Tampa, FL - Week One of the Tampa Equestrian Series is in its last couple of days with the Tampa Bay Classic, but nothing can hinder the resilience of the hunter exhibitors as they strive for the remainder of championship titles. It was a bright and early Saturday morning as the Juniors and Amateur-Owners flocked to the Main Hunter Ring at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center for their chance to compete. Hasbrouck Donovan and Fidelia jogged for two winning ribbons in the over fences, ultimately setting a high standard for Sunday's remaining competitors. Robin Swinderman and Inxs came back from yesterday's results in full swing, adding the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunter Championship to their season.
The main ring opened with exceptional rides by the Large Junior Hunters, each with a flowing first round. The handy course was slightly more complex, involving a bending line, a rollback to a two-stride combination, and a trot fence. The course forced riders to make decisions and acquire a forward canter. While the majority of the division had clean and careful rounds, it was the dauntless riding of Donovan that impressed the judges. The accomplished junior showed Redfield Farm's Fidelia, under the direction of Emil Spadone, and gained two well-deserved wins. The most impressive aspect of the win was that Donovan was riding the mare for the first time.
"She was really fun, super smooth, and very adjustable. I literally got on her, schooled and then showed. Sometimes I get nervous, but there isn't time to worry about much," laughed Donovan. "I enjoy that aspect of showing, because it teaches you to adjust to any horse. She continued, "I was just at HITS Ocala and it was a great season. I have been coming to Tampa for years, and I look forward to it every year."
The balance of the ribbons went to a talented group of young athletes: Reily Rieker and Lucky Jack, Hannah Marco and CR Moet, Amber Henter and Kudos, Caroline Kellogg and Donovan, Colleen Mckenzie and Castello, Caitlin Wojciki and Caro Z, Megan Edrick and Coldplay, and Ashton Alexander piloting City of Angels.
The Amateur-Owners were the next arrive at the arena, eager to get underway with the remainder of their division. There was a consistency that followed through from Friday's classes as Robin Swinderman and Inxs remained at the peak of the results, earning second and first to gain the championship title. Swinderman could hardly restrain her excitement after adding yet another title to this winter's success.
"He was relaxed and jumped so nicely, I couldn't be more pleased," smiled Swinderman. "He has a tendency to get nervous, but he went into the ring and let everything flow. He has never been to Tampa, so it was important to ensure that his brain was in a good place, and that he was prepared. I have had him for about three years and he always puts in 100%. He was circuit champion in Ocala, so I am excited that we are continuing to do well."
She continued. "I am from Ocala, so I show out there because it is so easy to access, but I am so happy to be back in Tampa. The environment is friendly and laid-back, and we all enjoy our time here."
Lisa Arena had similar things to say about the success with her own mount, Endo Fino. Under the direction of Amanda Steege of Ashmeadow Farms, Arena guided her gelding to a first and second place win this morning. "He was great yesterday, so I didn't have to make much of a change for today's results," Arena remarked. "I think that today he was more relaxed, and I really enjoyed the format of the courses. It allowed me to open up in the canter, so I found it really fun to ride."
"I was in Ocala for the winter, and went back and forth from New York as well. This season has been a bit of a challenge because of my schedule; I have also been switching back and forth between my two horses, so this season is all about adjusting. I love Tampa. It is so nice for a change of scenery. Horses usually spend most of their time in Ocala or Wellington, so I think they love coming here and settling down a bit. I also believe that management does such a great job with the show."
Fellow competitors, pinning closely behind Swinderman and Arena, were Amanda Foard and Julian, and Lauren Muller aboard Irresistible Opportunity. After a nail biting two days, these four exhibitors certainly exhibited their competitive edge.
With the completion of the Amateur Hunter divisions this afternoon, the group to look out for in Sunday's Main Hunter Ring will be the Junior Hunters. Don't miss out as these athletes compete for the Week One Championship title.
During the Tampa Equestrian Series, riders will have the opportunity for championship and reserve championship honors in the Professional Hunter divisions, Junior Hunter divisions, and Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions. The event also features the Tampa Series Hunter High Score Circuit Awards in several hunter divisions, which will be awarded during the 40th Annual $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational presented by G & C Farm, at Raymond James Stadium.
For more information on Stadium Jumping, Inc. and the 2012 Tampa Equestrian Series please call (941) 744-5465. To download a copy of the prize list, please visit www.stadiumjumping.com.
Photo Credit: Hasbrouck Donovan and Fidelia jogged for two winning ribbons in the over fences, ultimately setting a high standard for Sunday's remaining competitors. Photo By: Elizabeth Vieira/PMG.