For the last three years, Melissa Rogers and Kristine Hegglin have been on the same dressage trajectory with their respective mounts, each taking turns earning championship titles as they successfully rose through the levels. And on the final day of the 50th Anniversary California Dressage Society (CDS) Championship Show, September 21-24 in Rancho Murieta, the two competitors shared the spotlight as each earned both Champion and Reserve Champion Fourth Level Adult Amateur honors.
In the $1,000 CDS Horse of the Year division for Adult Amateurs at Fourth Level, Melissa Rogers of Sonoma, Cal. got the winning edge with her eight-year-old KWPN gelding Empire to earn the Fox Run Perpetual Trophy with combined two-test average of 68.042%. While the pair also earned CDS Horse of the Year honors at Second Level in 2015, Rogers’ ride on her talented eight-year-old mount hasn’t always been easy. “He came over from Europe as a stallion and he was a lot of horse,” said Rogers, who works as a vice president of engineering in the software industry when not in the saddle. “Now that he’s gelded, he’s still a handful, but it’s fun – I like them spicy. He was kind of hot today, and I think the judges were holding their breath a little bit, but it worked out. I believe the best ones need to have some fire. He’s got talent for piaffe and passage, so it’s exciting for the future and I look forward to moving him up to the small tour next year.”
But in the Great American/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Region 7 Fourth Level Adult Amateur Championship class, Kristine Hegglin turned the tables for a chance to lead the victory lap ahead of Rogers with a winning score of 67.389% aboard her eight-year-old German Riding Pony gelding Holsteins Harlequin, who doesn’t let size get in the way of success: he impressively also won the Region 7 Adult Amateur title for Second and Third Level in 2015 and 2016, respectively. “He’s just phenomenal,” Hegglin exclaimed, who also works for a software company when at home in Danville, Cal. “I keep thinking that the judges might think or say something about his size, but so far they seem completely indifferent to it and even seem to love him, writing comments like ‘power pony’. He’s brave and talented and is ready for Prix St. Georges too so I hope next year we’ll be back…my husband will need to get something for me for Christmas so maybe I’ll ask for a shadbelly!”
Additional CDS Horse of the Year titles were presented at Training Level, where Hayley Buckingham of La Habra Heights, Cal. topped the Open division with Susan Ortiz’s four-year-old Hanoverian mare Donna Rubina (72.434%), while Margaret Young of Clovis, Cal. and her lovely four-year-old Oldenburg mare Cremona scored a combined average of 72.059% to win the perpetual trophy for Adult Amateurs.
At First Level, Adult Amateur competitor Lisa Teske of Solvang, Cal. and her Westfalen gelding Safari went two-for-two this weekend by earning the Full Cry Perpetual Trophy and CDS Horse of the Year title with a top score of 71.751%. After claiming multiple Reserve Champion honors over the weekend, David Wightman of Murrieta, Cal. finally had a chance to celebrate victory with his five-year-old Oldenburg gelding Hotshot AF in the Great American/USDF Region 7 First Level Open Championship on an impressive score of 74.044%.
After five tests in four days, Kasey Cannon of Moorpark was concerned her stallion Diesel CF would be too tired to perform at his best, but the young Hanoverian rose to the challenge to remain unbeatable at Second Level and earn the CDS Second Level Adult Amateur Horse of the Year title and Two Tone Malone Perpetual Trophy after winning both day’s tests for combined score of 72.168%.
Lehua Custer of North Hollywood and the KWPN gelding F.J. Ramzes continued their winning ways by easily earning top scores in both rounds of competition in the $1,000 CDS Horse of the Year Third Level Open division for an overall average of 74.615%, earning the Judith Elias Perpetual Trophy for owner Wendy Sasser. For Adult Amateurs, the Stanford Perpetual Trophy was presented to Ruth Shirkey of Livermore, Cal. and her Hanoverian mare Wyleigh Princess. As the only combination to score over 70% in the second round, the pair’s combined average of 70.865% secured their position atop the leaderboard.
In the Great American/USDF Region 7 Fourth Level Open Championship, Jan Ebeling of Moorpark, Cal. and Pernilla Ammann’s Oldenburg gelding Blenheim once again bested the large field of competitors to earn a top score of 73.167% and the unanimous victory under both judges, while Kastel Denmark’s Westfalen gelding Ray Dance cruised to his third title of the weekend with Charlotte Jorst of Reno in the Great American/USDF Intermediaire I Open Championship (73.618%).
Having already earned two reserve championships earlier in the show, Akiko Yamazaki of Los Altos Hills, Cal. finally found her way to the winner’s circle with her KWPN gelding Chopin R after scoring 71.118% in the Great American/USDF Region 7 Intermediaire I Adult Amateur Championship. “In retrospect, I think I made a mistake by not doing the warm-up classes earlier in the weekend,” Yamazaki explained. “My family has had a busy summer so I haven’t shown since June, and as a result the horses were a little fresh in our first tests yesterday and we didn’t have our best goes. Chopin can get a little tense in the canter work, and yesterday was a bit of a challenge because I could hardly put my leg on! But today he really let me ride him and we got back in the groove and were able to show what we can do.”
In the afternoon’s Great American/USDF Region 7 Grand Prix Open Championship, Charlotte Jorst was first down centerline but set a mark of 71.000% that was untouchable for the duration of the class to earn her second win of the day, this time aboard her Danish Warmblood gelding Kastel’s Akeem Foldager. In the Adult Amateur ranks, Michelle Freels from Granite Bay, Cal. earned the championship with her 14-year-old KWPN mare Wynnona (59.750%).
Wrapping up musical freestyle competition at this year’s Championship Show was Karen Cornelius of Nipomo, Cal. and her young Hanoverian stallion Fiderello, who once again wowed the crowd and the judges to win the perpetual trophy for CDS First Level Freestyle by a double-digit margin and a mark of 77.750%, while Diane Abraham of Los Gatos, Cal. and her Oldenburg mare Dasha earned their second victory of the week by earning the Dawn West Perpetual Trophy for their Phil Collins-themed Second Level freestyle with 64.417%.
Juniors and young riders also competed for top honors as the last round of coveted 2017 Great American/USDF Region 7 and CDS Horse of the Year titles were awarded. For CDS Horse of the Year at Training Level, Katelyn Mosle continued her successful partnership with David Wightman’s Swedish Warmblood mare Kai to easily win with a combined score of 74.122%. At First Level, Anna Bordan of Vacaville, Cal. scored two championships in one day by earning the Great American/USDF Region 7 title with Cynthia Lang’s Hanoverian gelding Quentin (68.603%), as well as CDS Horse of the Year honors with Karen Kahn’s Hanoverian mare Louis Le Rouge (71.172%).
In the Second Level ranks, the German Riding Pony mare Bonnaroo carried owner/rider Lucienne Bacon of Atherton, Cal. to a two-day score of 65.643% and the right to be named that division’s CDS Horse of the Year. The Great American/USDF Region 7 Third Level JR/YR title was presented to Emily Smith of San Jose, who rode her Hanoverian gelding London to the win with 63.397%, while Katelyn Mosle scored two more titles in quick succession, this time aboard the Hanoverian gelding Diavolino 5 to win both the CDS Third Level JR/YR Horse of the Year (69.327%) as well as the Region 7 Junior Team Test Championship (67.027%).
Bryce Quinto of Studio City, Cal. rode her German Riding Pony mare Baby Doll to CDS Fourth Level JR/YR Horse of the Year honors with 65.069%, while Shelby Rocereto’s busy weekend wrapped up on a victorious note as she took the Region 7 Prix St. Georges JR/YR Championship home to Livermore, Cal. thanks to a winning score of 67.368% earned with her KWPN mare Chapeau. Last but not least, D’re Murray of Petaluma, Cal. claimed the Region 7 Intermediaire II JR/YR title with 69.474% on her stunning 14-year-old Westfalen gelding Fido.
Wrapping up a memorable anniversary weekend was the presentation of CDS Grand Champion awards, determined by the highest percentage from CDS Horse of the Year classes and freestyles. Earning the Atherton Dressage Society Perpetual Trophy for Grand Champion at First/Second Level was Karen Cornelius of Nipomo, Cal. with her five-year-old Hanoverian stallion Fiderello, while Hilda Gurney of Moorpark earned the Major Guy de Roaldes Trophy as Third/Fourth Level Grand Champion with her Oldenburg mare Iris. Presentation of the Doug Downing Perpetual Trophy went to Chelsey Sibley of Sonora, Cal. who rode Carol Di Maggio’s 10-year-old Oldenburg stallion Don Francisco to win the Intermediaire I Grand Championship, while the Keen Memorial Perpetual Trophy for Grand Prix Grand Champion was earned by Terri Rocovich of Ramona, Cal. with her 16-year-old KWPN gelding Uiver (Iver).
For more information about the 50th Anniversary California Dressage Society Championship Show, including news, schedules, ride times, and results, visit the CDS website and follow along with behind-the-scenes updates and photos on the CDS Facebook page.
Photo: Jennifer M. Keeler