Lexington, Ky.—Oct. 25
Caroline Tinsley hoped she’d be attending the 2020 National Horse Show with her small junior hunter Honor, but when the gelding was sidelined due to medical issues this year, she came up with another plan.
“I competed at the National Horse Show last year with my hunter,” said Tinsley. “Since he did not qualify this year we decided that if I qualified in the equitation that we would come. I love the National Horse Show! I think that the best of the best are here, and it is a really fun environment even though nights are long and mornings are early. Even though it is a little different this year, it is still fun to be here with our friends and get to do what we love.”
That decision proved to be a fruitful one, as Tinsley picked up the win in the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3” Equitation Championship aboard Zonder Z Quattro.
For two years Tinsley watched her older sister Abigail Tinsley compete “Quattro” in the big equitation, but Caroline got her opportunity to start showing the 12-year-old Estonian Sporthorse (Zento—Rosette) in December.
“I really love riding him,” Caroline said. “I never really wanted to do the equitation. I have a hunter that has been having some medical problems right now and while we figure that out I have been transitioning to the equitation on Quattro. He has been really, really nice to ride, and I have come to very much enjoy the equitation.”
Caroline made a strong impression on judges Keri Kampsen and Chance Arakelian.
“Going into Round 1, the horse I have been riding has been really good, forward,” said Caroline. “We had a few lead issues earlier in the week, but we worked on that, and he performed really well, jumped really well and did everything that I asked of him.”
Modeled after the ASPCA Maclay Finals, 174 competitors took a turn around the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park. They were whittled down to 24, who contested the flat phase, showing off skills like the counter-canter. Caroline was sitting on top heading into Round 2.
“For Round 2, I just wanted to find the first jump out of a nice gallop, and I wanted to be smooth and consistent and get the numbers and get them right,” said Caroline.
And she did just that, edging out Madison Olvert for the title.
“This was my last time in the ring as a junior, and I am at a loss for words,” said Olvert, who tacked up Green Book. “I can’t even wrap my head around the week I have had because it has been so good! This sport is full of ups and downs, so to end on this high is very emotional. I can’t thank everyone enough that has helped me come this far. This is an absolute dream come true!”