Keenan Surprises Herself In Harrisburg

Oct 12, 2013 - 2:13 PM

Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 12

Lillie Keenan wasn’t so happy with herself when she walked out of the ring after the last round of tonight’s Randolph College/USEF Individual Junior Jumper Championship on Londinium.

“I don’t think I rode well today,” said Keenan, New York City. “My horse was a total gem and saved me. For the first half of the course I was on my game, and I misjudged one of the lines. Luckily my horse has seen that before and knew how to take care of me. So I finished up with only one rail today. Today, it’s all my horse.”

Still, that rail didn’t keep Keenan down. She moved up from third place to the top of the leaderboard when everyone else struggled more than she did over Alan Wade’s tough course.

After yesterday’s team competition, the top six riders all sat within podium distance. When class leaders Licapo and Madeline Thatcher stopped out, Keenan moved into the lead,  leaving Michael Hughes (Luxina) and Gabriela Mershad (Skara Glen’s Basel) to jump off for silver.

“I’m not a speed rider at all,” said Mershad. “My trainer [Darragh Kenny] said ‘OK you know he’s going to be faster, so just for a clear round.’ ”

So Mershad followed instructions to a T, putting in a conservative clear. When she heard the crowd groan after Luxina ticked the second-to-last fence, she knew she’d clinched silver. It capped off a Zone 5 team gold from yesterday. 

“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” said Mershad, who raced off to catch a plane back to University of Colorado—Boulder after the class. “I came into the competition in fifth, and then I pulled a rail. I wasn’t expecting to get one medal, let alone two.”

Keenan’s biggest excitement didn’t come from her individual title, or her team silver she helped Zone 2 earn. She was most proud of winning the William C Steinkraus Style Award.

“Going into this weekend it was the one thing I desperately wanted,” said Keenan, 16. “It’s my favorite award and I really wanted to win it—obviously it’s a very special show and I wanted to win all the jumper classes. But that’s what I’m striving for: to truly represent the American style. To get that award was very satisfying.”

Want more Harrisburg? Stop by The Chronicle of the Horse’s official Pennsylvania National page, and catch up on all the junior hunter news here. There will be a full report from the Pennsylvania National in the Oct. 28 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. Check out the Pennsylvania National’s website for results. There’s also a live feed at


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