Tag Archives: USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West

Halie Robinson Wins USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West

Halie Robinson and Caracas 89 (McCool)

September 24, 2017 – San Juan Capistrano, Calif. – The third time in the top 10 of the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West was the charm for Halie Robinson. Having placed second and fifth in years past, Robinson rode with precision, consistency and previous experience that earned her the top call in this year’s challenging four-phase competition.

USEF Talent Search judges, Andre Dignelli of Katonah, NY and Patricia Griffith of New York City, designed the courses with Anthony D’Ambrosio serving as Technical Delegate. Well-suited for their roles, Dignelli won the prestigious class in 1986, and has since taken countless riders to success at this level; Griffith was second under Dignelli’s tutelage in 1998 and has been a part of Dignelli’s Heritage Farm since 1997. D’Ambrosio has been a technical delegate as well as a course designer at venues all over the world.

Friday morning’s flat phase asked riders to demonstrate knowledge of the elementary principles of dressage training as they affect a show jumper’s performance. Divided into three groups, riders were tested with half-pass, counter-canter, flying lead changes and other exercises. The gymnastics phase asked riders to apply mastery of that flat work to jumping patterns, including the skills of shortening and lengthening the horse’s stride while riding the track, which proved challenging for many.

Aboard Caracas 89, owned by Elvenstar, Robinson earned high scores in the competition’s first two phases, the flat phase and the gymnastics phase. With her cumulative 217.5 score going into the jumping phase, she had 16-point lead, which helped her maintain a top position. However once the top four were named, they each started the Final Phase with a score of zero.

Jayme Omand, Emma Catherine Reichow and Natalie Dean joined Robinson in a work-off patterned like that used in the World Equestrian Games. The final four rode a shortened course on their own horse, then on each other’s horses. After the 16 rounds were complete, all handled the questions asked on the different mounts without major fault. To all who watched, including the judges, Robinson dominated this phase.

“It’s always nice when the winner is so obvious, even to the crowd,” commented Griffith. Dignelli concurred: “Our winner was clear and away the winner. She rode beautifully throughout all phases: accurate and she has a beautiful style.” An elated Robinson promised she’d be working on her pace. Currently studying abroad in Europe, she had flown home specifically for the Talent Search. She called Caracas 89 “the sweetest horse I’ve ever met and he tries his heart out no matter what.” He’s also a miracle. This was his third show back after having a 27-pound “artifact” tumor removed in February.

For her prestigious win, Robinson received the Denali Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Mrs. Maya Z Hamburger. Caracas 89 earned the Gulliver Perpetual Trophy, donated by Karen Healey, as the best horse per the judges. Jim Hagman received the Leading Trainer Award, donated by Mr. Hugh J. B. Cassiday III. Hagman also credits all those who work at Elvenstar, including those not pictured in the presentation photo below, Kay Altheuser and Rachel Mahowald.

Reserve champion Jayme Omand topped the flat phase and recovered from challenges with the gymnastics exercises to finish in the top four. The 21-year-old credited her lifelong trainer Kelly Van Vleck for preparing her and her relatively inexperienced jumper, Zador, specifically for the USEF Talent Search. Schooling courses with S-tracks and striding options were the substance of their summer and it paid off. Regularly riding unfamiliar horses as a member of the Texas Christian University NCAA Equestrian Team was a big help in the horse-swapping final round.

The youngest of the final four riders by several years, 15-year-old Emma Catherine Reichow had never competed in this final and came into the competition with no expectations. She felt her spot as an alternate for the Zone 10 North American Junior Young Rider Championships and its difficult courses helped prepare her for this event. A student of Harley and Olivia Brown, Reichow likened the USEF Talent Search to the NAJYRC Championships because “you need to be consistent and get the job done.”

Both Reichow and fourth-place finisher Natalie Dean have aspirations to represent the United States in international jumping. Dean trains with Butch, Lu and Guy Thomas of Willow Tree.

U.S. Show Jumping Youth Chef d’Equipe DiAnn Langer commented that riders ought to target the USEF Talent Search early in the year and tailor their practice and show schedule to prepare for its unique tests. She emphasized that the program is a prestigious step in the pathway of the sport’s young athlete development program.

The format of the Talent Search has evolved considerably since it originated in the 1950s, but it has always been a method for identifying and helping prepare young riders aspiring to represent the U.S. in international jumping competition. McLain Ward (1990), Lauren Hough (1994) and California-born German rider Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (1986) are among the Talent Search winners who went on to become show jumping Olympians. Several winners of the West Finals are major players on the Grand Prix circuit, Joie Gatlin (1982), Richard Spooner (1988), Kirsten Coe (1996) and Kasey Ament (2004) among them.

“It really gave me a leg up in my career,” said Dignelli, as it put him on a track to his current role as one of the country’s top hunter/jumper trainers.

From Blenheim EquiSports

Rombauer Wins USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West

Ransome Rombauer and Lalonde (McCool Photos)

San Juan Capistrano, Calif. – After three challenging Phases of competition, Ransome Rombauer found herself in the ride-off on Saturday against three strong competitors in the 2015 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West. She edged out Savannah Jenkins by one point to win this year’s championship with a score of 351 to Jenkins’s 350. Eve Jobs finished in third place with a score of 331. Rounding out the ride-off was Mitchell Endicott who finished with 326.

“It feels great to win the championship. I competed in the finals last year with the same horse and won the flat, but missed an inside turn in the gymnastics phase so I didn’t get a score. I was just under a lot of pressure. I love the new format because a lot of different riders can do it, and it helps riders move up the levels,” said Rombauer.

The competition began on Friday with Phase I where judges Alex Jayne and Debbie Stephens put the riders through a nine-movement individual test on the flat. Jenkins (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Cristobal Collado’s Vandor took the lead early with a score of 76. Megan Hilton (Seattle, Wash.) and her own Cantoblanco were close behind with a 74.5 and Miela Gross (Del Mar, Calif.) and her own Zoe finished in third place with a score of 72. Rombauer (Saint Helena, Calif.) and Alexis Graves’s Lalonde ended the flat phase in fourth place with a score of 71.5.

Following the flat phase, the riders moved on to the Phase II, where they tackled a gymnastics course including a trot fence, bounce, and several combinations. Jenkins maintained her lead after scoring an 84 in the gymnastics phase for a total score of 202. Jobs (Palo Alto, Calif.) and her own Esprit 373 had a great gymnastics test for a score of 87, which moved her to second place overall with a score of 196.5. Rombauer tied with Hilton for third place overall with a score of 194.5. The top score in the gymnastics phase went to Michael Williamson (Loomis, Calif.), who put in a brilliant performance for a score of 90 moving him into sixth place at the end of Phase II.

Competition concluded on Saturday with the Phases III and IV. Rombauer edged Jenkins out for the lead in Phase III with the top score of 90 over the 13-element jumper course. Her clean round through the course moved her to first place overall with a score of 374.5 while Jenkins scored an 86 for a total score 374.0, narrowly moving her to second place. Jobs finished Phase III with a three-round total of 364.5 after scoring an 84 in the jumping phase and Endicott (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) earned a jumping score of 83 for an overall score of 357.5.

“The jumping course was long and challenging, but I nailed it. I wasn’t that nervous. There wasn’t time to get anxious,” added Rombauer.

The top four finishers at the end of Phase III, Rombauer, Jenkins, Jobs, and Endicott returned to the Grand Prix field to compete in Phase IV. Each rider jumped a shortened course on their own horse before completing the course on each of the other three horses. After the first three rounds of the ride-off, Rombauer and Jenkins were tied with cumulative scores of 265. In the final round, Rombauer narrowly secured the victory with an effective ride on Endicott’s El Paso to give her a one-point lead over Jenkins.

“I was super pleased with the results. The courses were fair. The flat test was great, and the top group stayed the same through the entire competition, which doesn’t always happen. With the flat test, we got to see the strength and weakness of each rider. I was pleased with the gymnastics course as it prepared the horse and rider for the final day. It came down to the wire with the finalists, and the horses jumped great. It was just a super group of riders,” said judge Jayne.

Rombauer was awarded the Denali Trophy, donated by Maya Hamburger, in addition to a Der Dau certificate provided by Blenheim EquiSport and a new iPad given by Platinum Performance. Karen Healey and Daniel Ighani, who trained Rombauer, were awarded the Leading Trainer Award. The Gulliver Trophy, donated by Karen Healey, was awarded to Alexis Graves’s Lalonde, ridden by Rombauer, who the judges chose as the best horse of the competition.

From the USEF Communications Department