Lexington KY - May 20, 2011 - Today, the sun was shining for competitors at the Kentucky Spring Classic, held at the beautiful Kentucky Horse Park. In the Stonelea Arena, junior riders competed in the USEF/Pessoa Hunter Seat Medal and the WIHS Hunter Phase. The USEF/Pessoa Hunter Medal title went to Greer Hindle, while the WIHS Hunter Phase was won by Hayley Barnhill.
Twenty-five riders showed over a course consisting of nine jumps. Riders started out down the diagonal away from the gate with a seven stride vertical to an oxer. Then, riders came up the opposite diagonal over the wall and back down the opposite diagonal over a single vertical, and around to the outside two stride vertical to an oxer. From there, they continued down to the single vertical on the diagonal line and up the outside five stride vertical to an oxer.
Four riders were invited back in the ring for the final test. After they lined up, the judges instructed them to canter fences four and seven, counter canter fence eight, hand gallop fence two, halt, and return to the line at a sitting trot.
Shawn Casady and Widget were the first to test and navigated it with ease, but did not land on the counter canter, and had to switch leads before fence eight. With three other riders left, Casady's performance was only good enough for the third place ribbon. Chelsea Huss and Cool Man were the next to perform the test and also had a very smooth trip, but a brief pause picking up the counter canter, which cost her the win and she landed in fourth place. Victoria Colvin and VIP Z were the next to try their hand at the test. Colvin had an impressive round, as she was the first to land on the counter canter and maintain it around the end of the ring to fence eight. Colvin's riding earned her the second place ribbon.
"I had a plan in my head, because I remembered the jumps and had knew what jumps to do," commented Colvin. "I was planning on landing on the counter canter, which worked out well. Sometimes when VIP Z lands on the wrong lead he can act funny, but he was being good. I had to test like that once before where I couldn't see the course or watch the other riders, so it wasn't new to me."
Greer Hindle and Freedom were the last pair to navigate the test round. Hindle also landed on the counter lead and was able to maintain it until fence eight. Hindle had a strong hand gallop to the last fence, with a nice clean stop, which earned her the lead. Hindle took home the top honors in today's USEF Medal.
"I have had to test like that once before, where you can't see and this one went much better for me," said Hindle. "I could remember that there was a pretty direct line that was nice four to six, so I tried to flow up and leave out a stride, but I slowed down to land on the counter canter, so I could hold it to the next fence. I was planning on landing on the counter canter and holding it and it worked out nicely."
Hindle added, "I have only had him since January. I got him for my birthday. He was doing the 1.45m in Europe and he came over and he was really quiet so we decided to do him in the equitation. I finally got my act together after Florida and he is perfect. I want to thank Donald and Cara Cheska, because they have helped me get this far. I love showing here; it has been great." For the summer, Hindle plans to head to Devon, Country Aire, and Horse Shows By the Bay to compete.
Twenty-eight riders turned out for the Washington International Hunter Phase. The course started with a single vertical down the diagonal away from the gate. Then riders came up the far outside line, a five stride vertical to oxer. From there they headed back down the opposite diagonal over a seven stride, vertical to oxer. And came up the opposite outside line with a two stride vertical to oxer. Riders then headed back down the diagonal over a single wall and to finish continued back up the opposite diagonal over a single vertical.
It was Hayley Barnhill that prevailed in the WIHS Hunter Phase, earning the winning title. Barnhill had a very solid round earning her the blue ribbon. Chelsea Huss also showed exemplary equitation and took home the second place honors. Lauren Tyree secured third place with an impressive showing, and the fourth place honors went to Victoria Colvin.
This weekend, championship honors will be awarded in the Amateur-Owner and Junior Hunter Divisions at the Kentucky Spring Classic. This week features the World Champion Hunter Rider Week that gives riders the opportunity to earn fabulous prize money along with quality points toward year end awards for Pony, Junior, Amateur, Professional, Adult and Children's hunter riders.
For more information please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
Photo: Greer Hindle and Freedom at the Kentucky Spring Classic Photo Credit: Holly Whiteman.