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Courtney Harrell on top of LAHJA Horsemanship Final

Special to the Horsetrader - September 20th, 2012 - Show & Event News

Flying Horse photo

Courtney Harrell and “JT” capture the LAHJA Horsemanship Final at the Gold Coast 6 show held Aug. 30-Sept. 2 at the LAEC.

BURBANK — Junior riders generally rule the day in the Los Angeles Hunter Jumper Association Horsemanship Final, but amateur riders Courtney Harrell and Mary Cimolino showed that they had what it took to prevail over the younger set.

The competition, held Aug. 20-Sept. 2 at the Gold Coast 6 show at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, came down to a second-day duel between the pair, and Harrell, who trains under Sheri Moser, finished on top with Anything Goes.

“I was a little nervous going into the second day so I was more conservative,” said Harrell, whose second-round score of 72.25 earned her an overall average of 76.75 — good enough to secure a berth in a four-entry work-off with Cimolino, trained by Victoria LaCagnina, Claire Fialcowitz, trained by Stacie Ryan, and Mikey Rosberg, trained by Nancy Turrill.

The work-off included counter-cantering a jump, a trot jump, and a combination. The five-jump course allowed riders to choose between several different tracks.

“I was called back third, so my plan was to just go for it,” Harrell said. “I had nothing to lose, so I wanted to make smart, bold choices since the test gave us options on some of the approaches.”

Her cool execution paid off and moved her from third to the championship.

“When I found out I won, I couldn’t believe it,” she added. “I wouldn’t leave the line-up until they actually called my number.”

Cimolino also brought her A-game to the work-off, taking a longer and smoother approach to the trot jump, to finish in second. Using more direct approaches, Rosberg settled in third place, Fialcowitz in fourth.

Harrell has had Anything Goes, nicknamed “JT,” for more than a year now.

“He has been the perfect horse to get me back into riding and showing,” she said. “When my trainer called and said she found the perfect horse for me and told me his name – JT — I knew it was a sign. I’m a proud aunt to two adorable nephews named Jonathan and JT!”

When the dust had settled from the Horsemanship finals, the LAHJA Rosewood Medal Finalists had their chance ride in the Equidome and claim a championship. Kayla Lott, 13, who trains with Elvenstar Farms, was ready to win, as she put in a gorgeous first round to get an 84.5 average score. She won the round with McKenna Skelton, trained by Mike Edrick, in second, and two more Elvenstar Farms-trained riders, Sydney Hutchins and Kira Zelman, in third and fourth, respectively.

“I felt great after my first round because I got an 88 from the second judge, which is the highest score I’ve ever gotten,” said Lott.

In round two Sunday morning, Lott again impressed the judges and received an 82 average, putting her on top of the work-off with Skelton and Hutchins.

“Going into the work-off, my plan was to just try my best and if there were any inside turns, I would take them if I could do it smoothly,” said Lott. “I just wanted to be as smooth as possible, even if I took all of the outside tracks.”

The work off required a counter-cantered fence and a halt, followed by a half-turn on the haunches after the last jump.

“I couldn’t believe that I won,” said Lott, who was followed by reserve champion Skelton, then Zelman and Hutchins. “I really thought that McKenna Skelton was going to win because her work off was really good. I couldn’t have been more proud of my horse, Nick Nack.” Lott has been riding Nick since March and adores him.

“He is very chill about everything,” said the freshman at Adolpho Camarillo High School. “He might look at a jump, but he will still jump it.”

She plans to continue showing in the 3’3″ medals and wants to excel in the Onondarka this year since it is her last year to compete in it.

“My plans for the rest of the show season are to do my best at the finals, and do better than third in the Onondarka because I was third last year and it is my last year to show in it.”

Elsewhere in the equitation ring, Katie Browne, trained by Rebecca Bruce, competed in her first Rosewood medal class and won. Shannon Davidson was champion in the 36 and Over Equitation, winning every class in her section, plus the WCE Junior-Amateur Medal class.

In the younger age ranks, Clara Plestis, trained by Everwood Stables, won the 15-17 equitation.

The Gold Coast Series continues with Gold Coast 7 on Oct. 18- 21), featuring the CPHA Child/Adult and Horsemanship final as well as the Horsemastership Program hands-on and written phases. On Sept. 19-23, the L.A. Equestrian Center will host the L.A. International Jumping Festival, featuring the $50,000 LA International Grand Prix and the $4,500 L.A. International USHJA National Hunter Derby.

The Northern California series will conclude with Nor-Cal Medal Finals Oct 10-14 at Leone Equestrians in Sacramento, and the Verdugo Hills League Preview on Oct 26-27 will wrap up the 2012 show series at Hansen Dam.

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