Harrisburg, Pa.–Oct. 16
“He just has an amazing jump,” Jen Alfano said of Candid. “As soon as I jumped him over a couple jumps, I knew I wanted him.”
That great jump won two of the over-fences classes in the green conformation hunter division, giving them enough points to take the championship and the grand hunter title at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
“He’s a great horse and he’s been a great horse all along,” Alfano said. “He’s just a good jumper—I just try not to mess him up!” For Alfano, the win was especially significant because it happened aboard her own horse at a venue she considers her home turf.
She grew up near Harrisburg and first came as a child. “I think I got in with my large pony when I was maybe 12ish and that was huge!” she said with a laugh.
Due to the close proximity to where she grew up, Alfano had lots of family in town to cheer her on, including her mother, Carol Alfano. “I started coming as a kid,” Carol said. “My parents would bring me just to watch in the evenings, so seeing this at the end is fabulous.”
Jen purchased “Sheldon,” named after the character from the TV show The Big Bang Theory, from Terry Brown a year and a half ago.
“She actually thought he would be a great match for me, so I owe her a lot,” Jen, of Buffalo, N.Y., said.
She started the Holsteiner gelding in the pre-green divisions last year, where they saw a fair amount of success before moving him up to the green conformation hunters this winter.
Their division debut started off with a bang, earning the championship at the Jacksonville A To Z (Fla.) and they followed it with five straight championships during the HITS Ocala circuit (Fla.).
“He’s a little shy with people he doesn’t know,” she said of the gelding’s in-barn personality. “With people he’s familiar with, he’s spoiled rotten, but he’s definitely a little standoffish with people he doesn’t know.”
She’s ridden the 6-year-old in a few national hunter derbies this year and believes that he’ll be a strong contender in the USHJA International Hunter Derbies in the future.
Jen’s employer, Susie Schoellkopf, couldn’t say enough good things about her. “Jen is just—she’s all of it,” Schoellkopf said. “She’s not only a great rider; she’s a great horseman and she knows every horse in the barn and the care. She’s a great example to all of the upcoming riders.”
Jen tied with fellow professional Scott Stewart for the title of the Leading Hunter Rider at this year’s horse show.
Kelley Farmer and Mindful added the title for the regular conformation championship to their high performance championship. It seemed that they would take home the grand hunter title and that Kelley would be named leading rider after they added quite a few more blues to their count from the high performance division. However, because the under saddle classes of the regular conformation hunter division and the high performance hunter division had less than eight entrants, those scores didn’t count towards the grand hunter and leading hunter rider titles, so Farmer and Mindful were not in the running for either award.
To read more about the winners at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, check out the October 27 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse print magazine.