October 2016 - Winner's Circle
Written by CRM
Saturday, 01 October 2016 05:49

Cecily Hayes, Gracie Marlowe & Kit Cunningham Earn EAP Finals Spots

Big congratulations to the three Zone 10 riders selected for the USHJA’s Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session: Cecily Hayes, Gracie Marlowe and Kit Cunningham. They were among the 21 selected from the 170 athletes who took part in regional EAP sessions during the last year. The National Training event takes place Nov. 10-13 at Lake Erie College, where the riders and stable management participants will spend four intensive days riding and working with Olympian Peter Wylde and stable manager Anne Thornbury.

Finalists are closely observed and evaluated during all phases of the four-day National Training Session, including flatwork, gymnastics, related distances and course work, an intensive stable-management curriculum, and through a written test that gauges the horsemanship knowledge each finalist has gained throughout the year.

The EAP National Training Session concludes with a two-round Nations Cup-style competition, where riders are placed on teams of four to compete head-to-head. This team format offers the riders an opportunity to showcase their riding skills as well as their ability to perform under pressure. One rider will be named the overall USHJA EAP National Champion and will be awarded a $3,000 grant to be applied toward the cost of advanced training, a $1,500 gift certificate from Dover Saddlery, a variety of additional products and gifts from USHJA sponsors and more.

The Horsemanship Quiz Challenge Nationals, presented by The Plaid Horse, will be held in conjunction with the 2016 EAP National Training Session. The 24 finalists for that competition were to be announced in mid-September.

Double Win for Ruth Bley

Bay Area eventer Ruth Bley trekked to the American Eventing Championships, at the Tyron Equestrian Center in North Carolina in early September, and made the long haul more than worth it. The dedicated amateur won the Preliminary Amateur division with Rodrigue Du Granit and the Professionals’ Choice Master Training Amateur division with Spartacus D’L’Herbage.

A student of Yves Sauvignon and an owner for John Michael and Kimmy Durr of Durr Eventing, Ruth is a longtime supporter of the sport.

Brentina Cup Queen

AnnA Buffini clinched the top two places in the USEF Young Adult “Brentina Cup” Dressage National Championship presented by Dressage Today out of the small but mighty seven-horse field.

In the FEI Intermediate II Test, Sunday Aug. 28, Buffini finished one-two with her own Sundayboy and Wilton II, respectively. She and Sundayboy, a 1999 Dutch Warmblood gelding, had a beautiful test that showed great harmony as well as quality piaffe and passage movements. They earned a score of 70.974% for the test, putting them at the top of the championship leaderboard with an overall score of 71.115%.

The Brentina Cup, for U25 riders, was held along with Young Horse Championships during the Festival of Champions at the Lamplight Equestrian Center near Chicago.

“Sundayboy was really with me today. Friday I was definitely a little bit nervous; I have never been kind of expected to do well before. I was the underdog at my last Festival [in 2014] but this time we were expected to do well, so I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Buffini explained. “Today, I just really wanted to come out, enjoy it, and really have a lot of harmony with the horses. Regardless of the ribbons, I think if you have a connection with your horse and have harmony out there that is more important than anything, so I was really, really happy with him today.”

Buffini was especially thankful of the support of the program, which has the purpose of assisting and encouraging U.S. Young Riders in making the transition to the senior Grand Prix ranks, has received from the late Parry Thomas, saying, “A huge thank you to Mr. Thomas (who sadly passed away in August) who helped create this amazing program, because it would not be possible without him. Otherwise we would be out there struggling against Steffen [Peters] and Laura [Graves].”

Buffini earned the Reserve Champion title with Wilton II by delivering another solid test. She and the 2003 Dutch Warmblood gelding had nice trot work and good canter pirouettes but had minor bobbles in the tempi changes. They finished Sunday’s test with a score of 70.474% and an overall championship score of 68.981%.

5-Year-Old Dressage Champs

Desario & Christian Hartung also made their trip from California to the Championships at the Lamplight Equestrian Center more than worthwhile. They won the 5-year-old division of the 2016 Markel/USEF Young & Developing Horse Dressage National Championships. Christian and Desario (De Champ/Rosario) hail from Christiane Noelting’s Dressage Center in Northern California’s Vacaville, where assistant trainer Ari Lopez also had a big hand in bringing the horse along. Ari was at the Championships, too, and finished ninth with Fuersting Delia (Fuerstenball/Don Schufro), also from Christiane’s program.

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