Seconds Count at Shepherd Ranch


LEGIS Optimum Time Awards Promote Safe Riding

The Optimum Time Awards were a welcome way to finish the weekend at Shepherd Ranch Santa Ynez Valley Pony Club Horse Trials (Aug 22-24). The riders tackled a cross country course with two water obstacles for most levels set in the lovely rolling terrain of Santa Ynez, and receiving an award for coming in closest to the optimum time was a bonus for a great ride. It certainly set well with LuLu Sieling (Deborah Rosen, trainer), who won the LEGIS Optimum Time Award in Junior Training Rider aboard her own Georgio Armani. They finished the weekend on her dressage score of 34.6, landing in third place for their division.

"I heard of the award about a year ago and thought it was such an awesome idea to be rewarded for a safe and paced cross country run," LuLu noted. She certainly found the award to be a little incentive to try and hit the optimum time mark. Her steady pace helped her come in just under the optimum time of 5:29. “I think LEGISequine did an amazing thing by sponsoring this award that promotes safety of cross country.”

Her ride went very well; in fact she also won the Western USEA Charles Owen Technical Merit Award for the junior division. For this award, riders are judged on the quality of their rounds, including safety, speed, rider position, and approach to the fence—which falls right in line with the LEGIS Optimum Time Award. “This was actually my first show ever on my new horse. I knew he loved cross country and just wanted to have a fun and controlled ride to be able to see how he would act. He kept the same relaxed gallop the entire course and I stayed on my minute markers. I was just happy to end within optimum time,” LuLu explained. “I really enjoyed the water complexes of the course. Georgio Armani took each bank, corner, and table right out of stride and made everything feel extremely smooth.”

In Junior Beginner Novice, Virginia Hunter (Caitlin Davison, trainer) and Harley Davidson had a great weekend in their first event together. They came in second for Optimum Time, coming in well under the optimum of 5:12. "My cross country ride was the best one I have ever had,” Virginia recalled. “It was my first Beginner Novice, and I just flew through it with ease."

Virginia paced her ride well. "I was checking my watch after every jump. When I walked the course, my trainer told me what time I should be at for certain jumps so I just monitored my pace and kept a steady rhythm. My favorite part of my cross country ride was the brush fence. I was so nervous for it, but my motto is ‘when in doubt, kick.’ That's exactly what I did, and I made it over everything,” said 15-year-old Virginia, who is a sophomore at San Marcos High School. Harley Davidson is an 18-year-old Icelandic gelding owned by Caitlin Davison.

As for Caitlin, she had a good weekend aboard her mare Velvet Brown, finishing fourth overall in Open Training and first for the LEGIS Optimum Time Award when she finished the cross country course right on the optimum time of 5:29. “My mare was great; she was a bit strong as always, but very rideable. To be honest, I did not consider the time a whole lot throughout the course. I was more focused on the quality of her jump and her responsiveness to my aids since she is still green. I figured the time will come later, so that's why getting closest to optimum is so surprising!”

Caitlin was very pleased with their cross country trip. “The water rode especially great as did the hanging log to the drop, but the best part was galloping through the finish line,” she commented. Caitlin is a trainer at Ocean Point Stables in Santa Barbara, California. “I had my first pony before I was born. My mother is also a three-day event rider and trainer. It's in my blood. I ride ten to twelve horses a day plus give riding lessons, which doesn't leave much room for anything else, but I like it that way.”

Pamela Robins (Laurie Canty, trainer) was very happy when she and her Tuxedo Skips Sparkle finished third in the Senior Beginner Novice division and second for the LEGIS Optimum Time Award. “I thought the award was something good to shoot for instead of just riding as fast as I could the length of the course,” Pamela remarked. “I loved the whole ride. There is no other feeling more wonderful than being one with your partner, having fun out on a cross country course.”

In Open Novice, Susan Roehl (Bunnie Sexton, trainer) and Second Wind had a great show. They finished sixth in their division and first for the LEGIS Optimum Time Award, coming in just four seconds under the optimum time of 4:47. “I rode Second Wind slower than her natural pace and worked on keeping a regular rhythm,” Susan recounted. “I only looked at my watch once while I was setting the pace so I could keep cruising on. Second Wind is challenging, but so talented.”

Susan started riding the 17-year-old Oldenberg about a year and a half ago. “She was a broodmare after being labeled crazy when she was young and started in dressage. Really she is just super sensitive; she was a project Bunnie gave me to try.”

Susan started eventing again four years ago after taking 25 years off.  “I missed eventing so bad. I’ve ridden the last couple years at training and preliminary. It’s good to be back.” is committed to promoting safety and fun at all levels of horse sport, and the LEGIS Optimum Time Awards are a great start. The awards will be offered again at Copper Meadows Horse Trials (Sept 5-7).

Virginia Hunter and Harley Davidson have it all under control
LEGISequine file photo



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