Peg Seals aboard Robin Hood. Teresa Ramsay Photography.
Lexington, VA – August 16, 2017 – Chris Wynne’s vision to revitalize small horse show participation in Virginia culminated with another successful year during the Virginia Hunter Champions at the Virginia Horse Center. Created to encourage and reward hunter competition held in the state of Virginia, the Virginia Hunter Championships are run on an accumulating point system, with competitors needing a set amount to qualify.
“You nominate your horse at the beginning of the year, and that’s your only cost,” Chris Wynne, founder of the Virginia Hunter Championships, said. “The horse show doesn’t cost anything. There’s no entry fee.”
“We have a special community and hunter niche in Virginia,” Wynne added. “We wanted to give them an event they could be excited about and proud of without costing them a fortune. We grew exponentially from the first year to the third, and look forward to the fourth.”
In a beautiful round, Peg Seals won the blue ribbon in the Professional Hunter Classic aboard Robin Hood, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood. Seals also came away with the Professional Hunter Rider Style Award piloting her own pre-green mount, Genuine.
“We don’t have a chance to ride for that much money in the hunters very often unless you are doing an International Derby. It’s a great thanks to the sponsors who donate to the Virginia Hunter Championships,” Seals said. “The course at the Virginia Horse Center was well suited for hunters, Aiken type brush, just a gorgeous setting.”
Kate Elliott, who trains with Claiborne Bishop of the Barracks Farm, took the victory in the Junior/Amateur Owner Hunter Classic aboard Orion.
“It was very exciting to participate in the Virginia Hunter Championships for the second time,” Elliott remarked. “It is a great event and the organizers go out of their way to make everyone feel special throughout the day, with beautiful courses and fabulous hospitality and awards. Supporting the tradition of show hunters in Virginia is important.
“Showing at the Virginia Horse Center is always a treat and the management continually strives to improve the facility to benefit horses and people,” Elliot continued. “We are lucky to have such a venue in our region.”
Winner of top honors in last year’s Professional Hunter Classic and Virginia resident, Jason Berry, rode the 5-year-old mare, Something Special, to claim the blue ribbon in the Pre-Green Hunter Classic. Berry has regularly placed at the top of the leaderboard, frequently returning to the Virginia Horse Center for competition.
“I imported Something Special and sold her to the Wheelers. She is so easy and smart. Everybody says if you have a good mare you have a great horse and that’s what she is, phenomenal,” Berry shared. “She’s brave, jumps high, and has super style. She’s everything you want a hunter to be.”
Berry also speaks highly of his experiences at the Virginia Horse Center. “I love competing at VHC. It’s only 45 minutes from my house so it’s like a home show for me. The rings and footing are always great and they have a good crew here running the show.”
In the Children’s Hunter Classic, Grace Owens scored top honors and the Children’s Hunter Rider Style Award on her mount Superlative. Francesca Dussek owned the ring in the Regular/Children’s Pony Hunter Classic aboard Stole the Show and Caitlin Hewitt Schurtz secured a blue ribbon aboard Orchidaceous in the Adult Amateur Hunter Classic.
After three years, the Virginia Hunter Championships is continuing to increase in popularity and Wynne looks forward to the show’s continued benefits to the Virginia equestrian community.