Lexington, KY – May 11, 2012 – Competition was fierce this afternoon as the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal commenced in the Stonelea Arena. At the end of the day, it was Leylan Gleeson and Playboy who caught the attention of the judges as they captured the winning prize for their excellent equitation in the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal. The day saw outstanding hunter rounds as the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions got underway at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. Riders Tracy Scherrif-Muser and John Ingram proved triumphant in their respective divisions, showing their mounts to the top honors.
A cloudless sky welcomed the field of 25 riders as they faced off for the first place prize in the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal. The course began over a standalone vertical, and riders then proceeded to make a left rollback over a brush fence. A right turn took them over a second natural fence, and then they moved over a white oxer set on the outside. Making a left rollback, they then moved over a vertical and then took a right over a wooden oxer heading toward the far end of the ring. The final set of obstacles was a vertical leading to a one-stride vertical-oxer combination.
Four riders were called back into the ring for a test – Spencer Smith, Shawn Casady, Vivian Yowan and Leylan Gleeson. The test involved cantering directly over the second obstacle, counter-cantering the third fence and coming to a halt on the rail. Riders were then asked to make a half-turn on the haunches and hand gallop the sixth fence. Upon landing, they would then return to their spot in the line at the far end of the ring.
It was Leylan Gleeson and her mount, Playboy, owned by Stepping Stone Farm of Moreland Hills, OH, who came out on top with the first place ribbon. The duo exhibited a beautiful test, and opted to take a wider turn to the sixth fence upon completing their half-turn. The fluidity of the course demonstrated what the judges were looking for. Shawn Cassady atop Nixon, owned by Pine Hollow Sales LLC of Lakeland, FL, was awarded the second place prize. Naf-Naf, owned by Gabrielle Bausano, Inc. of New York, NY, with Vivian Yowan in the irons took home the third place ribbon, as well as the first place ribbon from the WIHS Hunter Phase. She was followed closely by Spencer Smith aboard Icarus, owned by Ashland Farm of Wellington, FL, who was awarded the fourth place honors.
This was the first time Gleeson had shown Playboy since their participation in the ASPCA Maclay Finals in 2011, because he had been injured shortly after. She commented, “I have had him for two years, and this is my last year doing the equitation classes. He is such a wonderful horse, and he is finally starting to get back to where he was before his injury. I can only have one horse, and if I could have any horse, it would be without a doubt, Playboy.”
Gleeson is a working student for Ken and Emily Smith of Ashland Farms in Wellington, FL. While Playboy was enduring recovery, she worked constantly on riding whatever she could get her hands on. “I haven’t done a lot of the equitation this year, but I am hoping to qualify for all of the Finals since this is my last year.”
“I thought the course was definitely perfect for an equitation class,” Gleeson described. “It was very serpentine-like, and the test was what should be expected of a Medal. I am so happy that my horse is returning to himself again, and hopefully we will be able to make it all the way.”
Earlier in the day, the Amateur-Owner 35 and Over Hunter division saw great competition as riders navigated the courses. It was John Ingram aboard Superman who rose to the top of the ranks, earning the first and second place ribbons over fences, as well as the first place prize in the under saddle. Deborah Perkins and Lafayette went neck to neck with the pair, also earning the second place and first place prizes in the over fences and the sixth place ribbon in the under saddle.
“Superman loves to jump,” Ingram smiled. “He goes around the ring beautifully, and in a very interesting way. He examines all the fences, but he is so brave and willing. You have to learn to give him a little bit of room before the jump, and then he will jump it beautifully.”
Ingram began riding Superman midway through the Wellington Equestrian Festival. “He didn’t originally start out as a horse for me,” explained Ingram. “We got him last summer, and he ended up sort of falling in my lap. Needless to say, I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to ride him. We really clicked during the last couple of weeks of Florida, and I am hoping that we will be able to earn enough point to qualify for Indoors in the fall.”
Ingram continued, “It is always nice to be here. The proximity to our home in Nashville is great. It is a very special place with the World Equestrian Games having been here, the National Horse Show now here, and the venue is special all on its own. I don’t know if there is a better series of shows, the horses jump great and we love coming here.”
It was Tracy Scheriff-Muser who earned the blue ribbon during the over fences in the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunter division. Her horse Absolut, a ten-year-old grey gelding, rose to the top of the leader board during the second round over fences. Together, the pair demonstrated top form and consistency as they took the course with ease.
“Absolut is the best,” Scheriff-Muser explained. “He has the best canter, and he is so comfortable. He is honestly so much fun to ride, and the truth is that he is willing to do anything. He is a very sweet horse, even on the ground. We did very well in Florida, and I am hoping that continues into tomorrow, too.”
Tomorrow will conclude the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions, and the Junior Hunter divisions will begin with championship prizes being announced on Sunday. The lights will shine bright in the Rolex Stadium beginning at 5 pm tomorrow evening, when the hunter highlights get underway with the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby and the $15,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, please go to www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
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