Bill Schaub Leads USHJA Model Clinic at Pony Finals

What a fantastic morning for education at the 2018 USEF Pony Finals presented by Collecting Gaits Farm!

The USHJA Model Clinics kicked off this morning in the Covered Ring, and riders took away tips many of them were able to apply shortly after the session in their model classes happening today, August 7, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. Special thanks to William Schaub, of Over The Hill Farm, for leading the sessions today and tomorrow!

Bill Schaub
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Mind Games: 1985 AHSA Horse Of The Year Working Hunter & 1985 AHSA Reserve HOTY Conformation Hunter

Mind Games: 1985 AHSA Horse Of The Year Working Hunter & 1985 AHSA Reserve HOTY Conformation Hunter

 Courtney Kennedy and Mind Games

Courtney Kennedy and Mind Games

Article by Marianne Taylor for Equestrian Coach Blog

His mother was blind, so for as long as Mind Games was at her side, he wore a bell around his neck so that she would know where he was at all times. Whether or not wearing the bell contributed to his insecurities and quirks no one really knows, but it is suspected. Luckily for the seal brown Thoroughbred gelding, for almost all of his life, he was in the hands of great horsemen that knew how talented he was and learned to deal with his idiosyncrasies. They adapted to him and didn’t try to get him to adapt to their “program”.  The name Mind Games suited him perfectly.

Bred near Richmond, Virginia by Kathy Browning, Mind Games was by Richard S. Reynolds’ imported English Thoroughbred stallion *Bettered, out of a Thoroughbred show mare named Miss Jackie, that had come from Neely Blair (she was also the dam of Gary Kunsman’s Miss Libby and Arbitrage that belonged to Wilson Dennehy). Mind Games was bred to show, so he was not registered with the Jockey Club.

Debra Hoffman, also of the Richmond area, bought the big brown colt as a yearling. She nicknamed him “Junior” because of his size. Junior was the barn name that stuck with Mind Games throughout his show career. With Jan Simpson doing the ground work, Debra broke Junior as a two-year-old, but because of his big size (by now he was 16.2), he was uncoordinated and couldn’t really figure out how to canter well. He was turned out in a field for another year. At three, the same problem and the same solution—out in the field for another year. Same thing at four. Finally, by the time he was five, he was used to his own size and could advance in his training.

As a six-year-old, it was time for Junior’s first horse show. By then, Debra had figured out some of the tricks for keeping him happy—mind games, if you will. There his show name was born. Debra showed him at his first show—a small schooling show near Richmond. In the pouring rain, Mind Games marched around the course with his ears up and won the class. After that, Debra got Eric Dirks to show him at some local shows.  Kitty Beveridge (now Barker) then took over and showed him in one Pre-Green division, and then they went right into the 1st Year Greens the same year.

After Florida, when Mind Games was a 2nd Year horse, Kitty became pregnant and stopped riding. Debra then made a decision that was the best for her horse…she got Tommy Serio to show Junior. Tommy had been around great horsemen all of his life and learned from each of them. He had an uncanny ability to figure a horse out and a soft, easy, accurate way with each of them. Tommy was the perfect rider for Mind Games.

Some people might call Mind Games’ little idiosyncrasies “quirks,” but Tommy called them “insecurities”. Quickly, Tommy figured out how to deal with each of them. They never cantered a jump in the schooling ring and were known to trot a vertical as high as 4’6” with ease. After warming up, Tommy would get off at the ring, adjust the saddle, and let Junior just stand and relax before going in the ring. He rode him in a double-twisted snaffle with no martingale. Tommy said he just looped the reins and Mind Games would canter around the course and jump “impeccable” over every jump. It was a match made in heaven.

Tommy Serio didn’t start showing Mind Games until Upperville of his 2nd Year, but the next year, 1985, they started in May at Keswick in the Working Hunters, where they were Champion. They showed at more shows that year in both the Working and the Conformation divisions and were champion at many “A” shows including Devon, Upperville, and Pennsylvania National (Harrisburg, PA). Mind Games was Conformation Champion at Harrisburg and Working Reserve Champion at Washington, where he also won the Hunter Classic. By the end of 1985, Mind Games was American Horse Show Association Horse Of The Year in the Working Hunters and Reserve Horse Of The Year in the Conformation Hunters. Mind Games was hurt early in 1986 so he sat out much of the year from showing.

Having shown for many years with much success, it was riding Mind Games that Tommy said “broke the ice” and got him known widely as the great horseman and rider that he is. When Charlie Weaver left the riding position at Cismont Manor Farm in the Fall of 1986, it was Tommy Serio that Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler hired to take over the reins of their successful stable of show hunters including Two For One, Missouri, Super Flash, and many others. Mind Games, still owned by Debra Hoffman, joined the Cismont Manor string for 1987 and won his fair share.

 Tommy Serio and Mind Games

Tommy Serio and Mind Games

In the Fall of 1987, trainer Bill Schaub was looking for a horse to move his student, Courtney Kennedy, off of her large pony Chardonnay, and it was Mind Games that he picked. Courtney’s sister, Ashley, had won about all there was to win for the previous three years on her Large Junior horse, Lyrik, so soon after Courtney got Mind Games, the two sisters switched horses for the next year. It was Ashley’s last year Junior in 1988. She showed Mind Games to much success, including Large Junior Champion at Washington International (Courtney was Reserve to Mind Games on Lyrik).

Like Tommy Serio, Bill Schaub figured out ways to keep Mind Games happy. When he’d get nervous in his stall, they tied a bell on him. That must have brought back memories and security from the days when he was a foal at his mother’s side and he’d calm down. Bill and the Kennedy girls did nothing in a hurry around Junior. Their trick to keep him calm at the ring and around the course was to wad up some grass and put it in his mouth with a tight noseband to hold it. He’d suck on the grass all around the course.

By 1989, Courtney Kennedy was showing Mind Games in the Large Junior, as well as Lyrik. The two champion horses were best buddies and inseparable. Courtney learned right away that you couldn’t “make” Junior do anything. You had to ask nicely. He hated showing at night at Devon. Courtney said he went in the ring and just stood there until she left the ring. He also didn’t like big grass grand prix fields, so they avoided showing on them. Courtney said, “As long as we kept him relaxed and happy, he was just the greatest horse.” The highlight of their year together was at Pennsylvania National (Harrisburg) where they won every Over Fences class and ended up Grand Junior Hunter Champion.

After several happy years with Debra and Tommy, then Bill and the Kennedy girls, unfortunately Mind Games’ luck ran out. He was sold into a top stable that tried to make him conform to their routine. The horse that had won so much was now a shell of his past self—he was a nervous wreck. Finally, the owners sent Junior back to Tommy Serio.

Tommy took his time and got Mind Games’ confidence and security back. After the pair proved themselves once again in the show ring in Florida, and the Junior rider was able to win a class, Junior was retired and given to Tommy.

Mind Games lived out his life with the man that loved him so much at Springdale, the farm that Tommy rented near Cismont Manor. One day, at the age of 26, Junior seemed a little colicky so Tommy took him to the vet clinic. Tommy said that he knew in his heart that was the last time he would see his old friend. Sure enough, later that night, the vets decided there was nothing more they could do for the grand ol’ horse and they called Tommy with the recommendation to put him down. Tommy sadly agreed.

Every horse is an individual. Some are easier than others. If not for Mind Games ending up in the hands of Debra Hoffman, Tommy Serio, Bill Schaub, and Ashley and Courtney Kennedy, he would have been just another great horse that slipped through the cracks. As it was, the sweet, insecure horse shone as one of the bright lights of the “A” shows from the mid to late 80s.

Meet Your Devon Junior Weekend Hunter Champions

 Alexa Lignelli and iParty

Alexa Lignelli and iParty

From The Chronicle of the Horse:

Devon, Pa- May 27, 2017

Through the hustle and bustle of the Devon Horse Show & Country Fair grounds, ponies and horses alike capped their weekends with tricolors. Here are the junior and pony riders that bested the best this year where champions meet.

Photo by Laura Lemon

Alexa Lignelli and iParty- Small Pony Hunter

When you go through a streak of winning, there’s always the fear of it ending. And Lignelli was on a streak as she headed to Devon, Pa.

“We had a great Harrisburg, so we came here, and I was actually pretty nervous because she’s been having a great year. I was like ‘Oh my god,’ ” said Lignelli’s trainer Bill Schaub. “Everyone expects you to do well and when you don’t do well they’re like ‘What happened?’ ”

But those fears were quelled when Lignelli captured the small pony champion and reserve champion honors on iParty and Rollingwoods Knee Deep. To top off her weekend, she earned Grand Pony Hunter champion honors and collected the Best Child Rider on a Pony award.

“[I felt] very confident because I came here last year, and we just wanted to get used to the ring, and then I knew this year,” said the 10-year-old.

Alexa Lignelli Cover Girl

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Congratulations to Alexa Lignelli for making the cover of The Paisley Magazine!

Working Together

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Congratulations to Bill Schaub and Alexa Lignelli for your feature article in The Plaid Horse magazine!

iParty Celebrates on the Way to the Pennsylvania National's Grand Pony Hunter Championship

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From The Chronicle of the Horse
By Molly Sorge

It was hard to miss Alexa Elle Lignelli's smile at the Pennsylvania National. Her grin was ear-to-ear during junior weekend, Oct. 13-15 in Harrisburg.

Lignelli couldn't contain her excitement on Day 1 of the pony divisions, as she and iParty topped the conformation class, then placed second in the handy. And then she followed that up with a win in the under saddle and second in the stake class to claim not only the small pony tricolor, but also the grand pony hunter title.

Lignelli's smile in the grand pony hunter awards ceremony outshone the trophies she won, but she still wasn't done. She picked up the Best Child Rider on a Pony title, too.

"She has nerves of steel! She's always telling me to calm down; she doesn't understand why I get nervous," said Bill Schaub, who trains Lignelli. "She loves the competition. That's unusual for someone so young. And she doesn't get emotional. If she has a bad round, she comes out smiling, we talk about it, and she goes back in. 

"Her mother's instilled that in both of them," Schaub said of Lignelli, 9, and her sister Agatha. "She's taught them that you have to learn how to win and how to lose."

It was a stellar debut for Alexa's first indoor season with iParty (Dragoncroft Pintado—Loafers Lodge Isis). The half-Welsh pony, who is also 9, won the small pony hunter title last year as well with Lila Mark riding. 

"I knew she loves this ring, so I was hoping things would go well here," said Alexa, who took up iParty's reins after the Washington International Horse Show (D.C.) last year.

"She's very huntery. You have to know her pace very well though. If you find her good pace, all the distances just come up. It's not really galloping, but definitely not slow," Alexa said.

Alexa and Agatha, 6, live in New York City and ride with Katie O'Donnell on Long Island and with Schaub, of Sanford, Fla. Their show ponies, including iParty, live with Schaub, and they meet them at shows. But they travel to Long Island whenever they can to ride at O'Donnell's Twin Oaks Farm.

And at Twin Oaks, the Lignelli girls have a much more relaxed atmosphere than at the show ring. "They spend hours out there, playing with the ponies and grooming and bathing them," said their mother, Catherine Lignelli. "They clean stalls. This high-end show circuit is very different, but I think that there needs to be a balance. That's so valuable to my girls. They do this, and then they ride bareback and take the ponies swimming in the pond."

Catherine rides casually, so when her daughters expressed an interest in ponies, she dove in. "It's such a wonderful sport. We're nothing but blessed to be involved in this. I'm so impressed with all the rider and the supportive families I've met," she said.

When they met Schaub this winter, Catherine thought he would be a good fit for the girls. "Bill is a very special man. His character was something that drew us to him. I thought it was a good fit for my girls' character," she said.

Schaub started helping Alexa at the ring just before the U.S. Pony Finals (Ky.) this year. "She won the under saddle at Pony Finals, but then we had some bad luck there. She was reserve last week at Capital Challenge [Md.], so she's been working her way up to this," Schaub said. "When she first came to me, she got along with [Rollingwoods Knee Deep] the best, and she was a bit on and off with iParty. But now they've really come together. IParty is such a lovely pony across the ground. She'll be sassy in the stall, but in the ring she loves to win."

Great Success at the Washington International

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October 30, 2016
Jump Media

Washington, D.C. - The 58th annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) came to a close on Sunday, October 30, after an unforgettable week of equestrian sport in the nation's capital. The final day of competition featured pony and regional hunter champions at Verizon Center in downtown Washington D.C. WIHS ran October 25-30, welcoming over 500 horses to compete for more than $500,000 in prize money. With top sport, exciting exhibitions, fabulous shopping, and more, the 2016 WIHS had something for everyone and celebrated another successful equestrian event in the nation’s capital.

Mimi Gochman’s sister, Sophie Gochman, rode Dr. Betsee Parker's Bit of Love to earn the Small Pony Hunter Championship, sponsored by Further Lane Farm, and was awarded The Stombock Saddlery Challenge Trophy, donated by Stombock Saddlery in Memory of E.P. (Bud) Stombock. The pair placed first, fourth, and fourth over fences, and finished third under saddle. Alexa Lignelli and her own Rollingwoods Knee Deep earned the reserve championship with two second-place ribbons over fences.

Hannah Bernstein’s Woodlands Stevie Ray and Emily Aitken took championship honors in the Medium Pony Hunter division and earned The Shenandoah Sundowner Perpetual Trophy, donated by Evan Coluccio and Ashmont Farms, Ltd. The pair won two classes over fences and placed second under saddle. Bill Schaub’s Highlands Heaven Sent and Luke Jensen won one class over fences to earn the reserve championship.

Isabelle Aldridge led the jumping phase of the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals with a score of 87 riding Woodland’s Misty Rain, owned by Aldridge Equestrian, LLC and finished in second place overall after the flat phase. After pocketing a score of 84 over fences, Grace Debney and Denmark, owned by John Skinner, took third, and Saylor Shea claimed fourth with an 82.5 riding Magical Diamond, owned by Strawberry Hill, LLC. Luke Jensen rounded out the top five with a score of 82 aboard Fox Creek’s Curious George, owned by Dianna Orona. 

Final Results: WIHS Pony Equitation Finals
Place/Number/Horse/Owner/Rider/Score

 

1 655 Storyteller Fair Play Farm Sophie Gochman 86
2 839 Woodland’s Misty Rain Aldridge Equestrian, LLC Isabelle Aldridge 87 3 589 Denmark John Skinner Grace Debney 84
4 462 Magical Diamond Strawberry Hill, LLC Saylor Shea 82.5
5 955 Fox Creek’s Curious George Dianna Orona Luke Jensen 82
6 332 Jessandi Famous Amos Olivia Stoeckel Olivia Stoeckel 83
7 485 Kingston Gabrielle Sokolow Augusta Iwasaki 81.5
8 546 Blueberry Hill Natalie Jayne Claire Campbell 80
9 575 Anisette Hannah Hoch Hannah Hoch 75
10 331 Glynhafan Red Kestral Olivia Markman Olivia Markman 79

Great Things Come in Small Packages at the Pennsylvania National

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From Horses Daily
10/16/2016 12:48pm
Photo by Al Cook

Harrisburg, PA - Pony Hunters of all sizes took over the ring at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show presented by the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Trust. The ponies and their pint-sized jockeys contested two over fences classes on Friday, and on Saturday saw the culmination of their efforts, with a class on the flat and one final round over fences to determine championship honors.

Alexa Elle Lignelli, a 9-year-old fourth grader from New York, NY, and her 9-year-old pony IParty, were named Small Pony Hunter Champion, placing first or second in all the classes in the division for a point total of 32. Sophie Gochman and Bit of Love, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker took the Reserve with 26 points.

"I started riding her after Washington last year. She is very huntery. If you don't know her pace you won't find the distances. You don't want to go forward galloping or you will pop or chip. You want to have a normal pace, not like a real hunter, not that slow but like pretty medium," explained the adorable Lignelli.

When asked what she likes about horse shows, Lignelli was very clear. "I like the competition. I just love the sport. It is so fun."

Trainer Bill Schaub added "Two weeks before pony finals I got a phone call and she came to me. They started off with a bang. They were Champion Section A in Kentucky the week before Pony Finals. We had some bad luck at Pony Finals but we have been inching our way up."

"She has nerves of steel," continued Schaub. "She doesn't get nervous. She is always telling me to calm down. She loves the competition and that is unusual, if she has a bad round she comes out smiling and we discuss it and learn from it and it is over. They have really come together."

Rock Star, an entry of Roberts Sales LLC, and rider Sophia Roberts, a 12-year-old from Wilmington, OH, were the Medium Pony Hunter Champions with 24 points. Trillville, owned by Stella Wasserman and Augusta Iwasaki were the Reserve Champions with 16 points.

"I am so happy," said Gochman. "He is such a good boy. I wasn't really thinking about the championship. I was just trying to do my best. He has a great rhythm, a nice smoot jump and is so comfortable, and he tries really hard all the time. I love riding him. Sadly, this is my last year on ponies so this is a good way to go out."

Grand Pony Hunter Champion was awarded to IParty and Alexa Elle Lignelli, making it an even better day for the pair. IParty's caretaker, Amato Ramos took home the Groom Award for his efforts.

The EMO Agency Pony Hunter High Five award was given to Sophie Gochman and The Pony Hunter Sportsmanship Award went to Adam Edgar.

Final awards for the Junior Hunters were also handed out. Evermore and Emma Kurtz were named High Point Small Junior Hunter, winning the Huntland Derby Perpetual Cup. Brett Burlington's Due West and was the High Point Large Junior Hunter. Due West was also named Grand Junior Hunter, Perpetual Trophy, with his groom, Milton Portillo, taking the Groom Award and Michael Delphiandra winning the Trainer Award. Best Junior Rider on a Horse, the Maxine Best Memorial Perpetual Trophy, was presented to Emma Kurtz and the Sportsmanship Award was given to Christopher Coberley.

A Tackroom Award is given out for the best decorated, most functional tackroom for Junior Weekend. This year North Run placed first. The display from Beacon Hill was second, third went to Heritage Farm and fourth was Boggs Hill.

The draw for order of go in the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final took place at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. With 276 riders, parents and trainers present, all anxiously waiting to hear the starting positions in the prestigious class. Show Manager Peter Doubleday did the honors, drawing Caroline Ellis as the first in the ring. For the distinction of being the first, Caroline was awarded a jacket to keep her warm in the wee hour's tomorrow morning as she warms up for her round.

"I want to congratulate all the riders for their hard work and dedication," said Doubleday. "I especially want to thank all the parents for their sacrifices in getting you to this level. And I want to thank all the caretakers of these horses, who put in so much effort to make this possible. I wish you all good luck."