Valentine Steals The Judges' Hearts At Harrisburg

Oct 18, 2013 - 7:17 AM

Harrisburg, Pa. – Oct. 18

Last fall, Valentine was competing at her first indoor show with Jaime Auletto at Capital Challenge (Md.) and things didn’t go as planned.

The now-7-year-old German-bred mare was still quite green, and Auletto realized it was still a little too soon for the challenge.

Fast forward a year, and the pair came to the Pennsylvania National Horse Show with more experience and confidence. They used that to their advantage to win the low amateur-owner, 18-35 championship and the grand low amateur-owner championship.

Auletto found Valentine two years ago in Germany with the help of her trainer, Emil Spadone.

“She wasn’t as ready as what I was thinking [when I got her],” said Auletto. “She had all the right components but she hadn’t shown. Stuff comes up every show that’s new and different still, so you don’t ever know how they’re going to handle it. I would say she was really comfortable here.”

The pair won both over-fences classes the first day of the division and placed second in the under saddle. On the second day, they finished 12th in the handy round, but rebounded for the stakes class, picking up second.

“I just wanted it to be nice and smooth and consistent,” said Auletto, Tabernacle, N.J. “We did the handy this morning and there were a lot of tight turns and she got a little lost in there so I just wanted to go back in and be smooth and confident for her. She was amazing here but ultimately, she’s still a young horse. It’s her first time here so I was really proud of her yesterday and didn’t want to take that for granted today.

“It’s very exciting,” she continued. “I love all of my horses and always think the world of them and I think they’re perfectly capable of [doing well,] but they’re green and I make mistakes so it’s nice when everything comes together. I’ve been coming to Harrisburg since I was a little kid and some years have been better than others, and it’s nice. I was actually never champion here before.”

Auletto, 32, keeps her horses at home on her family farm and cares for them herself. She works full-time for her father’s catering business, which allows her time to show.

“[My parents] help me a lot,” she said. “They got to come watch yesterday, but my dad had to go back to work today. They saw me win, so that was good! My mom has come to every show with me since I was little, when she used to drive me around. It makes me feel better because I work for my dad and when I have to go off to Lake Placid or Florida for a few weeks, they understand. But I try not to take advantage and feel too guilty.”

Winner Is The Victor

Last year’s grand low amateur-owner champions Daryl Portela and Winner returned to Harrisburg to take the championship title in the low amateur-owner, 36 and over division.

“I’ve had a great year,” said Portela. “I know him really well and I trust him. I’m very hard on myself. I like to win, I’m very competitive!”

Portela doesn’t show Winner, a 10-year-old warmblood by Haarlam, often, but when she does, she makes it count. The pair have won several low amateur-owner championships this year, including at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.).

Portela, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has had Winner for two years and trains with Jimmy Torano.

When she bought Winner, she had just returned to riding after a 10-year break to raise her two daughters. She’d shown as a junior and some as an adult and Winner was the perfect horse to get back into showing with.

“I sat on him one time and I loved him,” said Portela, 50. “I’ve spoiled him. He loves his treats. I don’t jump him a lot. When he’s at home, I hack him and hack him.”

Want more Harrisburg? Stop by The Chronicle of the Horse’s official Pennsylvania National page and catch up on all the news.

There will be a full report from the senior week of Pennsylvania National in the Nov. 4 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse. Check out the Pennsylvania National’s website for results. There’s also a live feed at




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