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Ashlee Bond continues win streak at L.A. International

Theodore Boris takes USEF Talent Search Finals West

Special to the Horsetrader - October 15th, 2009 - Cover Story

Oct 15th Issue

Oct 15th Issue

BURBANK — The successful year for Ashlee Bond and her Cadett 7, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Little Valley Farms of Calabasas, Calif., continued when she won the $50,000 Los Angeles International Grand Prix Sept. 20 at Los Angeles Equestrian Center.

The L.A. International win—a World Cup Qualifier as well—followed up Bond and Cadett 7 taking consecutive victories at the $40,000 Summer Classic Grand Prix on Aug. 22 and $50,000 Grand Prix of Showpark on Aug. 29.

Bond also had a great showing during her recent trip to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, for the Spruce Meadows Masters Tournament from Sept. 9-13. She was part of the second-place U.S. team in the $350,000 Nations Cup competition there, with U.S. riders Richard Spooner, Beezie Madden and Lauren Hough.

Back at the Los Angeles International, course designer Leopoldo Palacios made sure the riders worked for the accolades. Santiago Rickard aboard his own Jet Star was the first to post a clear round, followed by Lane Clark on Kiss The Sky (ending up in second place), Olympic gold medalist Will Simpson, Harley Brown and Stefanie Saperstein.

Fresh off her rookie international tour representing the U.S. in Europe this past summer, Bond and Cadett 7 blazed around the course and left all the rails in place for another win.

“With the riders who are coming after you, you can’t leave much to the imagination, so you gotta put it all out there and risk having a rail,” Bond said. “Today, it worked out for me. My horse felt great; he was ready and it was just my day.”

Theodore Boris wins the USEF Talent Search Finals West on Sept. 20 at the L.A. International Jumping Festival.
AC Custom Photo

Theodore Boris wins the USEF Talent Search Finals West on Sept. 20 at the L.A. International Jumping Festival.

Rising-star Theodore Boris impresses U.S. Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe George Morris

BURBANK — U.S. Equestrian Federation Talent Search Finals West riders shared the limelight with Grand Prix riders during the Los Angeles International Jumping Festival Sept. 20 at Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Theodore Boris, a 15-year-old from Culver City, Calif., claimed the Finals-West title on the strength of his consistent performance in the final ride-off phase, in which the top four competitors after the first three phases start even, ride their own horse, then each of the other’s mount in turn over the same course.

The judges and course designers, U.S. Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe George Morris and Susie Schoellkopf set some challenging courses for the 37 riders entered in the Finals-West.
“As with any championship the top 20 percent are very, very good–there is a nice middle who are up to it, then there are people who are a little over their heads which is OK because it teaches them when they have failure,” Morris said. “I hope the courses, both the gymnastics and the jumping were a learning experience for all of them–even the good ones.”

Boris’ consistent performances, when it came time to switch horses, meant he prevailed over other up-and-coming junior/young riders Cayla Richards, Jocelyn Neff, and Navona Gallegos.
“All of the final four were very, very good, but it was just his day. He is an athlete by build–he is tight on a horse, balanced on a horse, very soft but when he needs to be strong he can be strong without being rough. He has great empathy and a great eye,” Morris said of the winner. “He is a natural, definitely a rider that we are looking for–that type of rider for the teams.”

Richard’s mount for the Finals-West, Bingo Bongo, owned by Holly Scapa, won the Gulliver Trophy for Best Horse, a prestigious honor bestowed by the judges after the ride-off. Richards, a 15-year-old from Calabasas, Calif., also recently won the ASPCA Maclay Western Regional Qualifier a week earlier.

During the USEF Talent Search Finals West, the third phase–show jumping–was concluded with the ride-off of the Final Four. George Morris’ track on the L.A. Equestrian Center’s grass field proved challenging and required the bold riding he and co-judge Schoelkopf were looking for. Less than half the class jumped clear, but in a regular jumper class that statistic was to be expected; for the Talent Search was about much more than equitation.

Some lower-ranked riders moved up due to strong performances in the show jumping phase and some top-ranked riders fell due to major mistakes. However, Gallegos and Boris, the top two ranked riders after the first two phases, went into the Final Four in those same positions. Cayla Richards and Jocelyn Neff joined them, and the excitement began.

First, the riders rode their own horses around Morris’ shortened course set with a tight time allowed, then they began rotating, FEI World Championship style, to the other competitors’ horses. Boris proved the most masterful. “He reminds me of Conrad (Homfeld) at that same age,” Morris said. When Morris found out after the class that Boris rides as a 15 year old, his only reaction was, “What?” with a look of utter disbelief.

Boris himself felt a moment of disbelief when Richards was called as the reserve champion, leaving the limelight to Boris. “I didn’t really know how everyone did because I only saw parts of each round,” Boris said of the Final Four ride-off. “When I had a rail on Jocelyn’s horse, I didn’t’ know how the judges would react. I had no idea of where I was in the standings.”

2009 was only Boris’ second time in the USEF Talent Search Final, and he found his experiences from 2008 helpful in preparing for this year. “I also got the opportunity to ride Carol Bird’s horse, W.C. Swing–I knew I could count on him,” Boris said. “He is brave and has all the qualities you want in a quality competition horse.” Last year, Hannah Selleck rode the talented chestnut gelding Bird has shown in the Amateur Owner Jumpers to victory in the Talent Search.

“I try to set goals that are realistic. I go with my current situation and I know it is up to me to ride well,” explained Boris of his attitude toward his riding and all things in his life.

A poised, focused young man who belies his 15 years, Boris set his mind on riding consistently throughout the competition. “I like to learn and I knew I’d learn a lot doing the Talent Search, especially with Karen’s (Healey) coaching.” Little did he realize how far that attitude would take him.

Boris walked the majority of the courses by himself so he could focus on his plan and what he knew would work for himself and his horse. “I didn’t want to be influenced by everyone else and I didn’t want to walk things over and over.” said Boris, who made his plans, discussed them with Healey, and then carried them out.

Boris is heading east for the various, other national equitation championships with his Talent Search win, victory in the USEF Regional Zones 8, 9 and 10 Junior Hunter Seat Medal Finals (during the L.A. International Jumping Festival), and a second place is the previous week’s Maclay Regional Qualifier as serious confidence builders.

“I’d like to get a Junior Jumper and ride on the Zone 10 Young Rider team next year,” Boris said of his hopes to compete in the FEI North American Junior & Young Riders Championships.

As far as his long term goals, Boris said he keeps an open mind: “I’ll do whatever is right; I’d love to ride in the Grand Prix. Of course, the Olympics are a dream, but what rider doesn’t dream about the Olympics? George (Morris) asked me if I want to be a horseman and I told him I did,” Boris said.

Some would say Boris is well on his way–he has been riding since he was 5 years old, knows what his horses eat, reads about horsemanship and horse care, and pays attention to vet care. “I think it is up to a rider to become a horseman,” and his attitude could carry Boris far and to great success regardless of the pursuit.

For complete show results, visit: www.langershows.com/laec/index.php

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