November 2015 - Belle Calkin Triumphs at Foxfield Finals
Written by Kim F. Miller
Saturday, 31 October 2015 06:11
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Proud traditions of first-rate horsemanship and fun celebrate 44th year at world famous riding school.

photos and article by Kim F. Miller

From the moment members of a local Boy Scout troop ushered us to a shady parking spot on the cross-country course to the moment they ushered us out, the 44th annual Foxfield Medal Final was a delightful day of challenging horsemanship and nice people in a beautiful setting.

Belle Calkin & Belleagio, overall champions.

Renee Rodda & Notable, reserve champs overall.

The finals were held along with the 36th staging of the Calabasas Saddlery and Foxfield jumping derbies, Oct. 3-4, at the Foxfield Riding School in Westlake Village, known fondly to many generations of riders as “Sherwood Forest.”


After morning and afternoon rounds, plus a 10-rider work-off, Belle Calkin emerged as overall champion and champion of the 30-and-under division. In the overall standings, she was followed by Renee Rodda, Taylor Kungle, Brooke Mansker, Stephanie Nagler, Gracie Marlowe, Robb Peters II, Greta Salmon, Chandler Hopper and Haley Webster.

The Foxfield Medal Finals and the Jumping Derbies that followed on Sunday have the unique tradition of courses that include jumps inside and out of the ring.

Setting the tracks for his third consecutive year, course designer Mike Nielsen made the most of the sunken arena’s unusual D shape. “Bending lines are overrated!” one rider playfully harrumphed as she walked the course.

Brooke Mansker & Smile For Me. This popular pair finished fourth overall.

Taylor Kungle & Cherken, third place overall.

For the morning round, riders began with two verticals set amidst the trees in the field adjacent the ring, then cantered down a slight slope to enter the ring for a bending track to the rolltop that started the trek in the arena. A triple combination set on the diagonal going toward the out-gate left riders just a few strides to get organized for the turn to the next fence, mirroring a hairpin turn between the final two fences. It was tempting to go slow and conservative, but judges Hope

Glynn and Michael Page seemed to reward bolder riding and handy decisions.

For the second round in the afternoon, Mike created many options by starting the course at the vertical fence atop the slight incline just outside of the ring.

Riders chose every possible approach: from long loops in the arena, to compact turns near the arena entrance before heading out and up the short hill to the first fence.

The course then took riders to two more obstacles in the field before returning to the ring. A bending line from a fence set just a few strides from the far end of the ring to the triple combination was a particular challenge for several contenders and a great test of horse and rider’s ability to set and stick with their track.

Haley Webster & Jaguar head from Sherwood Forest into the sunken arena.

Foxfield Drill Team bake sale. You know we supported that!

As is another Foxfield tradition, riders were lavished with gifts and great prizes from sponsors. Spectators enjoyed shady tables surrounding the ring and fun shopping opportunities in a meandering vendor row anchored by longtime Foxfield supporters Calabasas Saddlery.  Foxfield’s multi-generational family atmosphere was evident everywhere, from Medal Finals competitors to kids giving pony riders and selling baked goods to raise money for Foxfield’s famous Drill Team.

We were sorry to miss the 36th Annual Calabasas Saddlery Junior/Amateur Jumping Derby and the Foxfield Jumping Derby, which took place on Sunday. The Bittars made a return victory visit, with Alyce Bittar and Contendra B winning the Calabasas Junior/Amateur Jumping Derby and Georges Bittar and Why Not B winning the Foxfield Jumping Derby.