Saturday, May. 25, 2024

Stellar Performances On Junior Weekend

It would have been hard to top Addison Phillips’ previous Devon experiences.  She’s been champion in the pony hunters, junior hunters, and junior jumpers.  She’s won in the equitation.  And she’s been named Best Child Rider on a Pony and on a Horse multiple times.  But this year, on May 25-27 in Devon, Pa., she did something that she’s not only never done before, but also that no-one’s done before in the 110-year history of the Devon Horse Show.  She retired the Best Child Rider on a Horse trophy, thanks to winning the title for the third year.  She also won in

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It would have been hard to top Addison Phillips’ previous Devon experiences.  She’s been champion in the pony hunters, junior hunters, and junior jumpers.  She’s won in the equitation.  And she’s been named Best Child Rider on a Pony and on a Horse multiple times.  But this year, on May 25-27 in Devon, Pa., she did something that she’s not only never done before, but also that no-one’s done before in the 110-year history of the Devon Horse Show.  She retired the Best Child Rider on a Horse trophy, thanks to winning the title for the third year.  She also won in 2003 and 2005.

Phillips, 16, claimed the large junior hunter, 16-17 championship on Who’s On First, and the reserve honors in the R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch equitation championship, and rode to junior jumper ribbons.  “It’s such an honor.  At every horse show, that’s the award that the riders want to win,” Phillips said of her best child rider award.  “It’s not based on points, or ribbons—the judges pick who they think deserves it.  There were so many riders here this week who could have won this—I could list 10 others who could have won,” she continued.

Phillips won’t get to rest too long on her laurels, however.  She’ll be back in the Dixon Oval on Monday, showing two first year green hunters, a few jumpers, and is entered in the $75,000 Grand Prix of Devon on her Treezebees. 

What Phillips didn’t win in the junior hunters, Jennifer Waxman picked up.  She guided Saloon to the grand and small junior, 15 & under championships, and High Cotton to the large junior, 15 & under tricolor.  She’s only been showing the two horses since the beginning of the year.  She leases Saloon from Whitney Roper, and catch-rides High Cotton for owner Christy Russo.

“Saloon [who was also grand junior champion in 2003 with Roper] loves it here at Devon.  He has so much fun in this ring,” Waxman, 14, said.  They won all three over-fences classes, and placed second in the hack, for the tricolors.  High Cotton had one blue and two yellow ribbons for his championship.  “He was jumping outrageously for me this weekend,” Waxman said.

No-one was more surprised to win a junior hunter title than Maggie McAlary.  After the first day of junior hunters showing—Friday—Don Stewart asked her to catch-ride a horse for him the next day.  So, McAlary hopped on Bold Venture on Saturday morning, schooled him a bit, then rode him to win the handy class, and take third in the stakes class.  Added to his second place in the under saddle the day before, and the performances were good enough for the large junior hunter, 16-17 championship.  The tricolor added to McAlary’s win in the R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Championship on Friday.  “I’m very happy that Maggie go to have her moment.  She’s a great rider, and she’s been very consistent, but she’s just missed having a big moment so far,” said Andre Dignelli, who trains her along with Patricia Griffith and Peggy Gehman at Heritage Farm.

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Winning at Devon is old hat for all those riders, but it’s a brand-new experience for Paige Dekko, who out-did herself by winning the grand and large pony championships, and the Best Child Rider on a Pony title.  The 15-year-old has ridden with Don Stewart and Bibby Farmer Hill for four years, but she only gets to ride at horse shows, since she lives four hours away from their farm in Ocala, Fla. 

Dekko’s only ride at Devon was Mokoo Jumbee—her large pony champion.  “I was kind of surprised to be best child rider, because kids who have multiple rides usually win it,” she said.  But the judges liked her performances in the division enough to reward her.  She and Mokoo Jumbee won the last class to clinch their tricolor, adding to a second and fourth earlier.  She also placed second in the large pony equitation class.

Reed Kessler started winning at Devon years ago—she took a blue in the leadline class.  This year, she kept the tradition alive, taking the championship and reserve in the small pony division with Cardiff Mardi Gras and Helicon Take Notice.  It was a bittersweet win, since it’s likely her last show with the ponies.  Helicon Take Notice has been sold, and it’s possible that Cardiff Mardi Gras will follow suit.  Kessler isn’t too worried, however, since she still has the ride on the large pony Orlando, on whom she won a class.

Kessler’s friend and fellow Heritage Farm-trainee, Lillie Keenan, took the medium pony championship on Enchanted Forest.  Her mother, Pam, showed at Devon in the ‘60s, and Keenan, 9, is thrilled to be following in her footsteps. 

Nothing much changes at Devon—it’s a horse show steeped in tradition and history.  But there are some new looks this year at the Dixon Oval.  The bluestone footing in the Dixon Oval has been replaced with a limestone and sand mixture that seems to be holding up quite well.  And the pony ring got shortened a bit—the end of the ring closest to the in-gate was fenced off, and bleachers added, so congestion at the pony ring in-gate was minimized.  With Junior Weekend concluded, action starts again on Monday, May 30, with the professional divisions.  Check in here for all the action!  A Devon wrap-up will be posted the night of June 3, with the Grand Prix, professional hunters, and amateur hunters and jumpers.

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