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Trainers near ‘aloha’ as LEG season ends

From the Newstrader - November 18th, 2010 - General News, Show & Event News

BURBANK– While the temperatures in Colorado and California are dropping, five trainers will have the opportunity to warm up on the beaches of Maui, courtesy of Langer Equestrian Group’s Maui Trainer Incentive awards. Maui trips are awarded to the professionals whose students earn the most points at the Woodside, Colorado, Verdugo Hills and Woodside Dressage series, as well as a fifth prize for the professional member of the winning team in the Memorial Day Equitation Challenge.

Larry Langer started the Trainer Incentive to reward professionals for the hard work they put into the sport. Most trainers rarely get the chance to take a vacation, and when they do they are rarely extravagant.

“For years, as a horse owner and trainer, every once in a while someone would offer a great prize like a trip to Hawaii,” he said. “However, it would always be a one-time offering. I wanted to offer something special and keep it going every year. We get so many positive comments, and not just from the winners. Each year the results show a hotly contested competition, and those who don’t quite make it are motivated to keep trying harder.”

Tasha Visokay was the first winner of the year when she won the Memorial Day Classic Equitation Challenge during the Memorial Day Classic at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center (May 27-31).

“I cannot wait to go to Hawaii,” she said. “I’m taking my boyfriend, and we’ve never gone away together.”

Gina Duran took command of the competition early in the season at the Woodside Dressage shows, managed by Cornerstone. She kept her lead and was officially named the winner at the conclusion of Woodside Autumn Dressage (Sep. 17-19). Since the award offers great flexibility, Gina is giving her trip to a friend.

“I was really happy to win,” she said. “The whole idea is way cool. It’s nice to have the trainers acknowledged for supporting the show, and my clients wanted to support the program in appreciation.”

The competition to win the Maui trips at the other venues went down to the wire, and the winners weren’t decided until the last show of the season. In Colorado, Randy Henry had been leading the pack for most of the shows, but Michael Dennehy’s students came through and took advantage of the double points offered at the High Prairie Fall Classic (Sept. 16-19) to help him pass her by just six points.

This is Michael’s second time winning the trip, although he was not able to go the last time he won — in fact, he and his wife have not been on vacation in two years. He is definitely going this year, and he will be taking his wife and their new baby just born in August.
“It’s a great program and a great prize,” Michael said. “I’m very grateful to LEG for starting this. The trainers work really hard and are often overlooked, so it’s nice to get something back. It’s really fabulous.”

The race was just as hot at Hansen Dam, where Dierdra Davis was at the top of the leader board for most of the season. However, Kim Tasker overtook her at the very last show, the Verdugo Hills League Preview (Oct. 29-30). When all the points were tabulated, Kim ended the season with 160 points to Dierdra’s 152.

“I was excited to hear I won the Maui trip,” Kim said. “I really did not think about winning it — I just really like to show at Hansen Dam. It is really nice for trainers. I work hard to get students to win year-end prizes, and it is special to have a chance for them to win something for us trainers.”

In Woodside, the contest was a neck-and-neck race between Beverly Jovais and Buddy and Vanessa Brown until the very last show, yet Laura Gerst surprised everyone with a come from behind Zenyatta-like run and pulled off a surprise first-place finish. With the Woodside Fall Finale (Sept. 30-Oct. 3) offering double points, Laura’s students earned a stunning 226 points at that show alone.

“I was so excited!” Laura said of her surprise win. “I hadn’t even looked at the points, but it means a lot to me to have won this, and it means a lot that the show management rewards us professionals. It makes me want to support the shows even more. These are good shows, and I usually bring 15-20 people.”

With the competition concluded, the winners are looking forward to a week’s stay at the beautiful Marriott Ocean Club on Maui in December.

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