Invincible was just that today, Oct. 18, at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. Ellen Toon rode the flashy bay gelding to the grand amateur-owner and amateur-owner, 36 & over hunter championships.
“He’s just super easy,” Toon said. “He always tries to be good and he tries so hard at the jumps.” Toon and “Shaq” earned a second, third and fourth over fences and a fourth in the under saddle before winning the final stakes class to clinch the tricolor.
Toon and her husband and trainer, Jimmy, found Shaq in Europe in the summer of 2006. “Now, he doesn’t that much like he did when we bought him,” she said. “He was a stallion and much thicker. We gelded him before we imported him.” She showed in the in adult amateur division at the 2006 National Horse Show (Fla.) in November, and then for the duration of 2007, Shaq competed in the amateur-owner division with her and the first year green division with Jimmy riding.
This year, Ellen and Shaq claimed the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.) circuit championship and were champions at Old Salem Farm May I (N.Y.) and reserve both weeks at Lake Placid (N.Y.) and at the Hampton Classic (N.Y.). They warmed up for Harrisburg by claiming the grand amateur and amateur-owner, 36 & over titles at the Capital Challenge (Md.). Ellen is no stranger to big wins, but this was her first championship at the Pennsylvania National.
It was also Tracy Scheriff’s first Penn National tricolor. She rode Lavari into the amateur-owner, 18-35 tricolor. “I couldn’t breathe—I was really nervous!” Scheriff said of preparing for the stakes class, in which she placed second to clinch the tricolor.
This is Scheriff’s third year riding Lavari, a 12-year-old warmblood, but they took all of last year off from showing because Scheriff broke her leg very badly in December of 2006. “I have all kinds of rods and plates in there,” she said. “Riding isn’t so bad, but I still can’t run very well, so the jogs are hard for me!”
Lavari spent the year in a low-key fashion with trainer Havens Schatt. “He’s so much fun. He has the best canter and he jumps so hard that I get jumped loose sometimes,” Scheriff said.
Scheriff got back in the tack in time for the 2008 WEF, where she and Lavari were reserve circuit champions. She also took the reserve championship at the Capital Challenge. Scheriff, 25, is also staying busy planning her 2009 wedding to her high-school sweetheart.
Marley Goodman took some time off of her own for a broken bone. She broke a metacarpal in her hand in earlier in the year and just started showing again in September. At the Pennsylvania National, she was hard to beat in the amateur-owner jumper division, winning the first jump-off class on U-2, winning the speed class on Ronja, and placing third in the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Classic with U-2. U-2 was named the amateur-owner jumper champion, while Goodman picked up the leading amateur jumper rider award.
Victory in the classic faded when Goodman attempted a tight inside turn and U-2 ran out at the oxer. It was a turn that Paige Johnson, who won the class on La Martinee, performed to perfection to take the lead. “I saw the distance, but he’s a horse who gets nervous and it was a blind turn,” Goodman said. “In hindsight, I could have added a stride in the turn, but I thought it would be fine. He’s done those kinds of things before.”
Goodman, who graduated from college in 2003 and is now working toward a Master’s degree in business, hopes to move back up to the grand prix ranks next year.