Gladstone, NJ - For Brittany Hurst, this past weekend at the historic USET Headquarters in Gladstone, NJ, is a weekend she'll remember for a life time. Her consistency throughout all Phases of the 2010 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals - East earned her the prestigious win riding Pindar (owned by Redfield Farm).
The weekend began Saturday with a Schooling class, followed by a reception hosted by the USET Foundation in the famous USET Headquarters Rotunda (the main barn turned 99 years old this year). Coffee and hot chocolate were flowing as the competition got underway on an unseasonably cold Sunday morning with Phase I - Flat.
After the Flat Phase, during which the judges asked the starting field of 87 riders to demonstrate shoulders-in, turns on the haunches and flying changes to the counter lead, Carolyn Curcio, Emma Shauder, Brittany Hurst, and Samantha Schaefer were the top four with scores in the 80's. The second Phase - Gymnastics proved to be a test of the riders' ability to negotiate trot jumps, jumps on the counter lead, cavalettis, and a hand gallop to a triple bar followed by a halt and an immediate trot jump. With the only score of the day in the 90's, Schaefer's score of 92 led Hurst and Michael Hughes going into Monday's Phase Three - Jumping.
The third Phase - Jumping was filled with excitement as riders negotiated the course which included several related distances, an open water jump and a triple combination. With only decimal points separating them, Schaefer, Hurst, Hughes and Laura Pfeiffer all secured their spot into the Final Four Ride-off.
The four riders all began Phase IV with a clean slate of zero, and the afternoon's action got underway as each rider rode their own horse over the shortened course and then each of the other competitor's mounts in turn over the same course. The judges set a condensed course that showcased roll back turns within a tight time allowed.
After many stellar performances, and the tally of the judges' scores, Brittany Hurst, trained by Emil Spadone, was victorious. Finishing second was Laura Pfeiffer aboard Catwoman (trained by Missy Clark and John Brennan), third was Michael Hughes aboard Shockwave (trained by Missy Clark and John Brennan), and fourth was Samantha Schaefer aboard Pioneer (trained by Andre Dignelli).
The Grappa Trophy, donated by Sarah Willeman for Best Horse, was bestowed by the judges to Chase Boggio's mount Massimo.
The warm afternoon sun and brightly colored autumn leaves provided a perfect backdrop for the awards presentation which included Sally Ike, USEF Managing Director, Show Jumping Programs, Amy Serridge, USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Program Coordinator as well as last year's Finals - East winner Matt Mettel. The Grappa Trophy, donated by Sarah Willeman, for Best Horse, was bestowed by the judges to Chase Boggio's mount Massimo.
Ribbons blew in the breeze as the top ten riders cantered around the ring on their victory gallop ; it was a picture perfect ending to the 2010 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals - East.
1. Brittany Hurst, Jackson, NJ
2. Laura Pfeiffer, Temperance, MI
3. Michael Hughes, Allendale, NJ
4. Samantha Schaefer, Westminster, MD
5. Britta Carlson, Redding, CT
6. Victoria Birdsall, Topsfield, MA
7. Lydia Ulrich, Rochester, NY
8. Quincy Hayes, Aurora Ontario
9. Allison Fithian, Monterey, CA
10. Elizabeth Benson, Whitehouse Station, NJ
Photo: Brittany Hurst and Pindar (James Leslie Parker Photo)