July 2019 - Meet the Zone 10 NAYC Jumping Teams!
Written by by Kim F. Miller
Monday, 01 July 2019 03:49
PDF Print E-mail


A seasoned group of hard-working, big dreaming riders leads the West Coast charge in New York.

by Kim F. Miller

Zone 10 has a proud history of making the most of the long trek to the North American Youth Championships, and it looks like this year will highlight that tradition. The Young, Junior and Childrens teams are anchored by riders with NAYC and/or Nations Cup experience, which is priceless in this unique international team competition. They’re rounded out by newcomers with impressive resumes and lots of enthusiasm.

North American Youth Championships jumping takes place at Old Salem Farm, in North Salem, NY, July 30 through August 4. The competition will be livestreamed by the USEF Network.

We hope you enjoy this brief introduction to these hard-working, accomplished young riders. Go Zone 10!!


Nataline Dean & Don’s Diamant. Photo: Catherin Cammett

Natalie Dean & Don’s Diamant
Trainers: Butch, Lu & Guy Thomas at Willow Tree Farm in Palo Alto & Ilan Ferder in New York

Bay Area native Natalie Dean heads to her third Championship with a year of solid Grand Prix mileage and a life even more intensely focused on show jumping than it had been throughout her junior career. She did the HITS Winter Circuit at Thermal, then together with her longtime trainers, the Thomases of Willow Tree Farm, arranged to relocate to the East Coast.
As a college sophomore, she switched to an online business program at Amherst College and to training with Ilan Ferder in New York. Ilan helped the Thomases source horses for Natalie, including her current top mount Don’s Diamant and last year’s NAYC partner Chacco’s Goldy.
With Goldy, Natalie helped the Zone 10 YR team earn silver and an individual 10th rank at last year’s NAYC, and they closed out their two-year partnership with big wins at the Devon Horse Show in early June. A newer ride, Don was right behind Goldy at Devon and will continue Natalie’s budding FEI career going forward.  “We are moving up together,” Natalie says of the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood. “Last year we took it slowly. He’s a very careful horse with a big heart and we didn’t want to scare him.”
Qualifying for and excelling at NAYC have been this year’s main goal. Holding her own at more FEI competitions, over bigger and tougher tracks, back East has prompted “a lot of improvement” and boosted confidence, Natalie says. Riding between three and eight horses a day when not at shows has been a big help, too.
While focused on more medals for Zone 10, Natalie also looks forward to reuniting with friends and teammates from the California circuit.

Emma Catherine Reichow & Forever Alve. Photo: ESI

Emma Catherine Reichow & Cubiki or Forever Alve
Trainers: Harley & Olivia Brown in Menlo Park

Emma’s stepping stone NAYC experience peaks with this year’s Young Rider team qualification. Two years ago, she was an alternate for Zone 10 and last year she rode on the Junior team. As an alternate, she enjoyed the experience without having the pressure of producing a team score. Last year’s outing was a good mileage earner.
“I know what I’m getting into,” says the high school rising senior. “And it’s nice to have Natalie (Dean) and some of the ‘B’ team girls on the team again this year.”
Emma qualified on two horses and wasn’t sure at press time which she’d take to New York: last year’s partner, the speedy and careful stallion, Cubiki; or Forever Alve, her “super scopey” mare. “I’m equally comfortable on both.” Her decision is not made any easier by big wins on both at recent Grands Prix at Woodside and Temecula. Cubiki helped Emma navigate her first national standard Grand Prix in Temecula earlier this year, with only a single rail, while a third mount, Apex, gave her more mileage at that new level.
“Medaling would be incredible,” Emma says. “My goal this year is to get more experience, do as well as I can and have a good time.”     
Along with continued ascent in the jumper division, including Prix de States competition at Harrisburg, Emma is targeting the equitation division and its big fall finals.

Cate Tomlinson & Hawai Van Paemel. Photo: Grand Pix

Cate Tomlinson & Hawai Van Paemel
Trainers: Harley & Olivia Brown in Menlo Park

Cate got a confidence lapse out of the way at the Del Mar National Horse Show in May. Right before that show’s trial with Hawai Van Paemel, aka “Aloha,” Cate stopped out on her 1.2M horse in a warm-up round. Nervous about tackling the bigger track, she got a talking-to from her trainer Harley Brown. “He said, ‘You need to get it together and be on your game’,” Cate relays. Which she did, riding to the only clear to win the class. “I was really nervous and doubting whether I’d make either the Junior or the Young Rider team. But I pushed through my insecurities and that was definitely a big milestone. I was able to center myself by not focusing on the height of the jumps and knowing that Aloha would take care of me so long as I gave her a good ride.” The round was a confidence sky-rocketer that set the stage for more good finishes going into the Championships.
Cate’s had Aloha about eight months. “She’s a really interesting horse. She’s really strong and powerful and also extremely sensitive. She needs a light seat, hand and leg. So long as I stay balanced, she can do what she needs to do.”
She’s “super excited” to be experiencing team competition and especially with friends including barn mates Emma Catherine Reichow and Alex Volpi. The Browns are “amazing coaches,” with a knack for “pushing me to within my limits.” Round Meadow Farm and Avalon Hunter/Jumpers training programs got Cate’s horsemanship off to a good start before she joined the Browns.    
Cate plans to enroll in Boston’s Northeastern University, starting with a fall semester of study in London. That probably means no riding for three months. “I’m unclear how that is going to go!”

Alex Volpi & Foster 39

Alex Volpi & Foster 39
Trainers: Harley & Olivia Brown in Menlo Park

Zone 10 has a unique two-track qualifying system: money-won or the selection trials. Along with Natalie Dean, Alex opted for the money-won and is grateful for that option. She purchased Foster last September to move from the High Juniors into the Grand Prix ranks, where she is gaining success and experience. “The money-won allowed me to focus on the Grand Prix and still qualify.” Highlights of the experience she brings to the team include the HITS Million and a Blenheim EquiSports $100,000 class.
Foster’s extreme calm has taken some getting used to. Learning to trust his scope has helped Alex give him the equally calm ride to the jump he prefers. “He’s very agreeable. So long as I don’t do anything insane, things go very well.”
Alex qualified for the team last year but had to bow out when her horse got an eye infection. That heightens her excitement, as does competing on the East Coast for the first time. Most of all, she senses that the team is going to be very competitive. “Emma and Cate did really well through the trials and I’ve known Natalie for a long time. I think we have a good chance to medal!”
Alex’s serious jumping pursuits parallel her academic journey: she just finished freshman year at Stanford. “It was a little challenging at first,” she admits. “It’s been all about finding the balance.” Fortunately, the Browns’ program is very close to campus, so that and big gaps in the class schedule helped her get plenty of saddle time without missing much academic or sorority life.

Alternate: Ty Simpson & Quality Iris
Trainers: Nicki & Will Simpson

After a good run on the very experienced mare Why Not in the Junior division last year, Ty figures the Championships will be a new ballgame with Quality Iris. They’ve only been together since March and, at 10, she’s relatively new. “She’s really cool: a great jumper with her own way of going,” says Ty. That way includes steering challenges. “It’s a matter of coaxing her into where you want her to go. A lot of things can set her off and you have to finesse everything.”
Ty’s talents are guided by the ample experience of his Olympic gold medalist dad, Will, and mom, Nicki Simpson, an accomplished international rider. Nicki was an equitation star as a junior and Ty wasn’t too thrilled when she pushed him toward that division. “But then I started realizing that it was really helping me in the jumper ring. Specifically, what it teaches you about track and sticking to the lines you walk.”    


Amelie Bittar & Star Girl B

Amelie Bittar & Star Girl B
Trainer: Georges Bittar in Lake View Terrace

Amelie has two years of NAYC experience accompanying and helping her older sister Alyce represent Zone 10 and now it’s her turn. “It was always my goal to ride there myself, and I’m excited for the whole experience, to make those bonds with my teammates and meet new people.” She’ll be aboard Star Girl B, the 11-year-old Selle Francais mare who went to NAYC with Alyce two years ago. Amelie goes with solid team experience herself. She and Star Girl B are fresh from Junior Nations Cup team gold at Thunderbird Show Park in British Columbia in early June.
While Alyce manages to juggle riding with collegiate studies in New York, Amelie has had ample time to build a bond with Star Girl B at the Bittars’ Hansen Dam Horse Park home base. In the show ring, the mare is typically raring to go and Amelie’s challenge is containing and directing that. At the barn, she’s sweet as can be.  “She leans her head out of the stall, puts her head on my shoulder and falls asleep while I scratch her ears.”
Sixteen-year-old Amelie has a few other hobbies, but riding is her main passion. She’s always been trained by her father, Georges Bittar, an international jumping rider for Lebanon, and his approach includes working with other professionals. Clinics with Ashlee Bond, Richard Spooner and “a bunch of other people” have been a big part of her ongoing equestrian education. So has careful observations of top riders while growing up on the show circuit.

Parker Cliff & Fanadwest Rebel

Parker Cliff & Fanadwest Rebel
Trainers: Jill & Jan Humphrey at JH Sporthorses in Sacramento

Fourteen-year-old Parker was initially not expecting to make the team. “We were kind of doing it for the experience because I have a few more years to compete.” Somewhere along the way, “we decided to go for it.”
“I’m a bit nervous, but also excited and I trust my horse: he’s great.” Parker and Rebel’s partnership began three years ago when he arrived at the Humphrey’s Sacramento program as an equitation mount. “Then we realized he can jump!” This year is their first at the 1.4M height and Parker credits her equitation and hunter background for being able to capitalize on having such a talented horse.
She, too, has the valuable golden experience of Nations Cup competition at Thunderbird, in 2018. While it can be nerve-wracking, Parker welcomed the opportunity to ride with the pressure of USET youth chef d’equipe DiAnn Langer watching carefully. The pay-off of being on a team is big, she says. “You don’t often get to do that in our sport, and I really love the team experience.”
Having started with the Humphreys at 7, Parker adores her equestrian mentors. “They have so much knowledge of the sport. They each have different training methods and are both so kind.”

Clea Caddell & Compari

Clea Caddell & Compari
Trainer: Jamie Taylor in Orange County & Karen Healey

A rising star in the equitation, hunter and jumper arenas, 14-year-old Clea values the experience of being an alternate on last year’s NAYC team. “As an alternate you do every round and participate throughout the whole experience without the pressure of being on a team.” Along with the riding experience, the main lesson she brings forward from that is the importance of being a supportive teammate.
“Everyone jumps five rounds and chances are that not all of them are going to be good. It’s a lot of pressure because it counts toward the team’s score. It’s so important that everyone still be positive and not get upset with anyone.”
Her horse Compari is the same one she rode last year, and she’s confident the past year of mileage will help them both. “He’s funny,” she shares. “He’s a quiet horse who takes a lot of leg to get him going. But he also spooks at very random things, like a little noise, and will take off and bolt. Then at the jumps, he’s super brave.” Otherwise, he’s a straight-forward ride. Even in a hackamore, he turns easily and fast and has plenty of foot speed.
Clea began riding in the Houston area before moving to Carmel, where she lives now. She trained with Benson Carroll and Jill and Jan Humphrey, then began riding with Jamie Taylor about a year and a half ago, with help from Karen Healey. It’s an extra challenge having her horses down south with Jamie, Clea acknowledges. The upside is that “I focus on school when I’m home, and on riding with I’m down south.” A rising high school sophomore, Clea stays fit between riding with cardio, leg and core work. Horses are her top passion and she also plays field hockey and is on her school’s mock debate team.

Sophia Siegel & Eleganto VDL

Sophia Siegel & Eleganto VDL
Trainers: Butch, Lu & Guy Thomas of Willow Tree Farm in Palo Alto

Sophia represented Zone 10 at the 2017 Championships and expects that “It’s going to be really fun competing with a bunch of friends this year.” Also stressful? Not so much: “If we can podium, that would be great. All in all, I’ll be happy to have good rounds at the end of the day.”
Eleganto VDL, aka “Elmo,” is this year’s partner. Sophia got him at Thermal of 2018 and recalls him fresh from Europe as “a skinny and unfit bag of bones.” Trainer Butch Thomas has a “good eye for horses and for match-making, and he saw a lot of potential and scope in him.” For Sophia, it was Elmo’s heart and personality that sold her. “He’s like a toddler. He needs to be involved in everything. If you are talking in the barn aisle, he’s always trying to get to you.”
Ten-year-old Elmo’s fitness was easily addressed through conditioning work, much of it influenced by Sophia’s dressage riding mom, Annette.  “I’m a strong believer in a lot of flat work, and we’ve done a lot of dressage exercises,” Sophia explains. “We used to have a lot of rails. He just didn’t have enough muscle to endure through the bigger courses.” That’s a thing of the past.
She describes him as an “easy ride” and seems more amused than bothered by his tendency to buck, spook and wiggle. “He’s my type of horse. He has his own motor and we’ve never had to change him out of his snaffle bit.”
Sophia started riding with Toni and Colin McIntosh before joining Willow Tree. She and Elmo had qualified for the Langley, BC Nations Cup team in June, but a minor injury on departure day cancelled that plan. Elmo is totally fine now and the rising high school senior is excited for New York.

Amelia Enzminger & EverGo

Alternate: Amelia Enzminger & EverGo
Trainers: Katherine Gintzon & Greg Hedrick of Myrtle Hill Farms in La Canada/Flintridge

NAYC is the latest opportunity Amelia has earned for herself. A working student for Myrtle Hill, she set the Championships as a main goal since the beginning of the competition year. “The first few trials were a bit rocky, but after we got back from two weeks at the Winter Equestrian Festival riding with Jimmy Torano, everything started falling into place,” Amelia shares.
The WEF invite came after Jimmy saw Amelia ride in a clinic he gave at Myrtle Hill. While at WEF, she met two Frank Madden riders and wound up getting an invite to be a student at his East Coast barn when she begins her freshman year at the University of Connecticut this fall. The harder she works, the luckier she gets. There’s a few details to be ironed out, she says, but that’s the plan as of presstime.
She’s had the aptly-named EverGo for a year and a half. The mare was sourced through Alan Waldman, a friend of Amelia’s trainers, and was the last horse she tried while “exhausted” at the end of a long day. “They said, ‘This one is a little hot.’ And, I felt for a while that she would rip out my arms. When I rode her the first time, she jumped me up to 1.6M. I’ve never clicked with a horse the way I do with her. She’s phenomenal and I don’t think I would be where I am without her.”


William MacLean & Poli Loli. Photo: Grand Pix

William MacLean & Poli Loli
Trainer: Ray Texel in Sonoma County’s Cotati

William’s family is well known as owners of the Franktown Meadows Equestrian Facility in Washoe Valley, Nevada, host of the Franktown Hunter Derby. The 14-year-old is now coming into his own as a show jumper under the tutelage of international rider Ray Texel. William began riding as a kid on the family’s ranch and had done well on the hunter and equitation path with trainer Ashlin Bowen. About a year ago, he began commuting from the Reno area to ride with Ray in Sonoma County. “Ray directed me toward the Championship as the next step forward and I thought it would be an awesome thing to do.”
He’s had the mare Poli Loli for about a year, too, and after a brief period of adjusting to her hot temperament, they’ve hit it off. Poli lives in California with Ray and William spends as much time there as possible. He’s been an online school student for the past year and has benefited from the increased time to ride and compete.

Sahana Ganesan & Chacha’s Fire. Photo: ABJ

Sahana Ganesan & Chacha’s Fire or Sally Ann
Trainers: Jeff & Rachel Fields of Sandhaven Farm in Woodside

Sahana qualified last year but had to cancel when her horse came down with a virus three weeks before the Championship. The first lesson she learned from that was to try to qualify two horses, which she’s done this time around. And the delay served to build her excitement for riding on a team. “It’s an amazing opportunity.” Riding as a Childrens team alternate for last month’s Nation Cup team in Langley, B.C. was a great introduction to that.
At presstime, Sahana expected to take Chacha’s Fire to Old Salem Farm. She’s had the 7-year-old German mare since January and describes her as having “the sweetest heart and always giving her best.” She arrived from Germany with some 1.35M experience and “has been very forgiving as I learn how to ride her.”
Riding with Rachel and Jeff is also new: since April. Sahana started with Toni and Colin McIntosh, who helped her find Fire. All is working out well. “The Fields give very constructive training, are very supportive and it was evident when I came to the barn how much they care about the horses. At the end of the show day, whether I did well or poorly, I always feel like they have my back and they always give me something to work on.”
Riding is the 14-year-old’s clear priority but she makes time for debate and is intrigued with the idea of pursuing her pilot’s license. Meantime, plenty of flying to be done at the NAYC.