THERMAL — Three top-fives in the first four days.
Not a bad start to the 2016 show season for Susie Hutchison, the Temecula-based trainer who enjoyed strong performances in a pair of events during Week I of the HITS Desert Circuit.
Both amateur, open jumpers start year in high gear
THERMAL — A new year dawned at the HITS Desert Circuit, and both open and amateur jumpers looked sharp with the start of the big winter series.
The $15,000 UltrOZ™ Jumper class on Saturday and the $10,000 Junior/A-O Jumper Classic on Sunday at Desert Circuit I gave an indication of the intensity and competitiveness these riders have for their unfolding 2016 seasons.
In the $15,000 UltrOZ™ Jumper class, 19 entries navigated the 14-fence course by Olaf Petersen, Jr., and seven advanced to the shortened jump-off where Jill Prieto of Petaluma and Carlton Cafe, owned by Freestyling Farms, claimed the $4,500 prize in a fault-free 39.114 seconds. Susie Hutchison and SIG Firecracker, owned by SIG International, took second in 40.145 — her third top-three finish of the first week, after winning first- and second-place in the $5,000 Brook Ledge Open Welcome on Wednesday.
Californians bring home AHA titles from Tulsa
TULSA, Okla. — If there is a place that tests hopes and dreams, it’s the U.S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian National Championship Show. Competition is keen, and it can separate owners and riders from best-laid expectations. It also can confirm hunches, like those of several California exhibitors who returned home from the Oct. 23-31 event at the Tulsa Expo Square with National Championships.
One of them was Shannon Chudzicki, an amateur from Norco who earned her first U.S. National title in a performance class, riding her Arsenal BV to the Purebred Hunter Pleasure AOTR Maturity Championship.
“It was a very exciting moment,” said Chudzicki, who has the 4-year-old gelding in training with Cynthia Burkman. “He’s turned out to be an amazing horse — he’s progressed a lot because of all the training that’s gone into him.”
TULSA, Okla. — Not all of the Arabian Horse Association’s top honors in Tulsa came with red roses.
After dust had settled from the 2015 U.S. Nationals a few weeks earlier, the AHA honored winners of its annual Club Excellence Award program on Nov. 21 during the President’s Banquet at the AHA Convention. Although the limelight may have been dimmer than the lights of the big show, the underlying importance wasn’t, as the nation’s most active local associations received praise for their innovations and energy in building momentum for the venerable breed.
That’s what dressage enthusiasts call the Spooktacular Halloween Dressage Show, which came to the Del Mar Horsepark Oct. 31-Nov. 1. Show founder Lisa Blaufess began the event in 2013, looking to start a competitive, triple-rated Dressage show that focused on tons of fun and also gave back to a breast cancer non-profit to help make a difference in women’s’ lives.
CRHA Challenge and NRHA Affiliate championships draw 300-plus horses
BURBANK — And when it reins, man it pours.
Six Days, 86 classes, fantastic prizes, high-stepping parties, costumes, contests and family fun — there was something for everyone at the 22nd Annual Challenge Horse Show presented by the California Reining Horse Association Oct. 19-25 at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
Home to the Southwest Regional National Reining Horse Association Affiliate Finals, the Challenge Show also hosted futurities, derbies, a ” No Wimpy Cowboys” NRHA Non Pro Maturity, the CRHA Reiner of the Year Finals, the Gatolotto Memorial, USA Junior and Young Rider qualifiers, plus a full slate of rookie, green-as-grass and youth classes. The event drew top reiners from California, Arizona and the Southwest, some traveling from as far Illinois and Montana. The Challenge offered a sweep of fantastic prizes including seven trophy saddles, a horse trailer sponsored by All American Trailers, silver buckles to winners and reserve, and a myriad of Bronze Trophies including the John Varble and Top Dun memorial Award, the Rebecca Goss Boo-Yaah, Kaweah Nic and Topsail Cody Memorials. With the level of competition high, and the stakes huge, more than 300 horses competed for payouts of over $90.000.
Temecula's Smith wins CCI1* and 2*; red-hot Dutton, 'Fugitive' take 3*
TEMECULA — Phillip Dutton has been in this position many times—last to go with not a rail in hand. He’d already jumped a clear round on the young Mr. Candyman, who could then finish no lower than fourth in the headline CCI3* division, at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event on Oct. 28-Nov. 1.
After an unanticipated clattering through a warm-up fence, Dutton, of Pennsylvania, set his trademark Secret Service expression and galloped overnight leader Fernhill Fugitive into the arena and around Marc Donovan’s 560-meter track. The 15-obstacle course had just seen Lauren Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.) and Meadowbrook’s Scarlett take an unlucky rail at the wine bottle vertical before the last triple combination, dropping them one place to third (49.8).
As Fernhill Fugitive cleared the final oxer of the triple combination to finish with 43.4 penalties, the spectators lining the arena erupted in cheers and were treated to a rare display of Dutton emotion as he cracked a huge grin, enthusiastically patted “Jack,” and high-fived with head groom Emma Ford. Afterward, he summed up his thoughts about his Pan Am Games gold-medal partner, who had top-10 finishes at Rolex Kentucky and the Pan Am Games this year. “I couldn’t be any more proud of the horse—he’s just had a great year. Every year he just seems to get better and better. I am so excited for him and for [owners] Annie Jones and Tom Tierney, who have been very patient with him.” He continued, “He’s been a great horse, it’s been an incredible year for him. I wasn’t that confident going in because I don’t usually get too many clear rounds with him, but he did enough today. I’m really proud of him.”
USEF gives Tamra Smith’s super-season another boost, names SoCal eventer to High Performance Training List
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Temecula-based eventer Tamra Smith, who just won a pair of titles at the Galway Downs International (related story, page 32), was named last week by the U.S. Equestrian Federation to its High Performance Winter/Spring Training List for 2016. She will train as a member of the World Class list with U.S. Eventing Team Coach David O’Connor.
The appointment caps a stellar year and remarkable month, during which Smith turned heads nationally with a win at the Fair Hill International CCI3* in Maryland, where she had led start-to-finish on Mai Baum Oct. 15-18. At Galway, she won both the CCI2* and CCI1* events, on Chatwin and Fleeceworks Royal, respectively.
“This year has just been an amazing journey for me, and I want to thank all of the owners of the remarkable horses I have been so blessed to ride,” Smith said after the Galway Downs International.
SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — With 39 entries and 11 clean, the final qualifier of the Markel Insurance 1.40m Grand Prix Series kept everyone on the edge of their seats and saddles, as top contenders raced to be the fastest, and, of course, clean. Four riders each had two horses in the jump-off, Brazilian Eduardo Menezes, Australian Lane Clarke, Brazilian Josephina Nor Lantzman and Enrique Gonzalez of Mexico, followed by last week’s winner, American Susan Hutchison aboard Ziedento.
With several speed demons aiming for the top prize, it was Clarke piloting MH Wardance, owned by MH Warbucks, who took the quickest route without a fault. Demonstrating true warrior mentality, “Brave,” as Clarke calls the horse, performed this feat even after pulling a shoe partway through the jump-off round.
Clarke was fully aware that the competition was going to put the pressure on.
“I knew it was going to be really fast from the beginning,” he said. “Eduardo on Carushka was extremely fast, my mare Semira is extremely fast, so I knew I was going to have to go really fast on Brave. I really wanted to win the last Grand Prix [of the season], it’s home and I love it here.”
Davis wins Open Futurity, also gets the Reymanator NSHA's first 'Triple Crown'
PASO ROBLES — Entries, purses and prizes all increased at this year’s National Stock Horse Association Futurity, and one rider in particular seemed to be in a zone. The Zane Zone.
Idaho-based Zane Davis, who had his breakthrough year in 2009 when he won the NSHA Futurity Open on Reymanator (Dual Rey x Savannah Hickory), did it again this year aboard Michelle Cannon’s Shiney Outlaw (Shiners Nickle x Mereyda), topping a long list of quality 3-year-olds to earn $15,900.
Davis also brought west Reymanator, who thrilled the Paso Robles Events Center crowd in winning the 2015 World’s Richest Stock Horse competition, sponsored by Hearst Ranch Winery, to become the first NSHA Triple Crown Champion — winner of its Futurity, Derby and World’s Richest events.