Alexandra Ladove Celebrates Her First Derby Win at Gold Coast October

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Rebecca Bruce and Nancy Frost Top the Gold Coast Trainer Incentives

 Alexandra Ladove notches her first derby win in the $1,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby

Photo: Flying Horse Photography

Seventeen year-old Alexandra Ladove (Robyn Stiegler, trainer) celebrated her first hunter derby win at Gold Coast October (Oct 16-19), piloting Vigo (Demi Stiegler, owner) to scores of 88 in the first round and 85 in the handy round of the $1,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Alexandra was also the highest placing junior rider in a field of 26 horse and rider combinations. “It was actually my first show with Vigo,” admitted Alexandra. “My horses are laid up and I’ve been riding a different horse each show. The catch riding is actually good practice for me as I plan to attend Auburn University in the fall with an equestrian scholarship. They have a really great NCAA equestrian team, and the collegiate competitions are all catch-riding.”

Alexandra hopes to continue pursuing her equestrian passion. “I will probably keep my jumper during college,” she shared. “I hope to do the Talent Search Final. I’ll come back during summer and over break and ride here.”

Alexandra credits her derby success to her experience in the equitation and jumper rings. “I wanted to ride forward and smooth,” she explained. “It was so exciting because I wasn’t expecting to win against professionals including my trainer’s assistant, Katie Taylor. The equitation experience definitely helps because of my familiarity with bending lines and trot fences. It took a while for me to get used to riding more forward, but the jumpers have helped me gain confidence to be a lot bolder.”

Alexandra did ride boldly, according to judge John Xanthopoulos. “I want to see consistent bold movement. The top riders are forward, bold and in control. The winner comes down to minor technicalities, like how long it takes to do a flying change in the corners. The winner is forward, in balance, and in control.”


Michael Leon and Freedom place second in the $1,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby.
Photo: Flying Horse Photography

Michael Leon and Freedom (Anna Sophia Lotman, owner) came just points away from snatching up the $2,500 LEGIS Hunter Rider Bonus check to add to his winnings over course of the season, placing second behind Alexandra with scores of 83 and 87. “I couldn’t be happier with Freedom,” said Michael with a smile. “I was less concerned with making the bonus and more concerned about the horse’s progress.”

As a hunter derby veteran, Michael really appreciates a well-designed course. “I loved Megan Rawlin’s course because it had more natural-looking derby style jumps,” he recalled. “In the handy, it was great to show off turns as well as long gallops. We took all the options and took an inside track in the handy round that only one other person attempted, Deni Hird. You had to slice the barrel jump and then you had one stride to turn in front of the brick wall before slicing the next jump.”

Freedom was also champion of the Junior Hunters with his owner, Anna Sophia Lotman. “Freedom’s like a puppy dog; he’s just the sweetest horse,” Anna shared. “Now we are really clicking and becoming a team. Before I go into the arena, I take a breath and try to just have fun. Freedom actually lives in my backyard and Michael comes out and gives me lessons every day before school. Next year, we are hoping to qualify for the Devon Horse Show.”

Rhymes With Orange shines in his first horse show
Photo: Flying Horse Photography

Elsewhere in the hunter ring, Meghan Clark (Kasey Ament, trainer) showed off her uniquely-colored rose grey Zangersheide, Rhymes with Orange. The pair earned ribbons in the Low Adult Amateur Hunters, and Rhymes with Orange was Pre-Green Hunters Champion with Kasey. He and Kasey also placed seventh in their inaugural appearance in the $1,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby. “It was his first show,” Meghan revealed. “We purchased him in July. He’s only five and he’s the simplest and bravest young horse I’ve ever ridden. He’s small, but he has a huge step.”

As a full-time attorney and mother to a seven-year-old son, Meghan has to work hard to find time to ride. “I’m religious about riding every Saturday and Sunday,” she shared. “When we noticed my other horse was starting to develop some arthritis, we starting looking for a new horse for me. I wanted a horse with a good temperament, but that was still fancy enough to be competitive. Kasey sent me a video, and when I saw Rhymes With Orange, I knew he was the one. His color and markings are unique. He’s a combination grey, dun, and roan, and one of his socks has an almost Dalmation-like spot on it.” Meghan is hoping to move up to the Low Amateur Owner Hunters with her new mount.

Jenna Presley and Concealed Weapon have a great show in the Low Children’s/Adult Amateur Jumpers
Photo: Flying Horse Photography

In the jumper ring, Jenna Presley (Nicole Rose, trainer) was champion in both the .85M and .90M Low Children’s/Adult Amateur Jumpers aboard another unusually colored horse, Concealed Weapon (Nicole Rose, owner). Concealed Weapon is a 14.3 hand Paint that Nicole has trained from the ground up. “He’s all business in the ring. I think that dressage has really helped me with jumping since jumping is truly just dressage with obstacles in the way.” Jenna supports her own riding through working as a certified equine massage therapist, a barn manager, and a working student.

“We came here to practice for an upcoming three day event at Galway Downs,” commented Jenna. “We specifically wanted to practice the show jumping. I have more experience showing in the hunters, jumpers, and equitation, and this will be my first official three day event.”

Brittany Smith and Hannah Gold drove all the way to Burbank from Humboldt to compete at the LA Equestrian Center, a place where Hannah grew up riding and working. “With the horses and stopping, it took us 14 hours to get here,” Brittany shared. “But we’re glad we came. Everyone at the show was super nice. The footing was phenomenal.”

Brittany earned ribbons with her Mango Rita in both the Low Pre-Green Hunters as well as the .80M and .85M Jumpers. “I grew up doing the hunters in New York and came to explore equine industry on the West Coast,” said Brittany. “I wanted to get Mango in both rings. It was the first show that I’ve ever brought her to in the six years I’ve owned her. She had been leased her out to a pony club kid who did local shows with her, but it was her first time seeing jumper-style jumps and so many horses in one spot. Before I got her she did endurance and barrel racing.” Brittany also has experience as jockey and hopes to help bring off-the-track Thoroughbreds into the jumper ring.

Karin Binz takes a break from her braiding business to win the USEF Adult Medal class
Photo: Flying Horse Photography

In the equitation ring, Michael Leon stepped in to coach Karin Binz (Archie Cox, trainer) to the victory in the USEF Adult Medal aboard her Walnut Creek since Archie was out of town. Karin is no stranger to success in the equitation ring. “This is my fourth year that I’ve competed in the USEF regional finals,” she said. “My goal today was to go for national points for the USEF. My plan was just to stay straight on the landing and balance my horse through the turns. I was very proud of how we did since we didn’t get a chance to watch any rounds before we went into the ring.”

Karin has been following her equestrian passion for her entire life, but in her teens she made it into a job. “At the age of 14, I started braiding. At first it was just my horse, then I did more to subsidize my riding,” she explained. “After going to UCLA, I decided to follow my passion. I became a professional braider and I have been doing it ever since. I enjoy picking shows that I want to go to and braiding on the days I’m not showing.”

In the Outreach ring on Sunday, Grace Giordano (Rebecca Bruce, trainer) and Cheval Blanc (Krista Borgers, owner) earned their very first championship in the Starter Rider Section. “Just last year at Gold Coast October, I competed in my first show,” shared 14-year-old Grace. “I’ve only been riding more seriously on a regular basis since I started riding with Rebecca two years ago. Today, it made my day hearing that I was champion. We worked really hard to practice for the show. I tried to focus on turning my toes in and staying over after the jump.” Grace was also Short Stirrup Jumpers Reserve Champion.

Grace hopes to have more championships with this horse in the future. “I’ve been riding Cheval Blanc for the past two years,” she explained. “I feel like we connect really well. He has a great temperament, so I feel like I can really relax and trust him. I had so much fun at this show. I’d like to start doing more shows and jumping higher.” Grace works hard to balance her eighth grade coursework with her volleyball team competitions and horseback riding.

Grace’s barn mates from Sunnybrook pushed trainer Rebecca Bruce into the lead for the Gold Coast Trainer Incentive with 442 points, just four points ahead of Ginny Plancke. “The trainer incentive program is such a nice treat for the professionals in the horse world,” commented Rebecca. “Not many shows recognize all the hard work and dedication it takes from the trainers throughout the year to get the horses and clients to all the shows. I really appreciate Langer Equestrian Group for recognizing and rewarding our efforts.”

Nancy Frost’s students also worked hard all year in the Outreach classes to help Nancy win the Gold Coast Outreach Incentive. Both Rebecca and Nancy will enjoy a trip courtesy of LEG to their choice of Lake Tahoe, Newport Beach, Las Vegas, or Palm Desert.

Stay tuned for more exciting news on the Gold Coast Series Year-End Championships, the Verdugo Hills League Preview (Oct 24-25), and the Verdugo Hills Trainer Incentive results.

The 2014 LEG shows conclude with the LA Season Finale (Nov 13-16), so watch for coverage of the LEGIS League Finals and LAHJA Medal Finals. It’s also your last chance to get any year-end points for LAHJA or SFHJA at a LEG Show. Lots of exciting action is just around the corner!

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