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Elvenstar Riding Academy Starts 2007 With Top Performances

Burbank, California. Jim Hagman built Elvenstar from a small, family venture into a major hunter/jumper training barn and program in the Los Angeles area. He takes pride in the fact that many of the champions riding under his barn’s colors began riding in the Elvenstar Riding Academy. Samantha Sommers is yet another example of Elvenstar’s methods. She took her first riding lessons as a six year old and steadily progressed through the Elvenstar ranks.

Samantha may be one of Elvenstar’s youngest students, but the ten year old and her six year old large pony, Del Ray, dominated the pony ring at this year’s HITS Desert Circuit at Thermal, California. With championships in the Green Pony Hunters five out of the six weeks, Samantha proudly accepted the Circuit Championship presented in the Grand Prix ring.

Proving that she is also adept in the equitation ring, Samantha earned the 11 & Under Equitation Circuit Championship aboard her Ludovico. With her large pony, Andaba, Samantha was reserve champion in Week III. Last year she gained valuable experience attending the fall indoor shows with her veteran pony Wild Blue, and despite her inexperience Samantha earned prizes in the Medium Pony Hunters among the country’s best. Now, her younger sister, Ashley, will start riding and Wild Blue will also show her the way.

“Samantha is a teacher’s dream,” said Jim Hagman. “She loves horses and everything about them. She is the best sport you can have, and she is a delight as are her parents.” Jim spotted Del Ray on a trip to Wellington (FL) earlier this year. Although he didn’t really want to pair a young rider up with a young pony, Jim knew a winner when he saw one. “We happened on him as the sun was setting. He trotted in the ring and jumped the first jump in the Green Pony class and he took my breath away.” Samantha’s performances during the HITS Desert Circuit only confirmed what Jim already knew.

Another Elvenstar student, Demi Steigler, is emerging as one of the top fourteen and under riders, and her pairing with the veteran equitation horse, Amadeus, poises her to be a serious contender. At the 5th week of the HITS Desert Circuit, Demi outrode 59 other riders to win the Marshall & Sterling Children’s Equitation. She also finished third in a very large CPHA Foundation Equitation Class. Demi rides at Elvenstar’s satellite location at the Orange County Fairgrounds and meets up with Jim at the shows.

The mother and daughter team of Gail Horrigan and Elsa Horrigan earned their share of awards in the amateur equitation and hunter sections during the HITS Desert Circuit. New horses are the theme for Elsa, who rides in the 18-35 amateur age group. Elsa showed primarily in the 3'3" hunter sections to get used to her new mounts, but her strong performances meant that she will quickly be jumping in the 3'6" Amateur Owner classes. Salvador is a 17.0 hand six year old, and Crimson Z is a stallion the Horrigan’s imported from Argentina. “He is so quiet,” said Elsa’s mother, Gail, “that you would not know he is a stallion.” Jim and his partner, Dan Silverstone, travel to Argentina several times a year where they have established valuable contacts and continue to find quality horses.

Jim develops junior and amateur riders at all levels. They gain valuable show ring experience at small, one day, non-USEF shows, and then transition to a highly competitive “B” circuit. By the time Elvenstar riders hit the “A” circuit, they are well prepared for the challenges of horse shows and they know what to expect. The ribbons on the tack room are the proof.


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