Lexington, KY – For the eleventh consecutive year, champions were crowned at the US Junior Hunter Championship, utilizing a three round format. On July 23-24, competitors contested the West Coast portion of the championship at the Del Mar Horsepark in Del Mar, CA. With competition for the East Coast held in Lexington, KY July 24-25 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Olivia Esse rode Small Affair to champion honors in Del Mar, while Victoria Colvin and Inclusive were the winners in Lexington.
Esse put forth a dominating effort in the West Coast portion of the US Junior Hunter Championship by collecting Overall Grand Champion and Overall Reserve Grand Champion honors. A total of 47 competitors rode before the judging panel of Rob Gage, Chrystine Tauber, and Geoff Teall but none would be able to catch the Calabasas, CA native.
Esse and Elizabeth Reilly and Chris Iwasaki’s Small Affair, a nine-year-old Selle Francais gelding, topped the Large Junior Hunters 16-17 section on their way to Overall Grand Champion honors. The pair were the winners of the Classic phase Monday and came back later in the day to place fifth in the Under Saddle phase. On Tuesday, they returned for the final Handy Hunter phase placing second.
In her final year of eligibility, Esse was looking to have an enjoyable experience and was thrilled with the competition experience.
“It was really fun to be in the big Grand Prix field here at Showpark. It’s my last Junior Hunter Finals but I tried not to put pressure on myself to do well because of that,” said Esse. “I just wanted to have a good time and I did.”
Riding Oscany, Inc.’s Illusion, Esse also rode to Overall Reserve Grand Champion honors. The 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding swept all three phases of the Small Junior Hunters 16-17 section.
In the East Coast championship, a strong field of horses and riders were judged by a distinguished panel of Carleton Brooks, Shane George and Rachel Kennedy. Despite the quality of the field, Colvin (Loxahatchee, FL) cruised to her first US Junior Hunter Championship title on the strength of polished, consistent riding.
Once again paired with Dr. Betsee Parker’s Inclusive, Colvin placed no lower than third in any of the three phases competing in the Large Junior Hunters 15 and Under section. She and the nine-year-old Warmblood gelding were the victors in both the Classic phase and Handy Hunter phases and were third in the Under Saddle portion of the Championships, earning them Overall Grand Champion honors.
Fourteen-year-old Colvin has already made a huge impact in the hunter ring collecting many of the top honors including wins at the US Pony Finals. Despite having competed at many of the top shows in the U.S. in the most prestigious classes, Colvin was ecstatic about her experience at the US Junior Hunter Championship.
“I felt the competition was amazing!”
Collecting Overall Reserve Grand Champion was Saddle Ridge LLC’s Whatever ridden by Vivian Yowan. Yowan (Lexington, KY) piloted the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding to second place in the Classic phase, fourth in the Under Saddle portion, and second in the Handy Hunter phase contesting the Small Junior Hunters 15 and Under competition.
Each year a grant of $1,000 is awarded to the competitor that constructs the best essay detailing how their competitive experience has affected them and what it would mean to be awarded the grant. The winner in 2012 was East Coast competitor, Victoria Rose Green.
To learn more about the 2012 US Junior Hunter Championship, visit: http://usef.org/_IFrames/breedsdisciplines/discipline/allhunter/JuniorChampionships.aspx.