Week III of Nilforushan Equisport Events‘ Temecula Valley National Horse Show hit its midway point Friday, with the revolutionary California horse show once again offering a unique competition element to exhibitors. The spotlight class of the day, the $10,000 Open Equitation Championship pitted riders of all levels against each other for a stake at the top prize, with Emma Lindstrom and Univers Theod clinching the victory ahead of a field of both professionals and amateurs.
The feature class of the evening brought equitation to the forefront in the Audi Grand Prix Arena, with Olaf Petersen, Jr.’s (GER) technical track offering plenty of opportunities for riders to showcase their skills in front of the watchful panel of judges during the $10,000 Open Equitation Championship.
Leading the way after the first phase of competition was professional Emma Lindstrom and Charlotte Murray’s Univers Theod with a score of 88, followed by owner-rider Emma Reichow Chico II with marks of 87. Earning 86 points, Gracie Marlow and Twizzler, owned by Carina Sanchez, claimed the third spot with Sophie Simpson aboard Joan Lindeman’s Henri HX rounded out the top four after the first round of riding with 85 points. Jamie Taylor and Noteworthy Horse’s Uptick clinched fifth with 84 points, while Maddie James and Kristy Miller’s Exact secured the final spot with 83 points to qualify for the work-off.
With only a few points separating the top six contenders, the second phase of the class left no room for error among the leaders. Prepared by the judges, the abridged course included counter-cantering the first fence, a trot jump and a hand gallop among other tests, concluding with a sitting trot back to the line.
Riding in reverse order of the standings, the first five competitors laid down strong performances, but left the door open for Lindstrom and “Theo” to maintain their status atop the scorecard. Outshining the pack with the most audacious hand gallop to the final fence, Lindstrom and Univers Theod were named the champions of the inaugural $10,000 Open Equitation Championship.
“I just thought we were really smooth,” Lindstrom said of their rounds that day. “Beginning to end there weren’t that many changes and he jumped great. He just has such a great canter across the ground and such a beautiful jump, so I think it was a nice, smooth picture.”
“We wanted him to have the experience in the ring because this is his owner’s first year doing the 3’6″ Medals with him, so it was a good experience for him and it looked like a fun class! I knew he’d be great in this ring. Fun for me, and fun for the owners to watch him do it.”