It isn’t easy to find a way to follow up a grand junior hunter championship at the Devon Horse Show, but Jessica Springsteen came up with a pretty good solution. After taking her second consecutive grand title in Devon, Pa., Springsteen and Tiziano rode to the top of the ASG Software Solutions USHJA International Hunter Derby today, May 24, before she headed back to Colts Neck, N.J.
“She’d made it a goal to win a derby,” said Stacia Madden who trains Springsteen along with Max Amaya and Krista Freundlich. “She’s done well, but she’s never gotten blue—till now.”
“He definitely pays more attention in a ring like this,” said Springsteen of Tiziano. “He perks up immediately and it really helps him go well.”
Springsteen, 17, topped the junior-heavy field by netting 10 and 9 bonus points from judges Linda Hough, Jimmy Clapperton, Mark Jungherr and Jimmy Torano in the handy round.
“The goal is always to get the 10 bonus points,” said Madden. “She got 10s at Washington [International Horse Show] and at [Winter Equestrian Festival]. We try to find the toughest track that she can do well.“
After last year’s derby ran until the wee hours of the evening, this year the show accepted 20 entries, but a few late scratches meant that only 16 horses competed—nine of which were piloted by juniors.
Springsteen returned second-to-last in the handy round, which started with an open line, and quickly turned technical. Riders traversed through a box made up of eight delicate airy verticals. After jumping into the box they could either ride out over a short, sharp, bending line, or take a more straightfoward route, and most of the riders rose to the challenge, selecting the former. The course finished with a bounce over another pair of airy verticals, and then a turn back to trot over a natural log three strides before exiting the ring.
Despite the tricky elements, there were precious few major errors over the course. Jennifer Alfano and Sting hopped from fourth to second after keeping a good gallop even through the tricky broken line.
“He was definitely pretty frisky in the first round in that ring under the lights,” said Alfano, Buffalo, N.Y. “But he came back in and was absolutely perfect.”
Maggie Jayne picked up third on Madeline Thatcher’s Francesca, and fourth on her newest ride, Early Applause, for Pony Lane Farm.
The Waterboy Cleans Up In The Pony Jumpers
Last year Cara Dodson and The Waterboy narrowly missed the pony jumper championship, finishing as reserve champions, a bittersweet victory that she hadn’t forgotten when she came back to Devon this year.
“There was a skinny fence this afternoon away from the gate just like one that I had down last year,” said Dodson. “If it had stayed up I would have been champion. I was sure to ride that fence carefully this time!”
Dodson and the Waterboy put in a perfect performance and took blue in all three classes to secure the tricolor. Brianne Link and Tallyman took two seconds to finish in reserve.
“He’s a really fun pony,” said the Dodson, 13. “He’s hyper and he likes to pull, but he’s never out of control—I always have him. I practice a lot at keeping him calm.”
Dodson trains with David Wright and Daniel Geitner, but she keeps The Waterboy along with a few other mounts at her family farm where she helps out with his daily care.
Devon senior week kicks off tomorrow with the green conformation model in the Dixon Oval at 8a.m.
Click here to see photos and read about what happened over the rest of junior weekend.
And you can find full results from all of today’s events here.