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2009 LA International - Friday

Richard Spooner & Cristallo
AC Custom Photo


After the Flat and the Gymnastics phases of the 2009 USEF Platinum Performance Talent Search Final - West, Navona Gallegos holds the lead followed by Theodore Boris and Sophie Verges. Judges Susie Schoelkopf and George Morris ran a straightforward Flat Phase, but they were demanding in their expectations. During the riders’ meeting Morris stated, “Walking, trotting and cantering correctly are difficult enough.” The riders worked in groups of seven, and Gallegos was definitely the most impressive according to the judges who rewarded her with a score of 93.

The Gymnastics Phase moved indoors to the world class Equidome of the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. Riders started with two cavaletti exercises, and the canter exercise proved challenging to a number of riders. The steeply sloped cross rail also proved difficult as a number of riders chose to make an inside turn to trot the cross rail and did not jump in the center and then immediately faced a blind turn to an oxer to vertical combination set with just single rails and no ground lines, followed by a challenging bend to a liverpool. Many riders struggled in this section. Other lines demanding a highly adjustable ride, compressing and opening the horse’s stride in order to jump through the gymnastic lines smoothly.

Some of the top riders dropped to the bottom and several riders with average flat scores moved up significantly in the overall standings after their gymnastics. Detailed scores are at:

Boris topped the field of 37 with a score of 91 due to his soft, effective, yet bold riding. Gallegos followed suit and posted a 91. Both riders train with Karen Healey Stables. Sophie Verges (Benson Carroll, trainer) moved up to third when she earned an 88.

Tomorrow the riders will tackle the Show Jumping Phase where their scores are doubled. In the Gymnastics Phase they are given a 1.5 multiplier. Following the show jumping, the top four overall riders will return for the final ride off. Each rider will jump a shortened course on his or her horse, and then each of the other three horses.

Style reigned supreme during the USEF Zones 8, 9 and 10 Regional Adult Equitation Regional Final. Chris Collman set a demanding course and incorporated several natural obstacles, like a split rail fence. Katie Taylor led throughout the two round competition and in the work off, and clinched the championship. Lauren Kardel was hot on her heels, but a bobble at the trot fence dropped her to fourth. Shannon Davidson rode a polished work off test and moved up to second, followed by Lauren Stasand.

Grand prix riders gave a preview of what the Saturday night World Cup Qualifier might look like when they contested the $25,000 LA International Open Stake. Leopoldo Palacios set a track that, like George Morris told the Talent Search competitors, demanded bold riding. Chris Pratt and G5 (Indigo Farms, LLC) enjoyed the lead through the first half of the class, until Richard Spooner blazed to the top with his veteran international mount, Cristallo (Show Jumping Syndications Int’l.). He also set a face time with Ace, and John Pearce squeezed into second aboard Chianto (DK USA Sporthorse). Spooner earned first and third, with Pearce taking home the red ribbon.

Over the weekend at the LA International, hunters will vie for championships and classic victories, another name will be added to the prestigious list of winners of the USEF Talent Search, and top junior equitation riders will compete in the USEF Zones 8, 9 and 10 Regional Junior Medal Final.

Schedules and results are listed on the LEG website at:

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