Burbank, CA: Professional rider, Laura Van Meter led her Team L.T.A. to victory in the Memorial Day Classic Equitation Challenge. The last line of the course called for a hand gallop to the final fence and Van Meter put on the gas to reach a perfect spot, eliciting wild cheers from the crowd and her team mates, junior rider Theo Boris and amateur rider Amy Brubaker.
One of the most popular classes every year at the Memorial Day Classic, the Equitation Challenge is a team event held over two days. Each team consists of a professional, an amateur and a junior rider. Prizes are selected to reflect the upbeat nature of the event while adding additional incentive to the challenge. The winning professional receives an eight day-seven night stay at Marriott’s Maui Ocean Resort on beautiful Ka’anapali Beach, sponsored by Langer Equestrian Group. The junior and amateur winner both receive retro fat-tire bikes presented by LA Saddlery. All members of the second and third place teams receive gift certificates to LA Saddlery.
"This is such a fun class to do," said Brubaker. "This is usually such an individual sport. Now you have team mates that you don’t want to let down."
"All of a sudden you’re really pulling for someone else," added Van Meter. "It’s a great format having everyone come together and compete as a team."
Ten teams competed and, after Friday night’s first round, 2007 professional winner, Nick Haness and his team Hawaiian Nick and The Hula Chicks consisting of amateur, Yvette Lang-Einczig and junior, Navona Gallegos were in the lead with a combined score of 250. Gallegos’ 87 score was the highest of the round. Only 10 points off the lead were Jim and The Elvanstarlettes (Jim Hagman - pro; Marnye Langer – amateur; and Taylor Harris – junior) Using the initials of their first names as inspiration, Team L.T.A. was just 2 points behind, in third, and John Bragg and The Braggettes were in fourth.
Juniors rode first in the final round, and Boris of Team L.T.A. wanted to improve his first round score of 70 with his horse Du Calme. A pre-class lesson with Van Meter did the trick as he pulled an 85 in the second go. Hula Chick, Gallegos, picked up only a 74 to go with her first round 87. Elvanstarlette, Harris and Braggette, DiLandri were strong with 80 and 86 respectively.
Amateurs were next. Katie Gardner of the Braggettes wowed the crowd with an 87, while Lang-Einczig (78), Langer (79) and Brubaker (80) were steady.
Then came the pros. Bragg, and Hagman, with an unfortunate rail, couldn’t pull their teams up and the groups took third and fourth. Haness was strong with an 84, but it was not enough.
Explaining her pre-ride plan for the hand gallop, aboard Kim Chase’s fancy gray Vriendlie, Van Meter said, "I thought –just go get it." And, get it she did with the highest score of the event – 88. Team L.T.A. won by just one point over Haness and his Hula Chicks.
The final decision of the night was how the junior and amateur winners would choose between the red and green bicycle awards. But all competition was behind them, and the true spirit of team mates was aglow as Brubaker turned to Boris and said, "You choose, I ‘m just happy with the bragging rights."
Another set of bragging rights went to the equestrians competing at the CPHA Foundation Bowling Benefit held on Friday night after the first round of the team equitation competition. With a bowling alley right across the street from the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, this fun fundraiser has been growing each of its three years.
George Chatigny, a board member of the CPHA Foundation organizes the annual event. "Big thanks to LEG and the Memorial Day Classic for promoting and scheduling the bowling benefit with the horse show." The turn out was larger than ever and the event raises several thousand dollars for the CPHA Foundation and its valuable programs, Pedro Mendosa of Sunflower Awards donates the ribbons and trophies, and amateur rider Gail Horrigan was the high score woman bowler. Aaron Pizer, a student from Illinois earned the high score men’s award and is the first bowler in the event’s three year history to break the 200 score barrier for a single game.
Over the three years, team rivalries have formed, and this year the LEG Up Bowlers were hot to regain their title, and the Back Street Bowlers were determined to retain their victory from last year. In the end, the LEG UP Bowlers (Walt Malkeiwicz, John Chatigny, Rob Outwater, Reece Apmadoc, and Marnye Langer) outrolled the Back Street Bowlers, led by George Chatigny, by a little over 50 pins.
The LEG Up Bowlers celebrated their victory and all are involved in horse sports in some manner. Malkiewicz is a USEF and FEI jumper judge, John Chatigny is Facility Manager at LAEC, Rob Outwater is the husband of show secretary Brenda Outwater and helps with many of the hospitality events, Reece Apmadoc is a junior at Quincy University and works around shows and LAEC during the summer, and Marnye Langer shows in the Amateur Owner Jumper section.
Rounding out the top five teams was Death Ficus in third, Wild Ponies in fourth, and the Winos in fifth.
Full results and standings are available at http://www.langershows.com
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/memorial-equitation-challenge-05-08.html">Memorial Day Classic Equitation Challenge</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com