Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2024

Keenan Captures Another Clean Sweep At Devon

The prolific pony rider does it again after her domination at the 2007 USEF Pony Finals.

As Lillie Keenan cantered around the ring during Devon Junior Weekend, her long braids bounced with blue, red and yellow ribbons. They were a hint of things to come.
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The prolific pony rider does it again after her domination at the 2007 USEF Pony Finals.

As Lillie Keenan cantered around the ring during Devon Junior Weekend, her long braids bounced with blue, red and yellow ribbons. They were a hint of things to come.

By the end of Devon, May 22-25 in Devon, Pa., Keenan had picked up four more tricolor ribbons to match her hair accessories. Keenan, 11, completed a clean sweep of the pony divisions, claiming the grand, small, medium and large championships with three gray ponies. She also picked up her second consecutive best child rider on a pony title.

Keenan, New York, N.Y., rode Beau Rivage to the grand and large pony hunter titles. “He’s awesome. He also has a huge jump. He could probably do junior hunter height,” Keenan said. 

She leases Beau Rivage (Magical—Hillcrest Snowdancer, Gayfields Vida Blue) from owner Casey Green and has been riding him for a year. The Holsteiner-Welsh pony was bred by Carol Lush at Maple Side Farm.

Beau Rivage was first and second on the first day, so Keenan knew she had to keep up the trend. “I was nervous because I knew I could be champion if I did well today. The first round, I was nervous but I really trusted him. And then in the second round, I just went in there and had fun because I knew that I still had a chance even if I wasn’t perfect.”

Keenan’s other large pony ride, her Vanity Fair, moved up to the reserve championship slot with two red ribbons the second day. For Keenan, it was a bit of redemption. She’d fallen off Vanity Fair in the first round of the large ponies.

“He’s so easy, and he knows what he’s doing so well that you can’t bother him. I was having a perfect trip, and he really made the correct choice to stop,” Keenan said. “I kind of laid on his neck in the last stride and did a somersault over his head, which was fine. I needed a wake-up call so I didn’t keep doing that.

“It made me remind myself not to lie down on the neck in the last stride. When I got on him for the second trip, I almost worried about it again. But it went well, and we were third. And by the second day,
I had more confidence because I knew I’d fixed the problem and knew I’d ridden better. It makes me equally proud as winning. I’m also really happy with my ponies because it’s not every day that they’re all going to go well and behave!”

Keenan had started the day with her first championship, the small title on Heritage Farm’s Rolling Stone. She and the 10-year-old gelding earned two red ribbons and a yellow over fences then won the stake class to clinch the title. Interestingly, none of Keenan’s pony champions earned significant points in the model or under saddle, but only in the over fences classes.

After winning both classes the first day on the medium pony Light Up The Year, Keenan kept up the momentum and claimed two third places on day No. 2 to capture the tricolor.

“You pretty much just sit on her and she does everything for you,” Keenan said of Light Up The Year. “It’s almost sometimes harder to ride ones like her because you have to do less. She’s taught me to believe in my pony—if you have confidence in them, they’re going to have confidence in you.”

Keenan has leased “Millie” since fall 2007 from Katie Dinan. “She’d been in the barn, and I always liked how she went. She knows what she’s doing and she isn’t a difficult ride—you just loop the reins and go,” she said.

Just Alike

While Keenan was taking over the pony ring, Jessica Springsteen did a bit of winning in the junior hunter divisions. Springsteen, 16, rode Sublime to the small junior, 15 and under, tricolor, while she and Tiziano picked up the grand and large junior, 15 and under, championships.

“I had so much fun. I look forward to coming here every year,” Springsteen said. She also earned the best child rider on a horse title.

A Welcome Mistake

Little did Carter Ware, 13, know that the drunken whim of some grooms more than a decade ago would result in her first Devon win. But after she rode Tequila to victory in the NAL Pony Jumper Classic and earned the pony jumper championship, she was thanking fate.

Ware, Middleburg, Va., related that Tequila is an aptly named accident. His dam, Margarita, was a star polo pony in Argentina, and one night the grooms on the farm got drunk and decided to breed her to a stallion on the farm. The result was Tequila, named after the source of the incident.

Tequila, who Ware believes is around 11 years old, eventually made his way to the Middleburg area, where he showed sporadically, and Ware bought him three years ago.

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For the first few years, Ware needed to hone her skills before showing Tequila. But last year she entered a few classes and then spent this winter showing in Florida in Jacksonville and Ocala. “Last summer I had a lot of lessons on him with my trainer, Pancho Zamudio, and really started feeling comfortable with him,” said Ware.

Ware went early in the eight-pony jump-off of the classic, setting a time of 30.59 seconds with a clean round that proved the best. The points for the win, added to a fourth place in the first class, gave her the tricolor.

“He got fired up and he was jumping huge tonight,” she said. “I was really nervous because I haven’t shown him much, and I’ve never been to Devon before and I’ve never done a class this big before.”

Springsteen has had both horses for three years and brought them along in the junior divisions. Tiziano is now 8, and Sublime is 9. “Both are pretty alike. They have big strides and don’t look at anything,” she said.
Tiziano was originally to be a horse for Springsteen’s mother, Patti Scialfa, to ride around their farm in Colts Neck, N.J. But Springsteen took over the reins quickly.

“Tiziano was supposed to be my equitation horse. We wanted to show him in the hunters to get him going. But he started going really well, so we kept him there,” she said.

Springsteen had almost identical results with both horses at Devon. In their respective divisions on the first
day they both won the over fences class and placed eighth in the under saddle. Then, on the second day, Springsteen won the handy class with both of them. All that made the difference for the grand championship was Tiziano’s fourth place in the stake class.

“The first day, in the equitation classes, was a little rough so I was happy to move on and redeem myself. I hadn’t shown the week before, and in the equitation little things happened, like a rail,” Springsteen said.

“Jessie’s great at not letting things like that bother her. She just goes into another gear and turns it around and makes good things happen instead,” said Stacia Madden, who trains Springsteen along with Krista Freundlich and Max Amaya.

“I call Jessie the computer. You just program her and push the enter button. She’s probably one of the only students in the history of me helping junior riders that I’ve never had to reprimand for being late, or rude. She’s all about the riding.”

The Little Victories

Jennifer Waxman knows how to win at Devon—she earned the grand pony hunter championship in 2005 and rode Saloon to the grand junior hunter tricolor in 2006. This year, even though she took home a tricolor, winning was a bit different.

Waxman rode Zoom to the small junior, 16-17, championship in his first appearance at Devon. “I had pretty low expectations coming here with him. He’s only 7—he’s still really green—so the fact that he was as good as he was was very exciting,” Waxman said.

“It’s more rewarding riding a horse that’s green. It’s the little victories that are exciting. Today he went into the ring and he looked at the crowd a bit, but he held it together and was great. Last year, there was no way he could have done that. I’ve been working so hard with him,” Waxman said.

She bought Zoom last year after seeing him show in the green conformation division with Miranda Scott.

It’s All Almelo

Katherine Newman, 17, took on the big guns in the $10,000 ASG Software Solutions USHJA Hunter Derby under the lights in the Dixon Oval on May 25 and won.

She and Almelo reigned over professional riders such as Jennifer Alfano, Scott Stewart and John French.

“He loves doing this, and I love doing this, and it’s so special to win this here,” Newman said. “He wakes up every time he goes in the ring, but he was really excited for the first round. By the second round, he relaxed and was a bit more rideable.”

Almelo, 14, a Dutch Warmblood, has a daytime job as an amateur-owner ride for owner Mimi Abel-Smith. But Newman gets to take over the reins on occasion. She rode Almelo to win the Virginia Horse Shows Association Medal Finals last year.

“He’s the kind of horse that just gets up in the morning and says ‘What are we doing today?’ ” said Newman’s father, Gerry.

Course designer Blake Alder set a flowing course for the derby but one that didn’t feature any unusual elements. The derby classes usually have natural obstacles such as a bank, stone wall, and sometimes riders must open a gate. The second handy round at Devon was relatively simple, with just some inside turn options and a trot jump at the end.

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Newman, Wellington, Fla., put herself into third place with a first round that earned scores of 91 and 86.5. Fellow junior rider Samantha Schaefer led the class with a 92 and 91 on Perfectionist.

For Round 2, Newman chose to jump the 3’6″ options. “I felt more comfortable with them, and I was trying to be as handy as possible since I was doing the lower jumps,” she said.

She and Almelo made all the inside turns neatly and put in another fluid round. They scored an 88, with 8 bonus points for handiness, and an 89 with 9 bonus points. It was a mark that Sandy Ferrell on Independence and Schaefer couldn’t match.

Jennifer Alfano, who has won multiple derbies on Rock Star, moved up for second place. But Rock Star wasn’t quite himself this evening. It was Jersey Boy who stole the show in the handy round.

Alfano and Jersey Boy returned for Round 2 in eighth but really galloped around the course and angled the fences. The judges rewarded her boldness with scores of 92 plus 8 bonus points and 97 plus 10 bonus points.

“When he first came, his flatwork and transitions weren’t very good, and that’s all I’ve been working on since I got back from the Winter Equestrian Festival [Fla.]. So, winning the under saddle was a victory to me. Being champion was icing on the cake.”

Waxman trains with Ken and Emily Smith, who are based in Florida, so she spends a lot of time riding on her own at her farm in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

“I can practice and work with the horses, and it helps inspire me to get better. When Ken and Emily tell me to work on something, it’s exciting to go to the show and show them I’ve improved it,” she said.

Waxman hopes that big things are ahead for Zoom.

“Right now I feel like he’s 50 percent of what he’s going to be. He has so much potential,” she said.

Now She’s Got It

Kaitlin Campbell scored the win in the Show Jumping Hall of Fame Junior Jumper Classic by just fractions of a second over Kimberly McCormack.

“I didn’t see Kimberly go, but I could hear people screaming,” Campbell said. “After the first fence, he landed well and I could turn really well. I left a stride out in one line and then left a little long to the last jump, but he picked his feet up.”

Campbell, 16, rode her Rocky W to the win, which was their biggest to date. “I really haven’t won anything on him,” she said. “I got him a year and a half ago. He was a little more than I could handle at that point. I was used to a horse that I had to gallop on all the time, and I couldn’t use much leg on him. But once I figured him out, we really clicked.”

Campbell is originally from Upper Black Eddy, Pa., but has moved to Kentucky to train with Tim and Kelly Goguen. She participates in a distance-learning program through the University of Nebraska and works for the Goguens to help pay her way.

In 2006, Campbell topped the pony jumper division at Devon on Magic BB, and she just moved up to the high juniors last year.


Devon Tidbits

•    Katherine Newman hopped on Castleton and took the large junior hunter, 16-17, tricolor. She showed the horse two years ago, but then Zack Parks bought him. “I hadn’t ridden him since, but they asked me to show him here,” Newman said. “I didn’t get to ride him before we got here. When I had him he was a bit green, but now he’s so grown up. He walked right into the ring and was so easy and fun. I forgot how much fun he is to ride.”

•    Jacqueline Lubrano earned the R.W. Mutch Equitation Championship with a win in a section of the Wash-ington International Equitation Classic, a second place in a section of the ASPCA Maclay and a third place in a section of the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search. It was a good birthday present for Lubrano, who turned 17 on the day she won.

•    Laura Ware, Long Beach, Calif., made her first Devon a memorable one, winning the Third Fox Hill Cup for the best handy hunter round of all four junior hunter divisions. She and Parker also took the large junior, 16-17, reserve championship. Ware, 17, also rode Parker to ribbons in the equitation classes.

“He’s really my equitation horse. We started doing him in the hunters to help train him and kind of kept doing it, and it’s worked out well. We got him two years ago from Europe when he’d just barely turned 5, so we’ve trained him ourselves,” said Ware, who works with her mother, Carolyn Biava, and Archie Cox.

Molly Sorge

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