Versatility Rules at Gold Coast 5 as Blaine Mangione Tops the Hunter Derby

July 26th, 2013 9:49 AM | Comments Off on Versatility Rules at Gold Coast 5 as Blaine Mangione Tops the Hunter Derby

Blaine Mangione takes a break from the jumper ring to win the $1,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby
Photo: Bella Nova Pictures

Versatility was the name of the game as riders transitioned between the equitation, hunter, and jumper rings at Gold Coast 5 (July 19-21). Young professional Blaine Mangione, usually seen in the jumper arena, proved she could win the blue ribbon in $1,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby as well. “I was really shocked! I’m usually in the middle of the pack so I honestly wasn’t expecting to do so well,” Blaine explained. “I haven’t done that many derbies and just earned my first derby ribbon at the last Gold Coast show.”

Blaine decided to enter hunter derbies for the first time after her horse Bryton started excelling in the Pre-Green Hunters earlier in the year. “I have had Bryton since he was three and he’s seven now. I started him in the jumpers when I first got him, but then he sat around for a long time and I showed him inconsistently,” Blaine elaborated. “Last year was the first year he really stepped into the show ring doing Pre-Green Hunters, so he doesn’t have a huge show record yet. But he’s an old soul and goes around and doesn’t care about anything. He doesn’t know that he doesn’t have the same mileage as everyone else.”

Their inexperience didn’t show in the first round of the derby as the pair scored an 84 with a simple, consistent hunter round. She was a few points behind derby veteran Michael Leon, who held the lead after the first round on three-time derby winner Copado (Pinon West LLC, owner) and hoped to earn a $2,500 check in the LEGIS Hunter Rider Bonus. “Max (Dolger) encouraged me to go more forward than I normally do in the hunters, and it really paid off,” Blaine recounted. “I got on a big pace and let my eye flow like I do in the jumpers. I got to hand gallop, but also stay inside and do some handy turns.”

Blaine’s handy round earned an 88 from the judges. Though Michael and Copado showed off their signature flair and handiness, Blaine eked out the win by one point. “It was such a surprise and I never expected to do better than Michael. He is an experienced derby rider and rode a lot of the same turns I did, so it was nice to know I’m on the right track,” Blaine noted. “When I first started doing the derbies, it was pretty scary. I decided not to focus on winning and instead focus on staying consistent and improving a little each time. I guess that strategy is paying off.”

In addition to the derby win, Blaine was also champion in the 1.00M Jumpers on Meritage (Russell Harris, owner). Everything is coming together for Blaine, who recently became grand prix rider Susie Artes’ assistant. “My move to Susie’s barn has been very beneficial for me and my horse, even though they don’t specialize in hunters. They have made a huge improvement in my horse and my own personal riding in a short time.”

Susie has been over the moon since Blaine’s win. “We are very excited to have our new assistant win the derby!”

Blaine hopes to continue her success in the jumper ring and the derbies. “I plan to compete in the rest of the Gold Coast derbies and of course, I would love to win the LEGIS Hunter Rider Bonus. I’m hoping to have some success in the bigger derbies at LAEC as well.”

Also displaying her versatility was past Gold Coast derby winner Ashley Brien (Mark Purcell, trainer), who spent some time in the jumper ring over the weekend with Gotz Moxie (Annastasia Lieb, owner). “I am loving doing the jumpers,” Ashley confessed. “I won’t say my hunter days are behind me necessarily, but they are certainly on hold for the moment. We’re leasing Gotz Moxie for the summer while I’m home from college. She is a great horse and she’s taught me a lot about jumpers in a short amount of time.”

The pair was champion in the 1.10M Jumpers and the Children’s Jumpers. Ashley thinks some of that success comes from her experience in the hunter ring. “Jumpers is actually similar to hunters. You still have to be consistent and balanced no matter what arena you’re riding in,” Ashley commented. “The main difference is that you are just doing the course at a faster pace in the jumper arena.” Ashley plans to show as much as she can over the summer and continue riding for the Duke University Equestrian Team while she’s at school.

In equitation, twelve-year-old Emma Guevara (Nancy Frost, trainer) made quite an impression on Google (Donald Stewart, owner). The pair won the LEGIS Children’s-Adult Medal and placed second in the CPHA Child-Adult Medal and third in the LAHJA Horsemanship Medal Class. “I was so excited to win the LEGIS medal because there was a difficult turn that we nailed,” Emma noted. “Google responds to me very well and he’s a great teacher.”

Emma comes to Gold Coast shows with her sister Hannah, who also won several red ribbons in the medals on her Comanche Moon. “I love coming to Gold Coast with Hannah because we make it into a family weekend,” Emma explained. “We really support each other and wish each other good luck.”

Also finding success in the equitation ring was Kira Zelman (Elvenstar Farms, trainer) on her Vindoctro. They were first place in the CPHA Junior-Amateur Medal Class and the LAHJA/LA Saddlery Junior Medal Class. “I wanted to do well in the CPHA because it was my last time to qualify before medal finals,” Kira enumerated. “I tried to focus on the tracks, keeping a good position, and getting the correct number of strides.”

Kira admitted that she loves doing jumpers as well as equitation and enjoyed the diversity of the LAHJA/LA Saddlery medal. “It was fun because it was more like a hunter course,” Kira recalled. “There were some long lines to hunt down, but there was a rollback too.”

Natasha Pappas (Joe Thorpe, trainer) and her Content also dabbled in multiple disciplines, winning top three ribbons in the LEGIS Children’s-Adult Medal, Adult Amateur Hunters, and ‘B’ Equitation. “Last year I did the jumpers and now I’m back in the hunter and equitation rings,” Natasha shared. “But hunters is my favorite. It’s really my thing and I like riding with a soft hand so that helps a lot.”

Natasha seems to have found the right partner for the hunter ring in Content. “My goal this summer is to get him a lot of show experience, because he had a couple years off due to colic surgery. No one really wanted to take the chance with him,” Natasha explained. “We got lucky and found him at Janet Carlson’s barn last March and we did decide to take a chance. He’s just been perfect so far. He makes an amazing hunter because he’s so nice, calm, and content. He truly lives up to his name!”

Horses will continue to be a part of Natasha’s future as she is currently majoring in Equine Science at Pierce College with plans to transfer to Cal Poly San Louis Obispo to become a veterinarian. Natasha’s love of horses began early in life thanks to her mother. “My mom actually rode for 30 years. She got my sister and me into it and it stuck with me,” Natasha recounted. “My mom still rides my old horse, Stella. Stella saw me through my entire junior career, and we don’t ever plan on selling her.”

Emily Williams (Julie Conner-Daniels, trainer) is just starting out on her junior career with her Lord Jeronimo. They were champion in the Children’s Pony Hunters and ‘B’ Short Stirrup as well as reserve champion in the ‘B’ Children’s Hunters, 11 & Under. “I’ve had Lord Jeronimo for three years. I really like his personality and he’ll jump anything,” Emily shared. “We started out doing crossrails and now we’re competing at 2’6.”

Though most young riders begin riding because they love horses, Emily began riding as a form of physical therapy. “When I was younger, I had something wrong with my Achilles tendon, and the exercises I had to do included pushing my heels down,” Emily explained. “Obviously, horseback riding is really good for that. I knew someone who rode at a barn nearby so I tried riding and fell in love with it.”

Emily hopes to continue her success at the remaining Gold Coast shows. “My show goal for the year is just to do the best I can,” Emily commented. “The championships are meaningful because they show I am becoming a better rider. I really enjoy coming to Gold Coast and hope to keep succeeding in the Children’s Hunters and Short Stirrups.”

For more information about Gold Coast 5, including complete results, visit the LEG website. We are over halfway through the series, and series champions will be named at Gold Coast 7 (Oct 17-20). There’s still time to earn points for a year-end award!

The Gold Coast series will continue at LAEC with Gold Coast 6, which serves as the LAHJA Benefit Show and hosts the association’s annual silent auction (Aug 29-Sept 1). The Northern California series of shows will conclude with Nor Cal Medal Finals (Oct 9-13) in Sacramento. In Colorado, horse showing will resume with Colorado Springs Fall Preview (Sep 5-8) and Classic (Sep 12-15).

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