Saturday, August 17, 2013

Menlo Charity Horse Show

Last week was the ever-popular Menlo horse show.  This show is like no other on our calender, as it's truly a social event.  Every night has a different social activity, from dinners to Gala's, fashion shows to silent auctions and some of the best shopping around

Some sights at the beautiful Menlo

.  It's almost more for the spectator than the exhibitor.  Almost.  While all these fun events are going on, there are some pretty fantastic classes being held.  International Hunter Derbies, Take Your Own Line Speed Classes, Horse and Hound Races, and the Grand Prix to name a few.  It was an exciting week, whether you were there for the horses or to have fun with friends.

The first part of the week was all about our two attending hunters, Square One and Journey.  FCF Pro Chelsea enjoyed the rides on these two lovely horses, prepping them for a busy weekend.  Journey performed beautifully in his classes, always the business man in the show ring.  Square One tried his end in the uber-competitive Performance division, coming out with scores in 80s and 4th place finishes.  He's such a competitor.
Square One

Thursday brought the start of the Adult divisions.  Owners Joan Gamble and Sharon Mackenzie have never looked better.  Throughout the whole weekend the ladies proved what consistent and educated horsewomen they are, laying down trip after trip and earning top ribbons along the way.  Sharon, in her very first Menlo appearance, was the winner of her age group's U/S and her well-ridden rounds earned her many 3rds, 4ths and 5ths against some stiff competition.  Joan herself had many ribbons flying from her horse's bridle, as her gorgeous trips earned her scores of 83 and 84.  May we just remind everyone that this was Joan's return to the ring after a year's absence??  Unbelievable, this lady sure can ride.  We are so proud to call you both part of Team FCF.
Square One waiting for the jog!

The weekend brought about the arrival of our Grand Prix horse's, Peter and Nickel for the $40,000 Bentley Grand Prix.  This highlight event brought some of the best competition in Northern CA to contend for such a hefty purse.  Our boys were at a slight disadvantage, as their first time in the ring was for the Grand Prix itself, but being the ultimate showmen they are, this would be no problem.  In front of a huge, enthusiastic crowd, the boys jumped their hearts out, with Nickel earning a spot in the jump-off.  Nickel, always fleet of foot, flew around the course and came in with an excellent 3rd place finish.  Peter, not far behind, landed in 9th position.  A great evenings work for our boys, words can't express how much we love them!  After the victory gallop, we wrapped up, packed up and headed home.  Phew.  Busy week but gotta love this heritage horse show!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gucci Gucci Gucci!!!

Yes, you heard me, GUCCI!!!  The Giant Steps Charity Horse Show (also known to us as Week 2) was presented by Gucci.  Did I make that clear enough?  One more time: GUCCI!!!!  This was the first time in history that fashion house Gucci was involved with an American horse show, and to have it be at our home was truly an experience!  The week was a whirlwind of events: from hunter derbies to ride and drives, a grand prix and a Gala!  It was hectic but it was so cool.

The Horse Park has truly never looked more beautiful, with staff going above and beyond, the place was truly transformed to host this historic event.  We had many of our barn members competing and I don't think anyone has enjoyed themselves more.  With incredible footing, highlight events every evening, wine tastings, food trucks, fantastic shopping (including a Gucci tent up on the VIP berm) and sold out competition, it was quite possibly the best horse show of the year.  Also, let's not forget... those amazing Gucci ribbons and Championship coolers!!!  Have I said Gucci enough yet?

The Color Guard during the Gala

Maybe easiest is to go day by day?

Wednesday:  First day of the show, mostly known as a "Pro Day," this was our quietest day of the week.  Competing most of the horses, FCF Pro Chelsea earned top ribbons in the hunter ring with Square One, Baloutel, and Scotch and Soda.  Jumpers were also ribbon winners with Monte Carlo, Remonta Galeon, R Lobo, Coppacabana, Charmeur Van de Begijnakker (Peter) and Dusty Z all jumping impressive rounds in their respective classes.

Thursday:  Ok now the fun is starting to begin.  Hunters continued their winning ways, with Square One dominating his division with outstanding scores of 85 and 90!  Baloutel, competing in his 2nd ever Hunter Derby (his first being the previous week), solidified a 6th place finish which included a handy round score of 84, earning him a coveted Gucci ribbon!  Scotch and Soda also clocked in 2 flawless rounds with scores in the 80's.  Good Hunter boys!!  Jumpers, not to be outdone, all put in beautiful cleans, with high ribbons for Remonta Galeon (Brittany Shehi now aboard), Monte Carlo and R Lobo. Thursday was also the first night of our highlight evening events, this nights being the Battle of the Sexes!  The outcome?  Girls rule and Boys drool of course!!!

Brittany Shehi and Remonta Galeon on course
Friday:  Now it's time for our clients to all join the fun.  Brittany and Remonta Galeon continued their clean and ribbon-winning ways, not a fault in sight for these two!  Hannah Cooper and her newfound partner from last week, R Lobo, again turned in clear performances, I'm quite certain these two haven't come near a rail since first teaming up.  Check out his videos on youtube folks!  New partners just this week, May Seto and Scotch and Soda earned blue ribbons in the equitation ring with some impressive rounds.  Friday night had two highlight events, first the $15,000 Eden Valley Stables Open Jumper Classic, second the Vespa Ride and Drive!  FCF Pro Chelsea and her incredible partner Nickel contested the Open Classic, with Nickel of course delivering a clean first round.  Now, this was a highly competitive class with close to 50 entries, 14 of them (including Chelsea and Nickel) advanced to the jump-off.  Going somewhat early in the order, Chelsea and Nickel knew the competition to follow them was stiff and Dusty (our fearless leader) advised them to leave it all on the line.  Boy, did they ever!  Turning in mid air and galloping as if it were the Kentucky Derby, they threw down a time that proved to be unbeatable. Winners!!  Add another Gucci ribbon, and now a cooler to the list!  Last up for the evening: Ride and Drive.  This is always and exciting event, meaning: many crashes and burns!  Tonight was no different, several people took hard falls off the Vespa (victims of trying to go to fast!) and a couple riders followed suit.  Our entry, Chelsea on Monte Carlo and Monte Carlo's owner Sean Leckie on the Vespa, turned in a fantastic trip, but some unfortunate luck with the starting of the Vespa, tricky things, kept them from the top spot.  Next year!

Nickel and Chelsea, happy campers!
Saturday:  This was a big one for the Horse Park, as this was the night of the Charity Gala.  Rings were  set to finish a little earlier, in time to set up, so we luckily had a fairly easy schedule.  Yet again Brittany and Galeon clocked in clear performances, as did Hannah and Lobo.  May and Scottie continued their winning ways with, I believe, 3 more blue ribbons to add to the list.  Giana and Dusty Z turned in a beautiful round in the Morning Star Open Classic, as did Monte Carlo and Chelsea.  Monte Carlo strutted his stuff in an extremely fast 18 horse jump-off, earning him a 6th place finish and his very own Gucci ribbon (the truly important thing).  That evening was the beautiful Charity Gala, with proceeds going to the Giant Steps Therapeutic Riding Center (based out of our very own Sonoma Horse Park).  The VIP berm was transformed for a night of auctions, six bars and general merriment.  What an incredible cause and we applaud everyone involved for putting on one of the most amazing evenings the Horse Park has ever seen.

Monte Carlo enjoys the Victory Gallop

The Gala Set-Up

The Gala Table!

Sunday:  The final day!  What a great day it was, too.  Brittany and Galeon ended up Reserve Champions in their division, after a week of consistent, ribbon-producing riding.  I see these two moving up in the near future!  Hannah and her new love Lobo reached their ultimate goal: a win in the uber-competitve Low A/A Jumpers.  Riding with abandon, they beat out 25 other competitors for the top honours.  May and Scottie, not to be outdone, were themselves winners, cementing their Division Championship.  For a new pairing, I'd say it couldn't have gone any better!  We're so proud of our clients for meeting their goals and riding so beautifully.  Sunday afternoon brought about the final event of the show: the Grand Prix of course!  A challenging course was set by designer Peter Grant, probably the biggest Sonoma Horse Park has seen to date.  This certainly was the biggest Chelsea and Nickel had faced.  These two showed no nerves, floating around the course with ease, only one misstep in the triple combination caused them to place 11th and kept them out of a jump-off.  Next time, next time!
Brittany and Galeon

May and Scottie

Like we said: a whirlwind of a week (actually two) but what an amazingly fun week this was.  We are so grateful to be a part of such a progressive venue and can hardly wait for next year!!!!!

 We love Nickel!

Monday, August 12, 2013

HMI Equestrian Classic, let's backtrack

Yes, I know, I know, so so so so belated in posting blogs. We at FCF truly apologize for this depressing delay in news blogs.  In our defense, it's possibly been the craziest 3 weeks we may have ever experienced!  You heard correctly: this would be the first day of rest for us FCF employees in 3 long, but wonderful weeks.  I'm going to rewind ourselves a little, back to the first of 2 huge weeks of at home Sonoma horse shows (honestly it seems like years ago!)  Here's our sad attempt at a recap:
The incomparable Nickel

The HMI Equestrian Challenge was the first of 2 weeks at Sonoma, the biggest the facility had ever hosted.  With 6 show days, 6 rings (a brand new one was installed the week before competition) and the best prize money in Northern California, it proved to be an intense, but fulfilling week.  We had many horses competing, including several new sales horses hot off the van, and a full "home" schedule to keep up.  Now, we love our at home shows, but they have proven to be the most exhausting for FCF employees.  We try our hardest, seeing as we are on the property, to not only cater to our showing clients schedules, but keep up a regular "home" lesson and training schedule for those not competing.  With ring schedules often overlapping our lesson and training schedules, this proves to be slightly stressful and sometimes hectic.  We commend our whole staff with stepping up to the plate and providing the utmost care and attention to all our clients, showing or not showing.  We could not do it without our incredible teamwork.  We also thank our clients for their patience and support, as sometimes this might mean a 10 minute delay or early start to lessons, perhaps a change in order at the ring, you all are so understanding and we feel blessed to have you as clients.

Ok, now let's move on to some show news!  We had many exciting moments and milestones this week.  Phoenix Williams and her ever-dependable partner Flying Solo, made the move up to the 0.85m with class and style.  Placing in every class they competed in, it was truly a joy to watch this pair meet and surpass their goals.  Also meeting her newly-set goals was Cheryl Daniels-Grey and Boardwalk.  Cheryl and Boardwalk, in their 2nd show together, made the jump to the Low Adult Hunters, making it look effortless.  Earning scores of 82, this duo looks to be the ones to beat.  I may be seeing A/A's in their future...  Sharon Mackenzie continued her impressive ways with solid rounds in the A/A's, proving her readiness for the illustrious Menlo Charity Horse Show (a goal of hers to compete there).  Also on the docket was new partnership Hannah Cooper and recently arrived sales horse R Lobo.  These two were joined together on the saturday before the show began and in no way looked to be a new partnership.  Seeming as if they'd been together for years, the twosome flew around to top ribbons in the 1.00m Low Adult and 1.05m (the highest Hannah has ever competed!) Jumpers.  They raked in top ribbons and had loads of fun doing so.  Miss Lynne Lancaster, hot off her incredibly successful trip to Spruce Meadows, showed us how much she'd learned on her trip by taking the step up to the 1.15m classes.  Not only did her mount, Cielo, smoke the competition in the 1.15m and 1.20m classes with FCF pro Chelsea Jones, but she continued to do so with Lynne in the A/A jumpers and the 1.15m's.  This horse and Lynne have big plans for the future, and we have no doubt that they will meet them!!  Lastly, Annmarie Mede and Shamus competed in their last show together.  It was a bittersweet moment for these two, as it will be the last one for them, but they made the move to the 1.10m division.  One of Annmarie's last goals before heading off to college was to move up to the 1.10m, and with her trusty steed, Shamus, she did just that.  Not only did she receive top ribbons in the Low Childrens Jumper division, but she clocked around her first 1.10m as if it were nothing.  We're so proud of you Annmarie and wish you all the best at college!!
Annie, Shamus, Hannah and Lobo enjoying some shade between rounds!

On the Professional side of things, we had many wonderful moments with our sales horses and Grand Prix horses.  Newcomer Baloutel competed in the hunter ring for the first time ever with Pro Chelsea and proved he had found his calling.  Earning scores of 84 in the Performance hunters, he looks to be a Derby winner in the making.  Also new to our sales roster, Monte Carlo had top ribbons in the 1.15m and 1.20m Jumpers.  This guy is fast, fun and careful, making him the perfect first competitive jumper or USET or horse.  Nickel and Peter had a successful week, with a 2nd and 5th place finish in a highly competitive 1.40m class and beautiful rounds in the $30,000 Grand Prix.  These two just continue to amaze us with their awesomeness.  Our other FCF pro, Giana Roberge had some fabulous rounds with her horse Dusty Z and sales horse Coppacabana.  She made the move up with the young (barely 8) Dusty Z to the 1.30m and earned top ribbons in the 1.20m division with new partner Coppacabana.  These pairs are ones to watch!
Baloutel, his first week as hunter!

The beautiful Monte Carlo

We had so much fun this week, regardless of the early mornings and late nights.  Yes, it may be crazy, but this is our life and we wouldn't have it any other way :)  We promise to follow up soon with a recap of the 2nd week at Sonoma!!!!

P.S.  entry blanks and schedules have been placed in the tack room for the Sacramento International Horse Shows.  Closing date is Aug.26, so hurry and please come to us with any questions or comments!