Wayne, IL - September 15, 2013 - The long anticipated Illinois Hunter Jumper Association (IHJA) "A" Medal Finals sponsored by Barrington Saddlery, were the highlight of the Grand Prix Ring today at the Showplace Fall Classic Championship Horse Show at the Lamplight Equestrian Center. An all day slow rain didn't stop competitors since the new GGT footing was perfect in the rain.
Popular course designer Skip Bailey of Wellington, FL, created the spectacular IHJA Medal Finals courses with horse show manager, Patrick Boyle. As usual, the designing team pulled out a few surprises and a beautiful course. A combination of derby jumps including split rails, hay bales, brush jumps and snake jumps mixed with some Showplace red and white jumps and white fence lines, made for an attractive and challenging track. Boyle even put real trees in the ring and hundreds of ferns and mums to polish it off.\
"I tried to give riders plenty of options," explained Bailey. "I wanted to give them a course so they could decide how to showcase their talents the best."
"What Skip [Bailey] and I were trying to do is something that prepares kids for the indoor finals - Harrisburg, Washington and Kentucky coming up," said manager Boyle. "There are a lot of options in this course, a lot of variances where the kids have to make their own decisions. For the Junior Medal there are a lot of forward lines where you can really show off what you can and can't do. We have some forced rides in the triple combination, forced distances where there are no options really, you have to stay right on track. There's just a lot of creativity. We have a double combination that has three different ways that you can jump it. We have option jumps where the kids have to choose their own track. They have to use whatever they think is best for them and their horse and show off their best skills. Then we were after just the beauty of the course. It took about eight hours last night to build, but it looks fantastic."
The course varied in the options presented according to the skill level of the class, but all classes had four jumps in the corner that could be jumped in any direction and any sequence. There was also an unusual combination across the center of the ring Boyle mentioned, constructed out of hay bales. In the center it was a two stride and on the outsides it was a one stride, jumped in both directions. There was also a chute built with white fence with a jump into the chute and a single jump out of the chute that turned into a triple combination for the juniors. It was truly an exceptional course that could be used at any national medal final, and it gave local riders the opportunity to experience that.
There were many variations of the options demonstrated, especially in the IHJA Junior Medal. Executing the best set of options was Caitlin Boyle of Hampshire, IL landing a score of 88. Not far behind was the 2012 USHJA Emerging Athletes Program winner, Stephen Foran with a score of 83. Also making the final four was Taylor Sutton of Gurnee, IL and Alessia Woods of Long Grove, IL.
Following the completion of the course, the pick of the crop were asked to enter the ring and stand to hear the work off. The work off began with backing out of line, then riders were asked to canter directly to fence 3, gallop fence 2, jump fence 9 (the snake jump) rolling back on fence 9 to jump it from the other direction, then jump a bending line from the first jump of the course to the last Swedish oxer of the course, trot a jump at the 'in' of the chute and finally proceed at a sitting trot back to the line. Riders were asked to then turn around and face their horses out of the ring so they could not see what the other riders were doing.
Again, spectators saw many variations of the theme as riders chose different paths to showcase their strengths. All four riders demonstrated a different track, which kept spectators at the edge of their seats, anxious to see what the riders would do. Again it was Boyle who demonstrated a handy track with rhythm and smoothness to hold her lead for the win. Foran also demonstrated a smooth work off, holding his spot for second.
"There were a lot of options today," said Foran. "I walked it and then thought about it for a long time and didn't really commit myself to anything until the last couple minutes when I finally decided what I was going to do. My horse is really handy and has a huge stride so I knew in some of the more difficult spots I'd be able to get it done easily and still make it look good so I took some ambitious paths. It worked well for him."
Caitlin Boyle added, "I tried to use his stride to his advantage too because he has a very long stride. So in the places where I knew it was forward I could just kind of sit steady and just ride him to the base, and when it was tight he's also really good at collecting so I just fit it in anywhere like the first line. We started thinking this morning when the course was put out of all the options that we could do, and we thought about overall what was best for my horse and we took that into play and that's how we made our decision."
The unique test gave riders the opportunity to showcase not only their riding abilities but also their ability to analyze a course without a trainer and execute it.
"I thought from the judge's point it was a very good test because there were multiple, multiple options from either taking inside turns or how to correctly jump a jump backward and then figure out how to rollback on it," Caitlin Boyle continued. "There were so many different options that you could have picked it put so much pressure on us, especially because you couldn't watch each other. You couldn't feed off of each other's ideas. I thought it was really good test because you really had to know what you were doing. You really had to use your own idea and make it work."
Foran commented, "When I first heard the test I thought it was so confusing, and I had no idea what I was going to do or if I would even remember it. When they said rollback and jump 9 after jumping it the opposite direction, I didn't know if you were supposed to jump it the opposite direction again or come the same way. Then when they said jump 1 to the oxer 13, looking at it, it seemed impossible because the jumps were so close together and in a perpendicular angle. So I thought I was hearing it wrong. It was a rather challenging test, but my horse is so reliable that it worked out well, and I was really happy with him. Knowing that Cait was ahead of me, I assumed that she was going to put in a pretty solid test, so I figured I would have to be really kind of brilliant. I knew I could trust my horse to do anything so I kind of took all of the hardest options I could and really just showed him off. But she was a good 5 points ahead so I had a lot of room to make up."
"I knew Stephen could figure out something," Boyle replied. "I'm sure he thought of something I didn't, which obviously happened. I tried to play it more on a safe level because I knew I had the point advantage. I just wanted to find all of my jumps and not make any mistakes that could push me back.
The Zone V equitation riders head off to the Kentucky National Horse Show in Lexington next week for the Zone V Horsemanship Class and the Maclay Regional Finals, in order to qualify for the Maclay Finals at the Alltech National Horse Show in October.
The day was filled with medal class after medal class. The IHJA Pony Medal had eleven riders eager to take on the challenge. The big ring and long course were difficult for some. Making the test were Natalie Jayne, Mia Walvoord, Honor Pickus and Charlise Casas coming back on top. Riders were called into the middle of the ring and given the test, which included a trot jump, halt and sitting trot. Keeping the lead, Charlise Casas won the class with Natalie Jayne moving up from fourth to second, Honor Pickus moved down to third and Mia Walvoord moved down from third to fourth.
Next the adults tried their skills in the IHJA Adult Mini Medal Finals. The brave adults gave it their best shot with Jessie Jablon, Jane Dickinson, Rosie Punzi and Lauren Robishaw returning for the work off. Each work off throughout the day was a bit different. This group cantered three specific jumps, halted and returned to line at the posting trot. Lauren Robishaw of Chicago finished at the top of the list.
Robishaw rides with trainer Ashleen Lee of Morton Grove, IL and has only been showing for a year. Her mount, Frontier, is an eleven-year-old warmblood gelding whom Robishaw says, loves to show.
"I just knew it was going to be a good day," said Robishaw. "We havn't shown since May, but we've really worked on getting to know each other all summer."
The IHJA Children's Mini Medal was a large class with twenty-seven riders, all trying to make the cut. Again you saw many different interpretations of the course with Sydney Gruchot of Glenview, IL going to the top of the leader board with an 85. Ella Zimbrick of Fitchburg, WI returned for the work off with an 81, Olivia Stoeckel and Kalie Hoskins also returned. The test for this group included some canter jumps, a trot jump and a halt. Both Gruchot and Zimbrick held their spots after the work off finishing first and second.
"The course was fun and more difficult than we usually do," said fourteen-year-old Gruchot. "I was really nervous for the test. I was just hoping I didn't mess up."
Trainer Kate Wichmann added, "It's nice to see the kids ride in the ring as well as they do at home and be able to perform this well under pressure."
Winning the largest class of the day out of 31 riders in the IHJA Children's Medal was Shelby Long of Clarendon Hills, IL. Also making the top four were Celia Bresch of Barrington, IL, Anneka Jansson, and Samantha Jensen of St. Charles, IL. This group also had a different series of canter jumps, a trot jump and a halt as their test.
Long, 16, is a Junior at Hinsdale Central High School and has had her eight-year-old horse, Liberty Z for three years. She has been riding with Tina Judge and Lori Hollands at Judgement Farm in Naperville for seven years.
"He wouldn't go to the end of the ring at the beginning of the week," said Long. "I was nervous because I didn't know if I could get to the first jump without a spin or a buck! All I cared about was that he was good. It didn't matter if I was called back. I was really nervous watching the others test but I was happy he was good."
Riding in probably the worst downpour of the day were the riders in the IHJA Adult Medal Finals. Returning for the work off, Michael Leonard of St. Charles, IL was in the lead followed by Kathleen Bruce of Kildeer, IL, Mary Beth Canfield of Chicago and Kimberly Plaster of Bartlet, IL.
The group tested over another combination of canter jumps with a trot jump and a halt. Leonard held his lead for the win, Mary Beth Canfield was able to move up a spot for second and Kimberly Plaster also moved up a spot for third.
"It was raining so hard I just rode," said Canfield. "My strategy was just to be conservative. I loved the course! It was a bit tricky but overall it was fun."
"I was excited to test - I tried to do it just like Kimberly did it!" laughed Canfield.
Canfield has been riding with Lorrie Canady at Galway Farm in Long Grove, IL for over twenty years. Canady found Canfield her horse, Insignia, eight years ago. The horse is now thirteen and has an amazing track record filled with hunter derbies and indoor finals.
"I'm very grateful for everything Lorrie's done over the years," finished Canfield.
Leonard was also excited to make it to the test and described the course as fun and challenging. Leonard was fortunate to ride the horse, Frontier, who won the Adult Mini Medal earlier in the day. "I knew that the horse was great at turning so I knew I could do that well," said Leonard. "I wasn't nervous in the ride off - I just knew I had to complete the test."
Leonard rides with Ashleen Lee at Freedom Woods Farm. "Ashleen is always so supportive. She gives you confidence that you're a good rider," said Leonard gratefully.
All of the medal winners will be acknowledged at the IHJA Awards Banquet on November 23rd. Combined with the Marshall and Sterling Midwest Championships, the Showplace Fall Classic Championship Horse Show is one of the most elaborate local finals in the country. For more information on other Showplace Productions events, please visit www.showplaceproductions.com.
IHJA Pony Medal Finals result
entry # horse / owner rider
1 300 Jessandi Famous Amos Charlise Casas Charlise Casas
2 749 Clovercroft Show Me The Bunny Stadium Sport Horses, LLC Natalie Jayne
3 428 Little Brown Honor Pickus Honor Pickus
4 553 Blossom Hill Mia Walvoord Mia Walvoord
5 687 Rainbow Bright Perfecta Farm Gigi Spence
6 422 Pep Talk Madeline Nagel Megan Crevoiserat
7 431 I'm Not Blue Julia Hasler Julia Hasler
8 700 Go For The Gold Natalie Jayne Hannah Hoch
9 395 Rockefeller Charlotte Novy Charlotte Novy
IHJA Adult Mini Medal Finals result
entry # horse / owner rider
1 583 Frontier Lauren Robishaw Lauren Robishaw
2 456 Sensitive Prince Rosie Punzi Rosie Punzi
3 482 Tuidam Caitlin Collins Jane Dickinson
4 900 Josephine Sara Gentry Jessie Jablon
5 695 Papillon Rouge Serah Vogus Marianne Nicolosi
6 521 Adagio Caroline Wunrow Suzie Chester
IHJA Child Mini Medal Finals result
entry # horse / owner rider
1 741 The Best Man Sydney Gruchot Sydney Gruchot
2 497 Wizzkid-N Deas Vail, Inc Ella Zimbrick
3 683 Double Intention Perfecta Farm Kalie Hoskins
4 500 SS Couture Samantha Oliva Olivia Stoeckel
5 727 Frankly Scarlett Camie Dudziak Camie Dudziak
6 483 Plain & Simple Melissa Hirt Lindsay Pristou
7 584 Clockwork Tracy Berkos Ashley Meek
8 531 Under The Tuscan Sun Julia Hauswirth Julia Hauswirth
9 800 Argonaut Mariel Finnegan-Klein Mariel Finnegan-Klein
10 658 Beach Boy Bull Run Equestrian Center Lauren Huseman
11 364 Dream On Nicole Loochtan Isabella Roman
IHJA Children's Medal Finals result
entry # horse / owner rider
1 404 Liberty Z Shelby Long Shelby Long
2 678 Intrepid Celia Bresch Celia Bresch
3 691 Intrepid Celia Bresch Celia Bresch