Burbank, CA. In 2008 Markel Insurance joined Langer Equestrian Group as a sponsor of hunter/jumper shows LEG produces at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. The cornerstone of the relationship involved the Gold Coast Series comprised of six USEF B rated shows capped by a four day USEF A rated show. The Gold Coast shows which run from February to October regularly attract more than 300 horses to the three day shows that feature six rings of hunters, jumpers, and equitation.
The Gold Coast Series was a perfect for Markel (http://www.markelinsurance.com
). "We wanted to work with the hunter/jumper community," said Brandon Seger, Associate Director of Equine Operations. "We like the LAEC show grounds, and we want to associate our brand with well-respected events, like those LEG produces. The Gold Coast series is a good way to be at the shows and support junior and amateur riders." Markel, which insures farms, trainers, and horses, took the opportunity to reach hunter/jumper competitors through LEG’s shows at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center.
Seger was on hand at Gold Coast 7 (Oct. 16-19) to hand out the series awards ranging from Walk/Trot to Junior/ Amateur Owner Jumpers. Series awards allow competitors to pursue a year long goal while showing at a finite number of shows. Points were close in several categories and the results came down to a final class in a section. Nicole Edwards (Philip Klipa, trainer) was in a neck-and-neck race for the Equitation 15-17 championship. However, she prevailed by a point. Edwards has been a consistent performer in equitation and has moved up to the 3'6" medals. "The Gold Coast shows are a great place for riders to move up and try harder classes," said Edwards’ trainer Philip Klipa.
However, some eventual series champions had built insurmountable leads over the course of the seven shows. Rebecca Bruce’s Sunnybrook Farm ended the season with multiple championships, including two sister acts. The Martindale sisters, Kelli and Brittany, starred in the equitation arena, winning multiple championships and reserves. This was their first full year of showing, and Kelli started the year on a pony ended on a horse. "It was a big adjustment," said Bruce. "She had to figure out a different step and how to deal with more power." Her sister Brittany started the year showing a green, six-year-old prospect. "Brittany is really dedicated. If you tell her to be at the barn for a 5:00 a.m. lesson, she’ll be there at 5," said Bruce.
The Hadid sisters brought home multiple championships in the hunter divisions. "This is their first year with us," said Bruce. "They’ve improved by leaps and bounds. A lot of it is experience gained at the Gold Coast shows."
Garnering yet more series awards for Sunnybrook Farms, Haylie Robinson and Porsche took home the championship in the Low Children’s/Adult Jumper division. Carole Bennett earned the Green Rider championship with Clark Gable. "Clark Gable really shocked us," Bruce said. "He wasn’t supposed to be jumping until next year because he was so green, but we started jumping him sooner. It really made Carole’s year."
Betsy Woods regularly makes the trek from Santa Barbara to the Gold Coast shows because of their quality and the large variety of classes offered. She knows she can bring all levels of horses and riders. Olivia Iannelli’s El Dorado was a double champion. With Woods in the irons "Eddie" won the Green Working Hunter championship, and then Iannelli won the Junior Hunter award. "When we first got him, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on," said Ianelli. "I started showing him in Children’s Hunters. I was so comfortable and he was such a good boy that we moved to Modified and then to Juniors. The relationship between us is what is important. I can get nervous but I am comfortable on him. No other sport hit home like going to the barn and taking care of my own animal."
Mark Purcell’s Dry Creek Farms brought two champions to Gold Coast. Melissa Sklenar rode Landoval, the Adult Amateur Hunter Champion. She’s had the Westphalian for about one year. Previously she had a jumper but the horse died suddenly. They looked everywhere from Holland to Canada for a new horse. They found Landoval two miles up the road with Patti Manze. "He’s as sweet as he can be," Sklenar said. "He’s kind but had no show experience. We’ve just been giving him show miles. He’s won a lot and far exceeded my expectations." Although Sklenar hopes to sell him and buy a young jumper prospect, she’s become attached to the young horse. "When I bought the horse, I thought I’d work with him and then turn him around. I’ve become attached but I’d sell him to a good home with the right buyer."
Meanwhile, she’s developed a new respect for hunter riders. "I haven’t shown in hunters since I was a teenager," she said. "It’s a whole different ride. You ride the jumpers deeper and with more leg. Everything is magnified. Finesse is harder for me. You’re looking like you’re doing nothing.."
Fellow student Emily Kerr came to Dry Creek during the past year, and she spent a year riding anything "with four legs and a tail" until they found Lucky Charm. Their first Gold Coast show was in May, and despite the late start, they captured the Large Pony Hunter championship. "We’re a good team," said Kerr. "I’m fully into horseback riding and owning my own pony. The connection with the horse or pony is special. Next year, I want to keep showing in Large Pony Hunters and qualify for the medals."
Maggie Bass (trainer Nancy Frost) steered Rain Beau’s Chasin’ the Blues to championships in the Pony Equitation and the Small /Medium Pony Hunter. "When he’s good, he’s very good," she said. "You need to know him to ride him. We’ve worked very hard this year." Bass got hooked on ponies at an early age. "When I was little, my aunt took me to my first lesson. I never stopped. Riding is the most fun. It’s sort of like a team sport – you and your pony."
Complete results for the Gold Coast Series Championships are listed at: http://www.horseshowtime.com/showserieschampion.asp?Show=2190
The Gold Coast Series will return in 2009 and Markel plans to once again sponsor the series end awards.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/legs-gold-coast-champion-11-08.html">LEG's Gold Coast Series Names Champions</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com