Even though Douglas Wheeler could have made it to the Pennsylvania National Horse Show to watch his Lone Star vie for the regular working hunter title, he opted out.
“Douglas can get a little superstitious,” said Hunt Tosh with a laugh. “He couldn’t come to Capital Challenge [Md.], and when his horse went perfectly there he was scared to come here. So he stayed at home and watched it on the Internet.”
But Wheeler’s whim proved fortuitous when Lone Star won three of the four over fences classes to take the regular working hunter title, today, Oct. 13, in Harrisburg, Pa. Laurel Ridge Sport Horse’s On Top claimed the reserve ribbon, ridden by Californian Keri Kampsen.
The bay gelding had been in Tosh’s barn for a while before the Wheelers picked him up. He had been showing in the junior division, and Tosh had an inkling he might excel over bigger jumps, which he started during HITS Ocala [Fla.] this year.
“He’s really simple, and he doesn’t take much prep, which makes it easy to take him somewhere like this,” said Tosh. “This is his first time at Harrisburg. He’s so scopey and long-strided, you know he’s going to try his guts out every time he goes in the ring.”
The only jumping class without Lone Star leading the jog was this evening’s handy hunter competition. Several of the division’s 23 entries opted out, and those that stuck around faced significant problems, with plenty of rails hitting the dirt, horses digging in their heels and riders coming up on uneven distances.
Tosh admitted that even the athletic Lone Star “ran out of gas a little bit” by the time this evening rolled around—though he still scored an 84 to take third. SBS Farm’s Jersey Boy and Jennifer Alfano laid down a stellar trip, marking a 90—her back number—to win the handy blue.
Inside Scoop Headlines
Watching Inside Scoop canter around the ring, the average observer would never guess that the big Westphalian only had a handful of hunter shows under his belt. But the horse just entered the hunter ring two months ago, after Greg Burrows asked Frey to see if he thought the horse would make a good hunter.
The relaxed dark bay gelding won both today’s over fences classes to win the first year green and grand green titles. Small Affair, who picked up two blues yesterday with John French, took the reserve second year championship.
“Kim [Prince] had been looking for a horse for Chloe Reid for a while,” said Frey, Fulshear, Texas. “After I rode him I told her ‘I know you want a small horse, but I’ve found the horse for Chloe.’ ”
Frey’s intuition paid off, and the young rider stepped off her medium ponies and on to 16.2-hand Inside Scoop, a perfect first partner for the junior ring. Frey had planned on showing him in the green conformation division at Harrisburg, but when a spot opened up in the regular first year division he changed his plan.
“He didn’t longe here, he didn’t get ridden in the ring—he’s amazing,” said Frey. “Kim Prince did all the work with him—I just get on and ride him in the show.”
A Blue Ribbon Specialist
In the second year green division it was the Specialist and Jen Alfano taking top honors after a handy hunter blue. Gianni, owned by Pony Lane Farm, tied the Specialist with 26 points, but the former earned more points under saddle to take reserve.
“He’s really good in the handies,” said Alfano, Buffalo, N.Y. “He’d never spook, and you can’t set a jump that would scare him. Sometimes he can get just a touch strong in the turns, but no one can tell but me.”
The Specialist works double duty in the amateur-owner ring with owner Meredith Lipke, and also contested his first Chronicle of the Horse/USHJA International Hunter Derby last month in Chicago.
“He does it all,” said Alfano, who got the horse through Brian Gruber two years ago. “We got him as a first year horse and he walked right in the amateur ring. He’s been a Steady Eddie from the beginning.”
TNT Proves She’s Dynamite
Abbie Ross may have had the smallest mount in today’s $10,000 NAL Children’s Jumper Final, but she didn’t let that stop her from going for blue. She and 14.1-hand TNT outran the horses to take the top check.
Ross, one of 13 riders to ride Steve Stephens’ first round fault-free, found the shortest track the second time around to stop the clock a full 4 seconds faster than Rio W and Kimberly Saul. The fastest four-faulter, Kaniny-H and Lisa Zimmer, took third.
Ross had a hairy moment when TNT came in deep to fence 8, a tall vertical, and caught a toe.
“It was scary!” said Ross. “It rolled pretty hard in the cups, but we survived.”
TNT and Ross, 13, contested the NAL Pony Jumper Final on Thursday, but ran through the timers a littler later than she’d hoped. But the pony demonstrated her footspeed tonight, coming in well within time while maintaining good control throughout.
“I have so much confidence in her, and I know I can trust her no matter what,” said Ross. “She can be feisty, but she’s very sweet. She has a smaller stride than the horses but she’s still competitive.”
TNT is no stranger to the winners’ circle, having wracked up plenty of pony jumper and children’s jumper titles with Lillie Ross before she let her younger sister start putting on her saddle. Lillie still stays involved though, co-training Abbie along with their mother Allison. TNT lives an hour away from the Ross’ home in Wheaton, Ill., but Abbie still makes it over there four or five days a week to train.
The second half of the professional hunter divisions kick off tomorrow, with the green conformation model scheduled to start at 8:00am. Side-saddle riders take over the ring in the afternoon before surrendering the spotlight to amateur-owner and open jumpers.