Sarah Van Der Walde Wins $10,000 North American League Children’s Jumper Finals

Harrisburg, PA – October 18, 2011 – Sarah Van Der Walde of Ann Arbor, MI won the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Children’s Jumper Finals at the 66th annual Pennsylvania National Horse Show on Tuesday.  Riding Vigo, owned by Thinkslikeahorse, the 15-year-old rider edged out Madison Lawton and Juliette by a fraction of a second for the victory.  “It was such a surreal moment,” said Van Der Walde of her win. “I never even wanted to ride jumpers and then when I learned I thought that it was so much fun.”

The field of 30 qualifiers yielded nine for the jump-off and three double clear rounds.  Kimberly Saul of Brookeville, MD rode Mio W, owned by Rolling Acre Farms, to the first clear round in a time of 32.932 seconds. Then Van Der Walde shaved off nearly two seconds stopping the timers in a clear round time of 31.114.  Lawton, 16, of Traverse City, MI tried hard to take the lead with Juliette, but fell short going clear in 31.137 seconds. Van Der Walde had to wait for five riders to jump before being declared the winner and she said it was agonizing.

“I watched everybody else go and it made me so nervous every time someone else came in,” said Van Der Walde.  “[Madison] was going really, really, quick and my heart was beating so fast when she was going.”

Vigo is owned by her trainer Aaron Vale, but Van Der Walde is grateful for the opportunity to ride him. “I started riding Vigo this spring and I have been having so much fun with him.  He’s not mine, but I really, really love him.  He’s so great. He knows when it’s time to go fast and get the job done.  When he hears the buzzer he’s ready to go.”

The NAL offers a year-long series in six divisions – Children’s Hunter, Adult Hunter presented by Practical Horseman, Children’s Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, and the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper. The series includes classes held at hundreds of horse show across the United States and Canada.

Riders need not be members of the NAL to compete in the qualifying classes, but only members earn points toward the year-end finals. With the annual membership fee only $35, most riders join in hopes of earning a trip to Harrisburg for the East Coast riders and in Las Vegas for the West Coast competitors.  The 2011-2012 NAL qualifying period began on September 1, 2011 and runs through August 31, 2012.  For more information regarding the NAL series, including series specifications, current standings and a list of upcoming events, please call (717) 867-5643, email to or visit

Competition at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg continues through October 22.  Highlights of the Horse Show include: Western Night on Wednesday and culminates on Saturday with the featured event, the $75,000 FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix de Penn National. In addition to world-class equestrian competition, the PNHS offers a unique shopping environment with boutique vendors that offer everything from fine art to custom jewelry, clothing, accessories and horse show memorabilia.  

General admission through Friday, October 21, is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students, except for Wednesday, October 19.  On Wednesday spectators can download a coupon for free admission at  General admission for Saturday, October 22, is $20 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. As always, children under 6 are admitted free in general admission seating. Convenient parking is also free.

The Pennsylvania National Horse Show is proud of its tradition of supporting equine and youth programs. The show benefits the Harrisburg Kiwanis Youth Foundation and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.

Details are available at the horse show’s website at or by calling the horse show office at 717-770-0222.

Photo:  Sarah Van Der Walde Wins the $10,000 North American League Children’s Jumper Finals at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show (Al Cook Photo)