McKenna Klink and Claudia Cardenas could be poster children for sharing nicely. They each won classes in the Greenway Saddlery/CEP Equitation Challenge finals, on the same horse.
Cardenas won the mini-challenge last year aboard Roxton but then sold the horse to Klink. This year, Klink topped the mini-challenge on the little gelding and then loaned him to Cardenas, who rode him to the top of the children’s challenge, part of the Arizona Season Finale, Nov. 28-Dec. 2 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Both riders train with Sue Gilmore near their Gilbert, Ariz., homes.
The work-off phase of the children’s finals tested the riders over a difficult gymnastics course, and Cardenas had some concerns. “I’d never done anything quite like that,” said Cardenas, 13. “It was something different, and I was kind of worried about it, but in the end it turned out well.”
Klink, 11, confessed to a case of butterflies before entering the ring for the mini-challenge. “Nervewracking,” was how she described it. Gilmore gave her the usual instructions. “Keep my shoulders up, lead changes, and have fun,” said Klink.
Jane Fraze of Tucson, Ariz., scored an unusual double in the amateur hunters. Arizona, part of the USEF’s Zone 8, is one of the few places in the country where riders can compete in the amateur-owner and adult
amateur divisions at the same show, provided they don’t ride the same horse in both. Fraze, who trains with Archie Cox and Peter Lombardo, took advantage of this regional rule to win both the junior/amateur-owner classic and the adult amateur classic, on Henderson and Archie respectively.
Henderson is a relatively new ride for Fraze, who got the big bay hunter last winter. “I told Archie to go find me a horse,” said Fraze. “Henderson’s what he brought home, and I’m thrilled.”
Peter Lombardo helps Fraze with Henderson and shows him in the conformation divisions. “Peter has figured him out,” said Fraze. “This was probably the best ride I’ve had on him so far.”
Archie—the horse, not the trainer—is a veteran and will go into semi-retirement. He may show occasionally in the 3′ classes in Arizona, but for the most part he’ll be a stay-at-home horse. “He gets to trail ride and chase javelinas and coyotes,” Fraze said. “Not bad work if you can get it.”
Unlike many amateurs, Fraze did not ride at all as a child. “I was 40 years old,” she recalled. “I moved to Arizona and thought I’d get some trail nags and ride up and down the wash. I’m taking these western lessons, stop, go, turn, and that was boring. But they’re jumping in this ring over here. That looks pretty darn interesting to me. I trotted my first crossrail and said this is it. This is what I want to do.”
Asked To Ride
Laura Teodori earned the championship and reserve in the small junior hunters with Margaret Murray’s Sherman Way and Archie Cox’s My Cap. Teodori hadn’t expected to show at Scottsdale. Her own horses were getting some much-needed time off. “They had a long fall, so they’re resting at home,” said Teodori.
Cox called Teodori’s trainer, Betty Beran, and asked if Teodori could ride a couple for him. “I was thrilled,” she said. “It’s nice to get nice horses to ride. I like to get on one I don’t know. It makes it more fun if you don’t know exactly what’s coming.”
It was a bittersweet weekend for Teodori, a freshman at Arizona State University. “It’s my last show as a junior. I’m very sad,” said the 18-year-old.
College will keep her busy, but thanks to the miracle of the Internet, she’ll still be able to campaign her horses. “I have a lot of classes on-line, so I can travel and still get school done,” said Teodori. “My grades are good considering how much I travel. I have to keep my scholarship, or I’ll be in trouble.”
Teodori hopes to step up to the grand prix level next year with her talented jumper Kasoar D’Uxelles. Teodori’s ultimate goal will be to try a few World Cup qualifiers. “He’s at the beginning of his career and has no problem doing anything we’ve asked him to do,” she said. “We’re just going to see how far we can go.”
Katie Buchanan and Duvall Street captured the grand junior and large junior hunter tricolors. Buchanan, 16, who trains with Sheri Templin, bought Duvall Street on the recommendation of an amateur in her barn.
“Sandra Bierman was down in Florida shopping for a new horse,” Buchanan said. “She tried him, and said ‘this horse would be perfect for Katie.’ ”
Buchanan’s aunt and grandmother both ride and were the ones who got her started in the sport. “One year my grandma said, ‘Katie, I have a surprise for you.’ It was a cute little white pony she’d bought for me,” Buchanan recalled.
Her relatives’ plan to get her hooked on riding almost came a cropper. Buchanan, who was only 6, couldn’t handle the independent-minded little pony. “I got tired of being dumped off that one,” she said. But she persevered, moved on to kinder mounts, and became well and truly addicted.
The same amateur who found Buchanan’s horse for her found one of her own on the same shopping trip in July. Sandra Bierman spent a few months getting to know Likewise, competing in the adult amateur hunters, and moved up to the amateur-owner division at the Arizona Season Finale.
Bierman and Likewise, previously Erin Stewart’s amateur-owner hunter, won four out of the five classes and were second in the other. They easily earned the amateur-owner, 36 and over, title.
Bierman had gone to Don Stewart’s farm in Florida to look at another horse. It was Likewise that caught her eye and stole her heart, however. “When he trotted across the ring, I said I wanted him. It was love at first sight,” she said.
Sitting on the lovely hunter did nothing to dispel that first impression. “He had a really nice amateur feel,” said Bierman. “He was really smooth over the jumps. He jumps really nicely, but not too hard.”
Bierman, an attorney, works in the marketing division of Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Her career is demanding both of time and mental energy, and she’s glad to have riding as an escape. “It’s my relief from the pressures of life,” she said.
Marlee Hoffman’s life is equally busy. She’s a clinical psychologist working as a consultant to industry. She’s also the CEO of Arizona Radiology. She somehow found time in her schedule to earn the amateur-owner, 18-35, championship with her Ja’Loup.
Hoffman’s been riding since age 5 and took only three breaks—one for each of her pregnancies. Her three sons are 7, 5, and 2, and show no inclination to ride themselves. “They’re doing motorcycles, ATVs, karate,
tennis, and basketball,” Hoffman said.
Javen Benton, 12, was the pony hunter champion with her large Appaloosa Yours Truly. Benton has been around horses all her life.
“I’ve been riding since I was about 4, because my grandfather owned a ranch,” she said. “He gave me a little pony.”
Benton, who trains with Betty Beran and Renee Wasnik, is getting ready for the next level. “We’re looking for a horse.”