Battle in the Saddle at Devon

Over in the Dixon Oval the Juniors were on fire, and the judges were recognizing their efforts with scores of 89's, 90's and even a 92 for Garfield and 16 year old Samantha Schaeffer from Westminster, Maryland in the Large Junior Handy 16-17.  The big scores just kept on coming, and at the end of the day it was Samantha Schaefer trained by Kim Stewart and Andre Dignelli and 12 year old Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, Florida trained by Scott Stewart who dominated the competition.  Colvin who had already taken home the Champion in the Medium Pony Division and Champion and Reserve in the Large Pony Division was also Champion and Reserve in the Small Junior Hunter 15 and under on Ovation and World Time respectively and Champion on Way Cool in the Large Junior 15 and under.

It didn't stop there. Ovation and Way Cool were both named Overall Hunter Champions in each of their divisions, and Ovation took home the holy grail of awards, the Devon Grand Junior Hunter Champion title.

All three of the horses Colvin rode to victory are owned by her trainer Scott Stewart of River's Edge Farm in Flemington, New Jersey.  Stewart remarked that Colvin's mother trains Tory the majority of the time at home where they keep a few horses in the back yard and meet up with Stewart at horse shows. When River's Edge moves to their Wellington, Florida location for the winter, Colvin is at the barn riding every day.  Stewart recalls, "Tory always had a good eye, but she was very timid and a little bit nervous about the different horses.  She's gotten to ride a lot of different horses and ponies the last couple of years, and she's really gotten confident. It's fun to watch her.  Whether we win or lose it's fun to watch the horses go around with her. Today was really see horses that I've owned since they were babies win here in the Juniors. I've done it on my own horses, but in the past the Junior Champions have ridden more seasoned horses." Stewart adds, "I haven't really found a horse that she can't ride well."

Colvin now shows an average of 8 or 9 of Stewart's horses at any given horse show and loves every minute of it. She'll tell you when she's not riding horses, she's thinking about horses.  This year Colvin "maxed" out her limit at Devon, showing 4 horses and 3 ponies... amassing a whopping 139 total points on her 7 rides.  Oh, by the way, her own pony Ballou, ridden by Daisy Farish, was Champion in the Small Pony Hunter Division and Devon Grand Pony Hunter Champion.

When asked about her mom, who was crying at the back gate as Horse Show Manager Peter Doubleday rotated out one horse after the other for Colvin to take to the winner's circle, Tory replied, "She gets so nervous! When I go around the ring, I watch her, I know I'm not supposed to, but when I pass the In Gate I always look at her...I don't get nervous, but she does."

It was pointed out that Daisy Farish who rides Colvin's pony Ballou looks up to Tory, and she feels that Colvin has been a great mentor...."That is so sweet. I think it was really great for her (to win today), she's 9 and Ballou is the best! I do get nervous for her, just not for myself."

When the Best Child Rider on a Horse award was announced, it was Samantha Schaefer who walked away with the title. Schaefer came from behind after having a bit of a rough day on Friday having an unlucky rail on Garfield, but came back with a vengeance posting a 92 in today's Large Junior Handy 16-17 which was the highest scoring round of the day edging out Adele Norton on Peregrine for the Championship.

"This is the first time I've been a Champion at Devon," says Schaefer, "I've had this Devon curse.......I've come here since 2001 on small ponies, and I've never been champion. I've had years where I had 6 to ride and could never get it done....I was reserve twice, but never champion.  It's exciting, it's a relief.  When you have a good horse and you know you can win, it's an awesome feeling."

Photos: Garfield & Samantha Schaefer, Victoria Colvin & Ovation, Victoria Colvin & Way Cool, Garfield & Samantha Schaefer win the Third Fox Hill Cup