Monday, August 22, 2011

Driving: USEF: Dancer, Wrigley-Miller and Yoder Set to Drive in their First FEI World Pair Driving Championship in France - By Joanie Morris

Joe Yoder Winning the 2011 National Championship (Photo by

Lexington, KY - The 2011 FEI World  Pair Driving Championship get underway this week in Conty, France, and three American drivers are set to make their International Championships debut.
Led by Chef d'Equipe Chester Weber and Coach Michael Freund, the U.S. will be represented by Katherin Dancer, Misdee Wrigley-Miller and Joe Yoder. These three drivers drove as a team at Reisenbeck CAI in July and earned valuable international experience which Weber believes will serve them well going into the World Championship.

Dancer, a German expatriate now lives in California where she runs a riding program - she drives a team of Warmblood horses and comes off a strong spring which featured a third place finish at the USEF National Pair Driving Championships at the Live Oak CDE in March. She is guided by her husband Scott, who serves as her navigator.

Wrigley-Miller is also driving on her first international team, but she is also hugely successful in the Saddlebred world. She drives a promising group of young warmbloods and with her pair, Wrigley-Miller had top finishes at the Live Oak CDE, Sunshine State CDE and at the German National Championships. She also competed at Great Britain's Royal Windsor Horse Show in 2010. 

She has one of the best navigators in the world, Dutch superstar Koos de Ronde, on her carriage for the marathon.

"We made that decision earlier in the year," said Weber. "It seems to be going quite well. There was a small injury to one of her best marathon horses - but that horse is back for the World Championships and we are excited about that."

Joe Yoder Winning the 2011 National Championship (Photo by

Joe Yoder began to make a name for himself in 2010 driving a four-in-hand, and he recently relocated from his Montana home to Aiken, South Carolina, where he drives for Jack Wetzel. Yoder turned 30 this year, and Weber feels that he has a long career in the sport ahead of him. He is the 2011 USEF National Pair Driving Champion.

"I think Joe is an up-and-coming driver," said Weber. "He's part of America's driving future, our hope is this that he will drive teams next."

But first, there is Conty to conquer and Weber is optimistic about what the week has in store for his team:

"All of them are quite inexperienced in terms of international competition and their first Nations Cup show was in Reisenbeck, but they all have some very nice horses," said Weber. "I try to treat them all like professionals because they have all obviously merited their position at a World Championships, I try to encourage them all to have three steady days in a row. They all got a lot of perspective while at Reisenbeck. I am optimistic about them. I am smart enough to never underestimate Michael Freund's ability to coach them. And they've been based there for the last week at training camp - he will have made some progress working on their weakness from the last big event. Michael and I are about the most competitive people, so we will do our best for a good result with this good team."


Salman Isa Al Radhi from Bahrain steered Persepolia Larzac to win the 8 Year Old title at the FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Horses 2011 at Compiegne in France last Friday.  Photo: FEI/Gilly Wheeler.
Lausanne (SUI), 22 August 2011

Horse and rider combinations from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates claimed the titles at the FEI World Endurance Championships for Young Horses which took place at Compiegne in France last Friday. Over testing courses, and in intense heat, it was Bahrain's Salman Isa Al Radhi and Persepolia Larzac who returned the quickest time in the 8 Year Old division, while the UAE's Shames Sd Sn Al Marri produced a strong ride with Qatar La Majorie to win the 7 Year Old competition.

Endurance riding only developed into a competitive sport in the 1950s and arrived in Europe during the following decade. In 1982 it became an FEI-approved discipline, and gradually the number of events increased. In 1998 the World Championships were staged in the United Arab Emirates, with competitors from 47 Federations taking part, and this proved the catalyst for an explosion of growth in participation over the following years.

This year's FEI World Championships for Young Endurance Horses attracted competitors from 20 countries - Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Great Britian, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Qatar, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay.

8 Year Olds
Of the 27 starters in the 8 Year Old Championship, a total of 14 were representing France, but the host nation had to settle for silver medal position when Bahrain's Al Radhi completed the 160 km course with an average speed of 19.442 kmh. Al Radhi, who only joined the Royal Endurance Team of Bahrain in 2011, was delighted with the performance of his mare Persepolia Larzac.  "From the third loop I could feel her speed.  I rode her in a 160km race in Germany this year and came fifth, but this is my first time in Compiegne" he explained.

Sandrine Lance and Movisko du Lauragais finished second for France with an average speed of 19.298 kmh, but felt she could have done better. "I now realise I could have gone faster" she said afterwards.  "I was much too careful.  When I saw the winner going faster I should have kept up with him but I didn't, and I left it too late to put things right.  But I've had this horse since he was five so I'm pleased with my ride and my horse" she added.

Spain's Monica Comas Molist and Princesse de Campagne finished third when clocking an average speed of 19.269 kmh.  "Princesse is a lovely mare, bred in France" said Molist.  "Last year she was second in the 7 Year Old Championships.  We only did a 90km ride earlier this year in preparation for coming here.  My ambition is to be on the World Cup team for Spain, but it's been a dream to win in Compiegne!" she added.

7 Year Olds
There was an even larger field of 42 runners in contention for the 7 Year Old medals.  This course ran over a 120 km track, and 14 of the starters were from France.  But it was the sole representative from the United Arab Emirates who produced the winning performance, Shames Sd Sn Al Marri racing home with an average speed of 21.201 kmh from his horse, Qatar La Majorie.

 "I've been riding in Endurance competition for five years, but this is my first win and my biggest win!" said the rider.  "It's my first season in Europe.  The course was difficult because of the hills, but I'm very happy.  My ambition is to be always on the podium!" he added.

Once again a French rider came in second, Philipp Tomas crossing the line with Quotien Persky having recorded an average speed of 20.922.  In modern Endurance competition, the emphasis is on the horse finishing in good condition rather than the one that finishes first, and it can take years for a partnership to develop to top level. Endurance requires extensive preparation, and key to success is the support crew who help ensure the health and well-being of both horse and rider during competition.  Tomas carefully managed some concerns he had about his horse early in the race.   "I was worried to begin with because he was not drinking that much, but after the third loop he was much better so I was happier.  My policy is always to stay in touch with the leader and make my challenge on the last loop, but this time I just wasn't fast enough" he explained.

Qatar's Faleh Nasser Al Bughaneim came home third with an average speed of 20.919 from Querotz de Benech.  "I've competed here five times now, and for sure it's a great place.  I won the 7 year Old Championship here in 2009, but this is the first time to be here with this horse.  I think I will be on the Qatar team for the Open European Championship next month", the rider commented.

Ian Williams, the FEI'S Director of Non-Olympic Sports, attended the event and said, "it was very competitive, with a tough battle for the medals.  As always, the Compiegne organisers have done a tremendous job, and the good completion rate is testimony to both the skill of the competitors and the quality of the horses".

7 Year Old Championship: GOLD - Qatar La Majorie (Shames Sd Sn Al Marri) UAE; SILVER - Quotien Persky (Philippe Tomas) FRA; BRONZE - Querotz de Benech (Faleh Nasser Al Bughaneim) QAT.
8 Year Old Championship: GOLD - Persepolia Larzac (Salman Isa Al Radhi) BRN; SILVER - Movisko du Lauragais (Sandrine Lance) FRA; BRONZE - Princesse de Campagne (Monica Comas Molist) ESP.

Eventing: True Prospect: Bruce Duchossois and ACE Private Risk Services Make $20,000 Donation to USET Foundation in Memory of Horses Lost

Bob Courtemanche (Division President ACE Group Private Risk Services) hands the donation in honor of the fallen event horses to Bruce Duchossois, co-chair of the USET Foundation's Development Committee, flanked by Boyd Martin and Kirk James (COO Hub International) and Phillip and Evie Dutton. Photo By: Lauren R. Giannini.

Gladstone, NJ - August 22 2011 - The United States Equestrian Team Foundation is honored to announce that USET Foundation Trustee Bruce Duchossois and ACE Private Risk Services have made a generous donation to the organization following the tragedy at True Prospect Farm. On May 31, fire destroyed the barn rented by international event rider Boyd Martin from Phillip Dutton of West Grove, PA. Of the 11 horses stabled in the wood and stone bank barn, six perished in the blaze.

In the aftermath of the fire, the entire eventing community rallied. Bruce Duchossois, who competes in the Amateur-Owner hunters, has owned several of Dutton's top three-day horses, including Connaught. Dutton, who earned Olympic Team Gold in 1996 riding for Australia, became an American citizen in 2006. In 2007, he earned Pan American Games Team Gold and Individual Silver riding for the USA. In 2008 he piloted Connaught to first place in the prestigious four-star Kentucky Rolex Three-Day Event. About five years ago Duchossois became partners with Dutton in the ownership of True Prospect Farm.

Duchossois learned that ACE Private Risk Services, the high-net worth personal lines company of global insurance carrier, the ACE Group - who settled the claim quickly and gracefully - planned to make a donation in honor of the six horses. Several of those horses were being considered to represent the USA for the 2011 Pan American Games and now would never have a chance to prove themselves. Duchossois happens to be co-chair of the USET Foundation's Development Committee, which raises funds for the USA's elite equestrian athletes. He was involved to the nth degree with the horses and people at True Prospect Farm and with the USET Foundation. He offered to match whatever amount ACE Private Risk Services donated to the USET Foundation.
"I think that what ACE Private Risk Services is doing is phenomenal," said Duchossois. "Insurance - you can't live with it, you can't live without it - and what these ACE people have done really is above and beyond. It was a beautiful old stone barn, and the horses - well, they were priceless. To settle the way they did and then to come back and make a donation to the USET Foundation in the memory of the horses - well, it's unheard of. It opens eyes that they are good people and that they want to give back. I was blown away.
On Tuesday, August 16th at True Prospect Farm, Bob Courtemanche, Division President of ACE Private Risk Services, and W. Kirk James, Chief Operating Officer of Hub International (the broker that matched up ACE with True Prospect), met with Duchossois, Dutton and his wife Evie, and Martin. Courtemanche presented the check for the USET Foundation to Duchossois. In a spirit of camaraderie and compassion, ACE's donation to the USET Foundation does more than honor the six fallen event horses: it also pays tribute to the incredible bravery of the people who risked their lives to save the five.
"We protect property, but at the end of the day we protect people," said Courtemanche. "If we can help to make a sad situation better by honoring the bravery and compassion of the people at True Prospect Farm, that's part of our job. It's not just property they lost in that fire. They lost horses, and they aren't replaceable the way machines are. I'm learning about the partnership between horse and rider."
"It's moving. It restores my faith in the American culture, that everything's not just about money," said Martin. "It's fantastic when a company goes far beyond the call of duty and sees a terrible situation and they put their hat and money out for such a wonderful donation."

" In the wake of such tragedy ACE Private Risk Services and Bruce Duchossois have graciously recognized the loss of these talented and incredible horses with a gift to the USET Foundation that will continue to help this country's United States Equestrian Teams on the international stage. The generous gifts exemplify the kindness and thoughtfulness of ACE and Bruce, and for which the USET Foundation is truly appreciative. We wish Boyd and Phillip the very best as they courageously move forward in achieving competitive excellence, while always remembering the incredible horses that make it possible."

The United States Equestrian Team Foundation ( is the non-profit organization that supports the competition, training, coaching, travel and educational needs of America's elite and developing international, high-performance horses and athletes in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation.

For more information on the USET Foundation, please call (908) 234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at


Photo caption: Kristina Cook leads Great Britain to Gold at HSBC FEI European Championships 2009 in Fontainebleau (FRA). Image: Kit Houghton/FEI.

Lausanne (SUI), 22 August 2011

The hand of history will be resting heavily on some of the 71 riders heading for this week’s HSBC FEI European Eventing Championship in Luhmühlen (GER) on 25-28 August, as anticipation mounts for what promises to be an enthralling competition.

Host nation Germany, the reigning Olympic Champions, were World Champions in 2006, and their superstar rider Michael Jung (GER) is widely tipped for yet more individual honours. But they are making no secret of their longing to win European team gold on home ground for the first time - they had to settle for silver last time in Luhmühlen in 1999.

German team trainers Hans Melzer and Christopher Bartle have some of the world’s most talented and experienced riders from which to choose a dozen representatives - the home side is allowed 12 places.

Most notable among them are the World Champion Jung, riding his fabulous horse La Biosthetique Sam, and a quartet of Olympic gold medallists: Ingrid Klimke, Frank Ostholt, Peter Thomsen and dual CCI4* winner Andreas Dibowski.

Add to that mix former Pau CCI4* winner Dirk Schrade and Luhmühlen CCI4* runner-up Sandra Auffarth, who has been taking the circuit by storm, plus a host of other consistently successful competitors, and German supporters could well be celebrating by Sunday evening.

But British enthusiasm for overseas championships is legendary, and their supporters will be equally keen to party. Great Britain has won the last eight meetings and will not be interrupting their record-breaking run without a fight. If they win team gold at this, the 30th European Eventing Championships, it will be their 22nd since the competition began in 1953.

Piggy French (GBR), the reigning European individual silver medallist and Badminton runner-up on Jakata, will make her senior team debut, joining Mary King (GBR) – who heads into Luhmühlen topping the HSBC Rankings - William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Nicola Wilson (GBR), team World Champions last year.

London 2012 is also calling..

The HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships have special significance for European nations not yet qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The two best ranked teams from Olympic Groups A, B and C will qualify to take part. Five nations have already earned their place after qualifying at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky last year: Canada, New Zealand, USA, Germany and Belgium. They will join host nation Great Britain.  

Irish riders will be hoping Luhmühlen is a lucky place for them. Ireland last won team gold back here in 1979 when Sam Watson’s father, John, was among the medallists, while Germany's premier Eventing venue was also the setting for Belgium’s first ever medal, bronze, in 1999.

The French who, surprisingly, have never won the European team title, are sending a mix of old and new faces, including former dual individual gold medallist Nicolas Touzaint and rising star Donatien Schauly, who makes his senior team debut.

And everyone will be willing Italy’s brave Susanna Bordone to success. The versatile rider, who was flying the Italian flag at last week's FEI European Dressage Championships and is applying for a racing as well as her flying licence, suffered severe facial injuries at Luhmühlen CCI4* in June after being bitten by her horse.

Fourteen nations will be represented when the first Horse Inspection gets underway on Wednesday, 24 August: Belgium, Finland*, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania*, The Netherlands, Poland, Russia*, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland (*denotes individual riders only).

HSBC & Eventing
HSBC has renewed its support for a further three-year term to include title sponsorships of the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships in 2011 and 2013 and the HSBC FEI Classics™ until the end of 2013.

FEI TV Live Schedule:

27 August: Cross Country 10.30 - 16.00 CEST

28 August: Jumping Group 1 11.00 - 12.40 CEST and Jumping Group 2 and Medals Ceremony 13.40 - 15.20 CEST

Vaulting: FEI: British News: Double delight for Vaulters in France

Reigning World Champion, Joanne Eccles, has successfully defended her senior female European title at the European Championships in Le Mans, France (16-21 August).

Joanne (22) from Tillicoultry in Scotland, retained the title that in 2009 made her the first Team GBR vaulter to win an FEI Vaulting Championship medal, after a stunning performance aboard her long-standing partner W H Bentley, lunged by father John Eccles.

Her final score of 8.553, one of her highest scores this year, came just 0.02 ahead of Germany’s Sarah Kay, who finished on 8.533, illustrating how closely fought the senior female competition has been this year.

Joanne commented on her result; “It was really good in there. It was a pretty much almost perfect test and was really hard to judge what the score would be at the end. It’s been a tough few days but I’m absolutely ecstatic with the result. In 2009 it was amazing to win my first Championship medal but this time it almost means more as I’ve had to fight so hard for it.”

As well as taking the individual title, Joanne and sister Hannah (19) produced a stunning test in another closely fought competition to take Silver in the Pas de Deux, with a final score of 8.411, just 0.008 behind the eventual Gold medallists, Germany (8.419). Bronze went to Austria, who finished on 8.245.

This is only the second Championship medal for Great Britain in the Pas de Deux, after the sisters achieved Silver at the FEI Pairs Championships last year in Austria.

The pair, who are members of the Wee County Vaulting Group, compete the Pas de Deux on W H Bentley, again lunged by their father John.

Chef d’Equipe for the Vaulting squad, Lucy Bell added; “It’s been a long week and has been very tense and tight throughout the two competitions. There was a lot of pressure going into the arena today but as always brilliant performances were delivered on both counts; it’s a fantastic result for both Joanne and Hannah and for British Vaulting.”

For full competition details visit

Jumping: HITS: Culpeper: Laura Linback captivates Grand Prix action at HITS Culpeper

CULPEPER, VA (August 22, 2011) --- Laura Linback of Mundelin, Illinois and Woodrun's Whittaker MVNZ, whom they call "Fred" in the barn, had an amazing week at HITS Culpeper. Last Friday, they captured the win in the $15,000 Brook Ledge Open Jumper Prix and successfully followed up with a big win in the $40,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health.

Jerry Dougherty of Bokeelia, Florida was the Grand Prix course designer for the Winston National and Sunday's premier card featured 26 starters.

"The course was spectacular," said Linback, who is a regular competitor at HITS Culpeper and HITS Ocala and travels alongside her husband, Troy and their son, Owen. "It rode really well and I was pretty confident about it. Fred only rubbed one rail at what seemed to be a difficult line for some."

Linback was rightfully excited after scoring the two biggest wins in the Grand Prix field this week.

"Fred is so easy and fun to ride. It's been a really exciting summer with him," she said. "He's just an eight year-old, so he's still a baby, but he's been going clear a lot this summer in the Grand Prix. He's still young, so we won't over-use him too much, but it's exciting to see where we'll progress."

After the first round, five horse-and-rider combinations returned for the jump-off. Australian native Matt Williams of Wellington, Florida aboard Samantha Tuerk's Watch Me VD Mangelaar returned first and set the pace with four jumping faults in 45.508 seconds. The duo has earned major ribbons this summer at HITS Culpeper and HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York as they continue on the home stretch of the HITS show jumping season.

Fellow Australian and Nations Cup rider Thaisa Erwin of Apex, North Carolina was the second to go clear in the first round and returned for the jump-off aboard her own Matilda. The duo left all the fences intact, but earned three time faults in the jump-off, which gave them a brief lead and eventually earned them a second-place finish. Overall, it was a successful day for the Apex Equestrian Center, as Thaisa's husband, head trainer Matthias Hollberg finished twelfth aboard his upcoming Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix mount Wadisson, owned by the Apex Equestrian Center.

Linback returned next and took over the lead with a clear effort in 44.780 seconds, which set the Great American Time to Beat.

"In the jump-off, I just took a shot," said Linback. "I wanted to ride my horse the best I could and not try to think about it too much. Luckily, it worked out well for us."

Linback would also finish in seventh place aboard her second mount, Woodrun's Uppsala.

Colombian Olympian Manuel Torres of Ashburn, Virginia and Chambacunero, a 14 year-old gelding owned by TG Show Stables, were the next to show and had the fastest time of 41.584 seconds. Four jumping faults, however, would eventually settle them into third place.

Last to show was Kate Gerhart of Sellersville, Pennsylvania aboard Cathy Gerhart's Timo. At the Cavalier Classic in July, they took the second-place ribbon in the $40,000 Purina Mills Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. This time, they had four faults in 43.432 seconds to capture fourth place honors, as they continue on towards the Pfizer Million.

"Timo is such a good boy and he's so much fun to ride," said Gerhart. "We're going to try our best to qualify for the Pfizer Million. We still need a few more classes to qualify, but I look forward to being there in Saugerties next month."

This week, the Constitution Classic will highlight August competition at HITS Commonwealth Park in Culpeper, Virginia. Riders will have one more qualifying class for the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final and Pfizer Million, when the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix and $40,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, take center stage this weekend. After this week, the road to Pfizer Million Weekend will move to its final destination at HITS-on-the-Hudson for two consecutive weeks of show jumping and, of course, the richest show jumping finale in the world on Sunday, September 11.

HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS took the industry to new heights when it hosted the first-ever Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. HITS will once again offer the most innovative weekend in show jumping history in 2011 when it hosts the second annual Pfizer Million and the inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, September 10-11, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

Hunters: Culpeper: Patty Stovel wins the $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix at HITS Culpeper aboard Kenya

CULPEPER, VIRGINIA (August 22, 2011) —Patty Stovel and Shoal Creek Stables’ Kenya gained the momentum they needed in Culpeper to capture Saturday’s $5,000 Devoucoux Hunter Prix to highlight a week of tough competition in the hunter rings of the Winston National at HITS Commonwealth Park in Culpeper, Virginia.

The duo’s latest victory marks their third triumph in a Devoucoux class this summer as they topped the field of 22 that showed over course designer Rian Beals’ first-round course. “Kenya is getting better as the summer goes on and that is a good thing,” said Stovel. “I am very fortunate to have a great owner who let us take our time with this horse.”

The last time the duo showed at HITS Culpeper they scored the blue at the Cavalier Classic in the featured class for hunters. Then, a few weeks ago, they struck glory again topping 70 starters at the NY Horse & Pony Show at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York proving they are one of the teams to beat in the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final .

Going into the weekend, Stovel and Kenya were eighth in the current Rider Rankings for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final with 224 points. Saturday’s win will help to push them into the top five with only two qualifiers left before the big weekend on September 10-11 in Saugerties.

“I have said it before. This horse can win on any given day!” said Stovel. “There will be some great horses and great riders there and I am sure hoping that we are up for the challenge.”

Stovel finished on Sunday with a total score of 179 and led the charge at HITS Culpeper, boasting the top score in both rounds and winning the class by five points. Winn Alden, of Bristow, Virginia, rode Barbara Sheffield’s Cameo Appearance to a second-place effort and junior rider Alexandra Warner of Silver Springs, Maryland, took third aboard her own Valentine.
The next opportunity to qualify for the Diamond Mills Hunter Prix takes place this coming weekend at HITS Culpeper during the Constitution Classic before the final chance to earn valuable points for Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final at HITS-on-the-Hudson VII, September 1-5.

About Devoucoux

Devoucoux, makers of fine French saddles, is proud to be the title sponsor of each and every qualifying Hunter Prix leading up to this year's phenomenal Diamond Mills $500,000 3'3" Hunter Prix Final. The Devoucoux Hunter Prix will be a featured event at all HITS horse shows this season as riders from around the country set out to qualify for the historic Diamond Mills Hunter Prix Final, which will take place September 10-11 at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS took the industry to new heights when it hosted the first-ever Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. HITS will once again offer the most innovative weekend in show jumping history in 2011 when it hosts the second annual Pfizer Million and the inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, September 10-11, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.

Jumping: HITS: Jennie Edwards captures the USHJA Tad Coffin Zone III Junior Equitation Finals at HITS Culpeper

CULPEPER, VIRGINIA (August 22, 2011) — Jennie Edwards and her own Welcome rose to the top when she won the blue in the USHJA Tad Coffin Zone III Junior Equitation Finals on Saturday night at HITS Commonwealth Park in Culpeper, Virginia.

Edwards of Jacksonville, Florida is a seasoned equitation rider and trains under the tutelage of her aunt, Ginny Edwards at Hidden Hollow Farm. In all, 33 riders navigated course designer Jerry Dougherty's route, and 12 of the top riders were invited back to show on the flat. After the flat phase, the top four were brought back for additional testing over fences, after which, Edwards emerged as the winner.

“I got this horse back in March and he’s been such a great ride,” said Jennie Edwards. “I’ve learned so much on him already. This is one of the most important events I look forward to each year, so winning it was just great. I couldn’t believe when it happened.”

For her efforts, Jennie Edwards won a Tad Coffin Performance Saddle, and a cooler donated by Gary Baker, while Ginny Edwards won a $300 trainer award for helping to guide her student to the crown.

“My goals this year were to qualify for the USEF Pessoa Medal Finals, the regional ASPCA Maclay Finals and this Final,” added Edwards. “I’ve been able to do all of that so far, so this year has been really successful for me. I’m very lucky to have my aunt as my trainer - she is so caring and hardworking, and it made the win a lot more special with her there.”

Also taking top honors in the USHJA Tad Coffin Zone III Junior Equitation Finals was Ashley Foster of Brooksville, Maryland. Foster trains at Rolling Acres Farm with her mother, Patty Foster and her aunt, Mary Lisa Leffler. For her second-place performance, she received a pair of custom leather half chaps, donated by Chuck Pinnel’s Custom Leather.

The third-place ribbon was awarded to Kimberly Meighan of Leesburg, Virginia and, for her accomplishment she won a show bridle, donated by Hidden Hollow Farm.

For their participation in the prestigious event, each of the riders in the top ten were awarded a $75 gift certificate to Champion Saddlery, a selection of saddle pads courtesy of Clifton Saddlery, as well as ribbon sashes donated by Tom Struzzieri. All of the qualifiers for the class were treated to a welcome reception, sponsored by Hollins College, received boutonnieres from TuDane Farm and went home with gift bags from Dover Saddlery.

“I have to say that since we have been doing this class, the riding has been getting better and better,” said event coordinator Pam Haviland. “I am proud that we can come together and host such a great event for our young riders.”

HITS, Inc. produces high-quality, international-level hunter/jumper horse shows. Based in upstate New York in the village of Saugerties, HITS has been producing shows since 1982 and is now a nationwide company with world-class circuits in California, Florida, Arizona, New York and Virginia. In 2010, HITS took the industry to new heights when it hosted the first-ever Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix. HITS will once again offer the most innovative weekend in show jumping history in 2011 when it hosts the second annual Pfizer Million and the inaugural Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix Final, September 10-11, at HITS-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York.