First Time Is A Charm For Junior Hunters at Pennsylvania National Horse Show

Brett Burlington and Due West.

Brett Burlington and Due West. (Photo: ©Al Cook)

Harrisburg, PA - Brett Burlington, 17, of Miami, FL, and the Popish Farm entry, Due West, were awarded the Championship in the Large Junior Hunter 16-17. They amassed a total of 26 points over the two days of competition to earn the title at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, presented by The Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund during the prestigious Junior Weekend of competition. Bergen Sanderford and Happenstance took the Reserve Champion title with 24 points.

"I've never done the junior hunters at Harrisburg before or at any of the other indoor shows and neither has he, so it was definitely a very nice first time for us," said Burlington. "I don't think we came in with any kind of expectations. I knew he would be good and do his job but we were very pleased with how it went.

I was actually pretty nervous today, which is weird because I don't usually get nervous for hunter rounds. I thought it was a good course, there were some single oxers and a bending line which usually spices things up. It was good for him because sometimes he can get a little bored. It kept him paying attention. I have been riding him on and off for a couple of years, but pretty consistently for this past year. He is just really great to ride. He is so simple. The less you do the better it is."

Emma Kurtz, Hudson, OH, rode Evermore to the Championship in the Junior Hunter 15 and Under and then returned a few trips later to take the Reserve Championship with Wisdom.

I don't think I've ever had a show where they both have been winners like this together," said a smiling Kurtz. "They are both incredible horses. Evermore is a baby so I have to package him a bit more, and Wisdom I just have to kick and go. They are both really easy but they are just very different rides. They are both amazing.

Evermore is so brave. I don't think he has ever done anything wrong unless it was a green mistake and then he figures it out. It was at Devon when it all came together. Evermore is so young and he has never been here before, so consistency was my goal. At Capital Challenge Scott Stewart rode him first in the First Year's so he got in the ring. Here the juniors go first so I didn't have that, but he was amazing!"

Sophie Gochman and Garfield

Sophie Gochman and Garfield (Photo: ©Al Cook)

Small Junior Hunter 16-17 Championship was won by Boss and Katherine Dash, Yarrow Point, WA, with Reserve going to Bugsy Malone and Giavanna Rinaldi, Wayne, IL. Both horses had stellar rounds in the first day of competition, but has less than perfect rounds in the final class, with Bugsy Malone scoring a 70 to stay on top in the race for Champion and Boss scoring a 68 but still managing to rely on their previous wins to capture Reserve.

Sophie Gochman, New York, NY, was so happy with her mount Garfield, as they took the Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under Championship. This was Gochman's first time winning a major championship indoors on a horse, having graduated onto Garfield from her winning string of ponies.

"This was really exciting because this is my first indoors on a horse. I was definitely not expecting this, I just wanted to get around," said Gochman. "It is a big surprise. Garfield is 15 or 16 so he has been doing this forever. You can just loop the reins and get a good pace and he helps you find the distances. He is just a really good horse to ride.

My goal was just to have fun to have good rounds but definitely not to be champion. He was so confident that I wasn't nervous. All my butterflies went away. I just rode him like I usually do and had fun."

Champion honors were also presented to Junior Hunters jumping 3'3". Small Junior Hunter Champion went to Emma Hansen and Easy Time with Reserve awarded to Wish List and Laurel Bennett. Large Junior Hunter was Color Up and Lauren Watts. Reserve Champion went to Lauren Childs and Credit.

The EMO Agency High Five Award, given to the highest scoring Junior Hunter round, was presented to William Hill and rider Taylor St. Jacques for their score of 89.

The Claire Mawdsley Scholarship Award is presented each year to exhibitors who attend a traditional "brick and mortar" high school on a regular basis. This year the Award was presented to Lauren Dean, Lauren Watts and Bergen Sanderford.

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