New York and New Jersey riders dominated the Talent search, with New York City's Karen Polle from Section A tossing down the gauntlet first. A student of Stacia Madden's for the last 4 years, Karen (right) talks about her day one nerves "I was a little nervous because this is Devon and this is the USEF, but it was good for me because the course had a lot of left bending lines, and my horse is really soft on the left lead, so that was great. I have to say, I love my horse, I've had Radius (Radius H) for about 2 ½ years now, and this year we started doing really well. He's just perfect, and I'm so happy!"
Section B's winner, 17 year old Abby O'Mara (left) of Rumson, New Jersey was thrilled with her first win at Devon "Last year I was second in the Junior Hunters, and I was hoping this year, riding this really nice horse, if I tried hard I could pull off the blue. It was incredible to win the first class of the show." O'Mara talks about her partner Urco owned by Gabby Sloan who she just started riding in January "He's the sweetest Eq. horse, he's so easy, and really good with the inside turns." O'Mara who trains with Don Stewart and Mary Babick will be showing the incomparable Lyle in the Junior Hunters beginning on Friday. A high school Senior, O'Mara will be attending the University of Georgia in the fall and will continue to balance riding and school while in college.
Good things come to those who wait, and Section C's 18 year old Jessica Springsteen of Colts Neck, New Jersey reaped the rewards of going in the last group. Not only did she win her section, but she was the overall winner of the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search, receiving the Honey Craven Memorial Perpetual Trophy for her effort. This was the first time Jessica has won the overall award, and in doing so, Jessica joins an elite group of riders who have won this award before her starting in 2005 with Julie Welles, 2006 & 2007 Addison Phillips, 2008 Shelby Wakeman and in 2009 the winner was Emma Johnson. Springsteen, also a student of Stacia Madden's was as humble as always about her Honey Craven Memorial Perpetual Trophy accomplishment. "I love the equitation because it's so relaxing, and my horse is so much fun to ride, he's just so easy, you can just float around the course."
A little known fact...."Ranger" (aka Class Action) is full brother to Destry Spielberg's Rumba winner of the 2009 Inaugural International Hunter Derby Finals with John French in the irons. Springsteen rode Ranger in the Hunter Spectacular at the WEF just for practice that week and he ended up qualifying. It was so funny because he's my equitation horse, but it was so great. He's the best. He's never been to Devon before and obviously he was not phased at all. This is the best he's felt....he was quiet, but his jump was fresh, it was really fun, I was excited."
A veteran of the Winter Equestrian Festival, Devon, Hampton Classic, and the Indoor circuit, Jessica took a month off after Florida, but has Jessica Springsteen & Class Action ramped up her show schedule this month. "I don't show Class Action all the time, he gets a break, as I have four jumpers (two of them are new this year)." Jessica who has been showing at Devon since her pony hunter days says "I look forward to coming here every year, it's a fun horse show, it's really cool, I love the fair, the shops, it's really well done, and it's not rushed or frantic like any of the other horse shows, it's kind of relaxed, I enjoy it a lot."
Springsteen will not be defending her 2009 Hunter Derby win this year as she has sold he wonderful hunter Tiziano. However, she is definitely looking forward to competing in Saturday evening's Junior Jumper Classic.