Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 18
While most of the champions at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show filled out their coolers well, Jordan looked like he was a kid wearing his older sibling’s clothes. The 9-year-old Selle Francais (Tsunami De Hus—Paname De Varnel) is small in stature—just 15.1–but he’s big where it counts: his step and his jump.
With three blue ribbons, a third and second in the model, the gelding won not only the green conformation hunter championship, but also the grand hunter and grand green hunter titles in Harrisburg with Scott Stewart up. Stewart also was named the leading hunter rider after riding Whimsical to to the reserve championship in the same division and Nottingham to reserve in the 3’9″ green hunters.
“It means a lot, because we work all year long to come here and compete against the best riders and horses,” said Stewart.
Amanda Steege developed Jordan beginning in early 2021, competing in the 3’3″ then 3’6″ greens while Margot Peroni showed him in the amateur-owner hunter divisions. Sophie Gochman purchased him at the end of this summer and will eventually show him in the amateur-owners herself.
Stewart’s first show with the gelding was at the Hampton Classic (New York) where they were champion in the 3’6″ greens and green conformation. Their only other show was Capital Challenge (Maryland) before heading to Harrisburg.
“He’s a little bit on the smaller side, but he’s very comfortable,” Stewart said. “He’s really sweet and he tries to do the right thing. Sometimes he tries a little too hard. But here, especially today he was really relaxed and comfortable.”
The Easy “Yes”
It took Nick Haness no time at all to agree to ride to ride Estimated Prophet for owner Djuna Lauder and trainers Carleton and Traci Brooks.
“I saw one look at that horse’s face and said, ‘I’m thrilled to ride him of course,’ ” said Haness. “I knew he had a great career before this with Evan Coluccio [before she purchased him]. He had done some international derbies very successfully, so I’d always kind of seen some pictures of this horse and been a fan of this horse before I even got to ride him, so it’s a real honor for me to be given the reins this week at Harrisburg.”
Haness just started showing the 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Cornet Obolensky—Gerona PP) two weeks prior at Capital Challenge, where they earned good ribbons. But at Harrisburg they bettered their performance by winning the 3’9″ green handy and earning a pair of seconds over fences to take the division championship over Stewart and Nottingham. They also took reserve champion in the high performance conformation division without hacking in either under saddle class.
“We were hoping we were going to stay champion,” said Haness. “It was very close; it was sort of a close switch off [between us and Nottingham], but he has a lot of things coming up ahead of him, and we didn’t feel like pulling his shoes and going for the hack. He’s not really a top mover anyway, so we didn’t want to risk his overall feeling leaving the show, and we were actually really happy the way it all turned out.”
Haness had a busy schedule this week with horses in every professional division, but he described “Lolly” as having an amazing feel.
“You sit on him and you feel expensive when you ride him,” he said. “He has a beautiful mouth, a great gallop, and then he just gets to the jumps and he’s so correct, and he’s brave, but he has all this power behind him. … You just have to smile when you ride this horse. He just has a feeling that no matter if it’s good or it’s bad or in between, you always feel happy when you walk out of the ring, and you want to pet him because he puts a lot of effort into his performances all the time. But he’s so pretty to ride. He’s a really exceptional horse.”
Born In The USA
Mr. Manhattan has plenty of attributes that make up all top hunters—he’s careful, scopey, brave and very consistent. But there’s one way he stands out from his competition: He was bred in the United States by Emil Spadone of Redfield Farm.
“In a land of imported horses, it’s pretty neat to have a U.S.-bred here that can shine like this also,” said Daniel Geitner, who rides him.
The pair earned three second-placed ribbons to take the championship in the 3’6” green division ahead of Jennifer Bauersachs and Alistaire.
“He was great, really consistent,” said Geitner. “Second and second yesterday. Had a really unfortunate rail today, but it was too bad. It was probably his best class other than that.”
Geitner shows the 8-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Maximus—Phillipa) for owner Martin Schlaeppi and meets up with the gelding at shows. John Barker trainers the gelding on a day-to-day basis.
“They do all the work. I get the glory,” Geitner said. “I just get to hop on and go horse show. Johnny does all the prep in the morning. Johnny pulled the shoes for the hack, and he’s going to go back now and tack the shoes back on. They’re a fun group of guys to be with.”
Geitner has ridden the gelding since 2020 and said he’s grown up over the years.
“He’s let me ride him,” he said. “Before we just kind of herded him around the course a little. Now he’s grown up, and I can keep his attention on me and on the ring instead of the outside influences.”
Cannon Creek Does It Again
Given Hunt Tosh’s propensity for superstitions and good luck charms, he should’ve felt pretty good heading into the Pennsylvania National with Cannon Creek. They repeated their Platinum Performance USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship (Kentucky) win in August, and they had an eerily similar performance at Capital Challenge.
“Once again, same mistake I did last year,” he said. “I didn’t do anything with him after Derby Finals, but with the weather last week he was a nickel fresh at Capital Challenge. He was a little rusty. I made a couple mistakes. But obviously I came here the next week, and he made up for it. It was the exact same scenario as last year: I came to Capital Challenge unprepared. I did it again this year, but here we are.”
It’s a scenario that seems to work well for “Cannon,” as the Wheeler family’s 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cancara—Tiffany S) earned two first- and two second-place ribbons to take home the high performance hunter championship for the second consecutive year over John French and Milagro.
“He won both classes yesterday,” said Tosh. “Today he had a little rub. I’ll take full blame for that. I didn’t want to get carried away. The oxer before the last line, he was a little quiet today, but that was probably also my fault. I was nervous and got him out one more time, so that was probably too much.
“Every time you interview me [I’ll say] he’s such a wonderful horse. Every time we ask him to be phenomenal, he is. He came here last year and was spectacular. He did it again this year. He’s a superstar.”
Can Can Snags A Tricolor
While Can Can started his career in the jumper ring, one thing held him back: his jump.
“A friend of ours in Florida had had him as a jumper, but honestly he just jumped too high as a jumper, so he wasn’t that fast,” said rider Chris Payne.
But the 12-year-old Italian Warmblood gelding (Cascari—Carebella Della Caccia) owned by Stephanie Ring found a home in the hunter ring. He won three classes and was fourth and fifth in the others to take the high performance conformation championship over Haness and Estimated Prophet.
“He’s a funny little horse,” said Payne. “He has so much personality and charisma, and he doesn’t have a lot of mileage doing this. He’s only done a handful of shows and never anything indoors as a hunter. The worst thing he ever does is he really over-tries sometimes. He takes some of the oxers a little serious and would have a light rub. He likes to get up high and over jump.”
Find 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. 7 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.