Sunday, Apr. 14, 2024

A Perfect Score Topped Hays’ Weekend At CDS Northern Junior/Young Rider Championships

This teenage rider conquered the equitation class aboard her Friesian.

Madeline Hays only competed at third level once before the California Dressage Society Northern Junior/Young Rider Championships, held Aug. 7-10 in Rancho Murieta, Calif. Yet the 15-year-old looked like a pro as she won her classes and scored a perfect 100 percent in the Dressage Seat Equitation, 14 and older, class with her 14-year-old Friesian gelding Onyx.
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This teenage rider conquered the equitation class aboard her Friesian.

Madeline Hays only competed at third level once before the California Dressage Society Northern Junior/Young Rider Championships, held Aug. 7-10 in Rancho Murieta, Calif. Yet the 15-year-old looked like a pro as she won her classes and scored a perfect 100 percent in the Dressage Seat Equitation, 14 and older, class with her 14-year-old Friesian gelding Onyx.

Hays, Carmel, Calif., had no idea how well she’d done when she left the arena. She was back at the barn untacking Onyx when her trainer Jennifer Roth told her the score.

“I was really nervous going into the class,” said Hays. “I thought Jennifer was lying to me just to let me not be so nervous. I was like—there’s no way I could have gotten 100. That couldn’t have happened. I was really surprised.”

Hays also won the third level championship with an average of 67.68 percent in third level, tests 2 and 3.
Hays qualified Onyx at third level in one show, Woodside Summer Dressage (Calif.) in July. She originally entered Woodside at second level, but Roth encouraged her to try third level to see how she’d do. Scores of 73 percent and 65 percent proved they were up to the challenge.

Hays purchased Onyx two years ago from young rider Amanda Harlan. Prior to Onyx, she owned a pony more suited to jumping than dressage.

“He’s so amazing,” said Hays of Onyx. “I feel like we’ve really connected this year. He’s such a gentleman. He’ll do anything you ask him to. I’m really lucky to have a horse like him!

“It’s kind of clicked this last year,” continued Hays. “I’ve really been starting to use my aids exactly correct and to get Onyx to use his back and his haunches in every movement. I guess it paid off at this show.”

Onyx is well known in California for his successes with trainer Kim Monk and then with Harlan. Hays said people are always asking her about him.

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“It’s so funny. I’ll see Onyx’s name everywhere on all of the trophies at all of the shows I go to,” said Hays. “Onyx and Amanda have just done phenomenally well. He’s been through everything. He knows the whole show business. He’s such a good schoolmaster. I wouldn’t be the rider I am if I didn’t have him.”

Onyx and Hays won the Bud Muravez Perpetual Trophy for the high-point score at third through the FEI levels, the Franklin Downton Perpetual Trophy for third level champion and the Equitation Trophy for 14 and above, so she’s starting her own legacy on the CDS perpetual trophies.

A Horse Of A Different Color

And Hays wasn’t the only rider from Carmel to impress the judges. Leah Myers, 13, lives just across the street from Hays and also rides with Roth at Across The Diagonal Farm.

Myers won the CDS Napa Valley Perpetual Trophy for the high score in the first level championships and won her division of first level for riders born in 1994 and later with her average of 69.93 percent. She also won the Winfarer Equitation Trophy for riders 13 and under (93.33%). Her 14.3-hand, Appaloosa gelding Maverick, who is a red roan with a blanket and spots, stands out at the shows among the warmbloods.

CDS Tidbits

•    Jamie Pestana, Livermore, Calif., rode two horses to two tricolors. She guided Kristine Hegglin’s 8-year-old, Hanoverian gelding Reaumur to the fourth level championship (65.94%), and then she took home the training championship for riders born in 1993 aboard her own 4-year-old, Hanoverian gelding Winzalot (Wolkenstein–Franzesca) with a 74.80 percent average. “Winzalot is really smart,” said Pestana. “He learned to do extended canter the week of the junior show for his first level team tests. He got 8s on all of his extended canters. He’s like a giant [17-hand] teddy bear.”

•    In the second level championship, Brynna Quillin, San Carlos, Calif., took home the tricolors aboard her 12-year-old, Holsteiner gelding Donnerhill P (Donnerhall—Gulana, Coriander) with an average of 66.23 percent. “My horse is actually pretty lazy, and this was my first time without a whip, which was a little scary,” said Quillin. “But we had a good consistent ride, nothing too exciting, and I was happy with it.”

“Maverick has a lot of personality, and, being an Appaloosa, he can be a bit willful at times,” said Myers. “But he’s really taught me how to be a correct rider and taught me so much about the sport of dressage.”

Maverick, now 15, came to Across the Diagonal Farm when Myers was shopping for a new horse 1 1/2 years ago. She tried him out and immediately knew he was the right horse for her. She competed with him at training level last year, but now she’s shopping for a new horse so she can move up the levels.

“Maverick really helps me with being nervous at the shows because I know he’ll do his best,” said Myers. “He loves showing, so he kind of steps up and really performs well, but at home he can be kind of a handful, and I get really frustrated.

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“When I first got Maverick he had a great walk, and his canter was kind of smooth, but I had a lot of trouble sitting his trot because I wasn’t really used to a small, bouncy trot,” continued Myers. “When you get him working from behind and get his back up, that’s when it gets much easier to sit. If I really supple him and really do well in our warm-up, he does start working nicely over his back. But if I start working him too hard, or if I’m rough with him, he’ll get kind of aggravated, and he’ll start to run through the aids. That’s where he really taught me how to use my seat and to half-halt.”

Their Partnership Is Growing

Kelly Collins, Wilton, Calif., took home the high-point trophy at training level and the training level championship for riders born in 1990 and earlier with her 76.30 percent average.

Collins, 19, also had the highest score in the warm-up classes with a 79.60 percent in training, level test 4, on her 7-year-old, Oldenburg mare Upsydaisy (Rafaels Son II—Pina Colada). Collins purchased Upsydaisy two years ago from her instructor Heidi Chote, and this was only their fifth show together.

“It’s a little new to her, but I think she’s handling it very well,” said Collins. “On Saturday she felt a little tense and maybe not as rideable as she felt on Friday, so I had to ride tactfully and not make her mad. I actually went off course—just forgot part of my test.  I think on Saturday she was a little tired from the two tests the day before. I didn’t have as much horse to work with. Sunday’s test was much better. She felt more relaxed, her impulsion was better, and I remembered my test!”

Collins competed in her first leadline class at 18 months old. Her mother is a riding instructor, and Collins started out riding western and hunters. When she wanted to try eventing 10 years ago, Collins started taking lessons from Chote. Collins competed at the junior championships for six years on her two Thoroughbred geldings.

“It’s very different riding a warmblood,” said Collins. “They’re much more responsive, and it seems like with the Thoroughbreds I was just working on keeping them round and keeping them relaxed, because they would just get so tense sometimes. Upsydaisy is much more rideable and responsive—definitely a different feel. She’s a long horse, so she can be heavy. You have to half-halt a million times it seems like. She’s pretty fun but can be hard to ride at the same time.”

Sheri Scott

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