Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 21
Lee Kellogg Sadrian has been coming to the Pennsylvania National since she was a junior, and finally—at age 50—she got her fairytale show week. On Thursday, she rode Blink to the top of the 3’3” amateur-owner hunter, 36 and over, division and earned the grand 3’3” amateur-owner hunter title. She also piloted Rafiki to the top of the amateur-owner hunter division, 36 and over, division Thursday.
“I have amazing horses, and I cannot be more excited about this,” said Sadrian, Summit, New Jersey.
Sadrian almost didn’t come to Harrisburg. She was on the wait list and just found out while she was at Capital Challenge Horse Show (Maryland) two weeks ago that she’d gotten in, but her family responsibilities meant it would be tough to get away. She showed up the morning of her first class without even a practice day—and with a few butterflies in her stomach—but in her first class on Blink, a 9-year-old Dutch Sport Horse, she scored an 88 and was able to relax.
“My trainers [Jennifer and Rolf Bauersachs] work so hard; you’ve got to put your time in and hold up your end of the deal,” she said.
Sadrian paired up with Blink two and a half years ago. She said one of the keys to leading the jog with him is to keep him fit, and she credits Jennifer for making that happen.
“He’s amazing,” she said. “He’s probably the best jumping horse I’ve ever had. He wins the hacks and he’s really special. We were also lucky to be champion at Capital Challenge. This is our last show, then we’re going to move up to the 3’6”.”
Sadrian was feeling the pressure on Thursday, Day 2, with Rafiki, her 3’6” mount.
“Coming in today was really hard,” she said. “It was tight, points-wise. Yesterday, we were second and third, and Ellen [Toon] was first and second. Dorli [Burke] won the hack. I knew, with her being first and second and me being second and third, I had to win it—and I went first. I was like, ‘All right, I got it! I gotta do it!’ There was a little pressure. But I think I’m probably better with pressure, especially at indoors.
“He’s so special because you don’t have to find the perfect distance because he jumps up so well,” Sadrian said of the 11-year-old Hanoverian. “So if you can just get the right canter—which is not so easy—but if you could do that, it’s really simple.”
A Triple Win For Tropin
Kelly Tropin and Chablis set the bar high at the last edition of the Pennsylvania National, winning the championship in the amateur-owner hunter, 18-35, division with monster scores. But things got off to an inauspicious start this year when they ticked a rail at the final fence of the first course.
“I knew I couldn’t afford to make a mistake again,” said Tropin, New Canaan, Connecticut. “But I convinced myself that I like the pressure. I just tried to focus on him and riding the course and not think too much about the rail and how I had messed up already. I tried to focus jump by jump.”
That’s a strategy she learned from longtime friend Stephanie Danhakl, who advised Tropin that she handled her nerves by just worrying about one fence at a time. And it paid off, when Tropin and Chablis won the division title again and the grand amateur-owner hunter title to boot.
It’s the third time the 13-year-old Wurttemberger has had his name inscribed on the Wintarra Ring Perpetual Trophy, awarded to the top amateur-owner, 18-35, horse.
Tropin credited the gelding’s consistency over the years to his program with Peter Lutz and Mary Manfredi.
“He’s kind of a king, and he knows that,” said Tropin. “He gets turned out every day. I think from the time he was a baby maybe 10 people have ridden him in his entire life—maybe up to 15. But he’s been in a really consistent program his whole life. His regular groom who has taken care of him for the past six years or so, Israel Gomez, is not here, so we’re sending him photos back. He has to be with his family in Mexico. But Luis Jaramillo, who takes care of my other horses, was here and did a great job.
“I’m chief economist at a hedge fund, so it’s not convenient to be showing Wednesday and Thursday in the middle of the week,” she continued. “But I’ve got a really good team at work and really good people there who cover for me when I’m here and for all the time that I need to practice to get ready for these things. My trainers are creative with the scheduling. They don’t mind letting me come after work or letting me come really early in the morning.”
A Sweet Farewell
Martha Ingram and Airport 48 found the perfect way to celebrate their last show before the gelding retires: winning the 3’3” amateur-owner hunter, 18-35, championship.
“I hadn’t won a tricolor on him at indoors until this year at Capital Challenge Horse Show [where they were grand champion in the 3’3” amateur-owner hunters], so I wasn’t anything in 2019 on him here, champion- or reserve-wise. He’s a special horse, and he deserves to go out winning,” she said. “There have been a lot of emotions this week. I think I was even crying on my way from the airport to here. And I was like, ‘You’re a mess. What are you doing?’ But it’s all happy tears. We just love him dearly, and now he gets to go hang out at home with one of our foals that we bred this year.”
“Airport” is 18, and he’s been in the Ingram family since 2014. He originally was ridden by Ingram’s father, John Ingram, who graciously handed over the reins to his daughter in 2018. She’s ridden Airport in the equitation and the hunters.
“You’ve got to get his mouth a little bit and push his hind end up under him a little bit, but once you get him in that frame you, can kind of just coast around and ride him like an equitation horse,” said Martha, 24. “His handies are his specialties, and those are really fun on him. He’s like a slinky: You can really collect, go forward, whatever, and he makes it look so seamless.”
Martha, Nashville, Tennessee, squeezes in riding around her job doing community relations for her family’s Ingram Industries.
“We have great staff and trainers and everything. Between Tom Wright, Torrey Hardison, Jared DePementier and all of our guys, we have honestly the best group,” said Martha. “I’m very lucky, very very lucky.”
See full results here. Want more Pennsylvania National? The Chronicle will be on the scene through grand prix night bringing you photos and stories. Plus see more analysis from the Pennsylvania National in the Nov. 8 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.