Harrisburg, Pa.—Oct. 12
The horses that topped the junior hunter divisions at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show are no strangers to winner’s presentations. A Million Reasons, Dedication, Small Affair and Boss have all picked up countless championships across the country with professionals and previous junior riders. While their riders—Emma Kurtz, Augusta Iwasaki and Stella Wasserman—all have armfuls of ribbons themselves, it doesn’t make riding their veteran mounts any easier.
“I get really nervous on him because he’s been champion here before,” Wasserman said of Boss, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Samba Hit II—Vulana D), who’s picked up championship after championship with John French over the years.
It’s Wasserman’s first trip to the Pennsylvania National since typically she can’t miss that much school, and she was thrilled with her championship in the small junior, 15 and under, division after picking up two wins over fences and top call in the hack.
“It was pretty amazing,” she said. “It’s been hard to be consistent this year, so it was just really fun, and it was really exciting.”
Kurtz had the luxury of two standout mounts in A Million Reasons and Dedication. While she’s been riding Dedication, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Casado—Dithmarschen) owned by Betsee Parker, since mid-2016, she only started riding A Million Reasons, a 13-year-old Holsteiner mare (Coriano—Inema) also owned by Parker, at the beginning of the year.
Both horses were consistent performers under Scott Stewart before Kurtz tacked “Matt” and “Millie” up for the wins in the large junior, 16-17, and the small junior, 16-17, respectively.
“I’m very lucky,” Kurtz said. “I’m so lucky to get to ride [Millie]. I was kind of in disbelief when [Parker] told me I got to ride her, so it’s like a dream come true.”
Iwasaki already had a pretty amazing track record with Small Affair, a 15-year-old Selle Français (Elf D’Or—Eva De Fontenay) owned by Lyn Pedersen, coming into this weekend. She took the large junior, 15 and under, championship with the gelding last year, and after so much success, she nearly didn’t come this year. But any fears she had of not turning in a good repeat performance were dispelled after she took home the championship once again.
“Even when it doesn’t go well, he’s still so much fun to ride,” she said. “Just getting to show him was enough of an accomplishment, but it was nice to come back and do it again.”
An Opportunity Of A Lifetime
Like the riders in the 3’6″ divisions, Emma Walters had the advantage (and added pressure) of riding an experienced mount in the low large junior hunter division. Crisp, a 12-year-old warmblood (Carinjo—Irina VIII) owned by Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center, was one of Hunt Tosh’s three joint winners of the inaugural Pre-Green Hunter Incentive Championships (Kentucky) in 2013, so he’s certainly used to atmosphere.
Unlike her 3’6″ counterparts though, the 17-year-old is a newcomer to the indoor scene. She’s a working student for SBS Farms and was shocked when her trainer Susie Schoellkopf told her she’d qualified to compete in Harrisburg. And in her first trip to the show she left with the tricolor aboard Crisp.
“It’s a little intimidating; everyone knows him and knows what he can do, but I’m really grateful that I get to show him,” she said. “He’s the first real horse I’ve gotten to show. This is my first year here. It’s been surreal; I didn’t really know what Harrisburg was until I qualified, then I realized what a big deal it was.”
Heading into the stake class for the low small junior hunters, Anneliese Kolaska had one goal: have fun.
After good rounds on the first day of competition, she finished things up with a win in the stake with Herr Drosselmeyer to take home the division championship.
“I started out yesterday with consistent placings and consistent rounds, and then today I was just like, ‘This is just for fun,’ and I had a great round,” she said. “I’m really proud of him. I’m super excited to be here; I never thought that I’d actually be able to win it.”
But she and her 10-year-old Oldenburg (Cevin Costner—Galalina) aren’t done quite yet. Herr Drosselmeyer doubles as her equitation horse, and they’ll compete in the Dover Saddlery/USEF Medal Final on Sunday.
The Chronicle will be on-site at the Pennsylvania National bringing you beautiful photos, interviews and more, so check back throughout the competition. Don’t forget to follow the Chronicle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Chronofhorse. We will have full analysis of the competition in the Nov. 5 issue of the magazine.