Hunter Holloway's mount Any Given Sunday has proven his talent in both the hunter and grand prix jumper rings, and for Holloway, when it comes time to pull out the big guns in the equitation ring, he is the one that she turns to. One of those times is this week at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair, where Holloway is among the nation's top young riders vying for a shot at a blue ribbon and a spot in the horse show's long history.
Holloway kicked off the opening day of competition on Thursday by riding Any Given Sunday to victory in the California-split Section A of the WIHS Equitation Classic - Jumper Phase.
"A win at Devon is such a prestigious type of win," Holloway said. "It is such a big horse show for us, and it's such a big deal to win here. It comes with a sense of pride and honor winning here." Holloway continued, "I thought my Washington round was solid. It wasn't flawless by any means, but I was happy with it. It felt like it was a good start to day."
The good day for Holloway continued into the afternoon as she clinched another win, this time in Section C of the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal. The talented young rider from Topeka, Kansas, also finished third in Section A of the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search.
The multiple top finishes position Holloway as one of the front runners for the R.W. "Ronnie" Mutch Equitation Championship title, presented annually to the rider who earns the most points competing in the four equitation classes held every opening weekend at Devon. However, Holloway is far from alone at the top.
Also earning multiple top finishes on Thursday was Tori Colvin. Colvin is no stranger to the winners' circle at Devon, having shared the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship in 2013 and riding to the title of Best Child Rider multiple times. This year, Colvin kicked things off with the win in Section A of the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal and the second place finish in Section B of the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search.
For the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search, Colvin turned to top equitation mount Clearway, but for her Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal, Colvin rode her new mount, Nat King Cole to the win.
"We haven't had him for that long. We got him at the end of Florida, and he's been very good," Colvin said of the gelding acquired by Dr. Betsee Parker. "We were deciding between him and Patrick [for the Medal and the Washington]. We were going to use Clearway for the USET. We weren't sure who to use, but we ended up using him because we thought he's such a beautiful picture going around." Colvin had the difficult task of being the very first to go in the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal, but she made the course look seamless and followed it with a well-executed test to take the win.
"I had to go first so I just went in, and I may have done a couple strides that Andre [Dignelli] didn't tell me too. I have a problem," Colvin joked. "I just ride it how it comes up. I did eight up the first line. I thought it was nice course. [Nat King Cole] has a humongous stride so you kind of just get going and you keep going everywhere. I was going to do the first line in nine, and I did a seven down the bending which we walked in eight, but it worked out really well."
Also leaving for the day with multiple ribbons was McKayla Langmeier who earned the highest score in Section A of the WIHS Equitation Classic - Jumper Phase and the win in Section B of the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal. "I couldn't be happier. It's almost like the finals here. It's that prestigious," Langmeier said.
The win in Section B of the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search and the overall highest score of the Talent Search went to Virginia Ingram who echoed Langmeier's sentiments.
"I was not expecting that at all. I'm just shocked. It's something that I've really dreamed of since I was very young," Ingram said. "This horse was my very first equitation horse that I ever had. I did my very first Devon ever on him. Now I've had him for five years, and here we are!"
Other frontrunners to watch on Friday include Lucy Deslauriers who was victorious in Section B of the WIHS Equitation Classic - Jumper Phase and Madison Goetzmann who finished first in Section A of the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search.
Young riders return to the Dixon Oval tomorrow beginning at 8 a.m. for the ASPCA Maclay, followed by the naming of the 2015 Ronnie Mutch Equitation Champion as the tradition continues at the Devon Horse Show.
For complete results from the first day of competition click here.