Wayne, IL - June 26, 2016 – On the final day of Showplace Productions Spring Spectacular the Equitation Challenge, sponsored by Perfecta Farm and Kim Gardiner, the day’s competition kicked off in the Grand Prix Arena followed by the featured $10,000 Low Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, sponsored by Tapestry Farm, and the $20,000 High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, sponsored by WeatherTech, a Show Jumping Hall of Fame (SJHOF) event.
For the Equitation Challenge, invitations were extended to the top junior equitation competitors during Spring Spectacular Weeks I and II. Riders were responsible for the management, warm up and schooling of their own horses with only the assistance of one groom.
Trainers were not allowed to enter the designated areas throughout the class. The use of a cellphone would immediately disqualify an exhibitor from participation. The riders walked the course on their own.
Round one was scored over fences. An open numerical scoring was used by the panel of judges. After the first round young Natalie Jayne of Elgin, Illinois and her own Cyril Van de Mespel Z(Calido I – Bergrose) led the group with the highest score of 88.
In round two, each rider competed over a course designed by the judges. Clare McKean and Quintus Rubin (Quality – Hauptstutbuch Karubina), owned by North Run, took over the lead with a score of 92.
In the final phase, the top four riders selected by the panel returned for further testing. They included Clare McKean, Natalie Jayne, Giavanna Rinaldi and Raegan Rast. The judges asked the riders to back out of the line and perform a straightforward course.
At the end of the test, Rinaldi and Fendi (Nothing To Lose – Nadinia J), owned by Deborah Ball, were named the winners and earned the victory lap.
“Fendi was perfect this morning,” Rinaldi said. “He rose to the occasion and helped me win the title. He doubles as a hunter and jumper as well. He listened very nicely this morning and I could tell he wanted to do well.”
Oscar Soberón challenged the competitors to earn their prize money in the $20,000 SJHOF High Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic, sponsored by WeatherTech. There was a line that went past the in-gate that caused quite a few rails. Out of the 16 entries, three returned for the jump off round.
Greg Burrow and his Aragon Rouet (Baloubet Du Rouet – Silhouet), returned first and stopped the timers at 40.723. Then, with U2’s “The Real Thing” appropriately playing over the PA system, Brian Moggre and MTM Flutterby (C-Indoctro – Grace)
beat Burrow’s time by six seconds. Last to go, Caelinn Leahy and Esquilino Bay (Escudo – Dunja) bested Moggre’s time by three-tenths of a second.
“On Texas (Esquilino Bay), I did him the past two weeks in the Prix, not the high juniors,” said Leahy. “I’ve had him for two years so I knew him pretty well. I knew how to execute everything for it to work out well. It was great to have earlier rides so I could take them to Texas.”
Leahy, who trains with Steve Schaefer, is a new to the high junior jumpers on a consistent basis. She said that she is getting more opportunities to ride horses. Schaefer shared how proud his is of her riding.
“Last year I didn’t do any high classics,” she said. “I think that the past three weeks have shaped me as a rider and I feel like I’m getting better and better.”
Leahy is friends with second-place finisher Moggre, they were introduced by their mutual friend Rinaldi.
“It’s nice having a friend beat you because then you can’t be too mad about it,” said Moggre. “Like with Gia, she’s first in the nation and I’m second, and I went, ‘I want to be so mad at you, but I can’t because we’re friends.’ I’m super happy for her and I’m super happy with my horses.”
“It’s great to have friends to compete against,” added Leahy. “We’re totally happy for each other and it’s been a super fun three weeks.”
“It's a lot of fun to have such great friends to compete against and we all want each other to do well,” Rinaldi said. “We're always rooting for each other. I always feel supported and Caelinn and Brian are amazing friends to have.”
In the $10,000 Low Junior/Amateur Jumpers, sponsored by Tapestry Farm, 37 horse and rider combinations tried their best over Soberón’s course. Amanda Seale, from New Orleans, Louisiana, and VDL Endorado Ryal K ,(VDL Indorado – Uryal) wned by Seale Horses LLC were the first to be double clear and held the lead for much of the class. It wasn’t until 15 rounds later when Adeline Rohrbach and her own Rodrigo's Bianca (Rodrigoo VDL-Norelia)produced the next double clear round. They slid into second place behind Seale about two seconds off the time.
Paige Matthies and Melissa Hirt’s Peninsula Emerald Lass were 37 in the order. The young rider was three seconds faster than Seale and won the class.
Matthies trains with Hirt and Cody Weaver at Northern Pines Farm in Maple City, Michigan. “Emerald” is her first jumper and she just recently moved up to the low junior jumpers.
“She’s a really great partner for me because she’s the exact opposite of all of my other horses,” Matthies said. “I get to have fun and go fast. She’s really fast in the air, which is why we do well. She has done a lot of bigger classes at Spruce Meadows and other shows. I love her.”
Matthies thanked her parents and grandparents and her trainers Hirt and and Weaver.
“They’ve taken me so far. They’ve gotten me to the point where this morning I could do the Equitation Challenge. I had my plan. I warmed up well, I knew exactly what I had to do and that’s all thanks to them.
Matthies summarized Spring Spectacular as, ”spectacular”. “It’s a really fun show. Pat puts on such great shows. The Eq finals are always amazing.”
Another successful Showplace Productions Spring Spectacular has come to a conclusion. Click here for information about all Showplace Productions shows. Plus, look for news on the new Balmoral facility, the site of next year’s Showplace Productions Spring Spectacular.
Other Results Jumpers, Hunters, Equitation and Ponies
What fun is showing without good friends? Friends and competitors Donna Struve and Beth Bailey share a passion for their sport, but compassion for fellow exhibitors, explaining just how important support is in the hunter ring.
“We’re friends of many, many years,” said Struve, who was ‘twinning’ with Bailey in their matching Grand Prix hunt coats. “We live in different places, but we know each other from the shows. In this environment, you have to be friendly. You have to enjoy the people around you.”
“Truly, your friends are there to help you,” Bailey said, who started competing as an adult and found support among friends at the shows. “The environment is friendly, but everybody is competitive. If you don’t have something to shoot for, sometimes you get sloppy.”
“Everyone has good horses and are here to compete. If you come in and have a bad day, that’s just the way it is and you deal with it,” Struve continued. “Having friends and having support here, that’s what you need. I started when I was an adult, I moved over from (Dublin) Ireland when I was 22.”
Struve also said having a good show means building a relationship with your horses.
“You enjoy your horses,” she said. “They’re your partner in this and you learn to deal with every one of them individually. That’s how you learn how to have a partnership.”
“… Carrots work too!” added Bailey.
“The show is beautiful,” Struve said. “Pat and Nicole did an absolutely amazing job. This is the nicest Spring Spectacular I’ve ever been to. I’ve never seen so many people enjoying it. I’ve ran into so many people who are grandparents with little kids riding, it was really fun and really cool. The show looked beautiful.”
Baroness Blixen and her owner/rider Kiersten Litzsinger, with their trainer Katie Kappler, had quite the successful last two weeks at the Showplace Spring Spectacular. Baroness Blixen and Litzsinger championed the Amateur Adult Hunter 36-49 division both weeks, and this week, took home the $500 Marshall & Sterling Adult Hunter Classic and the $2,500 NAL Adult Hunter Classic, sponsored by the Ianello family. Litzsinger also was awarded the Rider Style Adult Amateur Award.
“This horse is my happy place.” Kiersten Litzsinger
Five years ago, Kelsey Cerkleski brought home Sent From Heaven, aka Prince, who she started with as a 2’6” Modified Novice horse. “He helped move me up all the way to the junior hunters,” she said. “We went to junior hunter finals for a couple years. This horse has never stopped at a jump in his life. He’s always had my back. I’m an amateur this year, thought I would bring him back down to the 3’ just to have a final season. He’s just been nothing but the best. For five whole years, this horse has just been my everything and he’s coming to college with me.”
Cerkleski said she will be attending Texas Christian University, studying nursing. Though she doesn’t plan on participating with the equestrian team there, she will bring the 17-year-old Hanoverian along to ride casually as a break from her studies. “He might do a little work down there, but I plan to have him roaming around in a field as much as he wants, enjoying some free time while I’m in school and riding him at my will.”
“He’s so good. I’ve had him for about four years now. We have a really good partnership,” said Hassfurther, an Austin, Texas native. “He’s steady-Eddy. I always just hop on at the horse shows and go in and he’s like this all the time. He’s awesome. He has a good personality. I just have to try to get him going because he’s super lazy. That’s our biggest thing, is just making sure he has enough energy throughout the week. He doesn’t have any other classes.” She said Optimized has several championships, including WEF, Indoors and the Kentucky National Horse Show, among others.
Hassfurther said she enjoys coming to the show because her parents live in Chicago, but she also loves the show. “They always do a great job with the management and everything, so we really like it here.”
Olivia Markman and her small pony “Mazzy,” have been lighting up the hunter ring with three weeks of small pony hunter championships and a second place Pony Hunter Derby finish last week.
“When I first got him, we weren’t too good,” Markman said. “I finally got to know him really well and he got to know me because he’s not always the nicest when he’s in his stall. Other people will go in and he’s not so happy. But when I go in, he’s really nice. He’s really smooth, not too forward or too slow, he can be whatever pace you want him to be.”
As for her own riding, Markman said she picks a couple things to work on to improve her trips. “Sometimes my hands get a little bit crazy, going side to side. I don’t know why they do that. They just do. Also, I have to work on putting my eyes up. I look down over the jumps.” Markman said she’s not riding horses just yet, but maybe in the near future. She plans to continue enjoying the pony hunter ring for a while longer.