Las Vegas—Nov. 16
Passers-by are often caught off guard at shows like the Longines Global Champions Tour of Miami Beach (Florida) and the Washington International Horse Show (District of Columbia). No one expects to see horses on South Beach or in the heart of the nation’s capital.
But here in Las Vegas, anything out of the norm plays into the city’s grandiose appeal.
The South Point Hotel and Casino has been a calendar staple for equestrian athletes since the addition of the South Point Equestrian Center in 2006. The Las Vegas National CSI-W has taken up residence for its 12th annual event, and for the first time, the venue welcomed the AON/USHJA National Championships, held Nov. 13-18.
Catch up on Friday’s events and the behind-the-scenes action below:
Chelsea Samuels, of Beverly Hills, California, remembers when her Oldenburg mare Adele patiently sat on the sidelines as she committed her time to law school.
“I basically just got to ride her on the weekends and compete her at horse shows, but she’s been such a consistent partner, and she’s good everywhere,” said Samuels.
The familiarity that comes along with a partnership that spans six years paid off for Samuels, who rode Adele to top honors in the $2,500 Low Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic. The pair also won the section A division championship, as the class was run under a California split.
“She is so sweet,” said Samuels. “She knows how special she is, and she really always rises to the occasion. She’s great everywhere, and we have our routine, and she never lets me down.”
Fifteen horse-and-rider combinations entered the Priefert Pavilion looking to win the $2,500 Low Junior Hunter Classic. It would be Las Vegas native Ariana Marnell and Imagination, a horse who can also serve as a leadline mount for a 3-year-old rider, who earned the judges’ favor.
“[Imagination] is probably one of the sweetest, most gentle horses ever,” said Marnell. “[I’ve had her] for about three and a half years; we actually started in the 3’6″ together.”
While the 12-year-old warmblood mare of unrecorded breeding knows how to hold her own in the ring, she would rather not work up a sweat.
“She likes a lot of food; she doesn’t like a lot of hard work,” said Marnell. “Breaks are preferred for her. She’s just really fun. Her canter you could [ride] for hours. She’s so smooth, and her jump is just a blast.”
Augusta Iwasaki earned an armload of tricolors in the junior hunter division. Iwasaki, 14, Calabasas, California, won the $2,500 Small Junior Hunter Classic and division championship with Caruso, then went on to ride Small Occasion or “Cleo” to a second championship in the large junior hunter division. Iwasaki was also named high point junior hunter rider.
“Cleo is the best,” said Iwasaki. “She’s so perfect. I love her. She’s so fun to ride. She’s really smooth, really rhythmic, and her jump is unreal.
“[Caruso] is not mine,” she continued. “I rode him a little bit during [the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida)], during the winter, and then sometime during the summer he came to our barn, and I started showing him. He’s so much fun to ride, and he’s amazing.”
In the $10,000 Hollow Brook Management Wealth Management Show Jumping Hall Of Fame 1.40m Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper West Coast Championship, Natalie Dean got her first taste of the course as second in the order of go.
While she picked up faults with her first mount, Dean left her bad round behind and returned last in the ring aboard the 10-year-old stallion Don’s Diamant to win.
“I think I was a little concerned but not on ‘Don,’ ” Dean said. “It was nice [that] I was able to do my first horse and get a feel of the course and then ride Don after. I think I had that advantage.”
Dean, Palo Alto, California, got Don at the beginning of this year with hopes of doing the bigger classes. “He’s a dream,” she said. “He’s so scopey, and he’s so careful. He’s so brave and he’s the best.”
“He’s a little bit cocky; he’s a little full of himself, but he’s so fun,” she continued. “He’s not stallion like at all. He’s just a dream.”
We’re on site at the AON/USHJA National Championships all weekend to bring you news, photos and results. Check back all weekend for more!