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Petals and Medals

CPHA Foundation Equitation Championships conclude after competitive week at Showpark

Special to the Horsetrader - September 1st, 2016 - Show & Event News

DEL MAR — The Showpark Summer Classic hosted the California Professional Horsemen’s Association (CPHA) Foundation Equitation Championship Finals Aug. 26-28. Divided into 22 & Over, 14 & Under and 21 & Under age divisions, after completing Round 1 on Friday, courses with work-offs built in as part of the Foundation format, the competition continued Sunday morning with Round 2 and further work-offs as needed. The honorable Scott Williamson and Mark Jungherr judged the hotly contested event. After two days of tests, three champions stood on the top of the awards podium: Tonya Johnson, Elli Yeager and Grady Lyman.

With tests built in to each of the CPHA Foundation courses, the rules read that after two rounds, the riders with the top four scores and those within three points of the leader, or those with scores of 80 or better, would all perform a final series of tests at the judges’ discretion.

Tests in Round 1 included a halt after fence 5b, cantering fence 6, trotting fence 9 plus some related distances and tight turn options. Drawing thirteenth in the order of go for day one, Tonya Johnson and her mount, Back In Business, scored an average of 87, which took over the lead and put Kathy Nolan’s score of 83 into the second spot. Neither of those scores were topped, with Jessica Smith, Laura Owens and Stephanie Goodson finishing third, fourth and fifth for the round with 81, 80.5 and 80, respectively.

First to go on Sunday morning, the 22 & Over section started off a busy final day. Built-in tests for Round 2 included a halt after fence 2, then picking up a counter-canter to fence 3 which was on a bend to the left. Once again, Johnson led the round with another score of 87 and had a commanding eight-point lead going into the work-off.

The top six riders, who each had a cumulative score of over 160, returned for the final tests. Nolan’s second round score reflected some inconsistencies in her ride; however, she returned sitting sixth of the top six called back. Finishing with the highest work-off score of all six riders, Nolan moved back into second place overall. Belle Calkin rode well on day two, moving from sixth to third in round two and with an 83 in the work-off, finished third overall.

Johnson had a rail at the first jump of the work-off, and although she was penalized slightly, her lead going in kept her on the top of the list, earning her the win by a narrow .375 margin.

From Northern California, Johnson trains with Hope Glynn, but came down south with Kelly Van Fleck to compete in these finals for the second time. Along with a championship ribbon and sash, a stall plaque, fresh flowers, a gift certificate and more, Johnson will also travel home with the Victor Hugo-Vidal Perpetual Trophy.

She rode MaryKate Moulton’s Back in Business, known as “Willis” at the barn. “He’s amazing, big-hearted and a blast to ride. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to show him this year.”

As a mental skills coach, she liked how the courses had a variety of challenges and required some thinking. Author of the book, Inside Your Ride, Johnson tries to put her own advice into practice when she performs.

She has ridden since she was a child and remains excited and passionate about the sport. “I always am grateful every time I enter the ring. I enjoy learning new things and keeping my mental game fresh. I’ve worked on that this year.”

Round 1 for the youngest division started Saturday afternoon with 49 entries. Though they each may be only fourteen or younger, many have solid show miles already. Their tests in Round 1 were to halt after fence 6, which was in the bending line with 7ab, then canter 7ab and trot fence 9.
The best eleven trips all scored 80.25 or above, with the top score of the class, 88, earned by Elli Yeager riding Alant. The ten scores below Yeager were quite close, only two points separating first through fourth: Sydnie Young with an 87, Brooke Morin with 86.5 and Alexis O’Leary with 86.
Going into Round 2 on Sunday, it was still any of the top eleven rider’s final to win.

The tests on the second day of the 14 & Under division included a counter-canter to fence 6 of a left-hand turn and a hand gallop to the final fence 11, a single oxer on the long side.

The star of Round 2 was Saturday’s 80.25 score, Kaitlyn Lovingfoss, who moved from eleventh place to first with a score of 87 and a cumulative score 167.3 going into the work-off. As the scores came in, other positions in the top four shifted, with both Julia Stone and Payton Potter moving up into the top four, both consistently earning scores in the 80s.

With a good but not great round, Yeager slipped into third. The judges once again brought back each rider that scored above 160, which for this division meant the top four.

Jumping back into the number one position, Yeager earned another 88 for the top score and the win by one point with a total of 170. Coming in a close second was Julia Stone, whose score of 86 in the work-off gave her an overall total of 169. After coming in fourth last year, Lovingfoss moved up to third this season. Potter finished fourth.

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