©ESI Photography. Blythe and Heavenly Zechariah make an irresistible pair.
Saugerties, NY (September 18, 2014) – Pony jocks and their four legged partners descended upon the HITS show grounds and Strongid®C 2X Grand Prix Stadium during the Marshall & Sterling Insurance League National Finals at HITS-on-the-Hudson last weekend.
Jodhpurs and bows, ice cream socials, cheering friends and families and fierce competition — combined into an unforgettable weekend.
Pony Ring Action
Children’s Working Hunter – Small Pony
Champion: Heavenly Zechariah and Blythe Novick
Reserve: Short Story and Stella Propp
Blythe Novick from New Canaan, Connecticut, riding Heavenly Zechariah, owned by David Bakutis of Wallingford, Connecticut, trains with Ruth Nicodemus at Serenity Show Stables (Stamford, Connecticut).
Blythe is 10 years old and ridden with Nicodemus for the past three years. She began her winning ways in walk trot classes at an early age.
“The Marshall & Sterling finals was our big goal this year,” said Novick. “It’s a fantastic and rare opportunity for kids to ride in the Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix Stadium.” “I’m a huge fan of HITS’ course designers — the hunters and Eq courses invite smooth, fluid riding and true flatwork. They were challenging without over facing and judges top notch.”
“Blythe was champion on Zechariah and took second and eighth over fences on her other pony Backstage,” added Nicodemus. “Overall we’re very pleased.”
“I’m so sad it’s over. Can we come back next year, Ruth?” Blythe asked during the interview. “You bet,” Nicodemus replied. She plans on bringing a group of qualified students to Marshall & Sterling Finals 2015 in Saugerties and thanked HITS for “a great experience and week — the staff is accommodating and warm, and really know how to run a horse show.”
Reserve Champion was Stella Propp, from New York, New York. Propp is a Marshall & Sterling Finals pony pro, having shown at the Finals and Hits-on-the Hudson before and taken multiple championship honors home. She trains with Joe Currais and looks forward to qualifying and returning to Marshall & Sterling Finals next year.
Children’s Working Hunter – Medium Pony
Champion: Glencoe Charter Party, owned and ridden by Andrew Heim of Cape May, New Jersey
Reserve: One Hot Pepper, Eliza Kimball of New York, New York, owned by Joe Currais, New York, New York
Children’s Working Hunter – Large Pony
Champion: Romeo, Sophee Steckbeck
Reserve: Benlea Sea Wolf, Chloe Terestcheuko
An extraordinary event happened during the Children’s Working Hunter Large pony Competition — the coveted Championship was decided with a four pony hack off!
Ultimately it was Romeo, beautifully ridden by Sophee Steckbeck, of Clarksburg, New Jersey and owned by Morgan Ward of Milford, New Jersey, who took top honors. 11-year-old Steckbeck rides under the tutelage of Barbara and Brian Feigus. Steckbeck started riding at age four and a half, showing in the leadline divisions. She has leased Romeo for over a year from owner Ward.
Steckbeck heads to sixth grade in September and her next big event will be competing at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg in October.
Reserve went to Benlea Sea Wolf owned and ridden by Chloe Terestcheuko, of New York, New York.
Children’s Working Hunter – Horse
Champion: Private Ryan and Lena Rae Reeb
Reserve: US Marshall and Rachael Hopkins
The seemingly unbeatable pair of Lena Rae Reeb, fifteen, from Weston, Connecticut, and Private Ryan, owned by Jamie Ringel of Wilton, Connecticut, were crowned Champion in the HITS Children’s Working Hunter – Horse division.
Reeb’s mother and trainer Leslie Kogos was ecstatic. “I am so proud of my daughter,” said Kogos. “She is focused and hardworking. Every day after the show she’s back in the barn, putting away horses, wrapping legs and doing whatever else needs to be done. She works just as hard in school and is a straight-A student.”
Reeb’s other trainer Michele West noted, “I’ve known her since she was six years old and to see how far she has come amazes me. She is a pleasure to teach and simply be around.”
What does Reeb love most about the Marshall & Sterling Finals at HITS-on-the-Hudson?
“Riding in the Strongid® C 2X Grand Prix Stadium and jumping the beautiful jumps,” she said.” Reeb also enjoys the “family like atmosphere of seeing her friends and Marshall & Sterling qualifiers throughout the year, HITS staff and how they want all competitors to have a great experience… the beautiful presentations and awards. HITS and Marshall & Sterling make every win feel special — no matter how many years I’ve been coming here.”
Reserve was US Marshall, owned by Kiki Hopkins and ridden Rachael Hopkins, both from Ashland, Massachusetts. Rachel rides with Kathryn Fletcher at Grazing Field Farms.
Reeb Wins It for Her Team ~ Overall Grand Hunter Champion
Overall Hunter Champion: Private Ryan, Lena Rae Reeb, owned by Jamie Ringel
Reserve: Huckleberry Finn, owned by Susan Huyett, ridden by Sarah Tyndall
What can one possibly say that has not already about Junior rider Lena Rae Reeb and her partner in success Private Ryan?
This was Private Ryan’s 5th Grand Hunter Championship at the Marshall & Sterling Insurance Finals and Reeb’s second consecutive year being honored with the title (riding Private Ryan). Owner Jamie Ringel was previously Overall Grand Hunter Champion three times at the Marshall & Sterling Finals — with the same horse.
“Ryan is truly the horse of a lifetime,” said Leslie Kogos, Lena’s mother and trainer, of the venerable yet lovable sixteen year old chestnut Wurttenberg gelding. Along with taking home the Marshall & Sterling Overall Championship honors, the pair captured the HITS Children’s Working Hunter Division Championship and Reeb was named Best Junior Rider on a Horse.
“I had an amazing Marshall & Sterling Finals experience this year at HITS,” said Reeb, “and am grateful to Jamie Ringel for the ride on Ryan. Also to my mother and Michele West, the best trainers and role models.”
She added, “I would like to thank Tom Struzzieri (HITS Founder and CEO), his staff and Marshall & Sterling Insurance for making this event possible at all.”
Best Junior Rider — Horse: Lena Rae Reeb, Weston Connecticut, trained by Leslie Kogos and Michele West, on Jamie Ringel’s Private Ryan
Best Junior Rider — Pony: Sophee Steckbeck, Clarksburg, New Jersey, trained by Barbara Feigus at Nevergreen Farm on Romeo, owned by Morgan Ward, Milford, New Jersey
HITS warmly thanks the fantastic competitors, trainers, supporters and Marshall & Sterling Insurance for making this the most successful Finals ever.
About the Marshall & Sterling League
The Marshall & Sterling League was designed to enhance the level of competition for children and adult riders, with an opportunity to qualify for a prestigious National Finals competition. Now celebrating their 23rd year, the Marshall & Sterling League features 14 divisions of competition. Riders who are members of the League have the opportunity to earn points throughout the year by competing in Marshall & Sterling classes to qualify for the Marshall & Sterling League Finals, held at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.
The Marshall & Sterling League is proudly sponsored by Marshall & Sterling Insurance, Inc., founded in 1864 and among the largest privately owned insurance agencies in the United States. For more than a quarter century Marshall & Sterling has protected precious equine assets with unparalleled service and support, whether the family hunter, a champion racehorse or a commercial farm. An employee-owned company, Marshall & Sterling is recognized throughout the nation as a leader in providing exceptional service and support. The company maintains a national presence and licensed in all 50 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.