Devon, PA - July 3, 2011 - Cloudy skies and warm temperatures greeted exhibitors during the final day of competition for the first week of the Brandywine Valley Summer Series, presented by Taylor Harris Insurance Services. Junior rider Samantha Schaefer was today's big winner, claiming the Best Child Rider on a Horse title, the Style Award for Equitation, and the Grand Champion Junior Hunter prize for her ride aboard Sienna. All of today's Junior Hunter events took place in the Dixon Oval at the historic Devon Show Grounds, where Schaefer piloted her mounts to two of the three championship tricolors.
During the Large Junior 16-17 Hunter division, Schaefer was aboard Sienna and Platinum for owner Lexi Maounis of Jupiter, FL. She scored two first place ribbons and three second place ribbons with Sienna to claim the division's championship prize, and at the end of the day the impressive duo was awarded the Grand Champion Junior Hunter title. The Large Junior 16-17 Hunter Reserve Championship went to Margaret Oberkircher and Tres Bien, owned by Southfield Farm of Fort Washington, PA, after they earned two first place ribbons, two third place ribbons, and a fourth place ribbon.
"Sienna is a chestnut mare and I am not a mare person at all, so it takes a lot of calmness for me to ride her," admitted Schaefer. "She's pretty easy though, she's a little downhill so you have to keep her balance up, but she really tries to win. She's smart and brave; she just wants to win every time."
Earlier in the day, Schaefer also claimed the Small Junior Hunter Championship, this time aboard Photo Shoot, owned by Peake Wood Pharm of Marshall, VA. Throughout the division they earned three first place ribbons, a third place ribbon, and a fourth place ribbon to garner the top honors. Porter Allen of Boerne, TX, piloted Gisele to the reserve championship after earning a first place ribbon, three second place ribbons, and a first place ribbon.
"This is the first time that I have ridden Photo Shoot," commented Schaefer. "His trainer Bill Schaub called earlier in the week and asked if I could show and it's been great. Even though Photo Shoot is a little green, he's really quiet, and he's a good jumper."
Schaefer's winning ways did not stop in the hunter ring. She began the morning by winning the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal with Zendor Z, owned by Heritage Farm of Katonah, NY. Her incredible performance over the weekend scored her both the Best Child Rider on a Horse title and the Style Award for Equitation.
"Zendor Z is a horse we started brining along in Florida, so it's nice to see him start to figure it out and become competitive," said Schaefer. "It's vey exciting to win the Equitation Style Award and the Best Child Rider Award because the judges have to focus on all of the horses that you ride and it's an overall award." Schaefer added, "I really like the Brandywine Valley Summer Series. The footing is good and they do a nice job with the jumps and the courses."
The Large Junior 15 & Under Hunter division was also held in the Dixon Oval today, where the championship honors were presented to Allison Toffolon of Bronxville, NY, and Carlsson. Over the last two days, the pair earned three first place ribbons, a third place ribbon, and a fourth place ribbon in the division sponsored by Meredith Lipke. Taking home the reserve championship title was David Oberkircher of Fort Washington, PA, and Enzo. Their effort in the ring earned a first place ribbon, three second place ribbons, and a fourth place ribbon.
"Carlsson's really young and he's brand new to hunters so you definitely need to support him, you can't rely on him to do everything for you," explained Toffolon. "Since he's so young you need to show him where to go, and be clear with what you want him to do. He likes to be smooth, he's still learning some of the skills required in the handy, but we try and stay competitive. His jump in incredible and he's always in top form."
In the Gold Ring, riders had the opportunity to showcase their mounts during the Regular Pony Hunter divisions, the Green Pony Hunter divisions, and the $1,000 Pony Hunter Classic. After earning the Large Pony Hunter championship today, Madeline Placey of Southport, CT, and Happily Ever Laughter were presented with the Grand Champion Pony Hunter Prize.
"Happily Ever Laughter used to be really naughty, but he's been really good and we jumped him a lot this week," commented Placey. "You have to judge the way he is, sometimes he can be really spooky and you have to give him a forward ride, but some days he's forward and you have to make sure you measure his stride. It's been a great week and I can't wait to come back next week."
Later in the day, Parker Wright rode Heaven's Sake, owned by Peake Wood Pharm, to victory in the $1,000 Pony Hunter Classic sponsored by D.D. Matz. Wright and his talented mount earned scores of 86 and 87 to score the impressive victory after winning the Medium Pony Hunter Reserve Championship. After scoring top ribbons with three mounts this week, Wright was presented with the award for the Best Child Rider on a Pony. The talented junior shows with Over the Hill Farm and Bill Schaub.
"All of the ponies were very good this week," noted Wright. "Riding some many can be a little tricky because they are all different, but once you have ridden them a couple times you get a feel for it. Heaven's Sake needs a lot of leg and a little encouragement to go straight, but he was very good today."
The final award of the day went to Andre Dignelli and Patricia Griffith of Heritage Farm in Katonah, NY. After helping their wonderful group of horses and riders win a multitude of championship and reserve championship awards they were presented with the Leading Trainer Award. Top riders Schaefer, Toffolon and Placey all compete under the tutelage of Heritage Farm.
"We've had a great time here," said Griffith. "We love the show, it's so nice to be able to come back to this great venue and show in this great ring. We'll be here in a bigger way next week and we look forward to coming back next year."
Today marked the final day of competition during the first week of the Brandywine Valley Summer Series. The exciting hunter/jumper action will kick-off again next week beginning on Wednesday, July 6, and running through Sunday, July 10, with a local day of competition on Monday, July 11. Highlight events during next weeks show will include the $10,000 Canine Partners for Life Mini Prix and the second $3,000 Johnson Horse Transportation USHJA National Hunter Derby.
For more information about the Brandywine Valley Summer Series, please visit http://brandywinevalleysummerseries.com.
Photo Credit: Samantha Schaefer won the Best Child Rider on a Horse title, the Style Award for Equitation, and the Grand Champion Junior Hunter prize with Sienna at the Brandywine Valley Summer Series. Photo By: Rebecca Walton/PMG.