Harrisburg, PA - In her final year showing as a Junior, 18-year-old Jessica Karsin Landis of Greenville, NC, galloped away with the victory in the North American League (NAL) $5,000 Pony Jumper Finals Thursday evening at the 65th annual Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS). Riding her 8-year-old dapple-gray pony, Oliver Twist, Landis flew past the competition to capture the coveted blue ribbon.
Although 15 ponies started over the Steve Stephens-designed first round time first jump-off course, only three went clean. Racing over the six-obstacle jump-off course the ponies took the crowd's breath away with their effort and agility. Landis and Oliver Twist were first-to-go, setting the bar high with a time to beat of 37.422 seconds. Next up was Sydney Shulman aboard Set Sail. Shulman beat Landis' time but dropped a rail in the process. The final contenders, Rachael Schloo aboard Ever After, had no jumping faults, but two time faults.
Landis, an art student at East Carolina University, used to do the hunters, but since joining up with Oliver Twist two years ago has turned to the jumpers. "Our first year together was just getting to know each other, this year we've been doing really well. This is my first time at this show and this is our last Indoor show this year."
"The first-round course did not have a lot of tight turns, but the three in-and-outs were long one-strides. Oliver Twist is a small pony, so he really had to reach for the one-strides. The final combination in the first round was the longest of the three and he wasn't expecting it when we jumped in."
The NAL offers a year-long series in six divisions - Children's Hunter, Adult Hunter presented by Cavalor, Children's Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, and the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper. The series includes classes held at hundreds of horse show across the United States and Canada.
Riders need not be members of the NAL to compete in the qualifying classes, but only members earn points toward the year-end finals. With the annual membership fee only $35, most riders join in hopes of earning a trip to Harrisburg. The 2010-2011 NAL qualifying period began on September 1, 2010 and runs through August 31, 2011.
Historically, the NAL has only offered one Final in Harrisburg. The addition of the West Coast Finals, taking place in November 2011 during the Las Vegas National Horse Show at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV, will help make the NAL a truly national series.
The NAL Pony Jumper Championship concluded the first day of competition at this year's PNHS. Competition continues through October 23. Highlights include the Randolph College/USEF Prix de States, the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Finals presented by Randolph College, Hunt Night, Western Night, American Heroes Night, and the final event, the $75,000 Grand Prix de Penn National.
In addition to world-class equestrian competition, the PNHS offers a unique shopping environment with boutique vendors that offer everything from fine art to custom jewelry, clothing, accessories and horse show memorabilia. Those interested in the great shopping opportunities will want to take advantage of the "See and Shop Special" on Friday, October 15 when admission tickets are just $1.
General admission for Saturday, October 16 to Friday, October 22, is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. General admission for Saturday, October 23, is $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. As always, children under 6 are admitted free in general admission seating. Convenient parking is also free.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show is proud of its tradition of supporting equine and youth programs. The show benefits the Harrisburg Kiwanis Youth Foundation and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
Details are available at the horse show's website at www.panational.org or by calling the horse show office at 717-770-0222.
Photo Caption: Jessica Karsin Landis and Oliver Twist winning the North American League Pony Jumper Finals.