Aran showed her true colors in the $15,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix on Saturday night at the Huntington Beach Surf Classic, and rider Kristin Hardin could not be more pleased with her. „She’s all heart,“ said Hardin of the 12 year-old bay Dutch Warmblood mare, owned by Pamela Levin. „When she’s on, she’s on. She’s just one of those special horses. She’s all heart.“
Thirty horse and rider combinations took to the field to tackle designer Scott Starnes‘ 15-effort first course, which included three back-to-back double combinations. Only six horses went clear and within the time allowed to return for the jump-off, and the first to go was Aran with Hardin aboard. They put down a fast, clear round to put the pressure on the remaining competitors.
Bjorn Ikast had two horses in the jump-off and went double clear on both. He took 2nd place on Classini, a 9 year-old gray Holsteiner gelding owned by BBB Show Jumpers LLC, and 3rd place on Castino, a 7 year-old bay Silla Argentina stallion owned by Ikast and BBB Show Jumpers LLC. Carole Lessine rode Moonlight Equestrian Center’s Jonsaunier Dwerse Hagen, a 9 year-old roan Belgian Warmblood stallion to a double clear and 4th place ribbon. Max Dolger on his own Stakka Gold and Javier Solis on his Carrasco ended with four faults each and finished in 5th and 6th, respectively.
The times were close, but no one could catch Hardin and her feisty mare. What is it like to ride Aran? „It’s like being strapped to a rocket ship. You don’t feel like you have any controls. She doesn’t like to be pulled on…so I ride her in a hackamore and just kind of guide her around and try to stay out of her way. She was great tonight.“
USHJA National Hunter Derby
On Friday afternoon, the hunters took center stage to compete in the $3,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Twenty-seven horse and rider pairs completed the classic hunter round, and 12 entries came back for the handy round. In the end, Leila Ward-Maroney and Touchback, an 8 year-old chestnut Hanoverian gelding owned by Ashley Hartman, earned the judges‘ highest marks and took home the championship ribbon.
„He has a huge step and is just lovely to ride,“ said Leila Ward-Maroney. „We leased him for one of our girls to do the children’s hunters, and I’ve been riding him for about seven months. He was super today, just a really good boy. I loved the whole course; I thought it was really fun and both of my horses were amazing.“
Rebecca Bruce and her horse Evermore took the second place spot, and Amy Brubaker rode Michelle Kerivan’s Convaro to third place honors.
$5,000 1.20m Jumper Class
Friday was also a great day for Kristin Hardin, who took both first and third in the $5,000 1.20m Jumper Class. Racing to the win in the competitive speed class was Aran, who would also win the $15,000 GGT Footing Grand Prix on Saturday. „She was great in the 1.20m class,“ said Hardin. “She loves to go fast and she can turn really tight. I just tried to stay on the inside track everywhere and then gallop to the last jump. When she’s good, she’s hard to beat.”
Hardin also took third place on her own Bert, a 15 year-old bay Dutch Warmblood gelding. Picking up the red ribbon was Gavanta, a 7 year-old chestnut KWPN mare ridden by Mark Watring and owned by Dark Horse Farms.
LAHJA Silent Auction
On Saturday, the Los Angeles Hunter Jumper Association set up a silent auction with incredible prizes, including horse electromagnetic therapy sessions, a Fitbit, Huffy beach cruisers, wine, horse gifts and apparel, and stalls for upcoming shows! All proceeds were donated to the LAHJA Horsemastership Program, which provides college scholarships for riders who win a 3-phase horsemanship competition.
The silent auction generated plenty of excitement from exhibitors and spectators who were hopeful they would win. „Everyone has been in and out all day,“ said Charlotte Robson, Executive Director of the LAHJA, shortly before the auction closed. „We’ve had tons of activity and I think it’s going to be a total smash.“