Landers Surges at CDS Finals

By September 18, 2015

The Murieta Equestrian Center was buzzing long before the first judge’s bell rang at 8 a.m. to welcome competitors down centerline on Day One of the 48th Annual California Dressage Society (CDS) Annual Championship Show, Sept. 17-20, 2015 in Rancho Murieta. Once again featuring the Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Region 7 Championships as well as the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Breeders Championships West Coast Series Final, the show is off to a fast start as more than 300 exhibitors from 27 different CDS Chapters began their quests for top scores from 11 judges across six non-stop competition arenas.

Following morning warm-up classes, music filled the air as a full afternoon of championship freestyles got underway. The very first Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 7 Championship sash of the year was presented to Elizabeth Landers from Agoura Hills who earned top honors in the First Level Freestyle aboard her Oldenburg mare and former show jumping partner Liberty. Despite the dramatic change in discipline, the pair earned a score of 71.750% for their winning performance. “I had to help her understand what this new sport was about, but something clicked when we started working on a freestyle,” Landers said of her mount. “Now she has learned her music and it seemed to help her learn what’s expected.”

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Elizabeth Landers won two blue ribbons on day one of the CDS Championships, including a First Level Freestyle on Liberty (pictured), her former show jumping partner. (Photo: Jennifer M. Keeler)

But Landers didn’t have much time to rest on her laurels as she was due to return to the ring with her handsome Hanoverian gelding His Highness Crusador. Her efforts, and her eight-hour drive north to attend her first CDS Championship Show, were both rewarded with her second victory of the day, this time with a score of 70.250% for the pair’s Third Level Freestyle performance. “I’m waiting for someone to pinch me, I’m so amazingly grateful. It’s a dream come true and coming here has been such a terrific experience so far,” said Landers, who added that her sights are now set on an even bigger goal: the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan in Kentucky. “Each horse is different and special in their own way, and I couldn’t be prouder. It’s such a joy for me to be able to compete the two of them.”

At Second Level, Anne Howard (Watsonville, Calif.) rode her Bulgarian gelding Apel to the unanimous win under both judges with 69.000%, while Moorpark’s Claire Darnell led the victory lap for the Fourth Level Freestyle with her own Dutch gelding Ayokay thanks to a score of 72.417%. Wrapping up the day, Jamie Pestana of Livermore rode her long-time partner Winzalot to the win in the Great American/USDF Region 7 Intermediaire Freestyle. The Hanoverian gelding is no stranger to the winner’s circle at the CDS Championships, and earned yet another title with a top score of 73.875% as he now looks to move up to the Grand Prix level.  “This year we really came to just have fun,” said Pestana, whose freestyle included music from Taylor Swift’s popular song “Blank Space”. “We revamped our freestyle and wanted to finish out his I-1 career with a bang, so we made a harder pattern for him and changed up his choreography to include new canter work, and it paid off.”

In addition to freestyles, Adult Amateur riders had the opportunity to show off their skills in the CDS Dressage Seat Equitation Challenge, where Amalia Boyles drove all the way from the San Diego Chapter to kick off her weekend with a victory aboard Donna Richardson’s Hanoverian gelding Welt Erbe on a score of 80.000%.  Meanwhile, in-hand sport horse breeding competition was also featured with the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Breeders Championships-West Coast Final. Hanoverian mare Domenikova (Donnerschlag x EM Ballonne by Bolero) owned by Marsha Anderson claimed the Mare Championship by earning a score of 80.800% from judges Kristi Wysocki and Melissa Creswick.  Craig Stanley presented Margaret Young’s two-year-old Oldenburg filly Cremona (Franziskus x Cassis by Diamond Hit) to win the Filly Championship with a score of 79.738%, while in the Colt/Gelding Championship the eye-catching two-year-old U.S.-bred Oldenburg gelding Sibelius (Sir Donnerhall x Dear John by Olympic Ferro) impressed the judges to win the division title for owner/breeder Anita Nardine with a score of 80.825%.

Complete results here from Cornerstone Events.

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Perpetual Trophies to be handed out during the 48th Annual CDS Championships. (Photo: Jennifer M. Keeler)

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