CALIFORNIA GIRLS have a panache all their own. Although the stereotype may be all surf and sand, the girls featured in this issue of the Equestrian Almanac spend a majority of their time in the saddle. They share a passion for horses and competing, and know what it takes to win. They each have their own unique yet interestingly similar stories.Spending their time in the CA sun, not on the beach but at the barn, Ashlee, Lucy, Hope, Jamie, Jenny and Lauren have all achieved measurable success in the show ring. These six California girls are equestrian stars that have style in and out of the saddle. Each has spent countless hours devoted to the sport, with numerous early mornings and late nights at the barn. They have each dealt with the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory. Driven, devoted and hard working, when these California girls enter the ring, they are calm, cool, collected and competitive. Was well as their top equestrian memories from last year, and a bit about their favorite horses.
[quote]”Sports are a family affair – mother Beth and sister Katie are also avid equestrians. Her dad played hockey for the LA Kings.”[/quote]
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Encino, CA.
WHERE DID YOU RIDE FOR THE FIRST TIME? time would be a pony ride in Tarzana. Actual lessons started at Far West Farms in Calabasas, CA.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST HORSE?was named Crocodile Dundee, we called him Jozef. He had a lot of conformation issues but was such an amazing teacher. He took me from riding and competing at 2’6 to the 3’3 with plenty of success along the way.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST FALL? I do! I was riding a school horse, I thought he was very tall. In hindsight he was probably 16.3, but I’m pretty sure he looked about 20h tall at the time. I was just learning to jump, the crossrail was prob-ably 1’ high. He tripped over it and I got popped out of the saddle. I remember hanging with my arms wrapped around dropped to my feet. As far as falls go it’s probably the easiest
YOUR FIRST HORSE SHOW. I remember . Every year a big group of us would go to the Santa Barbara Turkey Show. My trainer would invite all the kids to stay in one hotel room with her – 8-10 kids and 2 adults! I remember the fun more than the winning. They had a big Thanks-giving dinner at the show, great prizes and giant ribbons.
YOUR BEST MEMORY OF 2014. It’s a toss up, my young horse made some huge strides last year, which was really rewarding. That is one of the greatest rewards of riding, bringing horses along and feeling them realize their poten-tial. I was also very honored to ride Willow CBF at Harrisburg and Washington International Horse Show, she was a star and we ended up with some nice ribbons.
YOUR GOALS IN 2015. To keep improving with my young jumper. And who knows, after all these years maybe this is the year I will finally get my heels down and shorten my reins.
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT HORSES. Getting to know their personalities. I enjoy the bonding and love when there is enough time to accomplish that. it helps me when in the show ring when I really know them inside and out.
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT COMPETING. Well I’m a competitive person by nature so I always enjoy going in to win. With the younger or greener show horses the ‘winning’ is to see their improvement from show to show, not always a blue ribbon but still a win.
[quote]”Used to wear her hair down when competing, but when George Morris asked her to put it up in her hat, and gave her a wild card bid to represent the US in Argentina it has stayed up in her hat ever since.” [/quote]
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? I was born in Hollywood!
WHERE DID YOU RIDE FOR THE FIRST TIME? The first time I rode was at a small barn in Hidden Hills where Melissa was my trainer. My dad is a great horseman and he was also a big part of my early riding career.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST FALL? I don’t know about remembering my very first fall as I was really tiny when I started. At six months old I was in the saddle and jumping by three years old! The first one I remember vividly is when I was at Bakersfield on one of my ponies; it had just rained and we slipped around a corner and both fell down. I believe that was also my first concussion. Maybe that is why I remember it!
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST HORSE? My first pony was named Patches and all I remember is that he had a little pocket inside his cheek where he would store food so he could eat it later – like a chipmunk.
YOUR FIRST HORSE SHOW. One of my first shows was at Santa Barbara National. I remember being in a flat class and smiling and waving as I passed by the judge.
YOUR BEST MEMORY OF 2014. I would definitely go with winning the HITS $1 Million Grand Prix in Thermal as being my best memory of 2014.
YOUR GOALS IN 2015. I think being in Europe has taught me a lot. I’m looking forward to coming home to CA and getting into a routine. I’m really focused on bringing my horses along and getting super consistent with them.
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT HORSES. Horses have always been in my blood, they are a big part of who I am and I owe them everything. My favorite part about horses is to connect with them. To go out into the show ring and tune everything and everyone else out and just be one with your horse. They fight for you and give you everything they have.
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT COMPETING. I love that feeling of being out there, where nothing else matters except for you and your horse. No politics. No BS. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a bad day; once you are in that ring with your horse everything else fades away. For those few minutes it’s so incredibly intense yet peaceful. Actually it’s really hard to put into words, but everyone who competes with horses, regardless of discipline, knows that feeling. It’s probably a bit different for each person but it drives us all.
[quote]”Majoring in Architecture at Stanford, she has managed to win globally, represent our country and keep up her studies in CA.”[/quote]
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Los Angeles, CA.
WHERE DID YOU RIDE FOR THE FIRST TIME? Sullivan Canyon (in LA) with Cha Cha Levinson.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST FALL – TELL US ABOUT IT? I don’t remember my first fall but the first I remember was when I went riding in Aspen, CO as a child. The poor horse had had enough of packing around kids all day and I was collateral damage – he bucked me off and I got a serious concussion.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST HORSE? My first pony was named Biscuits and Gravy (Biscuit). He was an old gray pony who somehow loved to carry me around all day.
YOUR FIRST HORSE SHOW. I took Biscuit to the Santa Barbara National. I went in every single class I could looking for a blue ribbon, and in the end, I think the judges felt bad and finally gave me a blue in the last flat class!
YOUR BEST MEMORY OF 2014. Going double clear with Barron in Aachen (Germany). To ride in that stadium was absolutely unbelievable. The competition, the crowd, the classy horses–it’s the quintessence of why we do this sport and one of the best nights of my life.
YOUR GOALS IN 2015. I am aiming towards the World Cup Final in Las Vegas this spring and would also like to jump the Nations Cup Final this summer in Barcelona.
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT HORSES. I love (and sometimes hate) that horses have a mind of their own and distinct personalities. Every day they keep you on your toes so you never get bored.
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT COMPETING. I like the pressure and adrenaline competition brings. There is a two-minute bubble where you are in the arena and live entirely in the present. There is nothing else occupying your mind except the task in front of you, and those are moments that you don’t often get in the distracted lives we lead. Just you, your horse and the course.
[quote]”Hope’s daughter Avery is following in her footsteps looking stylish and winning in the pony ring. Her husband Ned also rides and trains.”[/quote]
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Sacramento, CA
WHERE DID YOU RIDE FOR THE FIRST TIME? DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST HORSE? In our backyard, on a pony named Sugar that we bought out of a field. We thought she was fat and a month later she gave birth to a colt!
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST FALL? No–but I remember my worst fall when I was 16. The horse flipped on me, broke my arm and my femur, I had a fatty embolism and went into a coma. That was a bad one. But I couldn’t wait to recover and get back in the saddle.
YOUR FIRST HORSE SHOW. I did 15 lead lines in my first year of showing when I was 5. I rode Western and my mom and I had matching outfits.
YOUR BEST MEMORY OF 2014 . Getting fourth in the Derby Finals and winning the WCHR West Coast Spectacular.
YOUR GOALS IN 2015. Compete in the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Cup on a catch ride.
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT HORSES. I love horses as much today as I did when I was a kid. They are honest with amazing hearts. They have a ton of personality and are such giving creatures. And I get to work with them every day.
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT COMPETING. When I compete, I am in a zone where it’s just the horse and me. I don’t worry about anything else when I am competing, just the moment. That is as close to meditation as I get. And I love it.
[quote]”The Karazissis clan is well known in SoCal equestrian circles – Jenny’s husband Kosti, his brother Nick, and their kids all call horse shows home.” [/quote]
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Burbank, CA.
WHERE DID YOU RIDE FOR THE FIRST TIME? I rode my babysitter’s horse that she kept in a neighbor’s backyard. She was not a trainer at the time. Her name is Shari Rose Lowe.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST FALL? I don’t remember the first time I fell off but I do remember getting thrown from my pony on a daily basis.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST HORSE? My first horse didn’t really belong to me but he was the horse I learned to ride on. His name was Boy, show name “Just Because”. He was too big for me but I remember him being very kind.
YOUR FIRST HORSE SHOW. My first show was at Trancas Riders and Ropers in Malibu, CA. I still have the trophy I won. I remember it like it was yesterday.
YOUR BEST MEMORY OF 2014. My best memory from 2014 was at Franktown Meadows when I repeated my wins from 2013 in the USHJA National and International Hunter Derbies on Undeniable. What made it especially sweet was having my mom and sister there to watch.
YOUR GOALS IN 2015. I have a few goals for 2015. I would love to be able to compete in the International Hunter Derby Finals in Lexington, the $500K Hunter Prix Final in Saugerties and I hope to try for a three peat at Franktown Meadows with Undeniable!
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT HORSES. I love how noble they are and even though they outweigh us by quit a bit they are so gentle. I can’t imagine life without them!
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT COMPETING. I love competing! It gives me incentive to work harder so I can achieve my goals. There is nothing more gratifying than having a Zen round.
[quote]”Named the NRHA Silver Spurs Rookie of the Year, and still managed to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Fresno State University.”[/quote]
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Fresno, California
WHERE DID YOU RIDE FOR THE FIRST TIME? My grandparents had a breeding operation of cutting horses, so there were plenty of horses for my brother and me to brush and play with. Finally, our grandparents put us on one and that was it; we were hooked.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST FALL? I had been riding about a year, and one day, bareback at a walk, I suddenly lost my balance and started slipping off the side. I landed somewhat gracefully on my feet, had my parents give me a boost back up, and kept on riding.
DO YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST HORSE? My first horse was a white pinto gelding named Mr. Whisper Wizard, the best first horse you could ask for. He loved his bath but even more, he loved to roll in the mud immediately afterwards. We should have bought stock in the Cowboy Magic Green Remover given the amount we used on him! Gentle and willing, he was truly one of the biggest blessings in my horse career because of the confidence that he gave me as a rider.
YOUR FIRST REINING COMPETITION. My first NRHA competition was in May 2013 at the WCRHA Rein for the Roses show. I had bought my Reiner, Rebas Best Step Yet, two weeks prior, so I was just hoping to stay on pattern. We ended up with a win the Rookie class, and already hooked on reining, I was even more so. He was such an honest horse; you could really push him and you knew he would be there for you.
YOUR BEST MEMORY OF 2014. In 2014 I had the opportunity to show my first futurity horse, three-year-old Check Your Gun Lad. There was something special about him; he was so athletic and dynamic in all of his maneuvers. I worked with him all year to prepare for the NRHA Futurity, and he showed so well for me that we made the finals in all four levels of the Non Pro.
YOUR GOALS FOR 2015. I will continue showing Check Your Gun Lad in the Derbies this year. My goal is to continue to build his reputation as a Derby horse and to grow as a horsewoman throughout the year.
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT COMPETING. Reining is an art form that requires finesse and subtle communication. The bond that is required between you and your horse in order to be successful is what keeps me coming back. The people in this industry are so genuine; it makes being at the shows a pleasure.
YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT HORSES. I love the elegance and athleticism that is perfectly combined in horses. They have so much power and strength, yet they are some of the gentlest animals who are always willing to please. The bond that you create with horses is unlike anything else.