Riders Check the Clock at Coconino July Horse Trials


Riders had a chance to earn a ribbon for safe and accurate riding with the LEGIS Optimum Time Award at the Coconino Horse Trials (July 12-13 and 17-19), set in the pine trees of beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona. The LEGIS Optimum Time Award is an added incentive for riders to come in clear and as close as possible to optimum time on cross country at Training Level and below.

“I was very excited to have received the LEGIS Optimum Time Award,” said Bailey Willden (Tavia Wolcott, trainer), winner of the Training Level category, coming in just two seconds under the optimum time of 6:07. ”I think it is awesome because it motivates riders to ride the course the way it is meant to be ridden.” Bailey and her own Meadowcreek’s Radar also finished in sixth overall in the Training Rider division, finishing on their dressage score of 42.7.

“I couldn't have been happier with my ride. It our first training event and he was so brave,” Bailey explained. “I really focused on pace, not only to achieve optimum time, but also to help him through the more challenging course. My favorite part was the partnership and teamwork that I felt with my horse as we worked through each new obstacle.”

Bailey, a junior in high school, and her Saddlebred gelding have been together for about two and a half years. “I started riding when I was about five. I had the obsession with horses that many little girls have, only I never grew out of it.”

Kathleen Zins never outgrew her horse obsession either, making a career of it and training horses in Arizona. She won the LEGIS Optimum Time award on Irish Tom (Becky Rickly, owner) for the Beginner Novice Level. “I didn’t know about the award until after cross country. I went out trying to establish a rhythm, not so much worried about the time,” Kathleen stated. “I think the award is a great incentive to be recognized for riding at the proper speed designated for each level.”

Irish Tom is a six-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. “He is green, this being his third event,” Kathleen noted. “He is keen when galloping, and we have been working on control and relaxation when on course. He settled on the path before the water and was able to focus through the crowd at the water jump, then jumped in very exuberantly. Then of course the hill afterwards is always fun, especially for us riders from the flatland desert!”

Earning the blue ribbon for optimum time at the Beginner Novice was Angela Carmichael aboard her Odyssey. The pair finished second in the Open Beginner Novice division on their dressage score of 32.0. Odyssey, a 17.3 hand Dutch Warmblood/Thoroughbred that Angela has only been riding since June, was bred by her client Dena Pate. “My favorite part of the ride was getting clear through the water. Odyssey had gone through water just a handful of times prior to the event, and the concept of stepping on grass, in water, and various terrains was not an intuitive proposition.”

Her horse had only had three cross country schools prior to the competition. “I was very pleased with my ride!” she said.

Michelle Scarzone (Terri Kemp, trainer) earned the yellow ribbon for the LEGIS Optimum Time Award for Beginner Novice level aboard her All Riled Up, plus they placed second on a score of 32.5 in the Senior Beginner Novice division. “I think this is a great award. I lost a first place tie at St. John’s Horse Trials just a few months ago due to coming in a little too fast off the cross country course and decided that would never happen again,” she explained. “I walked the course at Coconino, marked my minutes and memorized those markers. While riding I adjusted my speed according to the markers. A few times I had to slow down and a few other times I had to speed up, all with intent to come in at optimum time.”

All Riled Up is an eight-year-old Off Track Thoroughbred Michelle has been riding for a few years. “The best part of my ride was the oneness I felt with my horse as we were galloping between obstacles; it’s as if we were the only ones out there. I absolutely love All Riled Up! He has some sassiness that at times makes me crazy and other times it’s the reason I love him so. He gives me his all when push comes to shove.”

Michelle is the owner of Simply Refined Events, an event planning company that handles primarily weddings. Her position offers her some convenient flexibility. “Yes, I am a wedding planner, just like J Lo in The Wedding Planner. I truly enjoy my work and the benefits of being self-employed. The first four to five hours of my day begin at the barn, and after that I get cleaned up and it’s wedding bliss for the remainder of the day.”

Her love of horses began when she was about five years old, although it took a little longer to get serious about riding. “I started riding when I was twelve, just messing around and not really doing much: I knew how to post a trot, canter, and go over a single jump. After a long sabbatical from horses due to marriage, kids, and life in general, I started dabbling with riding again about ten years ago when I purchased my first horse. I played around in the hunter world for a few years, and then I was introduced to Terri Kemp and the world of eventing was opened to me. Needless to say, I have never looked back and begun to invest in training and competitions. It’s my daily therapy and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.”

Fifteen-year-old Kelsey Holmes (Jennifer Wooten, trainer) was all business at Cococino, taking home the blue ribbon for optimum time in Training Level and the yellow ribbon for Training Rider on her own Heart of Gold SE. “I have gotten ribbons for coming close to optimum time before at previous events, but this was the first time I have ever won!” Kelsey explained. “This was only my second event on this horse, and it was definitely much improved from the previous event. I competed in my first Training Level event in 2012, and the course at Coconino was probably one of the most challenging ones I have faced. Because I do not know Heart Of Gold like the back of my hand, I had to really make sure I was riding correctly to the fences, especially combinations, but I still needed to maintain the correct training level speed if I wanted to get close to optimum time.”

Kelsey has only owned the seven-year-old Belgium Warmblood for a couple of months, although she has known the horse since 2011 because she was previously her trainer’s mount. “The first time I saw Heart Of Gold as a gangly four-year-old, not grown into her body and scared to death by the idea of cantering into water, I knew I had to have her someday. I was given the opportunity to buy her in June, and after persuading my parents that it was a good idea for a girl going into her junior year of high school to be competing and training with two horses, I was lucky enough to call this amazing horse mine!”

In the Novice division, Demi Gardenhire (Alice Sarno, trainer) and her Happy Meal won the LEGIS Optimum Time Award. “I really wasn't expecting to win this. I knew I was close to the optimum time, but I didn't know it was good enough for a first place ribbon,” Demi recalled. “Happy Meal and I were tied for second going into the cross country during week two, so I knew I had to get close to optimum time to break that tie and keep my second place. It felt good to win it; it makes me want to shoot for the award next year as well.”

Demi is a 15-year-old sophomore at Primavera Online High School and has been riding for five years. “I've always loved horses, but never really got into them because I was into music and soccer, like most kids. We saw an ad in the paper for a horse camp and after going there, I instantly fell in love with the idea of owning a horse. The funny part is that I started off riding western and dreamed of becoming a rodeo queen. I then switched to showing in the hunter/jumper shows, and while looking for a new hunter horse, I decided I wanted an eventer. Ever since doing eventing, I know it's what I'm best at and what I want to do when I grow up.”


Look for more LEGIS Optimum Time Awards at up-coming events, Shepherd Ranch (August 22-24) and Copper Meadows (September 05-07). To learn more LEGIS Equine or obtain a quote, visit the website at


Angela Carmichael has a great trip around the cross country course with Odyssey
Blue Moon Studios



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