VVS Equestrian Program is a Winner!

When we ask our international families and consultants what’s one of the most attractive reasons to study at VVVS, they often respond that the equestrian program is a big draw, and IB+Equestrian an even bigger appeal! Twenty seven horse live at VVS – a mix of Arabian, quarter horses and some gaited horses. Our riders  learn daily horse care, stable management, are responsible for morning and evening feeding, and participate in all facets of the barn operation.

VVS offers one of the most diverse recreational riding programs at the high school level.  At the heart of our equestrian program is the belief that horses are amazing teachers and master communicators, and that riders learn invaluable skills from them.  Our goals are to create a strong connection between horse and rider, and to expose our students to a variety of riding disciplines, events and terrain. Ours is a “liberal arts” rather than a specialty or trade school type of program with an emphasis on natural horsemanship.

Caroline Diehl, our Director of Equestrian Programs, shares a few stories about recent activities with our riders.

Bob Grant, a World Champion Versatility competitor, offered to put on a clinic for the VVS equestrians on a recent Saturday.  The event was held at Anchor Cross Ranch which Bob owns and it is also where we pasture our horses during the VVS breaks.  Bob shared so much information and gave students the opportunity to see a professional horseman at work.  He entertained us with incredible riding on amazingly trained horses and demonstrated reining and cutting cows and even worked a buffalo.  It was a true experiential-learning opportunity for our students!

Last fall, The Orme School invited VVS equestrians to a Team Sorting event.  In Team Sorting, two riders have two minutes to sort the most cows they can in a specific order through a gate into another pen, which is a skill that is prized on working cattle ranches.  It takes great agility and skillful riding, and it is also just plain fun.   VVS riders (Sky, Alex, Brynn, Amaya, Alexe, Haley, Anne, Nona, Alsace, Amelie, and Hanna) had a fabulous time working with the cows and their horses.

To enjoy the amazing triple phenomenon of the Blue Moon, Blood Moon and full eclipse during the pre-dawn hours of January 31st, a group of day students and I decided to take it all in from horseback.  We met at the barn at 4:15am with a moon so bright is was like daylight.  As we rode around the soccer field and then Cowpie we watched the eclipse unfold.  We met up with Stefanie and James (Nona’s parents) in the meadow adjacent to VVS Road where they treated us to hot chocolate and cookies as we watched them moon glow red and darkness take over.  What an amazing thing to witness!  Riders: Nona Schmid, Alex Gilbert, Nat Montgomery, Sky Diehl, Riley Diehl, Juniper Gill, and me.


Spring Horse Show

The VVS Horse Show this weekend was a huge success. We had 11 VVS riders, 5 riders from Orme, and 2 riders from Sedona competing. Sherry Kent-Devallier judged the event at Orme School and many spectators cheered everyone on.


Class 1: Novice English Equitation: Maya Shen 1st, Tiffany Tian 2nd, Alsace Liu 3rd
Class 2: Novice English Pleasure: Emily Welsh 1st, Maya Shen 2nd, Amaya Romanski 3rd, Olivia Williams 4th, Sarah Zhao 5th
Class 3: English Equitation: Kelsey Woellmer 1st, Annemarie Schneider 2nd, Julia Staph 3rd, Julee Alden 4th, Sheila June 5th, Nicky Volz 6th
Class 4: English Pleasure: Kelsey 1st, Olivia 2nd, Julee 3rd, Ashlynn Dighans 4th, Sheila 5th, Sara Angel 6th
Class 5: Novice Ground Rails: Olivia 1st, Emily 2nd, Maya 3rd, Sarah Zhao 4th, Alsace 5th, Tiffany 6th
Class 6: Crossrail 10″-12″: Olivia 1st, Emily 2nd, Amaya 3rd, Sheila, 4th, Ashlyn 5th
Class 7: English Equitation Over Fences 15″-18″: Emily 1st, Sarah Angel 2nd, Olivia 3rd, Nicky 4th, Julee 5th, Annemarie 6th
Class 8: English Equitation Over Fences 2’0″ – 2’6″: Sarah Angel 1st, Nicky 2nd, Olivia 3rd, Annemarie 4th
Class 9: Open Jumper 2’0″ – 2’6″: Nicky 1st, Annemarie 2nd, Olivia 3rd
Class 10: Joker’s Wild 18″ – 2’6″: Annemarie 1st, Sarah Angel 2nd, Olivia 3rd, Amaya 4th, Emily 5th

To see photos visit www.vvsaz.org/galleries

CVGA Gymkhana Results

The VVS Equestrian Team traveled to Cottonwood last weekend to compete in the Central Verde Gymkhana Association Gymkhana.  In total, the team brought home 16 ribbons!

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Hanna Hartwig, ’18 and Amaya Romansky, ’19 of the VVS Equestrian Team.

Competitors included Tiffany Tian, ’16;  Amaya Romansky, ’19;  Emily Welsh, ’17;  Annemarie Schneider, ’16; Nicky Volz, ’17;  Sarah Angel, ’17;  Hannah Hartwig, ’18; and Lucy Warren; 16.


It was Tiffany and Emily’s first competition for VVS.  The gymkhana included four events and saw about 13 competitors per division.  Amaya and Hannah competed in the 11-14 year age group, and the rest of the team competed in the 15-18 year old group.

In Barrels, Annemarie took 4th and Nicky took 5th place ribbons.
In Pole Bending, Nicky took 2nd, Annemarie took 3rd, and Sarah took 6th in 15-18yr division.  Hannah took 3rd in her division.
In Working Cowhorse, Annemarie took 2nd, Nicky took 3rd, Hannah took 4th, Sarah took 5th and Lucy took 6th.
In Tunnel Vision, Annemarie took 1st, Nicky took 2nd, Sarah took 3rd, Hannah took 5th and Lucy took 6th.
According to Equestrian Manager Caroline Diehl, the entire team rode so impressively. They compete again in the spring.  You can see photos from the gymkhana at www.vvsaz.org/galleries.

Equestrian Team Competes

The VVS Equestrian Team made coach Caroline Diehl proud at Saturday’s competition sponsored by the Scottsdale Saddle Club at the AZ Horse Lover’s Park.

VVS had 5 competitors and classes averaged 13 riders.   Nicky Volz was competing in her first ever English show and she – as did the other members of the team – did amazingly well, bringing home 2 ribbons.  The show coincided with VVS Family Weekend, so it was great to have Sybille Schneider  join us and see her daughter Annemarie win 3 ribbons.

Riding for VVS were:
Nicky Volz on Toby:  2nd in Equitation Over Fences and 4th in Jumper
Hanna Hartwig on Linus:  1st in English Equitation and 2nd in English Pleasure
Julia Stapf on Sunday:  3rd in English Equitation
Sarah Sassenfeld on Belle:  6th in Road Hack
Annemarie Schneider on Seelah:  2nd in Hunter Over Fences; 3rd in Equitation Over Fences, and 2nd in Jumper
You can see photos of the competition in the VVS galleries section of the site – www.vvsaz.org/galleries


Riders Bring Home Ribbons

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Our riders came home with a handful of ribbons from their first competition for the 2015-2016 season. Saturday, October 3, we traveled to Camp Verde for the first of the Central Verde Gymkhanas.  Competitors included Amaya Romanski, Sarah Sassenfeld, Julia Stafp, Hanna Hartwig, Nicky Volz, Galen Coburn-Amadio, Annemarie Schneider, Sarah Angel, and Morgan Bailey with coaches Caroline Diehl and Natalie Rockwell.

In Barrel Racing  Annemarie won 4th and Nicky 6th.
The Pole Bending competition saw  Sarah Angel place 4th, Annemarie 5th, and Galen 6th.  In Turn N Burn Nicky took 2nd, Galen 4th, Julia 5th, and Sarah Angel 6th.
Our next competition is the Scottsdale Saddle Club English Horse Show featuring flat and jumping classes on Saturday, October 17 at the Arizona Horse Lover’s Park (19224 N. Tatum Blvd, Phoenix). Competition starts at 8am and goes until about 6pm.

Equestrian Comps Announced

The VVS Equestrian team competition schedule for this fall and winter has been announced.

Saturday, October 3: Central Verde Gymkhana Series: Western speed events.  Held at the Cottonwood Equestrian Center (Fairgrounds: 800 E. Cherry Rd) from 10am-4pm.
Saturday, October 17:  Scottsdale Saddle Club English Horse Show: Flat and Jumping classes.  Held at the Arizona Horse Lover’s Park (19224 N. Tatum Blvd, Phoenix). Starts at 8am and goes until about 6pm.
Saturday, December 12: Central Verde Gymkhana Series: Western speed events.  Held at the Cottonwood Equestrian Center (Fairgrounds: 800 E. Cherry Rd) from 10am-4pm.
Saturday, February 20: Central Verde Gymkhana Series: Western speed events.  Held at the Cottonwood Equestrian Center (Fairgrounds: 800 E. Cherry Rd) from 10am-4pm.
Saturday March 12 & 13: Central Verde Gymkhana Series: Western speed events.  Held at the Cottonwood Equestrian Center (Fairgrounds: 800 E. Cherry Rd) from 10am-4pm.
Saturday, April 2: Central Verde Gymkhana Series: Western speed events.  Held at the Cottonwood Equestrian Center (Fairgrounds: 800 E. Cherry Rd) from 10am-4pm.


What’s Happening at VVS

We get up to a lot in a day and you can keep in touch with us through a number of virtual channels. The VVS website is a great place to go for newsphotoscalendared eventsgiving opportunities and answers to many of your questions. Expect an electronic update like this one on the 15th and the 30th of each month. You can find an archive of these newsletters on the website also. Anytime you see an underlined word on this page you can click on it to link you to the information referred to.

You can find links to VVS social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Tumblr) at the bottom of our website homepage.



VVS Riders Take Ribbons

Haley JumpThe VVS girls rode exceptionally well at the November Scottsdale Saddle Club English Show in early November. Riding Director Caroline Diehl said it was, “ some of the best riding I’ve seen from them so far.  Natalie and I were truly thrilled to watch it all come together for them after so much hard work and dedication.”

The ribbon breakdown looks like this:

In Hunter Hack:  Freshman Hannah Arya took 1st for the 13 and under division. Senior Christine Effert took 4th and junior Annemarie Schnieder took 6th for the 14 plus age group.

In Crossrails: Hannah stole the show, taking a 3rd in Hunter Over Fences, a 2nd in Equitation Over Fences, and a 1st in Jumper and won a trophy for Reserve Champion of the Crossrails Division!

In the 2’3″ jumping classes: Sophomore Morgan Bailey took 3rd in Hunter Over Fences and VVS swept the Equitation Over Fences class with Morgan taking 4th, senior Haley Cox taking 3rd, Annemarie taking 2nd, and Christine taking 1st.  We may not have the fanciest, most polished show ponies, but there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that VVS students can really ride.  In the Jumper class, the girls continued to shine with Annemarie taking 4th and Christine taking 2nd.  Christine also won the High Point Champion trophy for this division!

In the 2’6″ jumping classes:

Christine took 2nd in Hunter Over Fences, junior Lucy Warren took 6th and Christine took 3rd in Equitation Over Fences, and Christine took 6th and Lucy took 5th in the Jumper class.

All in all it was some amazing riding – even the judges commented on how much the girls have improved and how great they looked out there amidst some very tough competition.

For photos go to the VVS Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/verdevalleyschool/sets/



Great Showing at the Central Verde Gymkhana

The riding team rode incredibly well at the Central Verde Gymkhana on October 18th.  The team consisted of sophomore Morgan Bailey riding Sunday, junior Rami al Nahas riding Fiona, senior Christine Effert riding Shezaada, junior Annemarie Schneider riding Sassy, and freshman Hannah Arya riding Tumalo.  It was Rami and Hannah’s first gymkhana competition.

In the 15-18yr division, which had 9 competitors, VVS won the following ribbons:

Annemarie took 4th in Barrels, 5th in Pole Bending, and 2nd in Turn N Burn; Christine took 5th in Barrels, 3rd in Poles, and 5th in Turn N Burn; Rami took 4th in Poles, and 4th in Turn N Burn

In the 11-14yr division, which had 15 competitors, Hannah took a 4th place ribbon in Turn N Burn