Washington, D.C.—Oct. 21
They’ve been fourth once and third twice, but somehow the $10,000 Washington International Horse Show Adult Amateur Hunter Championship title has always eluded Laurie Barna and Laguna—until this year.
Last to go in the second round, Barna secured the win with a mark of 81, winning over Contina (Jacquelyn Maggiore) and Knob Creek (Dana Nifosi).
“I’ve been coming to Washington with either hunters or jumpers for probably 10 years, and this is my first [time winning],” said Barna. “We were always a bridesmaid.”
Barna has had the ride on Laguna, a Holsteiner of unrecorded breeding, for five years.
“He’s our family heirloom,” said Barna. “He was my niece’s equitation horse. She went to college, and we couldn’t bear to sell him. I thought, ‘Well I’ll do hunters just for fun.’ It’s very sweet to have won it on him.
“He’s not meant for this,” she continued. “By no means is he built to compete with these horses; the most I can do is be consistent. No matter how it turns out at the end of the day, it’s such a fun time. Every time I’m in that ring it’s a blessing. You never know with horses. It’s so great to have this win on him.”
Laguna lives at High Brass Farm in Pittstown, N.J., with trainer Liz Perry-Merbler. Barna can only make the four-hour roundtrip journey from her home in Dallas, Pa., once a week thanks to her obligations as head of the accounting department of her family’s trucking, machine shop and excavation businesses.
“I’ve been with Liz since 2000, so it’s very sweet to win this with her because of our long relationship,” said Barna. “I started coming [to Washington] just a couple years after we started together. It’s been a long time.”
That works especially well because Laguna is 21 years old, so he doesn’t need an awful lot of schooling to stay show ready. He goes on the AquaPacer three days a week and enjoys plenty of turnout. Perry-Merbler keeps him legged up with light flatwork. Meanwhile Barna keeps her legs tight with plenty of working out and yoga.
“This is so sweet,” she said. “We’re actually probably semi-retiring him after this year, so this is probably our last go at it—I can’t believe we actually got it.”
Follow along with the Chronicle as we bring you all the news from Washington here. Full results from the competition are available here and you can watch a livestream of the entire competition for free here.
For a full report from the Washington International Horse Show, check out the Nov. 10 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.