Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

Legendary Lyle Makes It Three In A Row

When Don Stewart says he’s never seen Lyle go better than he did at this year’s Pennsylvania National Horse Show, he knows what he’s talking about. After all, under Stewart’s decade-long tutelage, the horse has won just about every accolade that can be bestowed on a hunter—including junior hunter titles the last two years in Harrisburg, Pa.

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When Don Stewart says he’s never seen Lyle go better than he did at this year’s Pennsylvania National Horse Show, he knows what he’s talking about. After all, under Stewart’s decade-long tutelage, the horse has won just about every accolade that can be bestowed on a hunter—including junior hunter titles the last two years in Harrisburg, Pa.

Under the careful riding of Abby O’Mara, the Chronicle of the Horse’s 2008 show hunter horse of the year took this year’s small junior hunter, 16-17, title today, Oct. 9, and earned enough points to be awarded the grand junior title tomorrow.

“He’s been awesome—the two of them are a perfect match,” said Stewart. “He looks relaxed and confident. He lives on his owner, Stephanie Keen’s, farm, and she’s done a wonderful job with him. I can’t complain about anything she’s done, and I’m a pretty good complainer!”

When 17-year-old O’Mara took over the ride on the flea-bitten gray in January, she knew she would have a lot to live up to.

“He’s so famous! Some person I’d never met before came up and gave him a big hug the other day while I was on him, which was pretty funny,” she said. “But it’s not too stressful. My trainer, Mary Babbick, always says to me before I go in the ring, ‘Just go have fun.’ ”

Lyle won yesterday’s over fences and handy round, and took second over fences today to finish atop the division with 26 points. He just edged out Old Oak Farm’s Red Rooster, but Alex Arute guided that horse to blue in today’s winners’ stakes as consolation.

Second in the stakes went to the champion in the large junior hunter, 16-17, division, Vida Blue, a new ride for Jen Waxman. When Leah DeMartini started leasing the horse from Laura King, she had already been entered at Harrisburg in the older age division, and the rules don’t allow DeMartini, 15, to swap him into the other section.

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But Waxman was only too happy to fill in aboard the lovely gray mare.

“She’s just unbelievable,” said Waxman. “Some horses are just winners, and she’s one of them. She didn’t touch a fence all week. I couldn’t be more grateful to Leah, Susie Humes and my trainers Ken and Emily Smith for letting me ride him and helping me wth him.

At 18, this year mark’s Waxman’s last at Indoors as a junior, which made her win on Vida Blue extra sweet. Reserve honors went to Stone Hill Farm’s Tiziano and Jessica Springsteen.

Samantha Schaefer picked up a pair of tricolors in the large junior hunter, 15 and under, division. K&S Show Stables’ Garfield clinched the championship after picking up blue today, and Mariana Wade Bishop’s Bishonen earned reserve.

Garfield, a first year horse, marched around the spooky arena in his first Indoors appearance like a seasoned professional, which Schaefer explained was par for the course with the chestnut.

“Kim Stewart picked him out in Europe when he was 3, and he’s been like this right from the start,” said Schaefer. “She’s a good picker! She broke him and did all the work with him. She did a great job, he’s wonderful to ride. He’s green, but he’s smart green.

Schaefer, 15, said she lucked into the ride aboard Bishonen, who usually spends time in the amateur-owner hunter ring, and dabbled in the junior ring with her this season.

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Victoria Colvin rode Scott Stewart’s World Time to the top of the small junior hunter, 15 and under, division. The bay came to Harrisburg on the heels of a big win at Capital Challenge (Md.), where Scott Stewart rode him to the top of the $15,000 World Champion Hunter Rider Professional Challenge.

This marks Colvin’s first year at Indoors on horses, though the 12-year-old has made several trips here aboard smaller mounts. She and World Time clinched the title with a blue ribbon over fences today.

“My mom says I’m better with more sleep, but I think I ride better with less,” she said with a laugh. “He was absolutely perfect.”

Colvin edged out Fern Gully, owned by Meg O’Mara who rides the horse normally, and ridden to the reserve title by Taylor Ann Adams.

Looking Ahead

Pony hunters kicked off today with a conformation class and a handy hunter trip, and they will wrap up tomorrow morning. This evening junior jumpers will take over the arena with the USEF Junior Jumper Prix De States.

Find out how all the hunters fared with full results here, and check out the jumper results here.

 

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