Harrisburg, PA - For the second year in a row Abbie Ross and TNT blew away the competition in the North American League (NAL) $10,000 Children's Jumper Finals.
Owned by Lillie Ross, Abbie's older sister, and coach, TNT is a 16-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare who stands a petite 14.1 hands. As the smallest equine in the class, Abbie said, "In the first round the triple combination was difficult because the pony had to book it to make the distances, but she's had a horse stride since we've been doing less pony classes."
Abbie's mother, and trainer, Allison Ross, said of TNT, "She's small but mighty. If you look, she will go." At age 14, Abbie, of Wheaton, Ill., has been riding for eight years and has been riding TNT for the past three years, each year competing with her at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS).
"It was fun," Abbie said of the class, "I was really nervous, but as I went into the ring I felt like I could do it. I was worried about one of the turns in the jump-off, but we went fast and tidy, and after the jump-off I was worried about the final competitors, they were my best competition. This might be my last year riding TNT because I might be passing her on to my little brother soon, but when that happens I'll start riding my new horse, a Hanoverian named Chianti 67."
Abbie and TNT completed the jump-off course in a speedy 29.794 seconds, ahead of KC Van Aarem, of Woodbine, Md., aboard her horse Mastermind with a 32.032 second time. Finishing third was Claudia Styslinger, of Birmingham, Ala., aboard her horse Quatro with 32.394 seconds.
The NAL offers a year-long series in six divisions - Children's Hunter, Adult Hunter presented by Cavalor, Children's Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, and the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper. The series includes classes held at hundreds of horse show across the United States and Canada.
Riders need not be members of the NAL to compete in the qualifying classes, but only members earn points toward the year-end finals. With the annual membership fee only $35, most riders join in hopes of earning a trip to Harrisburg. The 2010-2011 NAL qualifying period began on September 1, 2010 and runs through August 31, 2011.
Historically, the NAL has only offered one Final in Harrisburg. The addition of the West Coast Finals, taking place in November 2011 during the Las Vegas National Horse Show at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will help make the NAL a truly national series.
Open Jumper Classes Host Top Competitors
Open jumpers at the 65th Annual Pennsylvania National Horse Show always host top international, as well as national competitors. In the first Open class, Brazilian Rodrigo Pessoa topped the 49 competitors for the win in the $5,000 Speed Challenge with a time of 45.711 seconds aboard Palouchin de Ligny, a chestnut gelding owned by Pessoa Stables LLC of Wellington, Fla. Next up was Marie Hecart, of France, aboard the chestnut gelding Norton de Vains, owned by Bruno Rocuet, in 46.689 seconds. Finishing third was Hillary Dobbs, of Sussex, N.J., aboard her bay gelding Marengo.
Open Jumper Classes Host Top Competitors
Olympian McLain Ward, of Brewster, NY, took the top spot in the $5,000 Power and Speed class aboard his chestnut gelding Rothchild with a time of 41.006 seconds. Shane Sweetnam, originally from County Cork, Ireland, came in second with 44.553 seconds aboard the Spy Coast Farm LLC bay mare Rolette. Canadian Ian Miller took the third spot aboard Star Power, the Team Works-owned bay gelding.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS) continues through Saturday, October 23. Special attractions include Wednesday night's Western Night, Thursday night's Pennsylvania Big Jump, Friday's carriage racing, and the grand finale, Saturday's $75,000 Grand Prix de Penn National.
In addition to world-class equestrian competition, the PNHS offers a unique shopping environment with boutique vendors that offer everything from fine art to custom jewelry, clothing, accessories and horse show memorabilia.
General admission for Wednesday, October 20 to Friday, October 22, is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. General admission for Saturday, October 23, is $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. As always, children under 6 are admitted free in general admission seating. Convenient parking is also free.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show is proud of its tradition of supporting equine and youth programs. The show benefits the Harrisburg Kiwanis Youth Foundation and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Details are available at the horse show's website at www.panational.org or by calling the horse show office at 717-770-0222.
Photo Captions: Champions Abbie Ross and TNT in the North American League Children's Jumper Finals (Al Cook Photo)
Brazilian Rodrigo Pessoa aboard Palouchin de Ligny taken earlier this year by Randi Muster