East Dorset, Vermont — Serena Gerry of Locust Valley, New York, claimed victory in the $1,500 NAL/WIHS Children’s Jumper Classic held Saturday, July 9, at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. A total of eight riders returned for the jump-off over the course designed by Alan Wade of Ireland. Gerry posted a jump-off time of 36.46 seconds riding Tanavelle, but four more riders were still to come. The very last challenger, Emma Schauder of Greenwich, Connecticut, guided Ah Ha around the shortened jump-off track, but her time of 36.88 fell just short of taking the win.
“The last girl was so close,” said Gerry, 17, who has been training with Holly Hill Farm of Marston Mills, Massachusetts, for the past three years. “I was watching and I got a little nervous. But either way, I would have been happy with my round.” Of her horse’s jump-off performance Gerry noted, “He felt a little quiet starting off today, but as soon as the buzzer went, he was ready to go and ready to turn, and he was showing me the jumps!”
Gerry began riding Tanavelle, known as ‘Tanner’ around the stable, in the winter of 2010. On Friday, the pair finished third in the High Children’s jumper competition before returning to the ring for Saturday’s win. She described her horse’s personality by saying, “He’s a little cuddle bug; he is almost like a pony. He is very friendly – not a grumpy horse at all. He walks up to anyone who crosses his path to look in their pockets and try to find treats.”
Gerry, who attends Brooks School in Massachusetts, will be traveling abroad for her senior year, studying at St. Stephens in Rome, Italy. She plans to continue her competitive career while also pursuing her education. “I will always make riding work; it will be in my life, no matter what my focus,” said Gerry, who is interested in studying psychology and international relations. “I am not going to pick a college for the riding. I am going to choose what I am interested in and then fit riding in.”
The balancing act should not prove problematic for Gerry. Even during high school, she was able to successfully pursue her education while also traveling south on the weekends to compete at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida. “You have to learn how to manage your time, but I have been doing it since I was little so I have gotten the hang of it,” she smiled. “It is worth it. It is worth sacrificing school events, like prom.”
This is the second year that Gerry has competed at the Vermont Summer Festival, and in addition to riding in the Children’s Jumper division with Tanavelle, she also competes in the equitation divisions with flashy French-bred chestnut, Kaiser de la Cour. “I like the nature, and I love this show,” said Gerry, who started riding with her family before she can even remember. “I love that we are in a little valley in the middle of nowhere. It is absolutely beautiful, and the town is fun. I went hiking and climbed part of Mt. Equinox the other day. I love it here.”
Another rider who loves the Vermont Summer Festival is Alissa Kinsey. Frequent visitors to the winner’s circle, Kinsey and the evergreen Grisset claimed yet another victory in Vermont, this time in Saturday’s $2,500 NAL Adult Amateur Jumper Classic. Five horses jumped off for the win, but Kinsey’s time of 33.79 seconds was almost three seconds faster than second place finisher Camilla Bennett, who stopped the clock in 36.21 riding Bantry Bay.
The North American League offers year-long Series in six divisions – Children’s Hunter, Adult Hunter, Children’s Jumper, Adult Jumper, Pony Jumper, and Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper. The 2010-2011 season marks the first time that the NAL features two year-end finals. Joining the NAL’s traditional National Finals at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show are new West Coast Finals at the Las Vegas National Horse Show.
The NAL includes classes held at hundreds of horse shows 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, many riders join in hopes of earning points that may qualify them for a trip to Harrisburg or Las Vegas. For more information regarding the NAL series, including series specifications, current standings and a list of upcoming events, please call (717) 867-5643, email NAL@Ryegate.com or visit www.ryegate.com.
The first week of the six-week Vermont Summer Festival features the $30,000 Vermont Summer Special Grand Prix, presented by The Equinox Resort and Spa, beginning at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 10.
Offering more than $750,000 in prize money, the Vermont Summer Festival is the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont. The first five Sundays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix at 1 p.m., culminating with the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 14. In addition to the $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, held each Friday, the weekly $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior/Amateur-Owner Classics are hotly contested. New for 2011, the Vermont Summer Festival will host a $5,000 Hunter Derby each Thursday five of the six weeks.
The six-week equestrian competition is running at Harold Beebe Farm from July 6 through August 14, 2011. Competition begins at 8 a.m. daily, Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, Wednesday through Saturday. On Grand Prix Sunday, admission is $7 for adults, $5 for children. As always, 100 percent of the gate proceeds benefit the Friends Foundation for MEMS, (Manchester Elementary and Middle School).
For over 20 years, the Vermont Summer Festival has attracted exhibitors and their families to the Manchester region each summer. For more information about the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.vt-summerfestival.com.
Photo: Serena Gerry and Tanavelle won the $1,500 NAL/WIHS Children’s Jumper Classic on Saturday, July 9, at the Vermont Summer Festival horse show in East Dorset, Vermont. Photo credit - David Mullinix Photography