Hunter Holloway and Any Given Sunday
The R. W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Challenge Trophy is presented each year to the junior rider who shows the most consistency throughout the two days and four equitation classes of the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. The 2015 winner, Hunter Holloway, and her mount Any Given Sunday have proven that consistency time and again across the hunter, jumper and equitation divisions.
On Friday morning at the Devon Horse Show, Holloway, from Topeka, Kansas, rode to victory in the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Section C. That win, coupled with first place finishes in the WIHS Equitation Classic – Jumper Phase Section A and the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Section C and a third place finish in the Platinum Performance/USEF Talent on Thursday, culminated with the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship title.
“It’s very exciting,” said Holloway. “It’s such an honor to win at such a prestigious show as this horse show is. To have such an amazing horse and team behind me is just unbelievable.”
For Holloway, this marks her third year at the Devon Horse Show, the same horse show where she last year rode to both the Small and Large Junior 15 & Under Hunter Championships and the Overall Small Junior Hunter Championship, again spotlighting her consistency and ability across disciplines.
Similarly, her mount Any Given Sunday has proven successful in the hunter ring, in the grand prix jumper arena, and, most recently, in the highest levels of equitation competition. Having competed “Sunny” in all three areas, Holloway knows the horse’s ins and outs, and the pair makes the perfect team.
“It’s nice because I’m so confident on him,” Holloway said. “We know each other so well. We’re used to jumping a lot bigger tracks together, so I think for both of us when we walk into this – and he’s such a confident horse on his own – it’s a confidence boost for me to know that he can definitely do this. There’s no reason that I can’t do this too. He’s such an amazing horse all-around, and to be able to ride such a horse is an honor.”
Being successful at the Devon Horse Show requires more than just a talented horse and rider – it takes a village. Holloway counts herself as lucky to have the support of her parents, Brandi Holloway and Larry Ellerman, and trainer Don Stewart.
“It’s nice for me to take the credit because I really don’t have to do anything,” joked Stewart, who trains Hunter Holloway alongside Brandi Holloway. “Having my own daughter, I know what it’s like working with your own child. You have to get somebody else in there.”
At home, Hunter Holloway trains with her mom at their Equi-Venture Farm, meeting up with Stewart prior to horse shows.
“At home, Hunter loves flatwork, and she’ll flat all the time. The week before a show, I’ll remind her, ‘Okay, Hunter. We have to jump and get those jumping muscles going on the horse,'” Brandi Holloway said. “I think it’s a little bit unique for a young kid because I know that every time I rode a horse I had to jump something when I was little. Whatever it was, I had to go jump. We just try to keep it very disciplined but as relaxed as I can be. I’m wired, so Don calms that down.”
“[Hunter and Brandi] are very disciplined,” Ellerman said. “We have a bit of everything at the house. We breed. We have young ones. We buy investment horses. There are 50 at home, and there are three or four riding all of them. So Hunter, she’ll get on the 3- and 4-year-olds at home, and they can’t jump. They have to do the discipline work. They have to learn to do everything on the flat.”
All of her hard work and dedication at home shines through in the show ring and helps contribute to her calm and confident demeanor at horse shows.
“It’s hard to get a junior with that much depth,” Stewart said. “She’s got so much depth in her riding. She’s got the feel, and she has the timing. The rest of it is easy for her. She really looks to do just what you tell her. She’s a top, top student as far as that goes.”
Ellerman added, “I don’t know many kids that can walk in [like Hunter does]. We’re getting ready to do the [HITS Great American $1 Million Grand Prix] and she’s maybe 8 or 9 people out. She’s playing Candy Crush at the in-gate. It doesn’t affect her. There’s not pressure. It’s just all she knows.”
Hunter Holloway finished the two days of equitation competition with 25 total points. Not far behind her, in a three-way tie at 19 points, were Virginia Ingram, McKayla Langmeier, and Ali Tritschler.
Tritschler, who trains with Norfield Stables LLC, topped the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Section A on Friday morning after having also earned an impressive victory in the WIHS Equitation Classic – Jumper Phase Section B and a second place finish in the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Section A.
“Devon is such a special place and a special town, and it’s just a new set of pressures. The pressure does not get in the way of her performance,” trainer Timmy Kees said of Tritschler. “In my opinion, the special kids do that well. They don’t fold under pressure; they rise up to another level. It’s fun to watch and great to be a part of it.”
Tritschler concluded, “I feel really good. I was second in the Medal last year and the year before, but I’ve never been this consistent at Devon before. It was just really nice to be that consistent and have the judges show that consistency in my results.”
Competition for the junior riders continues at the Devon Horse Show on Saturday morning with the Junior Hunters beginning at 8 a.m. For the full schedule and horse show results, visit www.devonhorseshow.net.
Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International