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October 11, 2013

Dr. Jekyll—Or Mr. Hyde?

Ovation and Tori Colvin topped every class in the small junior hunter, 15 and under, division to earn the championship and grand championship for the third year running.

Harrisburg, Pa. - Oct. 11  

When you’re a top hunter rider, it’s your job to make your horse look good. Some days that’s easier to do than others.

Tori Colvin and Betsee Parker walked out of the ring together after accepting Way Cool’s large junior hunter, 15 and under, championship ribbon today at the Pennsylvania National. As soon as they got to the ramp they started feeding him treats, then turned to each other and said, “He’s done.”

Parker’s notoriously quirky charge had held it together to earn his third consecutive division title, but rider Colvin could tell he wasn’t in the mood for the next class, the junior hunter winner’s stake.

“Some days he’s happy, some days he’s not,” explained Colvin, who rides with Scott Stewart. “Today I was thinking he might be a little funny. He’s just in his moods. He gets really cranky and doesn’t want to go forward.”

He’s done that at really inconvenient times—like the second day of the junior hunters at this show last year. To combat that occasional quirkiness, Colvin slows everything down and pats him nonstop (including over the top of schooling jumps). 

“On a good day he’s really easy—you just let go and kick. On a bad day it’s a little harder,” she deadpanned.

Colvin’s other champion, Ovation, also earned his third consecutive title in Harrisburg, Pa., retiring a trio of challenge trophies for owner Parker along the way.

That horse topped all four classes to take the small junior hunter, 15 and under, high point small junior and grand junior hunter titles for Parker. Then he topped it off by winning that same winner's stake class that Way Cool hadn't been up for.

Unlike his barnmate, Ovation is much more reliable in the ring. Colvin said she just loops the reins and he shows off his rocking horse canter with little help from her.

“He’s perfect,” she said. “We flat him in the ring once and he never longes. He just gets a ride for 20 minutes in the morning and we go.”

More Error Than Trial

Lillie Keenan also had contrasting champions in Harrisburg. Walk The Line topped all three over fences classes to win the large junior hunter, 16-17, title for Don Stewart, and she rode Madeline Placey’s Brodeur to the top spot in the small junior hunter, 16-17, ring.

“This horse is odd like his owner,” said Don of Walk The Line. “It’s something different every day. You have to look in his eyes and say, ‘Is it a good day? A bad day? Are you Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?’ ”

Keenan gave all the credit to Don, saying she just follows the directions she’s given. Walk The Line has riders he gets along with and some he doesn’t. Luckily, Keenan’s the former. Well, now she is.

“The first time I rode him, I couldn’t get him around a course,” she admitted. “It was at home—he doesn’t like to practice. Once I was given instructions, we got better.”

Don’s had Walk The Line in the barn for several years. “It’s been a lot of trial and error—more error than trial,” he said. “It’s a great match. She’s accurate, and he’s spectacular and goofy. He’s kind of like a kid that misbehaves—you have to pick your battles a little bit.”

Keenan also rode Madeline Placey’s Brodeur to the small junior hunter, 16-17, title. The first year horse settled right in at indoors and has become a pretty reliable charge during his first full year showing. Keenan credited Patricia Griffith, who trains her along with Andre Dignelli and the Heritage Farm team, with putting on most of the miles and hard work.

“He’s unfazed with the change in atmosphere, and doesn’t care if there’s more distractions. He’s pretty focused on his job,” she said.

Around The Showgrounds

• Sisters Cloe and Lili Hymowitz each picked up a reserve championship title. Cloe rode Enjoy to the reserve title in the small junior hunter, 16-17, ring, and Lili rode Statement to the reserve title in the small junior hunter, 15 and under, ring. That pair just threw a surprise party for Colvin to celebrate her 16th birthday two weeks ago.

• Serious rain has set upon the Eastern Seaboard. Officials were hard at work pumping out flooded areas of the concourse this morning, and parts of the parking lot have some water, too.

Colvin and her mom were among those that ran into flooding on the way to the show this morning. After seeing a car completely submerged in the flooded street, they found an alternate route.

• Hunter Holloway piloted Hays Investment Corp.’s Lyons Creek Bellini to the large junior hunter, 15 and under, reserve title. Taylor Sutton rode her own MTM Braggin Rights to the large junior hunter, 16-17, reserve championship.

Stop by The Chronicle of the Horse's official Pennsylvania National page for more from Harrisburg. Check out the Pennsylvania National's website for results.  There's a live feed at USEFNetwork.com

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