October 2018 - Exciting accomplishments at every level for California riders and horses.
Written by by Nan Meek
Thursday, 27 September 2018 17:48


by Nan Meek

California’s Dressage Pipeline

If the United States is the “land of opportunity” then surely California is the dressage world’s “state of opportunity.” Our state is the home base of dressage professionals who have chosen to relocate here from all over the world, as well as home to a tremendous number of successful adult amateurs, youths, and professionals – those who are household names and those who aspire to that status. California is home to a healthy dressage pipeline for the future.


Nowhere was that more evident than half a continent away at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne, IL, during August 21-26 at the concurrently-held U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions and the Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships.


California horses and riders won consistently and highlighted the outstanding state of dressage “out West” in California, including …

We Interrupt With News from the World Equestrian Games …

By the time you read this, it will no longer be breaking news, but as I type, U.S. dressage fans are celebrating the Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Team’s silver medal at the World Equestrian Games.

California connections abound, with California girl turned Florida resident Kasey Perry-Glass and Goerklintgaards Dublet posting the second highest score of the U.S. team, behind leader Laura Graves and Verdades, and ahead of Adrienne Lyle and Salvino, and San Diego’s Steffen Peters and Suppenkasper.

Individual silver medalist Laura Graves and Verdades may not be Californians, but Laura left a lasting impression on California riders and auditors last year at the San Francisco Peninsula Chapter of the California Dressage Society when she headlined a popular clinic at The Horse Park at Woodside.

Sadly, freestyle competition was cancelled due to torrential rain from Florence, the hurricane that slowed down to become a tropical storm of epic proportions but nevertheless created havoc throughout the South.

… and now, back to the winning Californians at Lamplight:

Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships

The Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships featured the Four-, Five- and Six-Year-Old National Championship divisions, as well as the Developing Horse divisions at the Prix St. Georges and Grand Prix levels. Some of the top California winners included:

Craig Stanley and Habanero CWS. Photo: RBMPhotography.com

Craig Stanley and his home-bred KWPN gelding Habanero CWS decisively won the Markel/USEF Young Horse Six-Year-Old division on an overall score of 8.98. Habanero CWS, by Idocus and out of Craig’s mare Caliente DG who he trained and competed through the levels to Grand Prix, also won the division’s U.S.-Bred Award. This is the second championship for Craig and Habanero, who took home the Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old Championship in 2016.

It’s been a long journey for Craig, from his native Australia to California, where patience with his horses and perseverance with his goals has paid off: Taking a 2-year-old Caliente up the levels to Grand Prix, along the way breeding her to Idocus, then taking her son Habanero from a lanky youngster with promise to become the 2016 Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old Championship, then the 2018 Six-Year-Old Champion.

Describing Habanero’s birth, he recalled, “I have a picture of him as an embryo and actually pulled him out of the mare when he was born. Breeding him just makes it all a little more emotional.”
Rebecca Rigdon of Cardiff By The Sea and her KWPN gelding Jagger (Apache x Volumia) earned the Reserve National Championship in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old division with an overall score of 8.32. Rebecca also brought back to California bragging rights in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Five-Year-Old division, taking third overall with her KWPN mare Iquem (Charmeur x Tres Bien Sijgje).

Sarah Lockman of Aliso Viejo and Gerry Ibanez’s KWPN gelding Jupiter (Jazz x Twinkle R) placed third overall in the Markel/USEF Young Horse Four-Year-Old division on 8.14 overall. Sarah was featured on Riding’s August cover and in the cover story, which you can read at www.ridingmagazine.com.

Dawn White-O’Connor and Bailarino. Photo: SusanJStickle.com

Dawn White-O’Connor and Four Winds Farms’ 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding Bailarino won the Markel/USEF Developing Horse Grand Prix Dressage National Championship on an overall score of 68.635% in the first national title of her career. Dawn, from Cardiff (California, not Wales), and Bailarino are members of the U.S. Dressage Development Program presented by The Red Husky Foundation.

Dawn, who worked her way from groom to Steffen’s assistant at the Peters’ Arroyo del Mar in San Diego, is the poster girl for the dreams of young dressage riders well beyond California. With enough hard work and perseverance – and a bit of luck – anything is possible, from traveling support staff to Legolas at the Olympics to competing the super horse herself in California CDIs. She’s the embodiment of that old adage, “the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

Miki Yang on Garden’s Sam, celebrating her win in the 2018 USEF Children Dressage National Championship with friend Lucie Bacon, who also competed at the championships, the riders’ sisters Emi Yang and Lily Rose Bacon, trainer Hillary Martin and mom Akiko Yamazaki. Photo: Jerry Yang

U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions

Fourteen divisions were contested at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions, among them glimpses of youth riders in the Children, Junior, Young Rider and Pony Rider Dressage National Championships, as well as the ever-popular upper-level championships including the Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’, Grand Prix, Intermediaire 1 and Dressage Seat Equitation. Californians shined brightly:

Miki Yang of Los Altos Hills and Four Winds Farm’s Garden’s Sam, an 11-year old New Forest Pony gelding, won the USEF Children Dressage National Championship on an overall score of 69.020%. Afterward, in addition to thanking her family and her trainer Hillary Martin for their support, Miki remarked, “My mom loves horses as much as I do. Being able to compete with my mom was like a dream come true. It was so special.”

Veronica West of Marina Del Rey and her 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding Nobleman took Reserve in the USEF Young Rider National Championship with an overall 70.637%. “I was really happy with him,” she said. “He was very honest and forward in the ring.”

Charlotte Jorst and Kastel’s Nintendo. Photo: SusanJStickle.com

Ellanor Boehning of San Diego and her and Ann Boehning’s Kabam, a 15-year-old German Riding Pony gelding, decisively won the USEF Pony Rider Dressage National Championship on an overall score of 69.996%, more than 3 percentage points ahead of her nearest competition. Ellanor’s reaction to the win? “I didn’t really expect to come here and do as well as I just did. Honestly, it feels kind of like, ‘What just happened!?’”

Two individual test placings of note: Claire Manhard and Wilfonia place third in the FEI GP 16-25 Test of the USEF Young Adult ‘Brentina Cup’ Dressage National Championship presented by Dressage Today, and Nick Wagman and Ferano took third place in the Freestyle test of the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship.

Charlotte Jorst and Kastel’s Nintendo, Kastel Denmark’s 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion, triumphed in the USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship on an overall score of 70.098%. Although technically a resident of Reno, Charlotte is a longtime California Dressage Society member, multiple CDS Championship winner and enthusiastic supporter of dressage in California who many friends regard as an honorary Californian. “What a great horse he has been to me,” she commented of her five years with Nintendo. “ I am just so incredibly grateful to own him.”

San Diego pro Nick Wagman and Beverly Gepfer’s Don John, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding, were reserve in the USEF Grand Prix Dressage National Championship by just a little over one percentage point overall at 69.073%. Nick put it in perspective in discussing his freestyle: “Don John is really new at this level, so we chose to keep the choreography slightly simple to not over-face him and build confidence, and that was a really smart idea because he composed himself very nicely this whole season.”

Nick Wagman also brought home a third-place finish with Elizabeth Keadle’s Ferrano, an 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, in the Freestyle division of the USEF Intermediaire I Dressage National Championship.

Californians Named to Discover Dressage™ USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program and Dressage Development Program

The Discover Dressage USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program aims to provide strategic guidance and educational opportunities to athletes under the age of 25. Led by USEF Dressage Youth Coach George Williams and USEF Dressage Assistant Youth Coach Charlotte Bredahl-Baker, the program will provide access to educational opportunities and competition planning for qualified athletes. Californians include:

  • Aleyna Dunn (Solana Beach, Calif.) and Bivera, her 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare
  • Benjamin Ebeling (Moorpark, Calif.) and Behlinger, Amy Roberts Ebeling, Ann Romney, and Elizabeth Meyer’s 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding
  • Christian Simonson (Ventura, Calif.) and FRH Rassolini, Christina Morgan’s 15-year-old Hessen Warmblood stallion

The Dressage Development Program aims to provide strategic guidance and resources to selected athletes with the perceived ability to make the podium or contribute to podium scores. This program is overseen by the USEF Development Coach with the assistance of the USEF Dressage Youth and Young Horse Coaches, as well as the USEF Dressage Technical Advisor. The Program is supported by Akiko Yamazaki and her Red Husky Foundation. Californians include:

  • Niki Clarke (Temecula, Calif.) and Coral Reef Scoobidooh, Coral Reef Ranch’s nine-year-old Hanoverian gelding
  • Lehua Custer (North Hollywood, Calif.) and F.J. Ramzes, Wendy Sasser’s eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding
  • Kristina Harrison (Burbank, Calif.) and Finley, her eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding
  • Amy Miller (Fullerton, Calif.) and Encore, her nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding
  • Carly Taylor-Smith (Malibu, Calif.) and Rosalut NHF, Nikki Taylor-Smith’s eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding
  • Dawn White-O’Connor (Cardiff, Calif.) and Bailarino, Four Winds Farm’s 10-year-old Oldenburg geldin

<p style=Dawn White-O’Connor said of the U.S. Dressage Development Program supported by The Red Husky Foundation, “It’s been amazing. I did one of the Development Program Training & Evaluation Sessions with Debbie [McDonald] and Charlotte Bredahl this spring, and that was really helpful, just the way the whole program was laid out. To have Debbie there, kind of like a second coach, and Charlotte giving you the judges perspective and being able to go through schooling and the test and getting feedback, that was really helpful. Stephanie Seheult, a Human Sports Physiotherapist, was here this weekend [at the U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions and Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships], so I worked with her a little bit. It’s a really good program because it addresses all aspects, not just the riding, so I’m very excited to be part of that.”

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to all who support them!

Looking Ahead

By the time you read this, the California Dressage Society Annual Championship Show will have been held from September 27 to 30 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Burbank. You can find more information at https://www.california-dressage.org/cds-annual-championship/ and scores will be posted online at www.foxvillage.com under “show results” for Great American/USDF Region 7-CDS Championships.

If you’re looking for education – and who better than the newest WEG Gold Medalist, Isabell Werth – there may still be tickets left to SH Productions’ Isabell Werth Masterclass on October 13-14 at Ad Astra Stables in Encinitas. For more information: https://ca.shproductions.ca/purchase-isabell-werth