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Stories of Summer

By Pam Maley / for the Horsetrader - August 4th, 2016 - Uncategorized

A Father-Daughter Bond
Petite and sweet-natured — and at the same time, powerful and competitive — Josephina Nor Lantzman is a truly elegant rider. Known as Phina, she has worked with a number of trainers, but she says that her father, Fabio Nor, is the best coach a daughter could have. Together, they seem to be able to bring out the potential greatness in a horse.

Fabio has a strong history in the racing industry, and it was at the racetrack that a very young Phina got her first ride — on an exercise pony, in the stall. She was two years old, and Fabio says that he knew then that she had a special gift with horses. When asked what is her favorite thing about them, she says, “Their smell, their eyes . . . everything about them. I just love them.”

While being with, and working alongside, a parent who is also a trainer might not work smoothly for everyone, Fabio says, “We work together seven days a week, and we honestly don’t have any challenges. It’s a great working relationship.” The best part of working together? They would both tell you that it’s every second they spend together. They truly share a love for the horses and the sport.

When Phina and her sister were born, Fabio registered them at the consulate in his native Brazil, giving them dual citizenship. Before turning professional, she trained in Europe with Brazilians Nelson and Rodrigo Pessoa, and while there, she made her Nations Cup debut with the Brazilian Equestrian Team. Now, as a professional, she continues to represent her father’s home country.

A Father’s Day To Remember
Father’s Day routinely falls during the Blenheim June Classic Series, like it did June 19 in the final day of Week II. For Phina and Fabio, there was even more reason to celebrate this year.

Phina entered the $30,000 June Classic II Grand Prix, presented by ACE Equestrian, hoping to echo her win in 2014, a win she declared was a gift to her father. Aboard her veteran partner Chello Z, whom she and her dad imported and trained together, she once again declared victory.

FEI Course Designer Mauricio Garcia of Puerto Rico had designed a tough track for the highlight class of 26 entries, and as predicted, rails fell for most of them. Third in the order of go, Phina and Chello were the second pair to put in a clean round. The class ended with four pairs in the jump-off, and it was exciting to the finish. Though all four had clear rounds, none could catch Phina’s time.

After the win, she said he played a huge role in her riding.
“We work together — he is my coach and my dad,” she says. “It brought tears to my eyes — this win was extra special.”

She and her father Fabio share a unique bond, and a lifetime of horse show memories, but the two Father’s Day wins are among Phina’s favorites.

A Test of Power and Skill
The Blenheim Equisports June Classic III added a new feature to its roster of unique and exciting events this summer. The $10,000 Six-Bar High-Jump Challenge, presented by Park Place Foundation, was enthusiastically received by spectators and competitors alike.

In a Six Bar, billed as a test of power and skill, six jumps of identical construction and type are placed in a line with a approximately 11m (36’), or two strides, between each element. The starting heights were: A: 1.15m, B and C: 1.20m, D and E: 1.30m, F: 1.35m. After the first round, all six fences increased in height. For the subsequent rounds, the first two verticals were removed, leaving four fences that continued to grow taller.

Teenagers Serenity and Summer Phillips, 16 and 17 respectively, have been on the show jumping scene for several years,and are currently working with Hillary Ridland of EquiSports International. At this time in June, Serenity was between horses, and Summer recovering from an injury, so Summer gave her sister the ride on her horse, Samson, a few weeks before the June Classic III commenced. It was a winning decision.

Just for Fun
After conferring with Hillary, Serenity decided to give this new class a try, just for fun. Relaxed, and with no expectations, Serenity and Samson joined a field of 10 to see if they could master the Six Bar Challenge. Holding its breath with each increase, the crowd watched as the final element rose to 1.80m (5’9”) after five rounds. (Just for reference, 1.8 meters translated into a horse’s height, would be nearly 18 hands – tall even for a horse!) And Serenity and Samson were the only pair to clear the final obstacle without a fault.

When Ridland walked out to take the presentation photo, she marveled at the sight of Serenity and Samson standing in front of the huge jump. “I went to meet her at the jump and we were thinking, ‘Wow!’ She was just as shocked as I was. Not that we didn’t think he could do it, but that we just did it for fun. No expectations. It was a blast!”

Clearly elated, Serenity was thrilled. “I didn’t expect to make it past the first round, and then I was excited when it went up to 1.45m in the second round. I exchanged a look with one of the other amateurs in the class that said, ‘What have we gotten ourselves into?!’ But Samson’s attitude was as casual in the last round as it was in the first. This definitely changes my perspective on the horse. He was sold to us as a 1.40m horse, but I now feel confident about his ability to jump the highs!”

Congratulations to the strong Samson and his pilot Serenity on a thrilling win. Will we see more of this pair in the future?

At Showpark this summer, 68 junior hunters took the stage in the U.S. Junior Hunter National Championship on July 25-26. Plenty of talented juniors were on display in this three-phase event, which consisted of an over fences classic hunter phase, an under saddle phase, and an over fences handy hunter phase.

But just as talented were the superstars who carried them to the championships. Two of them, Illusion and Vancouver, have a history of taking young equestrians to the top; and Social Hour by all appearances, is set to follow in their hoofprints.

Social Hour, Junior Hunter Finals Grand Champion
Social Hour, known around the barn as ‘Oscar,’ and East Coast import Giavanna Rinaldi claimed the the Grand Championship. Owned since November 2015 by Laura Strasburg, the 17-hand, 9-year -old Warmblood gelding is trained by John Bragg, who runs Bridgeport Farm out of San Juan Capistrano. Of the Junior Hunter National Championships, Bragg said, “Everything went beautifully these past two days. Social Hour and Giavanna rose to the occasion. It was exciting for us all, including Laura and Brooke (her daughter).”

“Social Hour performed his best both days, and in all the classes. He felt amazing and jumped incredible,” Rinaldi said. “I feel like we really shined in the first round. He jumped super; he’s such a smooth horse to ride and we really clicked this week. He’s the perfect hunter ride; he’s jumps beautifully, and is very careful. I’d like to thank Laura Strasburg for letting me ride him, and Bridgeport Farm as well.”

Illusion, Junior Hunter Finals Reserve Grand Champion
Reserve Grand Champion and veteran of many championships in his career, Illusion, a 17-year-old Hanoverian gelding, is trained by Liz Reilly of Makoto Farms. “He has been Reserve Grand National Champion four times,” exclaimed Reilly. “He won Grand Hunter Champion at Blenheim June Classic I out of the all the sections. He was Circuit Champion at Thermal. He was Grand Junior Hunter Champion and won all the trophies at Del Mar. He is currently standing reserve in the country in the younger juniors. The horse is magical and we are so blessed to have him.”

Illusion carried Olivia Esse, Samantha Sommers, and Destry Spielberg to numerous victories, and now Augusta Iwasaki, Liz’s daughter, joins that winning group. No doubt we will see more of that pair’s name in lights.

Vancouver, Hunterdon Cup Champion
Blenheim Equisports also hosted the inaugural Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic, West Coast, on July 25th at Showpark. This unique equitation class combines the precision of equitation with the handiness of hunters. The competition consists of three rounds over fences: the Hunter phase, the Handy round, and the Work-Off, in which up to ten of the highest scoring riders can return and switch mounts.

Vancouver, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding trained by Jim Hagman and the team at Elvenstar Farm, was piloted to the win by Kayla Lott. “Vancouver is the king of the barn and also one of the sweetest,” says Kayla. “Everyone knows him and he’s definitely a favorite. He, like any other horse, has his quirks at home and he keeps you on edge, but when he gets to a horse show, he knows. He remembers everything and does nothing but please.”

In 2012, when Vancouver was only seven years old, he took a victory gallop with Meg O’Mara in the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Finals. But then a near career-ending injury laid him up for 20 months. With unabashed praise for his student, Hagman remarked, “He came back to us as a bucking, spinning bronco! But with courage and quiet work, Kayla brought him back.” In 2014, in his first show post-injury, he took her to Reserve Champion in the CPHA Foundation 14-and-under Finals, and two weeks later to Champion in the PCHA Horsemanship Finals. And then, says Kayla, “Months later, he came out, once again, proving to us just how amazing he is in the West Coast Hunterdon Cup.”

These three recently crowned champions illustrate how truly talented our equine friends can be.

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