarity with or interest in Friesians when shopping for a horse with upper level dressage potential five years ago.  Yet, a video of the Friesian stallion, Thys, caught her attention so strongly she made the purchase without traveling to meet him in person. They have since contested three North American Youth Championships for Region 6, including last year in the Young Rider division.

“He is an awesome representation of the breed,” says Cameron, a Cal Poly student and a working student for Allison Mathy’s Lyric Dressage in Templeton. On that video, he showed “a lot of flamboyance and seemed to have all the ability to do the upper levels. And, he was in our price range.”

Cameron was 16 at the time and had only done lower level work. They’ve been gradually progressing up the levels together. This year, they had planned to come out at Intermediare II had the show season run as normal. Now riding as a professional, Cameron is aiming for the U25 Brentina Cup tour next year.

Allison Mathy & Legendario.

Originating from the Netherlands, where they served as medieval war, farm work and cart horses, Friesians tend toward dramatic front-end knee action. Getting the hindquarter engagement needed for throughness throughout the test is a challenge, Cameron notes. “It’s common for the breed that they are powered from the front end, so the biggest challenge is the collected work.”

Now a working student for Lyric Dressage, Cameron and Allison often compare notes on the different rides needed for different breeds. “You have to work differently to get the correct throughness in their body,” Cameron says. “It’s challenging because you have to be more solid in your own body to get them to put their body in the way a Warmblood’s body more naturally goes into.”

Thys is a colorful character. “He stands out, usually in a good way,” Cameron says with a laugh. “He knows he is special and lets everybody know.” He is often one of the loudest on the show grounds, and loves saying hi to the ladies, but is overall a very manageable stallion. Exhibitors recognize him from show to show, when he is often the only Friesian or Baroque breed in attendance. At last summer’s NAYC, however, he wasn’t alone. A USDF Region 1 rider, Emma Teff, contested the Junior division on an Andalusian, Ugo JV, and Annika Tedlund of Region 4, came out on Eclipse BR, an Andalusian, in the Young Rider division.

Very outgoing and friendly around the barn, Thys is Cameron’s “heart horse.” His flamboyant presence in the ring is matched by a remarkable work ethic. “What really makes him enjoyable is that he loves to work,” she explains.

Cameron occasionally hears fellow riders say they are taking the Friesian breed more seriously after seeing Thys in action and many say they are more open minded to breeds beyond Warmbloods for dressage. She also occasionally hears people say their scores should have been higher. “I get that a lot. It doesn’t bug me, but it is noticeable.”

FMF Rivoire, aka “William” & Stephanie Freeland. Photo: John Borys Photography

Social Support

Allison Mathy credits social media with helping accelerate the Baroque breeds’ popularity in the States and elsewhere. “Twenty years ago, the information you got about these breeds came from a book or because you went to Spain or Portugal and saw them in person. Along with consistent success at the international level, there is a lot more visibility thanks to social media. Everyone is posting videos and photos and people can see them live and in action.”

Allison, too, has gone from being the only one a Baroque horse to seeing them much more frequently on the Open dressage circuit. While she continues to ride and train various breeds, she has become aligned with the Lusitanos in particular. “The Portuguese and Brazilians continue to breed for sport,” she observes. “They have great minds, strong backs and a proclivity for dressage because of their strength, agility and confident minds.”

Dr. Suzi Lanini and Just In Kayce. Photo: Nancy Albright

In her own riding, Allison is excited about debuting the approved Lusitano stallion, Vaquarius CD, at Grand Prix soon. And, a new 6-year-old stallion, Legendário dos Diamantes, is poised for the 6-Year-Old Championships at the California Dressage Society Championships in September.  

With her business partner, Brazilian rider and judge Andre Ganz, Allison enjoys seeing Lusitanos make new fans regularly. It’s good for all levels of the sport. “For amateurs, the more quality horses we have for our clients, the better. Lusitanos are lovely to ride. They are so willing.”

Especially for those who find a Warmblood’s big movements no longer enjoyable, but still want to compete at the higher levels of dressage. “It’s a different mindset,” she concludes. “Lusitanos are partners. They want to please and to do a good job.”

Moreover, the Baroque breeds may be paving the way for inclusion of different colors and body types with whom the pursuit of dressage can be fully rewarding and successful.
The Gallop welcomes news, tips and photos. Contact Kim F. Miller at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

July 2020 - Editor's Notes
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 17:11


As of mid-to-late June, show organizers had figured out how to implement the USEF safety protocols regarding the prevention of COVID-19 spread and found ways to get local government’s approval for their plans to get the competition season back on track. The first shows within my reach hadn’t happened before we went to press, so I can’t report on what people think about maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, not inviting spectators and other smart, common-sense safety procedures. Judging from online chatter, it seems enthusiasm far outweighs concerns.


The direction of our coverage redirected when George Floyd’s death and related Black Lives Matters protests spurred the horse world to take a hard look at inclusion and diversity in our sport. Our Be The Change feature shares a range of experiences, opinions and ideas on this subject.  


Perspectives range from that of Brianna Noble’s raised-fist ride in the May 29 downtown Oakland Black Lives Matter protests to show manager Dale Harvey’s reflections on the benefits of bringing inner city kids into the horse world. FEI dressage rider Genay Vaughn speaks eloquently on her own experiences and thoughts as a bi-racial African American rider. And we’ve included the USEF’s suggestions for further reading for those who want to better understand the issue of systemic racism and its far-reaching effects.

Like me.

I’m grateful to all who shared their views and especially to Shayna Simon, another bi-racial dressage professional. Shayna is among several local African American equestrians I’ve interviewed and written stories on over my many years with California Riding Magazine. I recall it occasionally crossing my mind to ask them if their skin color had impacted their experience in the sport.

I never did.

First, a basic rule of journalism is that you don’t include a subject’s skin color unless it’s relevant to the story. I must have felt that it wasn’t. Also, the question seemed too nosy, too personal, not my business.

Thanks to current events, I am coming to terms with the likelihood that I didn’t ask them because I assumed, in this day and age and in our sport, it couldn’t have made a difference. Surely, money is the only barrier to our sport, I’ve often thought. With her characteristic kindness, Shayna made a familiar statement that hit home. “A lot of people think racism doesn’t occur because they are not directly involved in it.”

Me, again. I’m certainly aware racism exists in broader society, but guilty of assuming it is not a big issue in our little corner of the world. Thanks to my young adult sons for reminding me regularly to “question my assumptions.” I will.

An editor is a finder, teller and sharer of stories. I’ll be looking for more stories like those of Brianna Noble and Compton Jr. Posse graduate Nathan Allan Williams-Bonner. By sharing what happens when horse people decide to “be the change we seek in the world” I hope to promote what’s possible in a way that inspires more action.

Big thanks to Kelly Artz and her Entrigue Consulting team, our cover sponsors. They’ve been moving equestrian sport and its stakeholders forward for several years and we enjoyed a glimpse of how they make that magic happen.

On to our August issue, which has an editorial focus on dressage and therapeutic products and services. As always, we welcome ideas, story suggestions and contributions.

Happy reading and happy, safe showing and enjoying your horses!


This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Available for Adoption: Snowflake

Snowflake is an approximately 5 yr old Appaloosa/Quarter cross mare up for adoption at FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, CA. She is petite at 13.2 hands high and a very pretty steel grey. She is halterbroke only and looking for a loving home who will continue her training and handling. Kind and willing, she is flashy and sweet. Looking for a loving home to continue her learning and future training under saddle. Sweet and pretty girl. Healthy and sound, her adoption fee is $400. See Snowflake on our adoption page of the website at and follow the instructions to set up an appointment.

July 2020 - What’s Happening...
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 July 2020 03:45

whats happeningCalifornia Riding Magazine Event Calendar

Does your special event deserve special coverage in California Riding Magazine’s What’s Happening Event Calendar? If so, let us know and don’t forget a photo. Send it all to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Our deadline is the first of the month for the following month’s issue. It’s the place to be and it’s free!

These competitions were set to happen as of our June 19 press date. Each is complying with USEF protocols designed to keep exhibitors, staff and spectators safe from COVID-19 and operating in compliance with local regulations regarding the same. Visit the organizer’s website for information or forms you may need to complete before attending any of these events.

Temecula Valley National Summer Series: June 30 - July 4 in Temecula

Nilforushan Equisport Events not only got their National series rescheduled, they got the new two-week series rated by the USEF. The first week took place June 24-28.

Level 4 Jumpers and National Hunters becoming pointed resulted in part because each week offered over $80,000 in prize money, greater than the usual $25,000 for unrated shows.

Presented by Interactive Mortgage, the Summer Series is staged at Galway Downs Equestrian Center. The Nilforushans are offering their own economic stimulus by giving trainers a 2% rebate on the cost of their barns’ entries and stalls. “NEE hopes these funds will be helpful in allowing trainers to keep working with their clients and traveling the horse show circuit with a bit less stress,” says their press statement.

Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials: July 2-5 in Paso Robles

The much-anticipated Spring International, with a new CCI4*-L, in April was not to be, but the Baxter family and many exhibitors are happy that the Summer Horse Trials are nicely on track with Intro through Advanced divisions.

West Palms & Gold Coast: July 2-5; July 8-12; July 16-19 in Lakeview Terrace

Hunter/jumper organizers West Palms Events were sorry to leave their normal 4th of July stomping grounds, the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center, this year. But when Orange County approvals lagged, they were happy to find a new host in the Hansen Dam Horse Park in the Los Angeles area’s Lakeview Terrace. The West Palms Welcome Backs #1 and #2 are USEF A rated, and the Gold Coast July is USEF B rated.

All three shows will be managed by West Palms in association with the Langer Equestrian Group. The first two weeks are highlighted by a $22,500 Grand Prix classes and the third week has a $10,000 Grand Prix.

Starr Vaughn Dressage: July 10-12; Aug. 14-15; Aug. 21-23 in Sacramento area’s Elk Grove

The first week is a qualifier for the USEF National Dressage Championships and all three shows are point-earners for the LEGIS League Dressage Series. The LEGIS Final takes place the third week, Aug. 21-23, with the added attraction of a Junior Invitational Competition.

No Show & More: July 15-19 in San Juan Capistrano

The Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park got city clearance to resume equestrian competition in late June. This month, that means the popular No Show takes place on July 11, followed by the resumption of Blenheim EquiSport’s national shows series, starting with the Summer Festival Horse Show July 15-19.

Galway Downs Summer Horse Trials: July 17-19 in Temecula

Three months of no shows have enabled the Kellerhouse Presents team and Galway Downs Equestrian Center to give the venue some extra sprucing up. Clinic and schooling participants had a sneak peak at new show stabling, upgraded arena footing and new fencing. Exhibitors get their chance during the new Summer Horse Trials with Advanced-Intermediate through Introductory divisions on the docket.

Sonoma Horse Park: Starting July 17 in Petaluma

Doubts about exhibitors’ interest in returning to shows under COVID precautions evaporated with quick sell-outs for the HMI EQ Classic I and Giant Steps shows that highlight the Horse Park’s summer season. Things kick off with the Classic AA-rated competition July 17-19, which includes the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships West and the Gladstone Cup Equitation.

Rosé In May: Aug. 6-9 in Paso Robles

With two successful show already under their belt, the Paso Robles Horse Park continues its re-shuffled season with the B-rated Rosé In May Aug. 6-9. Welcome Classics originally set for spring begin Aug. 26, followed by a full slate of hunter/jumper shows through December.

June 2020 - Editor's Notes
Written by CRM
Thursday, 28 May 2020 04:58


I’ve felt on pins and needles more this month than the same time in March, when the domino effect of COVID cancellations had just started. As we went to press, the daily updates rolled in on what will or will not happen when the USEF competition restrictions lift May 31. As is discussed in The Show Must Go On! Or Must it? on page 22, city, county and state regulations supersede those of any sport governing body, and those vary throughout California. Then there’s the question of who and how many will want to compete in this new normal.  


Finding a silver lining in coronavirus current events has been a head-scratcher. We’re grateful to Jim Hagman, Georgy Maskey-Segesman and Marnye Langer for doing exactly that on the hunter/jumper front. “Now more than ever, we are really learning how to work together in our industry. That gets a lot of lip service, but by and large, we don’t do it,” says Marnye. “We are not as well off for not doing it. There is a way of working together without impeding your own company’s success. A way to be competitive and collaborative.”


Thanks, too, to Michael DeLuna for writing about the show pause as a good time to re-examine international dressage competition in the state. We also have lovely personal perspectives from amateur eventer Hilary Burkemper and young jumper rider Amelia Enzminger on how their equestrian experiences have helped them face these tough times.

Don’t miss our Picture Day! feature on locally-bred young horses (page 30). And here’s me on Picture Day, only a few years ago!

GGT-Footing is much-appreciated as the sponsor of this issue’s cover article and as a big supporter of equestrian sport in the West. Our barns issue is always a favorite, especially this year with up close peeks at Milberry Farm in Rancho Santa Fe and Far View Farm in San Marcos.

Finally and most cheerfully, we have a Picture Day! feature of foals and young horses produced by our region’s awesome sport horse breeders.

Onto our July issue. It has traditionally been my all-time favorite issue because it showcases young riders bound for the North American Young Riders Championships in jumping, dressage and eventing. Of course, NAYC was cancelled this year. So, instead, I’m stealing an idea from our local newspaper in celebrating riders who just finished high school and will be moving on to new adventures this fall. Do you have a feature-worthy high school graduate equestrian to recommend? LMK at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

We hope to see everybody happy and healthy at July’s Western States Horse Expo, too!

Thanks to our readers, advertisers and contributors for their help with this issue in these challenging times! As Jim Hagman said in The Gallop, there’s nothing healthier than spending time with horses and hopefully we can all get back to that now.
Happy riding and happy reading!

Kim F Miller, Editor
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Adopt Me!


Brandi, a beautiful blood bay 4 yr old mare is up for adoption at FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center.

Brandi is a darling mare, and a clean slate as far as training. She is halterbroke only, and stands about 14.3 hands high. She appears to be a morgan/friesian cross with feathers.
Super cute and sweet temperament. Healthy, sound, ready to start under saddle.

Adoption fee is only $500.

See Brandi on our adoption page at

June 2020 - Dressage News & Views: An Ode to Older Horses
Written by by Nan Meek
Thursday, 28 May 2020 03:20

dressage news

Three senior steeds epitomize graceful aging.

by Nan Meek

Older horses come in all shapes, sizes, and degrees of “older.” Some horses are old at 15, worn out from being “used hard and put away wet” as the old saying goes. Others age gracefully until well into their 20s and beyond, transitioning from show ring star to schoolmaster to pasture ornament. And who hasn’t known a lesson horse, calmly packing little kids around the rail during pony camp, year after year. I knew one pony who continued his career as a “packer” until he was almost 40.

I’m lucky enough to have three older horses in my life right now, and they all enrich my life in immeasurable ways.

Helio at sunset.

Helio: Handsome as Hello

My oldest, at age 30, is handsome Helio, a Spanish warmblood gelding who knows he’s the hottest thing on four hooves and demands a level of pampering normally required only by A-list celebrities. I originally acquired him in partnership with my friend Annamae, with the intention of showing this Prix St. Georges level schoolmaster at some point. Annamae showed him once, my life got crazy busy, and I discovered that I could have more fun per hour by riding him in lessons and clinics.

Thus, time marched on, until I woke up to discover that Helio had turned 30 while I wasn’t paying attention, and I owed him a major equine birthday party. Although he spent most of his life being the pampered show horse, he transitioned into life as a pampered clinic star with remarkable aplomb. Once he discovered that absolutely everyone at a clinic was looking at him the entire time, he was happy to have the undivided attention of clinicians such as Andreas Hausberger, the First Chief Rider of the Spanish Riding School.

My neighbors, even the dressage queens, are avid trail riders, and they convinced me that Helio would love the trails as much as they did. I’d ridden the trails here on the San Mateo County coast on previous horses, but couldn’t quite picture Helio following in their hoof prints. After all, this is the horse who doesn’t like getting wet or dirty. He’s never told me this, but I suspect he doesn’t like it when his mane gets too long, either. How can I tell? After a freshly pulled coiffeur, he tosses his head and puffs up his chest as if to tell the world what hot stuff he is.

Imagine my surprise when he took to trail riding like … not like a duck to water, since water is the only part of trail rides he detests. No rivers or streams, not even a trickle of water in a curbside culvert. He won’t cross any of them. Anything else, however, is fair game. Deer in the bushes are cool. Barking dogs behind a fence, not so much, but he just looks and carries on. His favorite is riding at the head of the group and taking a new trail he’s never been on in his life.

Helio proves that you’re never too old to learn something new.

Mischa in his younger days. Photo: Jana Peterson

Mischa: Angel By Name, Angel By Nature

At 20 years old, my Lipizzan gelding Mischa is the sweetest angel. He even has the wings to prove it – he portrayed the winged Pegasus in a costumed musical performance, much to everyone’s delight, including his own.

His registered Lipizzan name confirms his angelic status: officially, he’s Neapolitano Angelica II-1. That gives away the clue that his dam was Angelica (meaning angel-like) and his sire was from the Neapolitano line that originated in Italy. It’s no wonder that he resembles the elegant baroque white horses in Italian renaissance paintings, a distinction he shares with the world famous Lipizzan stallions of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

Mischa came to me as an older fellow that a friend was thinking about buying. His soundness didn’t meet her needs, so she didn’t snap him up, which was a blessing for me. Helio needed a buddy to keep him company, so Mischa stayed with me. He was sound enough for about a year of gentle dressage and trail riding before it became clear that he needed to become the classiest pasture ornament in the neighborhood.

Since his retirement, he has specialized in grazing and cuddles, provided the lush tail that visiting children love to braid, and kept a watchful eye on the wildlife that come down from the hills to share his field when he’s tucked up at night in his cozy stall and paddock. He and Helio visit over a shared fence line and through the window between their stalls. I can look out my window and watch them mutually grooming, their teeth scratching the other guy’s withers, and only occasionally ripping a hole in the other guy’s fly sheet.

It’s not all peaceful grazing and mutual massage for Mischa, however. The other day, the shadow of a hawk who was riding the thermals above him startled him, and he went from grazing to capriole in less than 10 seconds. “Doesn’t look lame now,” commented my farrier, who was there to shoe Helio. Of course, handsome Helio paid absolutely no attention, because really, it wasn’t about him at all.

Mischa proves that good friends don’t care about egos.

Nan and Celtico.

Celtico: Solid Gold Saint

Also 20 years old, Celtico is a horse that is truly worth his weight in gold. This grey Andalusian can attack the trails of Montara Mountain one day, and the next day shine in the dressage arena. He’s the horse that everyone wants to accompany them on the trail when they’re riding a nervous new horse. He’s the solid citizen who packs around little girls in matching pink tutus and cowboy boots, and he’s the horse that you want to be riding on a windy day, when tree branches crack on the hill overlooking the arena and deer jump out of the bushes.

Celtico belongs to my friend Claudia, who generously lets me ride him whenever I can break away from work. She says it’s actually Celtico who lets me ride him, because he likes me better than other riders. I tell her what he really likes are the copious carrots and bottomless bags of low-starch, low-sugar horse treats that show up with me. But I hope he likes me, because I think the world of him.

Claudia bought him eight years ago, when nobody else would. He didn’t have much training, and he was blind in one eye. His walk was a pace, his trot was choppy, and his canter resembled an egg beater.  Mutual friends told her he’d never make it past Training Level, but there’s nobody more determined than Claudia when she makes up her mind to do something. I knew she’d succeed, and she did.

Today, Claudia and Celtico have a CDS Reserve Champion Second Level Freestyle title to their credit. Celtico now has a swingy walk with a nice overstep. His trot comes in true collected, medium, and extended flavors. And his canter is a lovely big, round, uphill three-beat dream. I’m particularly fond of his lateral work – all I have to do is think renvers, and he does it. That pretty much also goes for shoulder-in and the rest of the lateral movements, provided I’ve warmed him up well. Can you tell that I love riding him?

There’s a deeper reason that I admire and appreciate all that he is, and all that he’s become, and that is his character.

Celtico brought significant baggage when he moved to Claudia’s barn, which we speculate stems from the accident that cost him the sight in his right eye. Generally he’s a calm guy, he can get really wound up when he’s asked to learn something new, like flying changes, or when he sees something new, like a giant wolfhound that’s the size of a pony but doesn’t look like a pony at all.

When Celtico does something well, you can feel his pride. From a rider’s perspective, there’s nothing like nailing a perfect transition, for example, and feeling your horse’s respond to your quick pat on the neck and “good boy” praise. Those moments of communication with Celtico make it a joy to ride him.

When he doesn’t understand what’s being asked of him, he gets very upset. Watching from the sidelines, you can see his frustration and anxiety build. When you’re the rider in the saddle, you can feel the tension throughout his body. He tries his heart out, but when he doesn’t think he can do what you ask of him, or he doesn’t understand how to do it, his fear and anxiety overwhelm his brain and his emotions. Thankfully, those moments are increasingly rare, and they are far outnumbered by the days when Celtico shines.
Celtico proves that what you overcome makes what you achieve all the sweeter.


A lifelong horse owner, Nan Meek lives on the scenic San Mateo County coast where dressage courts and riding trails overlook the Pacific Ocean. She competed in dressage to the Prix St. Georges level with her late beloved Lipizzan Andy (Maestoso II Athena II-1), and now practices the discipline of dressage with her handsome Spanish warmblood Helio Jerez 2000 and dotes on the newest family member Mischa (Neapolitano Angelica II-1).


May 2020 - Ask Dr. Darby Bonomi
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 29 April 2020 04:59

ask dr darby

Performance psychologist and equestrian answers readers’ questions.

Dear Dr. Darby,

I have been on Shelter In Place for several weeks, with no end in sight. I can’t even see my horse, much less ride or have a lesson. And, of course, we have no idea when the shows will be rescheduled. This is my last junior year and I feel so sad about it. I know it’s a small problem in some ways, but it’s a real loss to me.


—C.P., Sacramento, CA

Dear C,


Thanks for your question. You raise many important topics. Let’s start with the grief you are feeling, and the guilt that is on top of that grief. I’ve had quite a few clients feel guilty about their sadness over the loss of horse shows, or horse time. They feel that it’s not OK to have these feelings when others are in much worse shape. It’s important to recognize that we are all experiencing losses in our lives, some bigger than others, and all the grief is powerful and real.

When you feel that grief—usually a very heavy bodily feeling along with intense sadness—allow it to be. Don’t push away your feelings. Acknowledge them.

You might try writing them down in a journal.

Journaling about your feelings during this time can help you manage and cope—it gives you a safe place to put feelings out there, in an unedited version.

If you are in your last junior year as a rider, I suspect you may also be a senior in high school. If so, you’re missing out not only on horse show milestones, but also on other milestones—prom, senior retreats, yearbook meetings, parties and even graduation. The losses are significant, and there is no way to ”make them up.” Nonetheless, this crisis calls upon us all to accept the situation, gather our strength, and find ways to move forward in positive and productive ways.

After you have allowed yourself some grieving time—maybe even daily—put it away and actively decide to focus on moving yourself forward.

One of my mantras is stay grounded in present time while keeping your eye on where you’re headed. This perspective is even more relevant now. As I said before, we have to mindfully acknowledge what we are going through, and at the same time keep our intentions and larger purpose in mind.

Keep Your “Why” Front & Center

What is your why, when it comes to riding? Is it to hone your skills and jump bigger? Or complete a pattern flawlessly? Or take your skills to the next level?

Well, all those goals are still relevant. We are all a work in progress. This crisis has changed our path, but the floodwater will recede, and we will navigate a new path to our destination.

So now let’s talk specifically about the loss of riding during Shelter in Place.

First and foremost, stay fit. Ok, you can’t ride right now, because you’re at home. But you can be active. Actually, it’s essential to stay fit, both so that you can be ready to get back on when we get the green light—but even more important—for your overall physical and mental health. I suggest, if you haven’t already, designing a plan of workouts six days per week, that includes stretching, strengthening, balance, and aerobic conditioning. If you need help, there are countless videos and Zoom workouts available right now. The most important thing is that you put workouts in your daily routine and stick to it. I personally like to get outside, and because of where I live, this is relatively easy and safe for me.

Second, use visualization to “ride.” Visualization is a powerful tool that many of us use to prepare for a performance. In this circumstance, you can “practice” your rides by closing your eyes and visualizing. The more intense and alive you make your visualization, the more effective it will be. Sit yourself on a stool or somewhere where you can simulate your position in the saddle. Sit up straight, put yourself in a riding seat. Close your eyes. Call to mind a lesson, or a show round that you want to work on.

Bring it into sharp focus so that you can sense every detail, just like you would on an actual ride. Feel your horse underneath you. Feel your feet in the irons.

Touch your horse’s mane. Feel the bridle in your hands. Now, in great and vivid detail, ride the round or the lesson. Practice what you are working on. To your brain, such intense visualization is very close to doing the real thing. Visualization is a great way to correct mistakes, too!

Third, study videos of yourself and of pros you admire. Really observe both yourself and the pros—see what tips you can pick up. Now that you have more time, videos can be an effective tool, and studying them closely will give you real information rather than just the gratification of watching.

Finally, staying socially connected, even though we’re physically apart, is essential during this time. You’re young so it’s likely you’re on social media a lot, but even so, try to maintain more real time connection with your riding friends. You’re not alone in your predicament, and I think sharing feelings with friends makes us all feel better. Be sure to reach out to people beyond texting and messaging so that you can have more meaningful conversations. One of the beautiful elements of showing is that we all tend to make friends across the region and state. During this time, you might be surprised how many people are in your same boat and feeling the same things.

Hang in there. We’ll get through this together.

—Darby Bonomi, PhD

If you have a question for performance psychologist Darby Bonomi, PhD., please submit it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You are welcome to ask a question anonymously, but please provide relevant background regarding your experience and other details that enable her to best answer your question.

April 2020 - Editor's Notes
Written by CRM
Wednesday, 01 April 2020 01:02


Hard to believe it was only three weeks ago that I was volunteering as press officer for the new Pacific Coast Dressage CDI3* March 6-8 in Temecula. We were all talking about COVID-19 at the time, but in a relatively unworried way -- jokingly trading elbow bumps instead of handshakes or hugs as we met. The show ran smoothly, but we all came home to a world that radically changed with the March 11 declaration of a global pandemic. Even then, it took a while to realize the wide-reaching impacts it would have on all of us.


California show organizers scrambled to do the right thing. Some first altered the nature of their shows, then later cancelled them all together or sought to reschedule them for later. The USEF’s March 13 declaration that all its owned events were cancelled for the next 30 days, and the request that organizers follow suit, pretty much put the kibosh on competitions and gatherings of any kind. Mandates from local, state and federal government cemented that new reality. The cancellation of the Del Mar National and the World Cup Finals, in Las Vegas, hit particularly close to home. The USEF’s suspension was initially through April 16, then extended to May 3, per recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control.


Deadline week, March 22, brought the news that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has been postponed ‘til some time in 2021. Those are still shocking headlines, but the broader waves of impact are being felt at private and public stables throughout the state. As we went to press on March 25, some stables were still allowing owners to come ride and care for their horses -- most on structured schedules to limit human interactions. Some had immediately closed to boarders while trainers and minimal staffs care for the horses.

By the time this issue arrives, I’m sure a lot more will have changed. Please consider donating to the California Professional Horsemen’s Association’s GoFundMe effort to help some of our colleagues who’ve been most immediately affected: CPHA Fundraiser for Horse Show Work Force at California horse people have helped each other through some pretty terrible things in the past, and I know that will be part of this crisis’ eventual resolution.

We welcome the chance to spread helpful and encouraging news as it becomes available. With a mid-deadline 180° turn in what we should report on, I am super grateful to my friends and excellent writers Nan Meek and Marnye Langer for their great articles in this issue. And, how timely that performance psychologist Dr. Darby Bonomi, PhD, answers a question this issue about staying focused amid distractions? It was submitted by a reader well before any semblance of normalcy went out the window, and it applies now more than ever.

And to USEF photographer Taylor Pence for capturing Sabine Schut-Kery’s joyous expression and sharing it as our cover image.

Thank you to Premier Equestrian for sponsoring our cover feature on footing innovations. I have been following this company for many years and it’s impressive how they’ve found ways to contribute to elite-level innovations and make them available to those of us at the more “normal” economic levels of our sport.

Stay healthy, please. If you are healthy and have access to your horse, give him an extra hug for those who can’t hug their own right now.
Kim F Miller, Editor
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Little Feather is an arabian mare back up for adoption at FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, California.

She is 15 years old and has been with her adopter for the last seven years in Ramona. Her adopter trained her to ride on trail, which she has done since she learned to ride. She is healthy and sound, up to date, and has the arabian sensitivity so she is looking for an experienced rider who wishes to continue to take her on trail rides.

Adoption fee is $500 and a contract is required.

Please contact her adopter Lisa to see Little Feather at 760-315-8164.

March 2020 - Editor's Notes
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Monday, 02 March 2020 21:13


News of the first annual Whitethorne Equitation 101 event came in just as we were going to press for this issue. It will be held in conjunction with the Memorial Day Classic on Monday, May 25, at the Hansen Dam Horse Park and it builds on the very successful Whitethorne-sponsored American Tradition of Excellence in Equitation.


As we have reported, these unique combinations of education and competition are underwritten by Whitethorne Ranch, owned by Georgy Maskrey Segesman and her family. Lead educators in the Equitation 101 are Equestrian Coach’s Bernie Traurig and Diane Carney. The event will see junior and amateur riders competing in equitation and medals from 2’9” to 3’0”. (Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information about Equitation 101.)


Georgy Maskrey Segesman didn’t have to underwrite these events. The Nilforushans didn’t have to add the lower-cost Developmental Series at the upcoming Temecula hunter/jumper shows. Blenheim EquiSports didn’t have to create the grant programs for young professionals and West Palms Events doesn’t have to offer the generous Michael Nyius scholarship.
But they chose to.

Sure, in every case, there may be a profit or PR benefit to what they’re doing, but I doubt that outweighs the cost in time, money and effort from their team.

We had the fun of chatting with Twin Rivers and Copper Meadows eventing course designer Hugh Lechore, an East Coast guy, recently. When asked what he noticed about the West Coast while out here, he said, “It’s a smaller pool of riders, they’re genuinely all good friends and they know and support each other. It’s kind of an old-school attitude and approach: everyone is in it to have a good time and be supportive.”

He was talking about eventers, but I think it applies across disciplines. Horse And Rider Boutique owner Barbara Biernat didn’t have to step in and become a show organizer for the new Pacific Coast CDI March 6-8. She recognized the need for more international shows to support the region’s dressage riders and maybe she had some direction from above, from the much-missed Lisa Blaufuss, in taking on the enormous task.

Lou and Kelly Gonda didn’t have to lift a finger for the Santa Cruz Island horses, but they opted to follow the lead of other supporters and make their beautiful El Campeon Farms a base for stewarding the rare breed into the future. The Peridot Equestrian, LLC, team doesn’t have to earmark partial proceeds of April’s Carl Hester clinic to USDF Region 7 Young Riders team, but they are.

You can read about most of these endeavors in this issue. They only scratch the surface of the good deeds that grace our region, starting with the corps of volunteers who make our eventing and dressage competitions possible.

So, thanks to all for the daily inspirations of doing good stuff.

And thanks to Classic Equine Equipment for sponsoring this issue’s cover. The manufacturer of gorgeous, long-lasting stalls and stable accessories is a long-time supporter of California Riding Magazine and we’re grateful for the chance to share their evolving story with our readers.

Happy reading and riding!

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Titus is an approximately 14 yr old thoroughbred gelding up for adoption at FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, California. He stands 16.2 hands high and moves soundly. He had been started under saddle in the past, but had some pain issues as he has high withers so proper saddle fit and equine knowledge is a must. Needs restarting with a slow confident rider to let him know riding is not painful anymore. Titus has been enjoying playing in the pasture the last few years with other horses and no riding. His adoption fee is $500.  Please follow the directions for adoption on our website at



March 2020 - What’s Happening...
Written by CRM
Monday, 02 March 2020 18:27

whats happeningCalifornia Riding Magazine Event Calendar

Does your special event deserve special coverage in California Riding Magazine’s What’s Happening Event Calendar? If so, let us know and don’t forget a photo. Send it all to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Our deadline is the first of the month for the following month’s issue. It’s the place to be and it’s free!

0320 wh1

A Golden Year with LEG
Various dates starting March 13 in the Los Angeles area.

The Langer Equestrian Group celebrates is 50th year of staging high-quality hunter/jumper shows at all levels. Up next is the Verdugo Hills March Fling at the Hansen Dam Horse Park in Lake View Terrace. A busy season of LEG competitions flows steadily throughout 2020.

Spring will showcase two back-to-back weeks of ‘A’-rated horse showing with Verdugo Hills May (May 15-17) and the Memorial Day Classic (May 21-24) at Hansen Dam Horse Park.

Fall will feature the $15,000 LEG Jumper Championships and 12 medal finals, including LAHJA, USHJA Zone 10, and LEGIS League medal finals. The season wraps up with the LA Season Finale (Nov. 13-15) hosting the LEGIS League Equitation Challenge.     

“I look forward to delivering the best season yet,” said Marnye Langer, Managing Director of The Langer Group. “We are proud to be celebrating 50 years of producing excellent horse shows.”

For more information, visit

0320 wh2

French Classical Dressage Symposium
March 20-22 in Healdsburg

Barbier Farms hosts a weekend of lectures, question and answer sessions, private lessons designed for auditors’ benefit and the Saturday evening extravaganza, complete with a catered dinner surrounded by beautiful Lusitanos. It is a unique opportunity to work directly with Dominique Barbier.

For more information, visit

0320 wh3Ultimate Dressage Symposium
March 13-15 in Elk Grove

Nor-Cal Western Dressage Association hosts this Ultimate Dressage Clinic and Symposium with master instructors Frances Carbonne and Simone Windeler. All dressage disciplines are encouraged to attend as the subjects covered pertain to Classical, Western Dressage and Working Equitation. Topics will include the rider’s mental tool kit; tools of the trade; training timeline; and warm up area success and successful showing tactics.

The venue is the Starr Vaughn Equestrian Center in the Sacramento area’s Elk Grove.

For more information and to register, visit 

0320 wh4Diane Carney Clinic
March 21-22 in the Reno area’s Washoe Valley

Franktown Meadows Hunter Derby and Silver State Pony Club present a USHJA Trainer Certified Program-approved clinic with Diane Carney.  All proceeds from the clinic will benefit Silver State Pony Club.

Participants will be grouped into sessions of six to eight riders each, and auditors are welcome. Trainers seeking credit toward the educational requirement of the Trainer Certification Program must notify Franktown Meadows of their intent, must attend all sessions in their entirety, and must sign in and out each day of the TCP Clinic on the official form provided by the USHJA.

Diane Carney is a lifelong, dedicated horsewoman, emphasizing horsemanship in every aspect of her world.  Her in-depth knowledge has been earned as a grand prix rider, hunter rider, clinician, USHJA certified trainer, event organizer, commentator, course designer, USEF R judge, USEF International Disciplines Committee member and former USHJA Board of Directors member,

For more information, visit

0320 wh5Galway Downs International Horse Trials
March 27-29 in Temecula

CCI4*-S through Beginner Novice Rider competition is set for this ever-improving venue in beautiful Temecula Valley wine country. New breezy, clear-span FEI Stabling was a big hit last fall and Jay Hambly returns as lead course designer with the assistance of veteran builder and Galway Downs track expert Bert Woods. Marc Donovan is on the stadium courses.

Saturday night’s exhibitor party is always a fun tradition. Entries are open until March 10.

Visit www.galwaydowns.comfor more information.

0320 wh6Paso Robles Horse Park
Hunter/jumper season starts April 4-5

Embarking on only its fifth year, the Paso Robles Horse Park has a busy season of hunter jumper shows starting with the Kick-Off Schooling event April 4-5. The schedule continues through the summer and fall, highlighted by the back-to-back Classic Series starting April 15.

The calendar is highlighted by some nice additions.

The first of those is the 2 EX Young Horse Program. Young horses gain EXperience and EXposure during B-rated series: Rosé in May, Paso Pumpkins & Ponies, and Turkey Trot & Jump.

This new program will offer stalls to all competing young horses (7 and under) for $50. All competitors riding young horses can opt into unique exposure opportunities to capture and share video footage of their horses through a specially promoted Park YouTube channel. The Park is dedicated to facilitating this video exposure, and sharing these videos on our robust social media channels and further promoting reach through target advertising support.

The Paso Park Hall Of Fame is a new Top Barn, Top Amateur, Top Junior, Top Jumper and Top Derby Hunter award for the Paso Park Classic Series. Competitors will be tracked at the Paso Park Welcome Classic, Paso Park Spring Classic, Paso Park Fall Classic, and Paso Park Oak Tree Classic. The top prize will take home $2,500 and more than $10,000 worth of additional Hall of Fame prizes will be given away.

For more information, visit   

0320 wh7Carl Hester Clinic
April 11-12 in San Diego County’s San Marcos

Five-time British dressage Olympian Carl Hester, MBE, presents a Through the Levels Masterclass at Peridot Equestrian. Working with horses at various levels of development and competition, Carl will share his strategies with their riders in ways that are equally informative for auditors. When he gave a similar clinic in Del Mar a few years ago, he was insightful and delightful. We are lucky to have him back in the region.

Each day, Carl will work with six riders. There will be an hour lunch break and an autograph signing at the end of the day on Saturday. Bring his book, Making It Happen, to be signed.  VIP tables and general admission are both available. Rider selection will be made by Carl on was set to be announced on April 1.

For tickets, vendor and sponsorship information, visit

0320 wh8Del Mar National
April 14-May 2 in San Diego

From reserving exclusive dinner box seats to cashing in on the Horse Lovers Package – a sweet deal that includes admission to all three Saturday night shows – it’s time to reserve seats for the world-class 75th Annual Del Mar National Horse Show. Night Of The Horse culminates Western Week on April 18; Dressage Week is anchored by the Evening of Musical Freestyles on April 25 and the finale for Hunter/Jumper week is the $75,000 Grand Prix of Del Mar on May 2.

The Del Mar National kicks off its thrilling three-week run on April 14 and includes three distinct disciplines: Western, Dressage and Hunter/Jumper. This iconic show has received the prestigious Heritage Show designation from the United States Equestrian Federation and is recognized on the international stage, attracting nearly 1,500 horses and Olympic, World Cup and World Champion athletes. Competitors will vie for more than $300,000 in cash and prizes at this storied event, nestled in the picturesque seaside setting of Del Mar.

For tickets and more information, visit

February 2020 - What’s Happening...
Written by CRM
Friday, 31 January 2020 22:41

whats happeningCalifornia Riding Magazine Event Calendar

Does your special event deserve special coverage in California Riding Magazine’s What’s Happening Event Calendar? If so, let us know and don’t forget a photo. Send it all to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Our deadline is the first of the month for the following month’s issue. It’s the place to be and it’s free!

Education Event
Feb. 10 in San Juan Capistrano

Equine Medical Associates presents a client education day at Blenheim Equine Rehabilitation, which is located at Blenheim Farms adjacent to the popular Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park venue. Platinum Performance’s Dr. Victoria Maxwell will speak on nutrition and there will be a demo of Blenheim Equine Rehab’s water treadmill and salt water equine spa.

Platinum Performance and Zoetis are the sponsors.

For more information, visit

Musical Freestyle Clinic
Feb. 22-23 in Woodside

“Making your freestyle sing” is the theme of this clinic with musician FEI trainer and freestyle designer Melanie Michalak. “There’s a difference between riding a test to music and riding a true freestyle,” Melanie says. Understanding what makes a great freestyle, assessing the horse’s strengths and weaknesses to maximize or minimize them in a freestyle are among the topics to be covered, along with selecting the best music. 

Riding opportunities include private, semi-private and “quadrille” and auditing is another option. The clinic takes place at The Horse Park at Woodside.

To register, visit

Desert Circuit Highlights
Various dates in Thermal

Now under the new ownership and management of Apex EquiSport, the eight-week hunter/jumper Desert Circuit features peak weeks this month. On Saturday, Feb. 15th, it’s Equitation Saturday with 3’3” and 3’6” medals, half of them staged in the Grand Prix Stadium. That’s followed Feb. 18-23 and Feb. 25-March 1 both having FEI CSI3* jumping and a wide range of hunter and equitation classes.

Live streaming from all 12 rings of competition is also an option.

For more information, visit

Working Equitation Schooling Show
Feb. 29 in Hidden Valley

Judge, clinician, competitor and trainer Jill Barron heads up this Working Equitation schooling show at the beautiful El Campeon Farms in Hidden Valley. Jill will also be available the week before for private lessons focusing on any aspect of this exciting discipline: dressage or obstacles.

For more information, visit

Sustainable Equine Management Workshop
March 7-8 in Petaluma

Award winning “Horses for Clean Water” creator Alayne Blickle is the main presenter in this two-day workshop covering site design, manure management, composting, erosion control, confinement area innovation, pasture and mud management, insect and weed control, drainage, integrated habitate restoration, fencing, arenas, fire preparedness and more.

For more information, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Kristin Hardin Clinic
March 14-15 in Santa Ynez Valley’s Solvang

Grand Prix jumping rider Kristin Hardin will give a clinic at this beautiful breeding facility Pollyrich Farms in the Santa Ynez Valley. As a clinician, Kristin is known for straight talk and encouragement for riders and horses of all levels. The weekend will be divided into groups of four or five riders at various fence heights. Auditors are welcome for $10 a day.

For more information, visit

January 2020 - What's Happening
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 31 December 2019 19:46

whats happeningCalifornia Riding Magazine Event Calendar

Does your special event deserve special coverage in California Riding Magazine’s What’s Happening Event Calendar? If so, let us know and don’t forget a photo. Send it all to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Our deadline is the first of the month for the following month’s issue. It’s the place to be and it’s free!

Ashlee Bond Clinic
Jan. 4-5 in Lake View Terrace

International show jumping rider Ashlee Bond is coming to The Hansen Dam Horse Park for a jumping clinic on January 4-5, 2020. Ashlee brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the world of show jumping. Most recently, Ashlee helped the Israeli Equestrian Team qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

There will be four groups, ranging in height from .80m to 1.30m.     

The clinic will be held in the Hansen Dam Grand Prix Arena featuring geotextile footing and show quality jumps.  Spur Tech Spurs will be one of our sponsors and each rider will receive a pair of spur straps courtesy of Spur Tech. There will also be professional photography from Kristin Lee Photography.

Auditing is free for spectators – come watch and learn. Lunch will be provided for clinic participants.

Contact  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  for more information.

Fundraising Clinic
Jan. 4-5 in Fresno

The Fresno County Horse Park stages its annual fundraising clinic with Jock Paget as the star attraction and a roster of top regional professionals donating their time to help all get ready for the 2020 season.
Bunnie Sexton, Chris Scarlett, David Adamo, David Koss, Deb Rosen, Kristi Nunnink, Natalie Brady and Wendy Wergeles are among the pros available for lessons.

For more information, visit

CDS Annual Meeting & Symposium
Jan. 11-12 in Sacramento

The California Dressage Society has designated Freestyle as the focus of the educational symposium that is always a big draw for this gathering. This starts Saturday afternoon with a video and talk by designer Terry Gallo and judge Janet Foy. That is followed by a Sunday live demo and discussion of freestyles at the Rancho Murieta Equestrian Center.

Friday and Saturday morning activities take place at the convention’s main venue, the Embassy Suites, Sacramento Riverfront. Committee and chapter meetings occupy these time slots, with Saturday night set aside for the annual awards gala. It’s a nice evening of connecting and celebrating with friends and the chapter gift baskets in the silent auction are always fun to peruse and bid on.

For more information, visit

USHJA Gold Star Clinic with Kirsten Coe
Jan. 15-19 in Thermal

Now in its third year, the United States Hunter Jumper Association’s Gold Star Clinics have become widely recognized as a terrific educational opportunity. That’s especially so for the junior and amateurs who earn full participation privileges by qualifying at the Regional Team Jumping Champs or through a wild card bid. And there’s plenty to learn by auditing.

This year’s main clinician is Grand Prix jumping rider Kirstin Coe, also the daughter of USEF Youth chef d’equipe DiAnn Langer. The Gold Star clinic format extends well beyond riding. Unmounted sessions in the past have taken deep dives into breeding and young horse evaluation, building a brand as a rider and, always, numerous aspects of horse care and show preparation.

The clinic overlaps with the first week of the Desert Circuit at the Desert International Horse Park.

For more information, visit

Galway Downs Fundraising Clinic
Jan. 18-19 in Temecula

Ian Stark once again headlines this great start to the 2020 eventing season. Jumping lessons with the British star and a long list of top regional professionals help participants up their game, while entry fees go toward improvements at Galway Downs Equestrian Center, the Southern California eventing hotspot in Temecula.

Alice Sarno, Auburn Excell Brady, Barb Crabo, Emilee Libby, Erin Kellerhouse, Gina Economou, Hawley Bennett-Awad, Jennifer Wooten-Macouzet, Taren Hoffos, Liza Horan and Susan Friend are just a few of the pros donating their time to this cause. Taking lessons as a rider is ideal, but auditing is a wonderful way to learn from all instructors. Auditing is free, with a suggested donation.

For more information, visit

December 2019 - Dressage News & Views
Written by by Nan Meek
Sunday, 01 December 2019 09:31

dressage news

California dressage riders shine at the US Dressage Finals.

by Nan Meek

California is recognized around the country for the quality of its dressage, but our location “out West” is regarded by our sport’s “back East” governing bodies as too far for eastern-based riders and officials to travel for national competitions. Such is the case with the US Dressage Finals, held annually at the Kentucky Horse Park, which admittedly is a fantastic location for many reasons, but a heck of a trek for West coast competitors.
Despite the distance and the cost in travel time and expense, 10 California riders and a dozen horses made the journey to Kentucky for the US Dressage Finals, this November 7-10.


What they brought home, in addition to three championships, two reserve championships, and numerous top 10 awards, was a wealth of experience, camaraderie, and dreams for even more dressage competition.

Ruth Shirkey & Wyleigh Princess. Photo: Susan J. Stickle

Ruth Shirkey & Wyleigh Princess

With her 9-year-old Hanoverian mare Wyleigh Princess (Weltmeyer x Heiress B by His Highness), Ruth Shirkey brought home the Intermediate I Freestyle Adult Amateur Championship with a score of 73.900%, as well as the Prix St. Georges Adult Amateur Reserve Championship title on 70.843% and third in the Intermediate I Adult Amateur Championship on 70.294%.

“This was my first time going to Kentucky, and I thought I would be happy with a top five, so these championships were a little surreal, quite frankly,” Ruth commented. “It all seems like a fairy tale!”

Ruth and Wyleigh were part of the KEFA Performance Horses contingent headed up by Kevin and Ericka Reinig. “It’s great to have all the mutual support and camaraderie, knowing they’re there for you. They know us so well, from the in-hand training Kevin gave Wyleigh as a youngster to Ericka, Lindsay and Chelsea helping start her under saddle back in the day.”

Ruth and her husband Eric Drew did their own hauling, with EMT and medical transport professional Eric behind the wheel while tax accountant Ruth worked on phone and laptop. Their seamless teamwork and comprehensive preparation paid off, with a trouble-free trip and safe arrival at the Kentucky Horse Park, a round trip of 5,600 miles there and back to Wyleigh’s home base at Carolyn and Patrick Adams’ Yarra Yarra Ranch in Pleasanton.

These days, Ruth works with Wyleigh on her own and in clinics with US Equestrian Dressage Young Horse Coach Christine Traurig, who is helping them continue advancing up the levels.

Reflecting on her fairy tale experience, Ruth remarked, “The best part of it all was the opportunity to compete against the top riders from other regions. We have a wonderful pool of talent in California, and we have the opportunity to show against each other at our own Annual Show. Then the US Dressage Finals are yet another level. With the top riders from other regions, it’s a broader pool of competition. We’re tested and compared directly against our peers. While we can read the USDF listings each year, they don’t tell the whole story – those scores are from different judges, different show conditions, etc. At the Finals, we were all riding in the same conditions, for the same judges, and it was clear who was the best on the day.”

As a rider who likes to get the most education out of every experience, Ruth said she appreciated the chance to see others riding. “You can see what the judges see, and all the rides are videoed so you can see the marks score by score. It was interesting that the nicest moving horses didn’t always score dramatically better – it was more about riding the movements properly and building the flow of the test so it was fluid and presented a harmonious overall picture.”

Looking ahead, Ruth remarked, “This experience reoriented me. Next year I’d like to get into the CDI arena and qualify for Lamplight.” That’s the USEF Dressage National Championships held at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, Illinois, next August, where national championships are contested at Grand Prix and Intermediaire I, among other national titles. Here’s betting that’s the next cross-country trek for Ruth Shirkey, Eric Drew, and Wyleigh Princess.

Brian Hafner & Enjoy Point J

“She went into the arena like she owned the place,” Brian Hafner said proudly of Enjoy Point J, his 10-year-old KWPN mare (Westpoint x Invisible by Wagenaar). They clinched the Fourth Level Open Reserve Championship on 69.074% and added a seventh place finish in the Prix St. Georges Open Championship on 69.314%.

Brian describes his mare’s strengths as being very consistent and brave, adding that she’s quite a personality with a little sensitive side, as well. Their outstanding performance meant even more after being unable to ride for a few days before the long haul to Kentucky, due to the wildfires affecting air quality at their Santa Rosa home base.

Remarkably, the US Dressage Final was only her fourth show at Prix St. Georges, and as Brian remarked, “She gets better scores at Prix St. Georges than she does at Fourth Level.” Brian bought her two years ago as a sale horse, and noted that an option to selling her would be an in-barn lease.

Brian also showed Wendy Roberts’ Dreamcatcher to fifth place in the Intermediate II Open Championship with a score of 65.539%.

Jocelyn Towne and her trainer Kristina Harrison after the rainy day warm up ride in Kentucky.

Jocelyn Towne & Bandini

Jocelyn Towne returned to riding four years ago after a 20-year hiatus, and with her 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding Bandini (Bon Fatious x Shakira by Sandro Hit) she’s already won the US Dressage Finals Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship with a score of 70.833%.

“When I won the USDF Regionals, I didn’t know if I should go,” Jocelyn recalled, “and I’m glad I listened to friends who told me I wouldn’t regret it if I went!” Her concerns included not only the trip itself, but apprehension about the combination of nerves with the kind of cold weather to which California girls just aren’t accustomed.

“There were a lot of firsts for us on this trip,” she explained. First trip to the Finals, first hack for this city-based horse and rider across the rolling green Kentucky hills, the expansiveness of the Kentucky Horse Park, and the long walk to the Alltech Arena on the “green carpet” that made them feel like stars.

“A lot of things came together for us at this show,” Jocelyn said. In addition to her regular lessons with trainer Kristina Harrison, Jocelyn has just ridden in a clinic with US Dressage Technical Advisor Debbie McDonald a week before Kentucky. “She just used some different language about using half halts and the short side and the corners to balance and set up for the movements. It’s nothing that I hadn’t heard before from Krisi and in clinics with Button Baker, but for some reason it all came together, and we had the best ride ever. After the class, I didn’t know if we’d won, but I knew it was the best we could do.”

Kimberly Frederick & Fantastica CS. Photo: Susan J. Stickle

Kimberly Frederick & Fantastica CS

“I couldn’t have asked for more,” Kimberly Frederick said of her 5-year-old Hanoverian “red-headed mare” Fantastica CS (Furst Romancier x Lady Liselo by Londonderry). Not only did they win the Training Level Adult Amateur Championship with a 70.172% score, they also placed fourth in the First Level Adult Amateur Championship on 73.565%, all in their first main competition year together.

Kevin and Ericka Reinig helped her find Fantastica, who was imported from Germany about a year ago, as a 3-year-old just turning 4. “It takes a village to get a horse down centerline,” Kim said of the group of family, friends, and supporters who pitched in for all of the KEFA competitors.

“I’m just getting the connection with my mare, and having her trust me,” Kim explained of their first year together, in which they’ve been working on rideability to bring out the beauty and harmony. “Of course, you have to have the basics, and we’re just starting.”

Not a bad way to start, with a US Dressage Finals championship. “I was almost in tears of joy during the victory lap in the Alltech Arena,” Kim recalled. “It was so much fun, and I hope to attend the Finals again.”

But Wait, There’s More

There are more California riders who brought home a rainbow of ribbons and a priceless array of unforgettable experiences from the US Dressage Finals.

At first level, Kristina Harrison and Emily Murray’s Juilliard DG placed third in the First Level Freestyle Open Championship with 77.122%, and fourth in the First Level Open Championship on 72.546%.

At second level, Rebecca Clare Evans and Donna Stutzman’s Tom Collins stood ninth in the Second Level Open Championship with 66.032%.

Third level saw Elena Flaharty and her own Royal Chrome take third in the Third Level Freestyle Open Championship with a score of 72.756%, while Ericka Reinig and Alanna Sellers’ Bellisambrosso RTH stood eighth in the Third Level Freestyle Open Championship with a 71.856%. In the Adult Amateur Third Level Championship, Elaine Lamotta and Caribbean Veluv scored a 59.792%.

FEI level competitors included Ericka Reinig and Elaine Lamotta’s Stanford LR with a 66.235% in the Prix St. Georges Open Championship and a 64.510% in the Intermediate I Open Championship, while Jaclyn Pepper and Cooper scored at 64.853% in the Intermediate I Open Championship.

If I’ve left anyone out of this impressive compendium of riders who deserve nothing but massive congratulations, my apologies – especially since even someone like me who didn’t qualify for the Finals knows that hard work, dedication, perseverance, and talent (plus a little bit of good luck) are traits shared by all these riders.


A lifelong horse owner, author Nan Meek lives on the scenic San Mateo County coast where dressage courts and riding trails overlook the Pacific Ocean. She competed in dressage to the Prix St. Georges level with her late beloved Lipizzan Andy (Maestoso II Athena II-1), and now practices the discipline of dressage with her handsome Spanish warmblood Helio Jerez 2000 and dotes on the newest family member Mischa (Neapolitano Angelica II-1). Yes, dressage is embedded in her DNA.

November 2019 - Editor's Notes
Written by CRM
Thursday, 31 October 2019 00:31


Volunteers are the lifeblood of many aspects of the competitive equestrian scene. It was great to see them starting young at the Woodside International Horse Trials in early October.


The Glenoaks Stables Pony Club Riding Center was one of several local clubs to lend members to the cause. Here are jump judges Amelia Azzi, 8, (orange hat) and Esmé Garrett, 7, (black hat).


May Morita, 10, (purple shirt) and Anna Le Grix, 9 (pink shirt.) Thanks Charlotte Arrouye for the pix.  They are our future stars, whether they become so as riders or supporters of the sport.

It was equally great to see so many current West Coast equestrian stars excelling all over the country and abroad. On the eventing front, Tamie Smith and Mai Baum were the highest placing American pair in the FEI Eventing Nations Cup CCIO4*-L hosted by Military Boekelo in the Netherlands. They were 11th in an intensely competitive field of 97 pairs from all over the world.

On the hunter/jumper front, this issue features the accomplishments of junior jumper star Emma Reichow, who followed her win of the USET Show Jumping Talent Search West by becoming the 2019 Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Individual Champion at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. And the Rising to The Challenge article details the superstars among 74 Californians contesting various divisions at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in the Washington, D.C. area.

That’s in addition to lots of great stuff going on in our wonderful home turf.

Big thanks to Big Horse Feed and Mercantile, our cover sponsor for this issue. It is hands down the best place to find the perfect horse care or equestrian lifestyle gift for anybody on your list. Even better, it’s a year-round source for friendly, knowledgeable service, great products and a very strong commitment to supporting the community.

Much to be thankful for as usual. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Kim F Miller, Editor

ADOPT ME! Snowflake is an approximately 3 yr old appaloosa/quarter pony cross up for adoption at FalconRidge Equine Rescue in Valley Center, CA. She will be small at 12 hands and most likely not grow much bigger. She is halterbroke only and looking for a loving home who will continue her training under saddle in the future. Snowflake is kind and willing, just was not exposed to much of the world. Looking for a loving home to continue her learning. She is bright and curious, not a mean bone in her body. Healthy and sound. Sweet and very pretty girl. Adoption fee is $400. Check Snowflake out on our adoption page on the FalconRidge website at and follow the instructions.

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