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May 29, 2010

Colvin Conquers Devon Junior Weekend

Victoria Colvin swept the large pony hunter division during Devon Junior Weekend, taking the tricolor aboard For The Laughter.

Victoria Colvin had never picked up a championship at the Devon Horse Show & Country Fair, so when she traveled to the show in Devon, Pa., for Junior Weekend, May 27-29, she had a mission.

Aboard three ponies and four horses, Colvin picked up four championships and two reserve championships, the grand junior title and the reserve best child rider on a horse honors. Of the 220 possible points she could accrue, she had 139 points with nine blue ribbons.

And as icing on the cake, the only equine she owns, Ballou, earned the grand and small pony hunter championship with Daisy Farish in the irons.

Of all of her titles, she was most excited about the one she didn’t earn herself. “It was great Ballou was champion,” she said with a grin. “He’s the best pony in the world.”

Colvin, 12, Loxahatchee, Fla., guided Scott Stewart’s junior hunters Ovation, World Time, Krystall and Way Cool to the a near-sweep. Ovation earned the grand and small junior, 15 and under, champion, World Time the reserve; Way Cool was the large junior, 15 and, under champion, while Krystall won a class over fences.

“She’s perfect; she knows exactly what to do,” said Stewart, her trainer of about three years. “The horses really like her. Whether we win or lose, it’s always fun to watch her ride.”

Farish, 9, Versailles, Ky., has been leasing Ballou from Colvin for just over a year. The pair earned the grand pony hunter title with 32 ½ points under the guidance of Heritage Farm trainers Patricia Griffith and Andre Dignelli.

The partnership of Ballou and Farish came about in an unusual way said Daisy’s mother Kelley Farish. “Patricia had a dream, and in the dream Daisy was riding a pony. At the end of the dream she said Daisy was on Ballou. And it was so weird,” said Kelley.

So the next day Patricia arranged for Daisy to meet Ballou for the first time, and her dream became reality. 

“We were all curious how he would be with another child since Tory was the only one who had ridden him,” said Kelley. “But once he trusted her, they were the perfect match.”

Daisy shares Ballou with her younger sister Coco, 4, and the sisters enjoy trail riding and walking around their Lane’s End Farm aboard the personable chestnut gelding. Ballou also did double duty at Devon, carrying Coco to eighth place in a section of the leadline on Saturday afternoon.

Like Colvin, Samantha Schaefer, 16, Westminster, Md., also earned her first Devon championship and, as she said, “broke the Devon jinx.” Schaefer won the large junior, 16-17, championship aboard Garfield and was honored as the best child rider on a horse.

“I’ve been coming here since 2001 when I did the small ponies. I could never get it done. I’m so happy,” said Schaefer. “It didn’t start out all that well yesterday, so I had to come from behind. Yesterday, I had an unlucky rail on Garfield, but today in the handy he was really good.”

Trainer Kim Stewart imported Garfield as a 3-year-old, with 30 days under saddle, and he’s come up the levels to become a consistent junior hunter winner at age 9.

“He’s such a great horse,” said Kim, who owns Garfield in partnership with Sam’s mother, Stacey Schaefer. “He really has come into his own and matured.”

Reed Kessler has also matured, and when she stepped into the Devon Horse Show’s Dixon Oval on Friday to accept her awards for the first junior jumper class, she left with more than a blue ribbon. Kessler retired The Mike Mullen Challenge Bowl, donated by Mrs. P.N.B. Fanning, after winning the class for the third consecutive year.

“This is so exciting. It’s a huge honor to win at Devon. I was hoping to retire the trophy but certainly not expecting it.”

Kessler, 15, won the trophy in 2008 with Flight and last year with Ice D’Ancoeur. This time, Flight rose to the occasion again, claiming the top prize with a speedy jump-off performance .7 seconds faster than Kessler’s Ligist, who finished second.

While Kessler has owned Flight, 16, for three years, Ligist is a newer partner, and at 10, is just finding his stride.

“This year [on the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit] he really came into his own,” said Kessler. “He’s younger and greener, but at WEF it all clicked. He’s just getting better the more he shows. It’s just a matter of practice and learning. Here he was great.”

It was a tight race in the junior jumper gambler’s choice class with Vancouver and Katie Dinan taking the victory over Platinum and Claudia Billups. Both riders accrued 1,160 points, but Dinan galloped .91 seconds faster through the timer for top honors.

In the final class, the $15,000 Cavalor Show Jumping Hall of Fame Classic, Kessler repeated her dominance, taking first aboard Flight and second with Ligist with the only two double-clear performances in a four-horse jump-off.

Kessler, Armonk, N.Y., also earned the junior jumper championship and reserve title as well as the leading junior jumper rider award for the second consecutive year. In 2009, she earned the championship aboard Ice D’Ancoeur.

“Reed is a different rider this year than last year,” said trainer Katie Prudent. “She was champion here last year, but this year she was more mature, cooler in the ring and more sure of herself. She rode both horses in a cool way. She went first on Flight and knew she had to be clear. Then on her second horse she knew to be fast and not crazy. The experience last year in Calgary [at Spruce Meadows] and in Europe really made her grow as a rider.”

Jessica Springsteen, Colts Neck, N.J., earned the Shallano Style of Riding Award, given to the junior jumper who best exemplifies the American style of equitation and is a true sportsman. She also earned the award in 2007. Her parents Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa were in attendance to cheer her on.

In the equitation division, three riders shared the R.W. Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship—Lillie Keenan, Karen Polle and Hayley Barnhill—each with 17 points.

Keenan, 13, New York, N.Y., took the blue in section A of the ASPCA Maclay. She credited her mount Sir Neel, an experienced equitation horse, for his consistency.

“He always enters the ring wanting to win,” she said. “It felt like this was his class. He was just perfect.”             

Polle, 17, New York, N.Y., followed up her victory in the Platinum Performance USEF Talent Search, section A, with a second place in section B of the ASPCA Maclay for her 17 points.

Barnhill, 16, Collierville, Tenn., earned top ribbons throughout the division, including second place in the WIHS Equitation Classic second B, aboard Podest. Barnhill’s banner weekend also included the small junior, 16-17, championship aboard Red Panda.

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