By Jackie McFarland
Over 40 juniors from various West Coast locales hunted their horses around the beautifully decorated courses this past Tuesday and Wednesday. In a unique setting where no trainer or rider has to rush off to another show arena, this collective group of top equestrians started their day with a special breakfast and ended it with a lovely reception hosted by Karen Healey Stables and Brookway Stables-Archie Cox.
The Handy Hunter phase began just before noon, with the Small Juniors in the older age group going first. Where last year the handy course took too much of a toll on horses, with spooky elements that caused refusals and even elimination, this hunter-friendly course had jumps made of shrubs and flowers, a natural post and rail, a trot jump and a hay bale bounce. In the younger division of small junior hunters Whitney Downs and Coffee Talk, trained by John Bragg, went flawlessly from start to finish. Picking a perfect pace and jumping each fence out of that gorgeous forward rhythm, the horse’s expression never changed and with scores of 86, 86 and 87 from the judges it was the trip that couldn’t be beat. The Under Saddle phase concluded Tuesday’s competition. It is notable that the top three scores after day one were all small junior hunters exhibited by younger riders.
Wednesday was both the start of the horse show and the completion of the Junior Hunter Championships. The final classic round went in the afternoon after the open horses competed. Starting with the large junior hunters, it was Small Town (Iwasaki & Reilly, owners) ridden by Caroline Ingalls that laid down the trip of the day, receiving scores of 86, 88 and 88. When it came time for the last division of the day, the top three younger small juniors had yet to show.
One important lesson of horse showing is to take the highs with the lows and both Corrine Miller and Whitney Downs deserve sportsmanship awards for their final round performances. Sitting second and first respectively, both of these young girls encountered unexpected spooks and dealt with them like champs. Corrine’s young mare Lucille peeked and jumped sideways as she cantered down to the first jump, which was a bit shadowy, and although she jumped it her scores certainly reflected the trouble. Whitney and Coffee Talk were once again having a trip for the history books, when heading to the last line her horse stiffened and spooked, forcing her to circle. With the horse still a bit startled, she had to ride him through the spook when making her second approach. Both girls rode well and dealt with the disappointment in a mature manner.
As the 2009 USEF Junior Hunter Championships on the West Coast came to a close Wednesday evening, four perpetual trophies were awarded and the overall Reserve Grand Champion and Grand Champion were presented with coolers and trophies. This is a special event that we hope continues to get more and more recognition in years to come. For more on the USEF, click here
And the Perpetual Trophy Winners are…
Huntover Farm Perpetual Trophy – Champion in the Small, 15 & under
Breckenridge & Hannah Von Heidegger
Shalanno Farm Perpetual Trophy – Champion in the Large, 15 & under
Peter Rabbit & Kilian McGrath
Rivers Edge Perpetual Trophy – Champion in the Small, 16-17
Pringle & Amber Henter for Ashley Pryde
Magic Word Perpetual Trophy – Champion in the Large, 16-17
Small Town & Caroline Ingalls for Iwasaki & Reilly