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Kurtz and Seek Capture Grand Champion Titles at US Junior Hunter National Championship East Coast

(L to R) Emma Kurtz and Caldwell with USEF representatives Kelsey Shanley and Jennifer Mellenkamp (Cathrin Cammett Photo)

Devon, Pa. – The 2016 US Junior Hunter National Championship East Coast came to a close on Tuesday, following two days of competition in the historic Dover Arena at the Devon Horse Show grounds. More than 150 of the country’s top juniors headed to the championship to complete three phases in front of the judging panel of Linda Andrisani, Holly Orlando, and James Toon over Skip Bailey-designed Classic Round course and Handy Hunter courses, which both counted for 40% of the overall score. The final 20% was earned in Tuesday’s Under Saddle phase which was judged by Jeff Ayers, Rob Bielefeld, and Bill Ellis. Emma Kurtz and Caldwell posted the best overall score of the 3’6″ competition to earn the 2016 Grand Champion title. In the 3’3″ championship, Devin Seek and Dress Balou earned Grand Champion honors.

3’6″ Championship

Kurtz (Hudson, Ohio) and Scott Stewart’s 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Caldwell, earned the 2016 National Title after scoring 99.2 in the Classic Round, 51 in the Under Saddle, and 102.8 in the Handy Round, to finish on an overall score of 253. The talented pair also earned the Large Junior Hunter 15-and-Under crown, taking home the USA National Junior Hunter Championship Perpetual Trophy donated by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Stewart, Jr.

Kurtz and David Gochman’s Dominik scored the Reserve Overall Grand Champion title. Kurtz and the eight-year-old Warmblood gelding earned scores of 102.8, 52.2, and 94.4 in the Classic, Under Saddle, and Handy Rounds, respectively, and an overall score of 249.4. The pair also posted the best score in the Small Junior Hunter 15-and-Under section, taking home the USA National Championship Perpetual Trophy donated by Geri and Whitney Roper.

Caroline Jones (Brownsboro, Ala.) and Century Performance Horses LLC’s At Last posted the top score in the Large Junior Hunter 16-17 section, taking home the USA National Championship Perpetual Trophy donated by Christina Schlusemeyer. Jones and the 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding finished on an overall total of 239.5 after posting scores of 92.5, 47.6, and 99.4 in the Classic, Under Saddle, and Handy Rounds, respectively. In Small Junior Hunter 16-17 competition, Eliza Bienstock (New York, N.Y.) and her own Playlist earned the top score of 241, taking home the USA National Junior Hunter Championship Perpetual Trophy donated by Pam and Wayne Baker. Bienstock and the 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding posted scores of 95.2, 50.4, and 95.4 in the Classic, Under Saddle, and Handy Rounds, respectively.

The top Owner/Rider for the 3’6″ section was MTM Hands Down, ridden by Annabel Revers and owned by her family’s Beechwood Stables, LLC, finishing with an overall score of 246.2.

Devin Seek and Dress Balou (Cathrin Cammett Photo)
Devin Seek and Dress Balou (Cathrin Cammett Photo)

3’3″ Championship

Seek (Ridgefield, Conn.) and Donald Stewart’s Dress Balou topped the 3’3″ Junior Hunter 15-and-Under section A on their way to earning Overall Grand Champion honors in the 3’3″ section. Seek and the seven-year-old Warmblood gelding earned scores of 103.2 in the Classic Round, 50.8 in the Under Saddle, and 104.4 in Handy Round to finish on an overall total of 258.4.

Grace Boston earned Reserve Overall Grand Champion in the 3’3″ section with Donald Stewart’s six-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Spalding. The pair, which had the highest score in the 3’3″ Junior Hunter 15-and-Under section B, scored 91.6, 52, and 100.2 in the Classic, Under Saddle, and Handy Rounds, respectively, to finish on an overall total of 243.8.

“I am so thankful that Don Stewart gave me the opportunity to ride his fabulous horse, Spalding,” said Boston. “Spalding felt amazing throughout the weekend and at the end of my handy, I knew we had performed well enough to earn a good ribbon. I was ecstatic when I found out that I had won the class and earned Champion and Reserve Grand Champion. I had gone into the weekend with the goal of ending up in the top 10, but never expected to end up on top.”

“It’s still exciting for me to find and own such nice horses and be lucky enough to have students that can show them to their full potential,” said Donald Stewart. “I’m very excited about Spalding, as he is six and a newcomer, whereas I think Balou is one of the winningest hunters ever, having won over $350,000.00 to date at only seven years old. Special thanks to my team and Aaron Vale.”

Grace Hutson (Lancaster, Pa.) and her own 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Davinci, topped 3’3″ Junior Hunter 16-17 Section A competition after finishing on an overall score of 239.4. They produced scores of 96.3, 49.1, and 94 in the Classic, Under Saddle, and Handy Rounds, respectively. Additionally, Hutson was crowned top Owner/Rider in the 3’3″ section.  Isabel Stettinius (Washington D.C.) and her own Balenciaga, a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding, won the 3’3″ Junior Hunter 16-17 Section B with an 88.6 in the Classic round, a 49.2 in the Under Saddle, and a 99.0 in the Handy round, for an overall score of 236.8.

Sydney North’s Valentine, a nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse, was also honored as the Best Overall Mare and received the War Dress Memorial Trophy donated by Cleta S. Turbow and Pamela J. Rush after receiving an overall score of 241.

Visit usefnetwork.com for photos and videos from the 2016 US Junior Hunter National Championship East Coast.

From the USEF Communications Department

Luis Larrazabal and Quintus Fabius Take $25k Under 25 Grand Prix to Conclude Tryon Summer II

Luis Larrazabal and Quintus Fabius. Photos ©LizCrawleyPhotography.

Devin Seek and Valentino Rise to Occasion in $5,000 Pony Hunter Derby

Mill Spring, NC – July 11, 2016 – Luis Larrazabal of Wellington, FL and Quintus Fabius rode to a spectacular win in the $25,000 Under 25 Grand Prix to conclude Tryon Summer II at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), stopping the clock in 38.777 seconds for the win. Abigail McArdle of Wellington, FL and Contessina Della Caccia almost stole the win, finishing just fifteen hundredths of a second off the winning pace to earn a time of 38.785 seconds. Louise Graves of Franklin, TN and Zavira took third place, completing the course in 41.564 seconds.

Capturing his first Under 25 Grand Prix win with Quintus Fabius, Larrazabal explained the 2007 Hanoverian gelding (Quality x Lady P), owned by Isabela Pacanins, just recently moved up to contest this height over the past year. Speeding through the jump-off round to narrowly edge McArdle for the win, Larrazabal was elated with the victory and described his initial plan after walking the track set by Martin Otto (GER).

“When I walked the course I was impressed. I’ve done the other two Under 25 classes here and this was for sure the toughest so far,” he explained. “This horse is new to this height so when I was done walking the course my goal was to really just do my best.”

“I thought to myself that if I went clear around this course it would be my lucky day because he doesn’t have a lot of experience at this level,” he added.

While Quintus Fabius may still be finding his feet at the top levels, his willingness and bravery is consistent each time Larrazabal enters the ring. The pair, who has gained experience together throughout the spring season, will look to continue their success in the Under 25 classes.

“The good thing is he has a huge heart. He always tries his hardest. He doesn’t have perfect technique, but he’s very scopey and his heart and try is what makes him special,” he elaborated. “The scope is really important and I think that’s what helped us today.”

“I can put him in the spot I want and he will always try his best to get there from where I ask him,” noted Larrazabal.

The jump-off featured two other naturally fast riders in McArdle and Graves, and Larrazabal felt that he needed to push through the short course if he was to secure the win. McArdle tried hard to catch the time set by Larrazabal, finishing just short, but making for an exciting finish.

“In the jump-off, I definitely think I made up the little bit of time that separated us between fences one and two. I think both of them added one or two more strides in there than we did,” he detailed. “For the last line, we pushed for it and that’s where we sealed it.”

“I think that Abigail is generally much faster than me, especially with that horse, but today was my lucky day,” smiled Larrazabal.

Bringing up a number of young horses this season, Larrazabal hopes to continue his success throughout the summer and is eyeing a move to the FEI level during the fall circuit.

“With Quintus Fabius, I’m just so happy with our results today. This is perfect for him and I’m going to keep him in the Under 25 Grand Prix classes for the rest of the season,” he said. “I also have a couple of horses moving up that will be able to do the FEI classes later this year and we’re aiming for the fall. The rest of the horses are young and developing, which is very fun for me too.”

Noel Fauntleroy of Manakin Sabot, VA and her own Mae led the $10,000 High Junior/Amateur Owner Classic, taking the class with a jump-off time of 40.048 seconds and earning the fastest four fault round. Victoria Karam of Wellington, FL and her own New Life HM captured second place, stopping the clock in 42.471 seconds, finishing with just a single rail down. Fernando Lozinsky of Flemington, NJ and his own Tamerlan Du Poncel secured third place with 12 faults and a time of 41.903 seconds around the short course.

Devin Seek and Valentino Rise to Occasion in $5,000 Pony Hunter Derby

Devin Seek of Ocala, FL and Valentino, owned by Ashley Vail Aycox, took top honors in the $5,000 Pony Hunter Derby, finishing their rounds in the George H. Morris Arena to secure a final score of 165. Libbie Gordon of Statesville, NC and her own Q-2 collected second place, earning a score of 163, while Gabrielle Sousa of Matthews, NC and Rockport, owned by Isabella Benedetto, received third place with a score of 156.

Devin Seek and Valentino
Devin Seek and Valentino

Seek produced two lovely rounds aboard Valentino and used the extra size of the ring to her advantage. The duo earned an 85 in the first round and returned for the handy to pick up a score of 80. Seek, who has ridden Valentino over the course of the past year, was pleased with her rounds and was excited for the opportunity to compete in the George H. Morris Arena.

“It was a nice first round for us, because there were a lot of long bending lines and single jumps and in a big ring like the George Morris, you can pick up a nice pace to find distances,” said Seek. “In the handy, there weren’t that many places that you could really turn inside, but I did try go inside after the two stride, which I wasn’t originally planning on doing.”

“I wanted to be neat everywhere, so in general, I just turned early and made sure that everything looked very clean,” she added.

Using the class as preparation for U.S. Pony Finals hosted in Lexington, KY later in the summer, Seek found the opportunity beneficial in understanding what she should focus on before the prestigious championship.

“This class was a big help in preparing for Pony Finals. It gave me a good feel as to how the atmosphere will feel there because this is such a big ring and the ponies never get the chance to go into a ring like that until we’re in Kentucky. Now I feel like I know what I need to work on more with each of them heading into the rest of the summer.”

Seek has established a strong relationship with Valentino and has had major success throughout the year, guiding him to numerous wins. His attitude and will to win has made him a special ride for her and she has high hopes for their future this summer.

“I started showing Valentino last year. I get called in to show him for his owner Ashley Aycox a lot. He may be the best pony I’ve ever ridden. He’s just amazing,” she commented. “He’s straightforward and has a good mind. He wants to win as much as anyone else does.”

Hunter Highlights

Melissa Deryn Foster of Langley, British Columbia and Unwritten, owned by Emily Sukert, finished atop the $1,000 Junior Hunter 3’6″ Classic, finishing with a score of 161. Caroline Jones of Brownsboro, AL and At Last, owned by Century Performances Horses LLC, collected second place with an overall score of 154, while Helen Ulrich of Moorsville, NC and her own Luminary earned third place with a score of 147.5.

In the $1,000 Junior Hunter 3’3″ Classic, Devin Seek of Ocala, FL and Just Sayin, owned by Fairfield Farms LLC, took first place, receiving an overall score of 172. Phoebe Alwine of Delray Beach, FL and Baricello, owned by In The Clover Equestrian, scored a 160 for second place, while Seek piloted another mount into the top three aboard Cold Case, owned by Donald Stewart, with a score of 150.

Allison Cederberg of Billings, MT and Zero Tolerance, owned by Dru Cederberg, rode to victory in the $1,000 Amateur Owner 3’3″/3’6″ Classic, earning a score of 164. Liddy Strickland of McDonough, GA and her own Valentine received second place with a 160, while Randall Johnson of Clarksburg, MD and Cantando, owned by Greener Pastures, rounded out the top three with a score of 158.

Competition at TIEC resumes on Wednesday, July 13, with the start of Tryon Summer III, which will conclude Sunday, July 17. For more information and to see a full list of results, please visit www.tryon.com.

Taylor St. Jacques & Glynhafan Red Kestral Take Large Regular Pony Hunter Tricolor

Taylor St. Jacques and Glynhafan Red Kestral.

Lexington, KY – August 6, 2014 – For 16-year-old Taylor St. Jacques, competing at the 2015 USEF Pony Finals is bittersweet. After four years of showing in the prestigious event, St. Jacques has decided to turn the reins over to a new team of riders, but first she closed out the competition with a strong finish in the Large Regular Pony Hunters, standing poised in the winner’s circle to accept the division’s championship with the Welsh gelding Glynhafan Red Kestral, owned by Peacock Ridge.

“I am so excited!” St. Jacques smiled. “We all teamed up with this pony at the beginning of Wellington this year and kept saying that he has such great potential, and we kept working with him and figuring him out. Every time we went in the ring it got better and better and better. He is really a special pony.”

St. Jacques worked with the Rizvi family during her winter-stay in Wellington, Florida, riding the pony, affectionately referred to as ‘KP,’ every week. Since the end of the winter circuit, she has only had the opportunity to ride him twice, since he is stabled in Connecticut and St. Jacques lives in Virginia.

Knowing the pressure that rested on her shoulders, ranked as the sixth rider overall prior to the over fences, St. Jacques knew she had to stay unruffled in order to earn the top call.

“The thing that I keep in my head during Pony Finals is that the over fences part is the most important, so you still have a great chance if you’re in the top 20,” she explained. “Going in I was thinking to myself, ‘OK, I know how to ride this pony, and we are a great team. We can figure this out. As long as I stay smooth, we got this.'”

And so they did. The pair took the top award in the over fences phase to take the lead with 260.61 points. Their cumulative score of 1,025.39 points put them 2.76 points ahead of first-day leader, Morgan Ward with Dr. Betsee Parker’s Enjoy the Laughter. The grey gelding placed as the bridesmaid for the second consecutive year, falling just shy of the championship that seems just out of reach. Third place overall was awarded to Abigail Brayman and Dreamland, for their over fences score of 253.10 points to boost them from the 11th position with a final cumulative score of 999.93 points.

St. Jacques laughed about Glynhafan Red Kestral’s disposition. “He likes to over-exaggerate and be like ‘Look at me; look how great I am!’ He tries his hardest over the jumps. He has such an incredible personality, and he is so beautiful overall. He always wants to be told how great he is. If you tell him he’s bad, he gets mad at you.”

Glynhafan Red Kestral will now pass to Farrah Rizvi, the daughter of Peacock Ridge’s PJ Rizvi.

“I think they have everything it takes,” St. Jacques said. “He is a great pony and she is a wonderful rider-they have all the makings to be the next pony superstars.”

Although Pony Finals are over after this year for the 16-year-old, St. Jacques plans to continue competing in the big equitation classes, as well as the jumpers, which she has recently become involved with. She was nothing but one large smile and two dimples as she patted KP and posed with the array of ribbons.

“I just love it here, being around all the horses and ponies and the people. Everyone is so kind in the horse world,” she concluded.

Devin Seek and Woodlands Polar Bear
Devin Seek and Woodlands Polar Bear

Taking home the rosette in the Small Green Pony Hunter division was Bibby Hill’s Woodlands Polar Bear, ridden to victory by Devin Seek of Ocala, Florida. Seek and the little grey gelding began the day in sixth position, but they put up the strongest over fences scores of the division to overtake the early leaders and claim the championship title with their cumulative marks of 990.550 points.

Champion last year in the Large Regular Pony Hunter division with Hudson, Seek was visibly excited to have repeated her efforts to the tune of another tricolor.

“Coming back after a win last year with Hudson, I knew that it helped my chances. Bibby [Hill] has helped me a lot and has awesome ponies for me to be able to ride, so I knew that if I did what I did last year and had a good ride, that I would have a good chance. It all worked out,” Seek commented.

The 15-year-old was quick to praise ‘Polar Bear’ and attributed his cool, calm and collected nature as a notable factor contributing to their place atop the leader board.

“He is the barn favorite. All the little kids love him because he is so social and couldn’t care less. He’ll do anything. The short stirrup kids ride him, and he will walk through the water in the cross country course,” Seek said. “He is so simple-minded, especially for a green pony. He’s only 7 or 8 years old. All he cares about is doing his job.”

Reserve champion in the Small Green Pony Hunter was Jessie Spade’s entry With Applause, with Sophia Calamari in the irons. The runner-up pair put up a good fight and finished less than a point behind the leader with a score of 989.660 points.

The Regular Small Pony division got underway Wednesday, and leading the standings going into Thursday’s over fences rounds is Maple Leaf Opulence, ridden by Hunter Champey and owned by MDHT Equestrian LLC out of Far Hills, New Jersey. The leading pair finished the day with two top placings under their belt, having earned the second place ribbon in the model, followed by the sixth place in the under saddle, to accumulate a total of 510.03 points.

Less than half a point behind with a score of 509.70 points in the current reserve rank is New York City-based Mimi Gochman with Love Me Tender, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker of Middleburg, Virginia.

It was Ashley Schneider and Falling Moon Huckleberry that captured the blue ribbon in the model. It was an emotional win for the 10-year-old as she stroked her pony’s blaze. Tears came to her eyes as she smiled and spoke of the chestnut, and their first experience competing at the U.S. Pony Finals.

“I have been riding him since last April, and we have gotten to know each other pretty well,” Schneider said. “I think it is his markings that really make him stand out. He also has such a strong personality; he is very playful.

“Winning a ribbon at my first Pony Finals means so much, and I never expected it. I am in shock right now. This pony means so much to me; to be here with him and win, it’s so exciting.”

Chicago’s Olivia Markman and Benlea Mizzou or ‘Mazzy’ took the top call in the Small Regular Pony Under Saddle, finishing just ahead of Gochman and Love Me Tender. Markman received Benlea Mizzou as a birthday present last November, and the 10-year-old could not stop smiling as she talked about his standout qualities.

Mazzy is known for nuzzling Markman, as well as drinking the occasional Gatorade in the barn. His mischievous personality stems from his love for his rider, even whinnying for her the moment she walks through the barn door.

“I know he’s really cute, and he is a really good jumper, so we are looking forward to tomorrow,” Markman said. “This is my first year competing, and it is really exciting to do so well. I qualified and thought that I would go; I had no idea how I would do. It would be crazy to get a championship, but we are having fun!”

The Small Pony Hunters kick off Thursday, with the Medium Green Pony Model beginning at 7 a.m., followed by the Large Green Pony Model. The under saddle classes for each division are slated to run from 8 a.m. until shortly after noon, when the Small Regular Pony Hunters will commence their over fences.

To learn more about the USEF Pony Finals, please visit www.ponyfinals.org. For live results, please visit www.shownet.biz.

Rebecca Walton for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

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