Burbank, CA. On October 16-19, Gold Coast 7 finished off the 2008 season with a bang. In addition to sponsor Markel Insurance Corporation awarding the series’ championships, the show hosted the CPHA Children’s & Adult Regional Finals and CPHA Regional Horsemanship Finals.
After the first two rounds, Malina Munshi was in first place going into the Children’s & Adult Finals work off. Despite "nerves running through me," she maintained her lead. Munshi was concerned about the approach to the last jump. "That was a difficult track off the rail to the jump," she said. "The track was offset." She and Lucky Barney, a Holsteiner gelding, negotiated the track perfectly to capture the championship ribbon.
She has had Barney for two years, since he was five, and before she bought him he had never jumped. Working with the trainers at Elvenstar, she has brought him along gradually. "His name fits his personality," she said. "Barney has the funniest personality. It’s the best thing about him. He’s a fun horse to be around and forgiving. He’s my best friend." Munshi used be a soccer player but switched to riding. "Riding takes a lot of self determination," she said. "I can show my athleticism and my ability to be focused and determined."
Despite her win, Munshi thought that Anne Marie Mueller, the reserve champion, had a better work off. "Hers was smoother," she said. However, the judges rewarded Munshi for her consistent riding over two rounds and work-off. Amateur rider, Mueller rode Lexington (owned by Jessica Singer), a horse she never rode before. "My trainer (Kim Tasker) found me the ride," she said. "The horse I normally ride was just recovering from a splint. They said ‘just try it.’ We really clicked, and he’s a lot of fun to ride. I didn’t think I was going to be able to ride in the medal finals and then we ended up getting reserve riding a horse I didn’t know."
After the first round, Muellner was in seventh. Of her first round she said, "I was really nervous, but then I decided to lighten up and enjoy myself. I got a lot of nerves out of the way before I went into the work off. He did a beautiful halt and cantered straight to the skinny. The kids are so good. It’s hard being an amateur against all the young and strong kids." She finished fourth in the second round, and then a strong work-off gave her the reserve championship.
Muellner’s Trakehner/Thoroughbred cross, Amuse Me won the Pre-Green Hunter championship with Patrick Spanton in the irons, and then Mueller rode to reserve champion in the "B" Adult Amateur Hunter division. "He’s still a little green," she said. "He’s a beautiful mover and willing. He’s really light and easy to ride. He’s a good match personality wise. He jumps beautifully; you just have to stay out of his way. With Patrick riding him, it’s a beautiful picture."
Erica Borchetta (trainer Carolyn Culligan) won the CPHA Horsemanship Class riding McGregor, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood she has had for almost two years. Eighth after the first round, she worked her way up to third by the work off. Although the CPHA Horsemanship Medal is designed for beginning level riders, they are rigorously tested at the finals, and especially in the work-off. "We came out of the line, jumped the first fence the opposite way, did a hand gallop, and turned right to a hand gallop," explained Borchetta of the test. Despite the difficulty of the test, Borchetta stated matter of factly, "I was quite prepared for all of that. There was a spot in each round that I would like to go back and do again but not in the work off!" There is no doubt she has her eye on more difficult classes and will undoubtedly be prepared for whatever is asked of her.
Borchetta looked a long time for the right horse. Finally, after looking all over California for a horse she found McGregor at Thermal. "As soon as he trotted out, we knew he was the right guy," she said. "I’m an adult. As a child I rode Western. Four years ago I decided to fulfill a life-long dream to ride hunters. It was important to find the right horse. I needed a combination of a good jumper with a solid, safe brain who would take care of me, but as I continue to grow would keep up with me."
She started riding Western when she was three. As an adult, establishing herself as a composer took all of her time. Borchetta has her eye on the three foot medals and the hunters. "I find riding personally challenging and rewarding. It is rewarding to be able to forge a relationship with a terrific horse and work together. This is the second year I’ve done the C.P.H.A Horsemanship Final. The show is so well run, and they show posts our go times online the night before."
Heidi Kane’s Uluru was another double champion. He took home the tri-color in the Modified Working Hunter division with Patrick Spanton and in Adult Amateur Hunters 36 and Older with Kane. She bought the eight-year-old Westphalian in September from Gretchen Bishop.
Like Borchetta Kane grew up riding Western, but always wanted to ride English. "We moved to a rural neighborhood," she said. "There was a barn two doors down. All I needed was that opportunity and I had to do it. I love the thrill of jumping." This was their third show and they finally identified the right show bit. "At home I just ride him in a little rubber bit," she said. "At the show, I needed something more and he went better this time."
Another pair of tri-colors went home with Laurel Hicks. Hicks guided Sunday Best to the Pony Hunter championship. "Ivy is the best pony," said Hicks, who rides as twelve. "I’ve had her ever since I was eight. Mom wants her to retire with us and become a lawn ornament. She did three foot with her old owner and dropped back to cross rails for me. We’ve gone from cross rails to large pony hunters."
As Hicks is outgrowing the pony, she’s taken over the ride on her mom, Georgette’s horse Tall, Dark and Handsome ("Zephyr"). She and Zephyr won the Children’s Hunters 13 and under championship. "Laurel is transitioning to the horse and her mom is riding the pony at home," said trainer Alanna Bloomberg. "Laurel didn’t have as much trouble going back and forth from the pony to the horse as we thought she would. Sometimes when she rides the horse with his big floaty step she has trouble when she goes back to the pony." Hicks did find it difficult at first. "It was really hard in the beginning," she said. "The pony is so compact and moving to a big horse was hard. Zephyr is a really, really good horse. He’s well put together with a really big stride. They are very different to ride. Ivy is compact and needs less leg, and Zephyr needs more leg and a looser rein."
Allie Stone’s Biscotti was the Small Pony Hunter champion. Since Stone was unable to show, trainer Erika Henaghan put Tara Spencer in the saddle. "Tara is a professional pony jockey," Henaghan said. "She’d never ridden him before. She just climbed on him and won." Biscotti is the perfect schoolmaster. "He knows his job really well," she said. "Allie is learning to count strides and to sit straight. He’s a good pony and good teacher. He has a really great jump and a great brain."
Gold Coast 7 also hosted two of the phases of the LAHJA Horsemastership Scholarship competition. Throughout Saturday junior riders took the hands-on stable management test. Judges Charlotte Skinner, Shelley Postel, Susan Krieg, Sandrine Seifert, and Marnye Langer evaluated the junior participants on their skills and knowledge working around a horse. They had to groom, bridle, and bandage a horse, all the while explaining what they were doing and why. They also identified different types of feed and various bits. The 24 participants also took a written test that tested their knowledge of different areas of horsemanship.
For the third phase, contestants will submit a DVD of themselves riding during the 2008 show season. At the annual LAHJA awards banquet in December, the overall winners will be announced, and the top three will earn college scholarships totaling $5,000. Last year’s winner, Ali Ohringer won a $2,500 scholarship and returned again this year. "It is hard, but fun," said Ohringer. "I will be really excited if I finish in the top three again this year." There are also perpetual trophies for the high scoring competitor in each of the three phases, and a trophy for the highest scoring 11 and under rider. "We want to encourage the younger kids to participate in the program," explained LAHJA President Marnye Langer. "Many of us on the board are committed to encouraging our junior members to learn about horses and riding beyond the show ring." Trainer Sandrine Seifert held two seminars during the summer to help prepare the kids. "This is such a great program, and I really wanted to support it," said Seifert.
For more information on LAHJA and the Horsemastership program, visit: http://www.lahja.org
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/golf-coast-series-10-08.html">Gold Coast 7 Concludes Series</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com