Wayne, IL –– Junior and Amateur Owner Hunters took their turn in the Wisconsin Equine Main Hunter ring at Lamplight Equestrian Center during Equifest II. Hunter riders had two over fences classes and the $1,000 Classic for each division today. Both 3’6” and 3’3” sections had their chance to earn World Championship Hunter Rider points this week, setting the stage for the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby and the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby, which take place on Sunday.
The SmartPak Grand Prix ring hosted Children’s and Adult Jumpers and Low and High Junior Amateur jumpers, preparing for Classic day tomorrow. Grand Prix horses had the day off before the big show on Saturday, featuring the $50,000 Grand Prix and the $30,000 Jumper Derby on Sunday. Olivia Lawton, Burr Ridge, IL, stole the show in the 3’6” Junior Hunters between her three rides. Lawton rode Balin to the win in the first class and her Outlook and Gretzsky, were second and fourth. Lawton’s own super star, Gretzsky, was the star of the show in the second class, with Outlook third and Balin fourth.
“If I had to pick a favorite, but they are all nice, the most comfortable is Gretzsky,” said Lawton. “He has a great canter and a big heart, I’m really confident with him which is why I usually ride him first.” Lawton, 17, rides with trainer Lynn Jayne in Elgin, IL. The team has been hitting the road hard, since this is Lawton’s last junior year. They attended the Junior Hunter Finals, where Lawton finished 10th overall on Gretzsky and 7th on Outlook. They headed to Chagrin Valley Ohio and then on to Traverse City, where Lawton landed the Junior Hunter Championship on Balin.
“No matter how busy Lynn is, she’s always on time to the ring. At home we don’t jump much so we work mostly on flatwork and I think that has really made me a better rider. She (Lynn) is tough but I get a lot out of the lessons,” added Lawton. Lawton also rides in the jumpers and the equitation. She is already qualified for the Maclay regionals and is one point away from qualifying for the Medal. She is looking into NCAA teams for college where she will study business and continue riding.
In the 3’3” Junior Hunters, high school senior Becky Kozma of Streamwood, IL, was an understudy for SBS Farms’ junior rider Alex Trolli, and got the opportunity to perform on Hey Sailor and Del Piero. Kozma catch rode her way to win the first class on Hey Sailor, owned by the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center. Kozma was second in the second junior hunter class on Del Piero, owned by Alex Trolli. Madison Arani and Wonderful Look, owned by Sweet Oak Farm were the winners of the second 3’3” Junior Hunter class.
Kozma returned for a curtain call with Del Piero to receive the award and photo op for their win in the $1,000 USEF Junior Hunter Classic. Lawton and Gretzsky took home second and Kozma and Hey Sailor earned the third place prize. “I’m extremely grateful to SBS Farm for the opportunity to ride such amazing animals,” said Kozma. “I’m honored to have the chance to be going to the ring with such a great group of people and top of the line horses. They are a pleasure to ride.”
In the 3’3” Amateur Owner Hunters, Margaret O’Meara whisked away the top two places in the first class with Casino taking the blue and Solitaire taking second. Reid Patton and Sincere were the best in the second class with Angela Swanson and Savile Row earning the second place spot.Therese Peck and MTM Passport owned the 3’6” Amateur Owner Hunters, winning both over fences classes. Heather Zuber and Kalifornia took both second place ribbons back to the barn.
The USEF $1,000 Amateur Owner Hunter Classic honored all of today’s top horses in the top five spots with O’Meara’s Solitaire with the lead role and the highest score, MTM Passport and Peck took second, Kalifornia and Zuber were third, Patton and her Sincere were fourth and O’Meara’s Casino in fifth.
In the Children’s Hunters 14 and under, My BFF with Erin Cummins aboard won both over fences classes today. In the Children’s Hunters 15-17, Contadina, owned by Arkham Investments and Keely Bieniak took a first and second today and Natalie Alden and her King of Hearts won the second class. Claire Stockard and Bombadier owned by John Pappas won the WIHS/NAL/M&S Children’s Hunter Classic.