Eye Candy Tastes Sweet Victory

If you asked Team Eye Candy, they would say they were long overdue for a win during the 2022 season of Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ). Crowned 2021 season champions, it took five legs of the 2022 tour to produce a victory, but a win was sweet in Traverse City as they took home the title in the $273,800 MLSJ CSI5* Team Competition.

Amy Millar (CAN) and Christiano. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Alan Wade (IRL) set the track for the occasion, and Team Helios continued their fiery streak recording a clean sheet in round one. Four teams tied on four faults, leaving the ShowPlus Northern Lights just outside the top four with the slowest time after three riders.

The medal rounds commenced, where it was Helios versus Crusaders fighting for bronze and Trailblazers against Eye Candy head to head for gold. Eye Candy’s Conor Swail (IRL) and Jacqueline Steffens (CAN) were not collectively as quick as Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Santiago Lambre (BRA) for Trailblazers in the second round, so the Trailblazers had the last word as the final team to jump off.

Jacqueline Steffens (CAN) and Cat Ninja. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Beezie Madden (USA) piloted Abigail Wexner’s Hummer Z to a fault-free effort in 45.89 seconds for the Crusaders, which put the pressure on Karl Cook (USA), who was still undefeated in MLSJ action for Team Helios aboard Signe Otsby’s mare Fecybelle. Ultimately, Crusaders took the bronze as Cook pulled one rail in a final time of 46.72, pushing Helios out of medal contention.

Amy Millar (CAN), as the anchor rider for Eye Candy, put in a clear effort in 43.06 seconds with Future Adventures’ Christiano, faster than any other pair in the jump-off. With a little breathing room to sneak in, the win was not secured until Emma Marlowe (USA) and Cherokee had an unfortunate rail and extra seconds on the clock for a time of 49.58 seconds, placing the Trailblazers in the silver-medal position and awarding Eye Candy the gold medal.

Conor Swail (IRL) and Theo 160. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“We’re picking up pace now,” Steffens said. “We’ve been getting consistent and it’s different from last year. It’s a little more competitive and the standards have been raised, which is great to see, but we had to catch up a little bit.”

The team switched their order for the jump-off portion of the evening, and it paid off. “In the jump-off, we picked Conor and me to go in the first round with the intent of going for it,” Steffens explained of the team’s strategy. “Amy came in clutch and she was the fastest of all of us. She sealed the deal.”

“It was very stressful,” Millar said of being the gold medal jump-off rider. “I usually go first on this team, but it worked out. I jump last for Canada a lot, but I explained to Paul [O’Shea] that I usually don’t have to go fast in Nations Cups.”

“It’s a good competition,” Swail echoed. “It’s fun, we’re enthusiastic about it, and we want to do well. We get on very well together. We’re doing our best and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. We’ve been a little unlucky; we were just knocked out by a very small margin a few times. We have a couple of fifths that could have been turned into podiums. It’s nice that we bounced back today and hit our groove again. It was a good day.”

Team Eye Candy now sits in second place in the league overall with 29 points, just behind Helios who took an early lead with 37 points from their three victories. Spy Coast Spies, just missing the mark in Saturday’s competition, sit in third with 27 points.

The season in Traverse City comes to a close with Sundays $405,300 CSI5* American Gold Cup Grand Prix, where top internationally ranked athletes will ride for a shot at the prestigious honor of etching their names on the trophy.

Final Results: $273,800 MLSJ CSI5* Team Competition

1. CHRISTIANO: 2012 BRAND gelding by Canoso x Compliment
AMY MILLAR (CAN), Future Adventures: 4/43.06

1. CAT NINJA: 2008 KWPN mare by VDL Zirocco Blue x Corland
JACQUELINE STEFFENS (CAN), Eye Candy Jumpers: 0/43.37

1. THEO 160: 2012 HOLST gelding by Christian 25 x Calando IV
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Team Philippaerts: 0/44.97

2. CACHEMIRE DE BRAIZE: 2012 SF gelding by Quality Touch Z x Jaguar Mail
DANIEL BLUMAN (ISR), Over The Top Stables LLC: 4/40.74

2. CHEROKEE: 2007 KWPN gelding by Cardento x Creool
EMMA MARLOWE (USA), Trelawny Farm LLC: 0/49.58

2. COMTESS 202: 2011 WESTF mare by Comme Il Faut x Pilot
SANTIAGO LAMBRE (BRA), Mario Onate: 0/47.44

3. HUMMER Z: 2014 KWPN gelding by Harley x Hemmingway
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/45.89

3. EASTERN JAM: 2009 KWPN gelding by Lexicon x Monaco
HUNTER HOLLOWAY (USA), Hays Investment Corp: 4/46.34

3. TEDDY Z: 2011 ZANG gelding by Candillo x Limbus
CALLIE SCHOTT (USA), Southern Arches LLC: 0/47.06

4. DONATELLO 141: 2011 WESTF gelding by Diarado x Lamoreux
ASHLEE BOND (ISR), Ashlee Bond Showjumping, L.P.: 0/44.07

4. MARILYN: 2013 OS mare by Messenger x Lancer III
MARK BLUMAN (COL), Over The Top Stables: 0/44.48

4. FECYBELLE: 2010 KWPN mare by Carambole x Sjapoo
KARL COOK (USA), Signe Otsby: 0/46.72

Samantha Schaefer (USA) and Frasier. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Smooth Sailing for Samantha Schaefer in Cabana Coast CSI2* Grand Prix

Samantha Schaefer (USA) is not limiting her talents to the hunter ring during the final week of the Tournament of Champions. After a win in the Performance Horse Final late Friday afternoon, she came in guns blazing Saturday morning, and she and Frasier, owned by Bonne Vie LLC, topped a 45-horse field in the the $37,000 Cabana Coast CSI2* Grand Prix.

Featuring a star-studded list of athletes, CSI2* riders took their turn over Alan Wade’s (IRL) first-round track in an attempt to score a ticket to the jump-off. Eight pairs jumped clear and within the time allowed, but the jump-off saw neck-and-neck action as the top-five pairs all landed within one second of one another.

Samantha Schaefer (USA) topped the podium in the $37,000 Cabana Coast CSI2* Grand Prix. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Schaefer was first to go over the short course due to a busy morning at Flintfields Horse Park that caused her to opt to move up in the jump-off order. Though several riders came very close, including Jordan Coyle (IRL) who was quicker with one rail down, she held her lead through all seven pairs to follow her.

“Going first, [my plan was to] jump a clear round first and foremost,” Schaefer said. “I thought the jump-off suited a lot of horses because there were a few leave-out spots. He has such a huge stride, he ended up getting [one less] where I had to wait. I thought I could be caught, as we saw with Jordan, but all in all it was smooth and gave everyone something to chase after without being too flat. I don’t think there was anywhere I could have gone faster, it would have just been a matter of someone having a faster horse today.”

Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Irandole Du Flot. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Schaefer has been paired with the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Carambole x Padinus) for a year and a half and the partnership came together after Schaefer first rode the horse at McLain Ward’s farm in 2021.

“I took him as a sales horse and I just fell in love with him,” Schaefer said of Frasier. “I was really lucky that McLain made it possible for me to have this horse and a great group of clients at our barn all came together and put together a partnership for me. This is my motivation; to have a horse like this to show in these classes really means a lot. I have a great partnership with the horse and I believe in him completely, whether we’re jumping a two-star or a four-star it always feels the same. He’s very rideable, has a huge stride, and is incredibly brave.”

Tanner Korotkin (USA) and Ideal. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

After running circles around the horse show all morning, Schaefer still had clients to teach and classes to compete in herself, but enjoyed being part of the exciting week of action.

“These Major League [Show Jumping] weeks just feel so special,” Schaefer concluded. “It’s exciting to get five-star classes here. The environment is great and having these great riders forces you to be on your game and be that much better. When you have Kent [Farrington] and McLain coming behind you in the two-star on their second or third horses, it pushes you to be better.”

Final Results: $37,000 Cabana Coast CSI2* Grand Prix

1. FRASIER: 2010 KWPN gelding by Carambole x Padinus
SAMANTHA SCHAEFER (USA), Bonne Vie LLC: 0/0/36.33

2. IRANDOLE DU FLOT: 2014 SBS mare by Vivaldi du Seigneur x Ogano Sitte
SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Sweet Oak Farm: 0/0/36.77

3. IDEAL: 2012 SWB gelding by Cardento x Cortez
TANNER KOROTKIN (USA), Castlewood Farm Inc. & Sandalwood Farms: 0/0/36.92

4. HIGHWAY FBH: 2010 KWPN gelding by Plot Blue x Cornet Obolensky
JACOB POPE (USA), Team Rakowsky Equestrian LLC: 0/0/36.97

5. DANA DE KERGLENN: 2013 SF mare by Mylord Carthago x Diamant de Semilly
HUNTER HOLLOWAY (USA), Sigma Stables LLC: 0/0/37.19

6. BUGA Z: 2010 ZANG gelding by Chester Z x Quality Touch Z
SAMUEL PAROT (CHI), Samuel Parot: 0/0/37.50

7. MANHATTAN: 2011 AWR gelding by Metropolitan x Falkenhof’s Lancer
GEORGINA BLOOMBERG (USA), Gotham Enterprizes LLC: 0/0/38.53

8. LISANISKA COOL QUALITY: 2013 ISH gelding by Companiero x Quantum
JORDAN COYLE (IRL), Elan Farm: 0/4/35.18

9. TOULAYNA: 2014 ZANG mare by Toulon x Parco
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Kent Farrington LLC: 1/75.67

10. ENZO: 2009 KWPN gelding by Ustinov x Lord Lancer
KYLE KING (USA), Seabright Investment Consultants Inc.: 2/76.05

11. COSTA QUICK PS: 2014 OS gelding by Conthargos x Quickstar
ALEJANDRO LEONARDO WINKLER (MEX), Alejandro Leonardo Winkler: 3/77.39

12. BP WAKITA: 2013 ISH mare by Pacino x Cruising
ROBERTO TERAN (COL), Trefoil Farm LLC: 4/70.17

Samantha Sommers and Seaside. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Samamtha Sommers and Seaside Secure Amateur-Owner Hunter Final

Samantha Sommers and Seaside have enjoyed their time being lakeside in Michigan this summer, capping off their season with a win in the $25,000 Amateur-Owner Hunter Final, presented by the Gajoch Family. The Los Angeles, CA, native laid down two beautiful trips on Huckleberry Farm’s 16-year-old Warmblood gelding by Argentinus to land scores of 84 and 83 for a combined 167 and the win.

“When I went in for the first round I got in the groove and finished up really strong,” Sommers said of her performance. “In the second round I knew I could win it. I don’t think I choke up but I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself so my main goal was to stay smooth. He was really great. Everything was flowing so you could show off their jump and their canter.”

Samantha Sommers and Seaside pictured with Liz Reilly. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Sommers and “Santa,” as he’s known in the barn, are a year and a half into their partnership and moving up the levels in the hunters. “Liz [Reilly] actually found him right after he was imported and bought him for a junior client of hers and he made his way around, eventually coming here,” she continued. “This is my first year doing the 3’3” [Amateur-Owners] on him.

“He’s really comfortable,” Sommers continued. “He takes a lot of leg to get going, but once he sees the jump he’s on it. He likes to do well. He has a really good attitude and he’s really settled into his job as a hunter.”

Meghan Bear and My Time. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Seaside came off a jumper career in Europe and Sommers stays in touch with his former jumper rider. “I’m actually friends with his old owner back in Europe who brought him along in the jumpers,” she explained. “She reached out via Instagram and keeps up with him.”

Second-place honors went to My Time with Meghan Rohrbaugh Bear aboard for R & R Sport Horses LLC on a total score of 166, just one point off the winning score. Brain Shook and Primus Rex, owned by Oakvale Ventures LLC, claimed third with a score of 163.

“As a hunter rider, the prize money is really great,” Sommers concluded about the Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals. “Not only is this a great facility with great people showing, but it’s also nice to have these finals to motivate you and challenge you, especially before we go back east for the indoor circuit. We can put ourselves into the same kinds of rounds so that’s really great.”

Final Results: $25,000 Amateur-Owner Hunter Final, presented by the Gajoch Family

1. Seaside / Samantha Sommers / Huckleberry Farm / 84 + 83 = 167
2. My Time / Meghan Rohrbaugh Bear / R & R Sport Horses LLC / 82 + 84 = 166
3. Primus Rex / Brian Shook / Oakvale Ventures LLC / 81 + 82 = 163
4. Gijon / Eleanor Hellman / Sabrina Hellman / 85 + 74 = 159
5. Black Label B / Owen Gajoch / Owen Gajoch / 77 + 76 = 153
6. Remember Romance / Ashley Weiman / Romance Sport Horses / 74 + 73 = 147
7. Day Glow / Rena Lalley / Rena Lalley / 70 + 75.5 = 145.5
8. Not To Worry / Sarah Hellman / Sarah Hellman / 66 + 64 = 130
9. Persuasive / Jill Donaldson / Jill Donaldson / 80 + 45 = 125
10. Westeros / Owen Gajoch / Samantha Gajoch / 45 + 77 = 122
11. Venti / Bernadette Mulliken / Nick Haness / 43 + 75 = 118
12. Capstone / Elizabeth Cook / Elizabeth Cook / 42 + 72 = 114

Stella Wasserman and G. Eleven. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Stella Wasserman and Ava Berman Take Top Honors in Junior Hunter Finals

Stella Wasserman has called Traverse City home since the end of June, and her results are showing that she and the horses she rides are quite comfortable in Northern Michigan. The Los Angeles, CA, native took first and second place in the $25,000 3’6” Junior Hunter Final to conclude the day in the Main Hunter Ring Saturday afternoon.

“‘G’ is a catch ride for me,” she said of Don Stewart’s 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. “I only show him a little bit here and there, but he’s such a special horse. He never puts a foot wrong and he’s very reliable. He goes in there every time and wants to win so it’s a lovely feeling.”

Stella Wasserman and G. Eleven. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The pair rode to a two-round total of 173, and Wasserman also claimed second place aboard Laura Wasserman’s Skyhawk with a score of 166. Third place went to Maya Rahaim and the Renaud Farm LLC entry Kuore with a 164 total score.

G. Eleven has wowed the judges in Traverse City Derby action all season, with both Wasserman and Jacob Pope aboard, and his winning ways continued through Traverse City Huner & Derby Finals. “He has such an easy stride and scope and when you let him use that to his advantage it really shows, especially in the second round,” Wasserman explained.

Stella Wasserman and Skyhawk. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Wasserman has based out of Northern Michigan most of the summer and taken top results in the hunters and equitation, as well as competed in international show jumping action. “I’ve been here since Junior Hunter [National Championships] and it’s amazing to be here this much time,” she said. “You get to go on the lake, you get to do everything – equitation, hunters, jumpers. The rings are nice and everything was always great here.

“It’s very rare that somewhere offers such amazing classes like this with such great prize money in the hunters,” Wasserman explained regarding why she chose to compete in Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals. “Hunters have been my thing for my whole life so it’s such a great opportunity to do that. I love Traverse City so I decided to stay.”

Earlier in the Main Hunter Ring, the day was bright for Ava Berman and Brightside. With two stellar rounds in the $25,000 3’3” Junior Hunter Final, the young rider brought home a score of 172 for the win aboard the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding.

Ava Berman and Brightside. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“Brightside is amazing,” Berman said. “He’ll do anything for me. He’s done a bit of everything – jumpers, dressage, and I think he’s been doing hunters for about four years. I started him in the 3’ and he was champion so we moved up to 3’3” and he’s been amazing since then. He’s so soft. Everyone says he rides best with me so I let him have his head and do what he wants to do.”

Berman, of Baltimore, MD, brought her entire family along to Traverse City and her brother, in school nearby, came to celebrate the win as well. “I love Michigan,” she continued. “I love the weather. We get to go on the water and it’s really nice. This whole place is so wonderful for the horses.”

Ava Berman and Brightside. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

In her first appearance at Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals, Berman will certainly return for top prize money and a chance for a repeat victory. “It was so fun,” she said of her time at the finals. “He loves this ring. I showed him there the past two weeks and he won the classic both weeks. He’s been amazing.”

Collin Sweetnam and Coppertone. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Taking second place was Collin Sweetnam and the Sweet Oak Farm-owned Coppertone on a 170 score, while Claire Mullally and Camelia, owned by Judgment Farms LLC, took third with a 163 total score.

The Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals conclude Sunday with the $25,000 Non-Pro Traverse City Derby Final, presented by Makoto Farm, and the $100,000 Pro Traverse City Derby Final.

Final Results: $25,000 3’6” Junior Hunter Final

1. G. Eleven / Stella Wasserman / Donald Stewart / 173
2. Skyhawk / Stella Wasserman / Laura Wasserman / 166
3. Kuore / Maya Rahaim / Renaud Farm LLC / 164
4. Checker 69 / Olivia Sweetnam / Stacey Arani / 163
5. Small Kingdom / Augusta Iwasaki / Iwasaki & Reilly / 160
6. Souvenez-Vous / Sally Ives / Sally Ives / 159
7. Catwalk / Maya Rahaim / Renaud Farm LLC / 157
8. Cholita / Elise Stephens / Rendezvous Farm / 152
9. Aramis de B’Neville / Elise Stephens / Heritage Farm Inc. / 146
10. Jagerbomb / Isabelle Ehman / Infinity Equestrian LLC / 143
11. Small Love / Augusta Iwasaki / Iwasaki & Reilly / 136
12. Paper Trail / Elodie Watrous / Joyride Eq LLC / 111

Final Results: $25,000 3’3” Junior Hunter Final

1. Brightside / Ava Berman / Ava Berman / 172
2. Coppertone / Collin Sweetnam / Sweet Oak Farm / 170
3. Camelia / Claire Mullally / Judgment Farms LLC / 163
4. Counselor / Claire Mullally / Judgment Farms LLC / 161
5. Philadelphia Story / Ava Berman / The Lignelli Family / 147
6. Cumando Boy Z / Lily Epstein / Ainsley Wade / 144
7. Nightcap / Abigail Roberts / Abigail Roberts / 143
8. Vincent / Natalie Groulx / Natalie Groulx / 134
9. Coronado Beach / Hailey Guidry / Honor Hill Farm LLC / 132
10. Vagadam PSH / Calista Yun / Margaux Spitzer / 119

Augusta Iwasaki and Attendu De Lannois Z. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Augusta Iwasaki Punches a Ticket to ASPCA Maclay Finals

2022 will not be Augusta Iwasaki’s first trip to the ASPCA Maclay Finals, but she hopes it will be a memorable one. With five appearances at the prestigious final under her belt already, the Calabasas, CA, native is headed back for a sixth time after winning the Region 4 ASPCA Maclay Regional Championship for the second year in a row.

The championship invited all competitors to test a first-round track before returning for a flat phase. At the conclusion of the flat phase, four athletes were selected to test for final results: Iwasaki, Alexa Leong, Caroline Nadalin, and Stella Wasserman. As the top performer in the final test, Iwasaki was awarded the win with Attendu de Lannois Z, owned by Ashland Farms.

Alexa Long and Any Given Sunday. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“I knew I was going to be in the top four so I decided to go for it and see what my horse could do throughout the rest of the indoor season,” Iwasaki explained of her strategy. “I asked him to do all the things [that would set us apart] and he did them very well. Landing the counter leads is something we’re not always great at and he did it very well today.”

Though she has won this very event in Traverse City before, this year was particularly special with this horse. “I’ve had Attendu for two years and we’ve really grown together as a pair,” she said. “That’s really special, especially for my last junior year.”

Caroline Nadalin and Canago. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Iwasaki’s last junior year is sure to be a special one as she gears up for indoors, competing in equitation finals, as well as hunter finals and potentially Junior Jumper Finals.

“I really want to do well in the equitation finals,” Iwasaki concluded. “I’ve been doing the equitation for a very long time – I started when I was very young – so this is my sixth year doing finals. I’m competing at [USET Talent Search Finals – East] which I’ve only done one time before.”

Augusta Iwasaki topped the podium in the ASPCA Maclay Regional Championship, presented by Tiffany Morrissey. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Second place went to fellow West Coast representative Alexa Leong with Don Stewart’s Any Given Sunday, while Caroline Nadalin rounded out the top three with Canago.

Final Results: ASPCA Maclay Regional Championship – Region 4

1. Attendu de Lannois Z / Augusta Iwasaki / Ashland Farms
2. Any Given Sunday / Alexa Leong / Donald Stewart
3. Canago / Caroline Nadalin / Caroline Nadalin
4. Disco Superfly / Stella Wasserman / Donald Stewart
5. The Business / Kate Mills / Donald Stewart
6. Jinter van het Hagehof / Sally Ives / Sally Ives
7. Trade Secret / Hannah Loraine / Hannah Loraine
8. Ustica / Olivia Sweetnam / Sweet Oak Farm
9. Photoshop / Isabelle Ehman / Donald Stewart
10. Forgotten Lore / Jillian Puthoff / Lorene Puthoff