October 2015 - California Dressage Society Championships
Written by Yellow Horse Marketing for the California Dressage Society
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 21:41

Triple digit heat is no match for Golden State stars.

by Yellow Horse Marketing for the California Dressage Society

Despite triple-digit temperatures, more than 300 competitors found a way to beat the heat and celebrate a final day of outstanding championship competition at the 48th Annual California Dressage Society (CDS) Annual Championship Show and Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Region 7 Championships, held Sept. 17-20 in Rancho Murieta.

McKenzie Kelley & Fuerst Hit were one of many champions crowned on the final day of competition. Photo: Jennifer M. Keeler

“We had a great turnout at this show and the quality just gets better and better,” said USEF “S” judge Brent Hicks, who judged all levels from Training to FEI over the course of the weekend. “We had a great panel of judges and saw lots of good horses who were very well-trained and ridden, and it was also fun to see so many juniors on mounts of all sizes. It’s wonderful to see that dressage continues to be so strong here on the West Coast.”

The following are just a few daily highlights. For complete results, visit www.california-dressage.org.

McKenzie Kelley

The Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Championships concluded with plenty of opportunities for Juniors and Young Riders to compete across a multitude of divisions. One of those competitors was 21-year-old McKenzie Kelley of Napa, who was enjoying her final season in the JR/YR division with her five-year-old Oldenburg gelding Fuerst Hit.

Their weekend got off to a flying start on Saturday with the clinching of a CDS Horse of the Year title, and on Sunday the pair also won the Great American/USDF Region 7 Junior/Young Rider First Level Championship with 72.941%. “He’s got a little bit of a lazy side despite being so young, but we woke him up a little bit and we had a great ride. Our canter work in particular is always a highlight,” said Kelley, who is a senior at Chico State when not in the saddle. “We didn’t get to go to these championships last year so I was excited to come back, and I’m already hoping to return again next year.”

MAmy Miller & U.S.-bred Encore won the CDS Young Horse Futurity for Six-Year-Olds. Photo: Jennifer M. Keeler

Encore & Amy Miller

The defending 2014 five-year-old CDS Futurity champion Encore returned to the CDS Championship Show this year in pursuit of another victory, and the elegant KWPN gelding (Jazz x Aloha by Sir Sinclair, bred in the U.S. by Lisa Dickman) did not disappoint. With two solid performances at Second Level to sweep both rounds of competition and earn a combined average score of 72.078%, Encore returned to the winner’s circle with owner/rider Amy Miller of Fullerton to accept the Paquita Parker Perpetual Trophy in the CDS Open Six-Year-Old Futurity.

It was an emotional victory for Miller: she purchased Encore from her friends at DG Bar Ranch three years ago, and was riding with a heavy heart after the recent death of Tony De Groot, who was honored by CDS with a moment of silence before evening festivities. (see story, page 54).

Even so, Miller was thrilled with the win and said the secret to her youngster’s success is not just talent, but also his exceptional temperament. “He’s so rideable and his personality is such that he likes to come out and work every day. I just try to add small elements every day to his training, and it’s worked,” Miller explained. “Next year we look forward to coming back for Third and Fourth Level, and if he’s ready, perhaps do the Developing Horse program in the future. But for now I’m thinking of Tony and riding for him, so this was very special.”

Sarah Lockman & Dehavilland were one of the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Champions crowned on the second day of the 2015 CDS Championship Show. Photo: Jennifer M. Keeler

Dehaviland & Sarah Lockman

Dehaviland, purchased as a yearling by owner/rider Sarah Lockman of Calimesa from a bankruptcy sale for just $2,500, the now four-year-old gelding rewarded Lockman’s leap of faith by carrying her to victory in the morning’s Great American/USDF Region 7 Open Training Level Championship with a score of 73.750%. But it wasn’t easy – every competitor in the class earned a score greater than 70%.

“I knew it would be tough but I didn’t really think about it - I just went in and did my thing,” explained Lockman, a former event rider. “He’s been solid all year, so I just believed in him and had every confidence.”

Lockman’s belief in her mount comes from having raised and trained the youngster herself. “He’s incredible because he’s so easy - he’s so laidback and quiet, but has huge movement and a ‘10’ walk.

“He grew up working cattle, riding out in the hills and even hanging out at rodeos, so for a young horse he’s super reliable at the shows because he’s already seen so much,” said Lockman. “He’s certainly turned out so well that it feels like hitting the lottery. You only get a horse like this with the talent and the temperament together once in a lifetime, so I’m going to continue to bring him along and enjoy the journey.”

Elizabeth Landers & Liberty lead the victory lap for the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 First Level Freestyle Championship on the first day of the 2015 CDS Championship Show. Photo: Jennifer M. Keeler

In the CDS Four-Year-Old Futurity, a tough field of talented youngsters battled back and forth for scores in two different Training Level tests over two days to ultimately determine a victor. Once again it was Sarah Lockman’s Oldenburg gelding Dehavilland (Diamond Hit x Haverfords Redhawk by Hohenstein, bred in California by Redhawk Ranch) who attracted the judges’ attention to decisively win the second day’s Training Level Test 3 and claim a come-from-behind victory and the CDS Futurity Perpetual Trophy for an overall combined score of 75.498%. “I got a little greedy and made a mistake the first day,” Lockman explained. “My horse always puts in a lovely solid test and makes zero mistakes, so it was totally rider error. I came out today and said, ‘we’re going for it’, and he stepped up for me and put in an even better test.”

Sarah earned her second CDS Horse of the Year title of the day, this time aboard her lovely gray Holsteiner gelding Calimero to win the CDS Open Third Level Horse of the Year division and the Judith Elias Perpetual Trophy by a comfortable margin with a combined two-test score of 71.378%.

At the FEI level, Shae-Bella Lovazzano of Woodside rode the impressive PRE stallion Tracio in the JR/YR Intermediate I Championship to a winning score of 63.421%.

Elizabeth Landers & Liberty

The very first Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Championship sash of the year was presented to Elizabeth Landers from Agoura Hills who earned top honors in the First Level Freestyle aboard her Oldenburg mare and former show jumping partner Liberty. Despite the dramatic change in discipline, the pair earned a score of 71.750% for their winning performance. “I had to help her understand what this new sport was about, but something clicked when we started working on a freestyle,” Landers said of her mount. “Now she has learned her music and it seemed to help her learn what’s expected.”

But Landers didn’t have much time to rest on her laurels as she was due to return to the ring with her handsome Hanoverian gelding His Highness Crusador. Her efforts, and her eight-hour drive north to attend her first CDS Championship Show, were both rewarded with her second victory of the day, this time with a score of 70.250% for the pair’s Third Level Freestyle performance. “I’m waiting for someone to pinch me, I’m so amazingly grateful. It’s a dream come true and coming here has been such a terrific experience so far,” said Landers, who added that her sights are now set on an even bigger goal: the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan in Kentucky. “Each horse is different and special in their own way, and I couldn’t be prouder. It’s such a joy for me to be able to compete the two of them.”

“Every year CDS strives to improve this show and put on a world-class event, and this year I think we went above and beyond,” said CDS President Kevin Reinig. “We had new and exciting sponsors come on board, the Murieta Equestrian Center continues to improve their already outstanding facility, and show management did an incredible job as always. Local chapters and volunteers stepped up to help with this huge event, and it was great having so many CDS Board members here to assist – it was a true team effort. The overall atmosphere was fantastic, everyone had fun, we saw great sportsmanship and camaraderie, and the feedback I received from competitors was amazing. We’re on a trend where this show just gets better and better each time, and this year was no exception.”

Report extracted from extensive daily reports provided by Yellow Horse Marketing. For complete results and more photos, visit www.california-dressage.org and CDS’s Facebook page.