Despite triple-digit temperatures, more than 300 competitors found a way to beat the heat and celebrate a final day of outstanding championship competition at the 48th Annual California Dressage Society (CDS) Annual Championship Show and Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Region 7 Championships, being held September 17-20, 2015 in Rancho Murieta, Calif.
“We had a great turnout at this show and the quality just gets better and better,” said USEF “S” judge Brent Hicks, who judged all levels from Training to FEI over the course of the weekend. “We had a great panel of judges and saw lots of good horses who were very well-trained and ridden, and it was also fun to see so many juniors on mounts of all sizes. It’s wonderful to see that dressage continues to be so strong here on the West Coast.”
The Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Championships concluded with plenty of opportunities for Juniors and Young Riders to compete across a multitude of divisions. One of those competitors was 21-year-old McKenzie Kelley of Napa, Calif. who was enjoying her final season in the JR/YR division with her five-year-old Oldenburg gelding Fuerst Hit. Their weekend got off to a flying start on Saturday with the clinching of a CDS Horse of the Year title, and today the pair also won the Great American/USDF Region 7 Junior/Young Rider First Level Championship with 72.941%. “He’s got a little bit of a lazy side despite being so young, but we woke him up a little bit and we had a great ride. Our canter work in particular is always a highlight,” said Kelley, who is a senior at Chico State when not in the saddle. “We didn’t get to go to these championships last year so I was excited to come back, and I’m already hoping to return again next year.”
At Third Level, Nila Venkat (Hayward, Calif.) rode Emily Pollard’s Trakehner gelding Skyler Ace to victory with a score of 64.103%. D’Re Murray of Petaluma, Calif. followed up yesterday’s CDS Horse of the Year title with another win aboard her Hanoverian gelding Dernier Cri in today’s JR/YR Prix St. Georges Region 7 Championship with 67.566%. The Young Rider Team Test Championship was earned by Katharine Cassidy of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. thanks to a lovely test with the Hanoverian gelding Pellegrini (69.342%), while Ariel Thomas from the East Bay chapter also finished off her weekend with a win in the JR/YR Intermediaire II division aboard her Oldenburg gelding Heraldik Star on a score of 66.250%.
In the Region 7 Open First Level Championship, Hilda Gurney of Moorpark set an early mark of 73.971% with her young Oldenburg mare Iris, which looked as if it would remain atop the leaderboard for the duration of the class. Ultimately the only person who could beat Gurney was herself, as she returned to the ring with her freshly-crowned CDS Futurity Champion Lotta Silver (five-year-old U.S.-bred Trakehner gelding) to edge out his stablemate with a winning score of 74.044%. Susan Martin’s long drive north from the Los Angeles chapter of CDS proved worthwhile as she wrapped up her weekend by winning the Region 7 Open Fourth Level Championship on a score of 71.836% with Janelle Frazer’s Oldenburg gelding Dominus, while Nancy Szakacs of Hollister, Calif. rode her charming Westfalen gelding Rudi Regali to the win in the Adult Amateur division with a score of 70.667%. Leslie Webb of Bakersfield and Harmony’s Armani (Dutch mare owned by Harmony Sporthorses) have won their share of blue ribbons at this annual championship show, and today they added the Region 7 Open Intermediaire I title to their resume on a score of 74.803%. Meanwhile in the Adult Amateur division, Adrienne Bessey of Thousand Oaks won the Intermediaire I Regional Championship for the second straight year by earning a score of 69.611% on her Danish mare Dido.
The last round of coveted CDS Horse of the Year titles were awarded and in a division where the top nine finishers all scored over 70%, the four-year-old CDS Futurity champion Dehavilland (U.S.-bred Oldenburg gelding) came through for owner/rider Sarah Lockman of Calimesa, Calif. one more time, earning a combined two-test score of 76.639% to win CDS Open Training Level Horse of the Year honors and the Peter and Bonnie Lert Perpetual Trophy. Madora Daniel of Minden, Nev. also scored a victory with her elegant Hanoverian Ronaldo in the Adult Amateur Training Level championship to earn an overall 70.350% and claim the Melissa Creswick Perpetual Trophy. Daniel and her promising five-year-old gelding qualified for the Championship Show via automatic qualification from the Equine Insurance/CDS Regional Adult Amateur Competitions (RAAC), and she encouraged other riders to take advantage of the same opportunity. “We had a tough start to the show but he settled in and we were able to put in two nice performances, so I’m really happy with how it ended up,” she explained. “Next year we hope to move up to First and Second Levels, and our ultimate long-term goal is to get into the FEI ring and present him in the Developing Horse program. I think we’re off to a great start.”