Lexington, KY - May 18, 2012 - The Murphy Ring was alive with hunter action throughout the third day of the Kentucky Spring Classic, with horse and rider combinations vying for the top ribbons in the Adult Amateur Hunter divisions. Kiersten Litzinger navigated Baroness Blixen to the top of the leader board, posting the high score of the day and taking the opening day lead in the Adult Amateur 36-49 Hunters. Sarah Sturges aboard Second Shot swept the over fences in the Adult Amateur 18-35 Hunters, while later in the day, junior rider Victoria Colvin and VIP Z won the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal.
Out of a field of 15 competitors, Kiersten Litzinger and Baroness Blixen posted an imposing lead. Although Missy Luczak-Smith and Surf's Up took the first place during the first round over fences, Litzinger guided Baroness Blixen to the first place ribbon during their second round over fences. The pair rose to the top, and posting a score of 90, which was the highest scoring trip of the day. They also earned the blue ribbon for their efforts in the under saddle.
"Baroness Blixen was a dressage horse up until I got her, and I have to say that I am blessed, she has become irreplaceable," Litzinger smiled. "She has had great care and nurture throughout her life, and I think that is why she gives such a large effort. She only had one owner before me, and they were very cautious with her. We are following that same plan-we are very careful and we do not push her."
In fact, this was Litzinger's first Adult Amateur Hunter class with Baroness Blixen. The pair only began showing together in Kentucky, taking about six months to learn more about one another before entering the show ring. Litzinger admitted that she wanted to make the transition into the hunters as smooth as possible. "At first she was a little uncertain at that time, but we have definitely seen her progress and seen her grow into herself," Litzinger described. "She is a forward mover and she likes a very light seat. She likes my legs wrapped around her in the corners, but I stay off of her mouth and let her do her thing."
"I have never had a 90, ever," Litzinger expressed. "It is the best score of my life. She was so round and light on the landing that I could sit really still and not do too much. I checked her more on the backside of the jumps in the second round, which I think, really helped her and gave us that something extra. I know that riding here; I am going against some of the best. It makes me feel like we are really doing our best and earning the ribbons, it's inspiring."
Danielle Baran and Don't Blink rode to the second place honors during the first round over fences, and Constellation ridden by Bridget Hallman also rode to a red ribbon finish for their second trip.
Following shortly after, the Adult Amateur 18-35 Hunters got underway, with Sarah Sturges riding to two blue place finishes over fences with Second Shot. They also took the second place finish in the under saddle. Other riders who did well were Chandler Sowden with Eternity, Maureen Blackstone aboard Middleton, and Entourage with Arly Golembek in the irons. "This is my first show with Second Shot, and I am so pleased with the way that he went today," Sturges explained. "He gets a little excited, he is a little more ampy than I am used to, but he seeks the jump. I try to stay out of his way as much as possible because he is very brave. The courses were very straightforward, and he did great."
The afternoon concluded with the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal, where Victoria Colvin emerged victorious with VIP Z. Four riders were called back to complete the test, where they were asked to canter the first obstacle of the course, and then transition to the trot for the second fence. Upon landing, the riders completed a halt and then picked up the counter canter to two final oxers and exited the ring.
Colvin and VIP Z used the halt and counter canter to their advantage and took home the top honors. Spencer Smith and Icarus were awarded the second place prize, with Alyssa Mansfield exhibiting her equitation aboard Calice De Fuyssieu Z and earning the third place. Kate Morrison and Victor V.D. earned the fourth place ribbon.
"VIP Z is a very fun and easy horse, he does everything, really. I took him out into the cross country field, and he takes the water with ease," Colvin described. "I really was just going to go smooth, but he halts so easily and counter canters nicely, that I knew I could take a bit of an advantage there."
Tomorrow will conclude the Adult Amateur and Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions, and the Junior Hunter divisions will begin with championship prizes being announced on Sunday. The $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby commences tomorrow afternoon in the Stonelea, where riders will compete for valuable points towards the $15,000 Leading Rider Bonuses.
For more information about the Kentucky Spring Horse Shows or to download the prize list, please go to www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.
Photo Credit: Kiersten Litzinger and Baroness Blixen posted the high score of the day during the Adult Amateur 36-49 Hunters at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. Photo By: Kendall Bierer/PMG.