Aspen Farms Horse Trials in Yelm, Washington was the location of the 2013 Area VII Championships September 6-8. The Area’s best competitors from Beginner Novice through Intermediate strutted, galloped, and soared betwixt towering conifers on the farm’s otherwise dynamic terrain. The weather was primarily damp and foggy, but on the final day the sun did shine and Mt. Rainier loomed on the horizon.
The Natural Migrations Intermediate Championships proved to be a true test of skill, with eight of 15 starters completing the event. Additionally, only six navigated the undulating cross-country without jumping errors. The first several competitors to leave the start box were eliminated or retired by fence 10ab, a tricky narrow brush to a cabin; everyone breathed a sigh of relief when Leila Lucas and Othello became the first to cross the finish line. Maya Black, of Clinton, Washington, won the dressage phase with Doesn’t Play Fair, so she wore an orange pinney on cross-country to indicate her lead, as did every other division leader in the event. She and Dawn Dofelmier’s 7-year-old Holsteiner gelding ultimately became the only pair in the division to finish on their dressage score.
Tamra Smith traveled with five horses from Temecula, California to compete at Jonathan and Suzy Elliott’s popular venue. Impressively, she finished on her dressage score with every single horse. Tamra handily won the 21-starters-strong Open Preliminary Championships with Fleur de Lis on a score of 21.8, and she won three other divisions riding Sunsprite Syrius (Open Training, 27.3), Breaking the Bank (Training Horse, 26.7), and Fleeceworks Royal (Open Novice, 17.4). She was fifth in Open Training with Kodiak (33.6).
Twelve horse and rider combinations competed in the Training Championship, and it was Sophie Ernst, of Vancouver, Washington, and Camden that took home the top prize. On a results board that saw significant changes throughout the competition, Sophie and the 14-year-old Connemara owned by Maria Ernst remained solidly in the lead from the start. Second place finisher Kaylyn Schaber and Stunt Double also maintained their initial placing and finished without additional penalties.
The Novice Championship division was packed with 17 talented pairs, all of whom finished the competition. In true champion fashion, Karen Laidley, of Redmond, Oregon, and her own 12-year-old Hanoverian, Coming to Fruition, took an early lead on a very good score of 20.9, a number and position they retained through to the end.
The results listing saw the most changes in the division you would probably least expect – the Beginner Novice Championship. While the cross-country posed few problems, Jonathan Elliot’s show jumping course, full of switchbacks and lead changes, separated the best from the rest. Kady Ellifritz, of Philomath, Oregon, and Dear Henry started cross-country in fourth place with a 32.5. By the end of the day, they had moved up one place. In the final phase, Kady and Megan Dearden’s 17-year-old Thoroughbred posted one of only four double-clear show jumping rounds, a performance that launched them into the winning position.
Congratulations to this year’s Area VII Champions! Thanks are in order to the invaluable volunteers, Jonathan and Suzy Elliott for hosting an excellent event, and to the Aspen Farms grounds crew for working so many hours to give horses the best possible footing to traverse.
See the full results of the competition here.