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LAHJA Horsemanship & Rosewood Medal Finals

Theo Boris and Rachel Sears Take Top Honors

Burbank, California. Gold Coast 6 was home to two medal finals: the 2008 LAHJA Rosewood Medal Finals (sponsored by DaMoor's Feed & Tack) and the 2008 LAHJA Horsemanship Medal Finals. While the counter canter proved to be the downfall of the majority of competitors in both finals, the eventual champions showed why they led the victory gallops.

After Theo Boris on Du Calme won the first round of the Rosewood Finals, the other 25 contestants were never able to catch him. Five riders returned for the work-off, which started with a counter canter with turn to a vertical. It was here the problems began for some of the competitors. Riders had the choice to make a wide, sweeping turn or a tight inside turn. “The first two people had trouble with the counter canter,” explained Boris who astutely observed the errors of the other riders. “They wanted to make a tight turn inside the fence and I went around.” Next was a roll back to another vertical. This was followed by a trot fence, an oxer, and a hand gallop to an oxer. “He was a little lazy at the trot jump so we were long to an oxer,” said Boris. “We hand-galloped to the final fence, and I trusted my horse. We halted adjacent to the announcer’s stand and walked back to the line.”

The hand-gallop to the final oxer brought an enthusiastic response from the crowd. “Nobody else really hand galloped over the last oxer,” said Boris’ trainer, Laura Van Meter. “Theo just hand galloped over the oxer out of the turn. As soon as he landed everyone was clapping and whistling. Du Calme was a little anxious, and rushed the trot fence, but Theo kept his calm and made up for it with his hand gallop.”

Although Boris kept his calm in the work-off, he was worried before rounds one and two. “The first round was good; I won, “he said. “I was scared I was going to mess up the second round but I won that also.” Van Meter didn’t feel Boris needed to school before the work-off. “When he went in, I said ‘Don’t change anything; stay focused.’ He got an 86 and 85.”

Boris started riding Western when he was four, but he soon switched and rode at Langtree where he showed Devious Angel, a Children’s Jumper. When Langtree was sold, he began training with Van Meter and her partner, Rick Sleiderman. “We work on body position,” she said. “He’s tall. We try to get him stronger and more aggressive. He rides a lot without stirrups. Du Calme is a really young equitation horse; he gives you all he’s got every time. He’s so flashy and will do anything for Theo. I didn’t expect him to come along so quickly. He’s 16’3 and with Theo’s height, they make a beautiful picture.”

Boris started to do equitation to help with jumpers. Currently he is competing in the High Junior Jumpers on Santor and was a member of the West Coast Active Riders team in Spruce Meadows. Boris made it into the final four of the 1.30 competition. Next they hope to go East for the indoor equitation championships. “We’re trying to go back East to the Capital Challenge and Harrisburg ,” said Van Meter. “If he qualifies at the McClay Regionals, we’ll go to Syracuse also.”

Boris joins the ranks of top riders winning the Rosewood including Meredith Michaels (nee –Beerbaum) in 1983. DaMoor's Tack & Feed sponsored the finals and supplied beautiful lettered coolers and gift certificates to the top ten riders.

A problem with the counter canter was also a determining factor in the LAHJA Horsemanship Finals. In the work off, Rachel Sears, Mary Gatti’s granddaughter, rode Jet Set (Jet) flawlessly to capture the championship. “After the first round, I was third overall,” she said. “I won the second round and I was standing in second overall afterward. We had to demonstrate two simple changes of lead (and hold the counter lead in the roll back), do a rollback, halt, then a trot to a vertical. The girl in first couldn’t pick up the counter canter. We ended with a gallop over an oxer and returned to the line. He’s so lazy, it wasn’t a big deal to get him back. The victory gallop is his favorite part.”

Sears has had the eight-year-old Hanoverian for one year, and they are just beginning to know each other. “We’ve been working on her right bending lines,” said assistant trainer Kim Trasker. “She drifts left, but she’s a quick study. She was consistent. She didn’t decide to come back and do anything different (for the work off). This is a good starter medal. It’s an entry level, three-foot medal. She’s got good genes for riding and she has a good horse. This is exciting for me. I remember riding with Rachel bareback when she was five or six years old.”

Even though Mary Gatti is her grandmother, Sears was not interested in riding until she was ten. “I decided to go to summer camp at the ranch,” she said. “It piqued my interest. I’m fond of equitation. It provides a challenge that keeps me on my toes.” She shows Jet in the Children’s Hunters as well. ”It’s a more relaxed ride for the hunters,” she said. “I go in a two point and let him do his thing.” When asked about her future riding plans, Sears responded, “I’m 16 years old and next year I’ll ride in the 3’3” and the 3’6” medals.”

The Los Angeles Hunter Jumper Association has five medal classes throughout the year, and the Horsemanship Finals and Rosewood Finals are hosted at Gold Coast 6. For more information on LAHJA and its programs, visit: http://www.lahja.org.


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