CPHA awards for Medal Finals

San Juan Capistrano, CA – The 2018 California Professional Horsemen’s Association (CPHA) Junior and Amateur Hunt Seat Medal Finals, held again in the Blenheim Farms Indoor Arena adjacent to the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, proved an ideal medal final season opening event for the 60 juniors, 21 amateur riders and crowd of supportive fans at this weekend’s Blenheim Summer Classic. The two-day, three-round CPHA event kicked off the season with gorgeous ribbons and fantastic awards. Congratulations goes to junior rider Emily Williams, trained by Archie Cox, who championed the junior division and Shannon Davidson, trained by David Bustillos and Nick Haness, who took home the Amateur division honors.

2018 marks the CPHA Final’s biggest turnout, with a total of 81 competitors. Each round was meticulously created and set by veteran medal finals course designer Scott Starnes. Friday’s first hunter-style round, tested the riders through forward lines and two one-stride combinations. The course also provided opportunities for tight rollbacks allowing riders to show their hunter handiness. The second round, on Saturday afternoon, was comprised of mostly jumper type fences, including a swedish oxer with butterfly wings in the far corner. In this round, riders had to find distances off their eye and keep a forward and consistent pace. Both Williams and Davidson made the course look easy, piloting their mounts to top positions heading into round three. Williams sat first going into round three and Davidson sat second in the amateurs, tailing Katherine Dash. The final track featured many curves and turns again, both in and outside of lines, testing the riders’ balance and consistency.

Emily Williams and Carlo

Emily Williams and Carlo Rock the Juniors
Williams came out of round one on top, and maintained her overall lead throughout the competition. With a commanding lead as she headed into the third round, Williams had an unfortunate rail that brought Breanna Bunevacz to just a half a point behind. The specifications state that any rider within three points of the first place score calls for a work-off, so Williams and Bunevacz returned to the ring for a final test.

Breanna Bunevacz and Acortair

The work-off consisted of jumping an oxer off the counter lead, bending to an immediate trot fence, and a hand gallop to the final vertical.

“I really liked the work-off because it showed how technical we could be” said Williams. “I wanted to show that I could land the counter-canter after the first jump and hold it throughout the corner to the oxer.”

She continued, “I loved the hand gallop because it showed our ability to find a distance off that huge, brilliant step. It was also just a blast.”

Williams and her own horse Carlo have had an extremely successful 2018 season together. The pair placed fourth in the Hunterdon Cup and were named champion of the Large 3’3″ 16-17 Junior Hunter Championship, just a few weeks ago at Del Mar Horse Park.

She describes her equine partner as her “dream horse”, one that is willing to do anything asked of him and more. Earning a three round score of 767 points, and 88, 90, and 89 from the judges in the work-off, the dynamic pair are certainly a team to watch during Medal Final season. To date they are planning on competing in the CPHA Foundation Finals next week at Showpark and the ASPCA Maclay Regionals in September.

CPHA Junior Medal Finals winner Emily Williams aboard Carlo

As the 2018 CPHA Junior Medal Final Champion, Williams was awarded a medal and flowers, while Carlo was donned in a championship ribbon, sash and a wool cooler sponsored by DaMoor’s Tack & Feed. Williams also took home an Antares helmet, a pair of DeNiro Salento boots from Outdoor Outfitters, and CPHA collectibles, including a silver and jeweled belt buckle, a jacket, and a stall plaque. Along with receiving a gorgeous pewter tray, her name will be also be placed on the perpetual trophy, sponsored by Far West Farms.

Shannon Davidson and Twizzler Top the 2018 CPHA Amateur Medal Final
Davidson has ridden in the CPHA Medal Finals more times than she can count. Since the late nineties, she has been determined to improve her riding each year, and one day take home the championship.

Shannon Davidson and Twizzler

As last year’s reserve champion rider, Davidson came close to victory. Despite her very new partnership with Karina Sanchez’s Twizzler, her years of medal finals experience and solid equitation earned her the win.

The Durango Farm’s rider had only ridden Twizzler once before entering round one on Friday. “My horse came up with a sore foot, so I called Nick Haness on Thursday and he gave me the ride on Twizzler,” said Davidson, expressing her extreme gratitude towards trainers David Bustillos and Nick Haness for helping her along her way this year.

Davidson rode rounds one and two to solid second and third place finishes, respectively. Her stunning third round, scoring in the eighties from all three judges, left her with a total of 733.5 points and moved her into the lead by almost 30 points.

“Twizzler has a really big stride and is very scopey, but the most impressive thing about him is that he’s only seven,” remarked Davidson. “This is the first time he has ever done anything like this.”

Davidson was the recipient of the 36 & over High Scoring Amateur Award for the third year in a row, and was also awarded a cooler, ribbon, and necklace.

Shannon Davidson wins the 2018 CPHA Amateur Medal Final

The champion also won a pair of DeNiro Salento boots from Outdoor Outfitters, a medal, a pewter tray, a stall plaque, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Twister was equally decorated with his championship ribbon, sash and a wool cooler sponsored by DaMoor’s Tack & Feed. And Davidson’s name will appear on the perpetual trophy for her division, sponsored by DiAnn Langer.Each division’s top three riders received silver and jeweled buckles, leather halters from Valencia Sport Saddlery, and CPHA embroidered jackets. All other top ten finishers also took home great prizes, including CPHA jackets, coolers, beautiful ribbons, and bouquets of flowers.

VIP seating was sold out yet again this year, all profits benefiting the CPHA Foundation. The area gave onlookers a great view of the ring as well as a fantastic dinner each night. Special thanks to The Wasserman Foundation for their support of the CPHA fundraising efforts.

Grateful acknowledgement was given to the CPHA Medal Finals sponsors: CWDOutdoor OutfittersDaMoor’s Tack and FeedAntaresThe Wasserman Foundation, Four Oaks Farm, Archie Cox and Brookway StablesValencia Sport Saddlery, and Blenheim EquiSports. We also thank Far West Farms for sponsoring the Perpetual Trophy to the Junior Champion and DiAnn Langer for sponsoring the Perpetual Trophy to the Amateur Champion.

CPHA Junior Hunt Seat Medal Final
Place – Entry Number – Rider – Horse – Trainer – Total
1. 173 – Emily Williams – Carlo – Archie Cox/Karlie Postel – 767.0
2. 400 – Breanna Bunevacz – Acortair – Tasha Visokay/Kilian McGrath – 766.5
3. 160 – Kate Abajian – Tip Jar – John Bragg/Leslie Steele – 749.25
4. 326 – Julia Stone – Let’s Go – Jim Hagman/Kay Altheuser – 745.75
5. 402 – Madison Nadolenco – Quieri – Tasha Visokay/Kilian McGrath – 743.5
6. 639 – Brooke Morin – Durango – John Bragg/Leslie Steele – 742.0
7. 159 – Laila Klinsmann – Saludo – John Bragg/Leslie Steele – 736.25
8. 123 – Catherine Tomlinson – Elliot – Harley Brown – 726.5
9. 605 – Sophia Sanders – Cipriani – Patty Ball – 724.0
10. 255 – Payton Potter – Khaled – Leslie Steele – 721.0

CPHA Amateur Hunt Seat Medal Final
Place – Entry Number – Rider – Horse – Trainer – Total
1. 172 – Shannon Davidson – Twizzler – David Bustillos/Nick Haness – 733.5
2. 164 – Renee Rodda – Notable – Mary Gatti/Kim Tasker – 705.5
3. 622 – Matilda Schulman – Munich – Jim Hagman/Kay Altheuser – 697.0
4. 296 – Jaime Kripnick – Conux – Archie Cox/Karli Postel – 691.0
5. 241 – Sue Sadlier – Meru – Nicole Norris – 691.0
6. 499 – Serena Anand – Coolman – Alison Sherred – 689.0
7. 297 – Lindsey Schielfelbein – Crossbow – Michael Krupnick – 681.5
8. 265 – Jacqueline Vail – Donnate – Kelly Van Vleck – 665.5
9. 422 – Katherine Dash – Need I Say – Archie Cox – 650.0
10. 180 – Kelsey Fenger – Charming – Liz Hutchinson – 638.0

Photos by Captured Moment Photography


Since 1964, the California Professional Horsemen’s Association has represented professional horsemen in California. The CPHA provides a forum, voice, and many valuable programs and benefits for professionals working in California’s large equestrian industry. Through its many programs and benefits, the CPHA effectively reaches all professional members of California’s show horse community.

The CPHA is committed to providing educational, developmental and benefiting programs in support of its professional members. It strives to foster amateur equestrian sports and further works to continually improve horse show participation and the well being of the show horse. More at cpha.org.