The North Carolina Hunter Jumper Association Annual Horse Show in Raleigh, N.C., played host to the inaugural USHJA Green Hunter Incentive South Championships, on June 28, which offered two sections of competition-one for 3’/3’3″ green hunters and one for 3’6″/3’9″ green hunters. Winn Alden rode EMO Stables’ Star Jewel to the top spot in the 3’/3’3″ championship, while Chris Wynne and Valerie Strotmeyer’s Silver Lining took the win in the 3’6″/3’9″ championship.
“I love [the regional championship]!” said Alden. “There are so many nice horses and riders here, and this is a really nice opportunity. You get to practice a little, and you get rewarded when your horse does really well.”
Alden recently started showing Star Jewel for Betty and Ernie Oare and plans to take her to the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships in Lexington, Kentucky, in August.
“This is our third show together, and she’s just my type. I really like her. She tries really hard,” said Alden. “The courses were really nice today, and the indoor ring is really nice. We had a really good first round, and there were a lot of high scores in the first round. She played a little after the first jump, but other than that she was perfect. We were second going into the second round, and I got a bit lucky in the second round.”
The competition was close throughout the day. Hunter Kay and Emily Durlach’s Fearless were just a .5 point behind Alden earning the second spot and $2,200.
Patrick Rodes’ Southbound Management team brought in new jumps and course designer Paul Jewell set spectacular courses for the two-round championships.
The 3’/3’3″ section saw 15 contenders with a total of $10,000 in prize money and ribbons awarded to the top 12. Three horses competed in the 3’6″/3’9″ section, which offered $5,000 in prize money.
Chris Wynne of Virginia Beach, Virginia, came out on top with Silver Lining, earning the top check of $1,500. Wynne will be judging this year’s Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship and was pleased to have the opportunity to compete in the regional championship since he won’t compete in Kentucky.
“They really made it special,” said Wynne. “They dressed up the jumps nicely and even brought in new jumps. They did a wonderful job.
“The horse I rode is a very dependable, good horse for things like this,” he continued. “He’s pretty much the same every day. When they brought in the new jumps, he brightened up a bit. The courses were challenging, but the horses wanted to jump them well. That’s what judges love to see, and that’s what we had today.”
In the 3’/3’3″ section, Wynne also had the third-place finish with Nicole Guthrie’s Bon Voyage, the sixth-place finish with Maryellen Kroll’s Correlation, and the 12th place finish with Grace Owen’s Superlative.
The South Championships were judged by R. Scot Evans and Tony Sgarlata.
This was the first of five regional championships available to USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Program participants for the first time this year. The USHJA rolled out the new opportunity for 2018 as another benefit to enrolling in the Green Hunter Incentive Program, in addition to the stake classes and the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championships.
“I am so proud to say that the first Green Incentive Regional Championships were a total success,” said Ron Danta, chair of the International Hunter Derby and Incentive Task Force. “The number of exhibitors thanking the program for implementing the regional championships was overwhelming. The horses went well, and it was so well received by everyone there.”
Remaining regional championships include the East Championship at Brandywine Valley Summer Series II, July 3-8, in Devon, Pennsylvania; the Central Championship at the Harvest Horse Show, Oct. 31-Nov. 6, in Katy, Texas; Southwest Championship at the International Jumping Festival, September 19-23, in San Juan Capistrano, California; and the Northwest Championship at the Oregon High Desert Classic 2, July 25-29, in Bend, Oregon.