Green Cove Springs, FL - Week four of the Jacksonville Winter Series’ kicked off one of its featured events at 7PM under the lights of the covered arena with a cheering crowd and a talented field of competitors vying for bragging rights and prize money in the debut of the USHJA National Hunter Classic sponsored by Blue Gate Farm. Jacksonville, FL native Megan Young partnered with Levaro won all rights hands down in the two round event.
The newly launched program has similarities to the popular International Hunter Derbies. It is a two round event, and round one- the Classic ride is set with a minimum of 10 obstacles. Fence heights are 3 foot, but there are four option fences on the course set at 3’3 and 3’5. The layout also consists of at least one In and Out, Bending Line, Line with an unrelated distance, and a long approach. Ideally the course is to simulate one reminiscent of a hunt field, offering a variety of classic jumps with different appearances such as natural post and rail, stone walls, coops, oxers, and brush. This varied palette gave course designer Paul Jewel, of Lambertville, NJ quite the challenge in creating his work of art and judges Tucker Ericson, Claudia Rolland, and Keith Hastings the difficult task of selecting the best interpretation.
Megan Young was third in the order with first ride Sundance, owned by Juliana Keaton, and the pleasing pair landed an 81 plus 4 bonus points for a total first round score of 85. Three horses later and it was Amanda Forte riding the Journey’s End Farm of Glenmore, PA entry Paramount to capture the lead with an 86 and 4 bonus points to overtake Young with a score of 90. Levaro and Young were the last duo of the initial round, laying down a solid ride which the judges rewarded with a total of 87 points.
“Jump one was a little spooky and scary because it was made of hay bales with a log on top! Plus I think one of the biggest challenges was just the way the ring was set up, with the banners on the sides and then jumping the oxers off the bending line towards that wall.” Young added of the first course, “The third fence was so far away that I’m sure some people got a little anxious there too.”
A Handy Hunter course was set for the twelve entries returning in round two. Ideally this layout is designed to mimic riding over a hunt countryside and requires a minimum of two handy options such as tight turns, different tracks, clever options for jump approaches, trotting over a lowered jump [not to exceed 2’6], and hand galloping a jump, while still offering a total of four option fences set at 3’3 to 3’5. Jewel’s 10 obstacles didn’t fail to meet expectations.
“The trot jump probably got a few people.” Megan added with a giggle, “It’s always hard for me!” Proud mom and trainer Katie Young cheerfully agreed with a wink. Though this evening Megan had no issues with the trot fence or any of the optional fences, as evidence by second round scores of 85 plus 10 bonus points aboard Sundance and 83 plus 11 bonus point with Levaro, when added to the first round scores Megan found herself in both first and second places.
Levaro nudged out Sundance with a 181 to 180 finish.
Megan didn’t hesitate to give credit to several around her including Levaro, the 11 year-old Hessian gelding owned by Rachel Herman, who trains with Young’s mother Katie at Coriander Farm. The gelding was described by both daughter and mother as “Very versatile! Jack of all trades! Rachel purchased him from Eric Lamaze to be her Children’s Jumper- which he does well- and now he’s doing hunters too.” Megan expressed a sincere gratitude to her mom Katie and assistant Nashea Powell Rowland as well as both horses’ owners for allowing her the opportunity to ride “very special horses.” And she concluded by saying “I’m excited to win the first National Classic and hope the program keeps growing.”
Official results for the USHJA Hunter Classic were:
- 1st Place- Megan Young & Levaro owned by Rachel Herman
- 2nd Place- Megan Young & Sundance owned by Juliana Keaton
- 3rd Place- Mackenzie McGehee & Chappie owned by Centennial Farms
- 4th Place- Nikki Diamantis & Valentine owned by Nikki Diamantis
- 5th Place- Brooke Price & Kassandra owned by Devon Walther
- 6th Place- Abigail Wujek & Magic Man owned by Abigail Wujek
- 7th Place- Landrie Folsom & Just About Perfect owned by Landrie Folsom
- 8th Place- Lee Avera & Landstorm owned by Lee Avera
The Jacksonville Winter Series continues through February 7th with classes Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8AM until about 5PM except for special events on Saturday evenings at 7PM. Admission to the shows is free – parking at special weekend events is a $5 donation, which goes to support local charities.
For more information or results on the 2010 Jacksonville Winter Series please visit www.classiccompany.com or call the show office at 904-284-1579.
Photo Credit: Megan Young & Levaro ©Flashpoint Photography