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Hunter/jumper riders find success at NorCal Medal Finals

Special to the Horsetrader - November 19th, 2009 - Show & Event News

SACRAMENTO — A mainstay of the Northern California hunter/jumper circuit for junior/amateur riders, the NorCal Medal Finals Horse Show held Oct. 7-11 found a new venue for 2009. Show Manager Adrian Ward moved his shows, including the NorCal Medal Finals, to trainer Rudy Leone’s Leone Equestrians Center in Sacramento. The spotlight of the show was on the four NorCal Medal Finals competitions of the NorCal Hunter Jumper Association.

Beverly Jovais’s student Grace McLaughlin took the NorCal 3’ Equitation Medal, winning both rounds with scores of 86 and 87. “Grace and her horse Santo were amazing from start to finish,” Jovais said. “I was very proud of Grace’s performance and her ability to perform under pressure. Thank you to the whole Chestnut Hill Team for all their hard work at the NorCal Finals Show.”

Jovais’ riders have enjoyed great success this year during the fall medal finals season, including top finishes in the CPHA Junior, PCHA Horsemanship, the CPHA Regionals, and the Woodside equitation championships.

In the NorCal Pony Medal Final, Valerie Van Der Linden came from behind after the first round to win the second round. A strong work off ride ensured the victory for the young rider aboard her pony, Count the Stars.

The NorCal Junior Medal Final was competitive and Mackenzie Drazan (Jenny Davis, trainer) came ready to win. After winning the Woodside Junior Equitation Championship two weeks earlier, Drazan proved she was a strong competitor. After the first round she was in second, and then she moved up to first in the second round. Not only did she win the prestigious Final, but she also won the PCHA Horsemanship Medal 14 & Under, Equitation Over Fences 13 & Under Championship, and the Equitation Flat for Riders 12 to 13.

Drazan’s sister Shelby also had a very successful show, winning the NorCal Pony Medal, Childs Pony Hunters Under Saddle and Children’s Pony Hunters, as well as first and second in the $1000 Pony Hunter Classic and $50 Medium Pony Hunters Under Saddle.

Jan Humphrey led the victory gallop in the NorCal Senior Final (Rudy Leone, trainer) aboard her sister Jill’s horse. Adrienne Dixon (Buddy and Vanessa Brown, trainers) did double duty at the show in both the equitation and the jumpers. She finished sixth in the NorCal Senior Final only a few weeks after her stellar victory in the Foxfield Finals. Blue was her color of choice in the jumper ring. Dixon and PomPom were champions in the Junior/Amateur Owner Jumpers and won the Junior/Amateur Owner Classic.

This past summer Dixon was part of the silver medal Zone 10 NAJYR team. Of her student’s success Brown said, “She hasn’t had much chance to ride her jumpers recently due to the difficulty of balancing school and riding in various equitation finals so her consistency in the jumper ring this week was particularly nice to see.”

Brown had several other students in the various NorCal Finals, including 14-year-old Ali Cornish, who finished fourth aboard Van Gogh, who is a 17.1-hand, 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood she has been riding for two years. “She is one of the most talented young riders we have ever worked with,” Brown said. “Her mother, Tina, has put an exemplary foundation on her. Ali is not only blessed with incredible feel, but shows a work ethic rare for her age. She takes care of her own horse and does all the work on and off of him herself.”

Cornish said she really enjoyed the NorCal Medal Finals. “I loved the courses and how they were really challenging, yet set with many options. My trainer, Vanessa, and I decided to go with the bolder and positive ride, since my horse has a giant stride it worked out well,” Cornish said. “Everything on course connected together, so our thought for the show was that it was very important that no matter what happened, I kept riding the horse underneath me and the course ahead of me. With that in mind the courses were really fun, and the show turned out great. I couldn’t be happier with my horse or ride.”

In addition to the medal finals, the show featured a full complement of classes, sections, and divisions, with numerous championships awarded throughout the week. Nicole Bloom’s Round Meadow Farm brought 11 horses to the show. One of them was Jessica Tali and her horse Gameboy, who were champions in both the Modified Junior Amateur Hunters and Junior Hunters, and third in the Junior/Amateur Owner Hunter Classic.

Tali, 14, said of the show: “I thought it was a great experience and very enjoyable. I always look forward to going to NorCal because it’s such a great show. It is a good learning experience when you get to watch some of the great riders compete in the big classes. I especially enjoy the fun events they have at night such as the barbeque, where you get the chance to socialize and meet other riders and trainers. I always enjoy the NorCal horseshow and can’t wait for it to come again next year.”

This was her first outing in the Junior Hunter ring for Tali. “So, we were elated with her results; she is a hard working student and has ridden with me for nine years,” Bloom said. “She was the winner of the NorCal Pony Medal Finals in 2005 and was second in the NorCal Three foot Finals in 2008. Jessica hopes to be a professional when she is older and has her eye on the Grand Prix ring, but for now is hoping to continue her winning streak in the hunter rings.”

In keeping with her goal to be a professional, Tali just completed the West Coast regional of the USHJA EAP Level 2 Clinic with Bernie Traurig.

Bloom also coached two riders to Top 10 finishes in the NorCal Senior Final. Laura Hansen and Catherine Harvey placed fifth and seventh respectively.

Kelly Van Vleck, who is based nearby took many horses and students to the show as well. She too had riders in the NorCal Junior Final. Michelle Catchot of Rancho Murieta rode her horse Terranova to sixth place overall and Morgan Finegan of Sacramento and her horse Mossimo were ninth place overall.

“This is Michelle’s first year jumping 3’6″ and Morgan has only owned her horse for about four months,” said Van Vleck of her students’ strong showing.

Catchot said she found the Tanya Johnson clinic which Kelly Van Vleck recently set up for her riders was extremely helpful. “Before I entered the ring, I took deep breaths, let everything go and once I entered the ring I just rode,” Catchot said.

Kendall Skreden and her horse Esperanto won several Junior Jumper classes. “They’re gearing up to try for the 2010 Young Riders Championships next year,” Van Vleck said. Katie Harris and her horse Urvine were also successful in the 1.20 and 1.30 jumpers. “Urvine is a relatively new purchase for Katie,” explained Van Vleck. “He is a fabulous young horse that did not learn to jump until a little over a year ago, and he is a total natural with the best attitude I have ever had in a horse.”

Jayme Omand and her horse Apollo did their second show at 3′ and were second the NorCal 3′ Medal in their first try at that level. “Jayme is preparing to go to the Onondarka Medal Final,” Van Vleck said. The Onondarka Final, hosted at the Los Angeles National is the pinnacle of a 12-and-under rider’s equitation goals. Jayme’s mother, Diane, was a very successful Amateur Owner rider and she enjoys watching her daughter grow and develop in the sport she loves so much.

Course Designers Peter Grant and Peter Holmes were a hit with many of the competitors and trainers. “The courses in all the rings were fantastic!” Vanessa Brown said. “The Grand Prix ring was absolutely beautiful every day. Rudy has a spectacular array of fences and Peter Holmes used the materials in extremely creative ways.”

Van Vleck agreed. “The courses at the show were fabulous in all four rings, a welcome change from many recent shows that I have attended. The NorCal Finals were technical and challenging without being too difficult. The main jumper ring had difficult, but rideable courses over beautiful jumps. I truly felt the week was great preparation for the big Southern California venues like the Oaks and Showpark. We used to go south and be overwhelmed with how much larger and more technical everything seemed to be but with the quality of this show we should go south far better prepared.”

For the equitation ring, Jovais was equally complimentary. “The courses were flowing, combining lines, single jumps and bending lines where riders could show off their skills,” Jovais said. “The work-off included a trot fence, a hand gallop and a jump near the in-gate that all tested the riders’ abilities to lengthen and shorten their horses’ strides.”

This was the first year that the NorCal Medal Finals took place at Leone Equestrians, and the rave reviews are pouring in. “The venue was beautiful,” said Brown. “There was obvious attention to detail evident from the meticulous care of the footing and arenas to the cleanliness of the restrooms. Fresh sod and other aesthetic improvements were abundant and really dressed the place up” Together Adrian Ward and Rudy Leone have invested into upgrades for the venue. “I think it would be safe to say that Rudy and I have put about $400,000 into the facility to make it one of the best places to show,” said Ward. Trainers and riders agreed that this year’s NorCal Medal Finals Horse Shows was one of the best in its more than thirty year history.

Trainers seemed to agree with Ward’s decision. Nicole Bloom summed it up, “The NorCal Committee continues to strive to put on one of the best horse shows in Northern California, and this year was one of our best. The new facility, combined with a great management team and excellent hospitality really make it shine.”

Trainer Vanessa Brown appreciated the great prizes and incentives. “I love that champions all received neck sashes this year, and trainers’ gifts included 8×10 photos from show photographer Jim Naismith.”

For complete show results, visit the Web site: www.norcalhunterjumpers.com/ncmedals.html

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