Margaret O’Meara rode Voice of Reason to the top of the Amateur-Owner 3’3″ Hunter Championship, also capturing the reserve championship with Casino. Photo By: Ashley N. Williams/PMG.
Wayne, IL – July 28, 2013 – It was the perfect weather at Lamplight Equestrian Center to welcome champions into the winner’s circle for the conclusion of Equifest I. The Amateur-Owner Hunters and Junior Hunter divisions wrapped up the weeklong competition. Samantha Hall and Beyond Time took home the Junior Hunter Championship, while Sonya Svaty and Pick A Color earned a moment in the limelight for their Amateur-Owner 3’6″ Hunter Championship. It was Margaret O’Meara who excelled today with top-notch performances aboard Voice of Reason and Casino, riding to both championship titles in the Amateur-Owner 3’3″ Hunters.
Exhibitors gathered around the hunter ring early this morning as the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions got underway, and riders prepared to navigate the Allen Rheinheimer designed course. There were nine obstacles to test horse and rider alike including bending lines, a vertical-oxer line set on the diagonal and wide turns. Rheinheimer utilized obstacles evocative of a traditional hunt field, skillfully set with lush plant life and forest-like color. Riders were judged for their style throughout the round as they guided their mounts over the courses.
The first of O’Meara’s elite team to make his mark was Voice of Reason in the Amateur-Owner 3’3″ Hunter division. O’Meara and Voice of Reason rode to first place ranks in both over-fence classes today to earn the division championship. Casino, O’Meara’s other well-praised mount who earned two blues in over fences yesterday, came back placing right under his barn mate for the reserve championship ribbon with a brilliant performance. The O’Meara team trains with Heidi Fish at Woodland Way, Inc., in Kirkland, WA, and has a strong belief that they should show for the love of it.
“The two horses have completely different rides,” O’Meara explained. “Casino is an 11-year-old past jumper and now that we’ve changed that mentality, he is a total hunter horse. He’s lazy, but he jumps great. Both are great horses, and that’s the best part. I’m old and if they didn’t make it so easy on me, I could have quit but as long as it’s fun, I’ll keep going.”
O’Meara continued, “The course rode great today, very straight forward. It’s Voice of Reason’s first year back in the competition ring; he was recovering from a bruise he got during the Winter Equestrian Festival. He’s very excited about being back and, it’s funny, he thinks he’s very cool. He was jumping out of his skin; I think I may need a seatbelt. Everybody was laughing when I came out of the ring wondering how I stayed on, but the good news is that I am getting used to him. I couldn’t be more proud.”
The Amateur-Owner 3’6″ Hunters saw a clear leader emerge as Sonya Svaty and Pick A Color, of Lake Bluff, IL, swept the first day of competition. Then on the second day, Pick A Color stole the show with a first place in the under-saddle, and the second and third over-fences, shutting out the competition and taking the division’s championship title. Trust Me with Shannon Kelly in the irons emerged victorious for their showmanship, receiving the reserve championship honors.
“He felt fantastic,” Svaty said. “I made some mistakes, but he came to the party. He was all there for me, and really made up for it. We have been working on our riding so I am very pleased, but there is always more work to do.”
“I’ve loved being here at Equifest. The weather has been wonderful, and the footing is amazing. I’m really impressed with the facilities. It has been really great to be here, and we would love to come back,” shared Svaty.
Later in the afternoon, in the Junior Hunter division, Samantha Hall and Beyond Time worked their way to the top of the ranks. Receiving a blue ribbon in the under saddle class, the pair pressed forward with outstanding efforts to claim first and third places in the over fences. Their overall combined marks earned them the championship award tricolor. Fellow competitor, Madison Edwards aboard Last Wish, rode with competitive results to the reserve championship.
“My favorite thing about him is his personality and his jump,” explained Hall. “He is funny, and he always thinks everything is a treat. He’s a big puppy dog that stares at you for treats. Back when we got him, when I saw him in the stall, I knew I had found him; I just fell in love.”
Today wrapped up the first week of Equifest at the Lamplight Equestrian Center. Competitors will have the chance to ride again during Equifest II, scheduled to run July 31 – Aug. 4, 2013. Hunter riders can look forward to an array of exciting division, competition and highlight classes such as the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, division classics and equitation classes.
To find out more about Lamplight Equestrian Center, go to: http://lamplightequestriancenter.com/.