Saturday, May. 25, 2024

Waxman And Red Panda Are Grand At USEF Junior Hunter National Championships-East

After winning top honors in 2006, the Ohio teen returns for her second overall title.

Red Panda trotted off with the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships-East grand championship, held at HITS Saugerties, N.Y., Aug. 4-6, after a consistent performance in the handy hunter class that left him with a winning 87.63-point overall total.

Red Panda’s stellar performances gave rider Jennifer Waxman her second top honor in three years. She also won the overall tricolor in 2006 on Whitney Roper’s Sister Parrish.
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After winning top honors in 2006, the Ohio teen returns for her second overall title.

Red Panda trotted off with the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships-East grand championship, held at HITS Saugerties, N.Y., Aug. 4-6, after a consistent performance in the handy hunter class that left him with a winning 87.63-point overall total.

Red Panda’s stellar performances gave rider Jennifer Waxman her second top honor in three years. She also won the overall tricolor in 2006 on Whitney Roper’s Sister Parrish.

Waxman, 16, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, picked up the ride on Red Panda after she’d been showing her own junior hunter, Zoom, against the small gelding this year. Tom Wright trains the horse, who is owned by John Ingram of Nashville, Tenn.

“Jen rose to the occasion,” said trainer Emily Smith. “It was a new venue for Red Panda and that horse put its entire heart into it.” Red Panda won the classic and handy hunter phases and placed second under saddle.

Victory in the small junior hunter, 16-17, division at the championships didn’t come easily, though.

“I found the handy hunter very challenging,” said Waxman of course designer Jerry Dougherty’s design. “The ring is so big, and the jumps were pretty scary. Compared to the regular hunter [classes], this was definitely different. There was stuff those horses had never seen before.”

Waxman was 15th to go the handy and hoped to have a nice, consistent round.

“We played it safe and kept our trip pretty simple,” she explained, crediting Smith for keeping her focused.

The judges rewarded her steady ride with the top score in the class.

“I was the only person to break into the 90s in that round,” she said. “In jumping [in the handy hunters and the hunter classic], we were the only ones to get in the 90s all weekend. He got an 88 in the flat. He’s pretty simple there.”

Waxman admitted to some nervousness before her classic round, where riders jumped in reverse order of standings, making her the last to go. The small junior hunter division classic was the last class of the day.

Junior Hunter Championships Tidbits

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•    Katherine Newman, 17, Wellington, Fla., rode SBS Farm’s Double Diamond to victory in the USHJA Hunterdon Cup over 45 other riders. Newman took the lead in the first round, retained it during the handy, and then excelled when the top six riders switched horses.

•    The USEF Junior Hunter Championships Grant Fund winners included Scott Goodwin, Lucy Parrish, Bria McCurdy and Catherine Maher. The applicants submitted essays based on the question “How has riding influenced your life?” The essays were reviewed by a committee, and the winners were selected based on writing abilities, originality and spirit of the sport in response to the question.

•    Trainers Susie Schoellkopf, Diane Carney, Stacey Schaefer and Andre Dignelli were awarded the 2008 Junior Hunter Finals Trainer Award.

“That meant I had all day to think about it,” Waxman recalled. “I usually don’t get nervous, but I did because I didn’t want to mess up. Panda didn’t get nervous; in fact, he helped me out.

“We had a pretty good plan because we got to see every person go,” Waxman continued, referring to her preparation with Smith. “Emily told me to go for a nice, solid round and to not do anything crazy.”
 
Sometimes having too much of one thing is good, and one rider’s equine excess proved lucky for another at the junior hunter finals. Johanna Hyyppa, 17, picked up the ride and the reserve grand championship on Laura King-Kaplan’s North Country, taking the tricolor in the large junior, 16-17, division.

The rules allow a rider to show one small and one large junior hunter, so King-Kaplan had to choose just two of her horses and was able offer rides to her friends. King-Kaplan chose Heartfelt in the smalls and her Vida Blue in the larges.

“So I was able to do [King-Kaplan’s] Genuine in the smalls [finishing fourth overall in the 16-17-year-old division] and North Country in the larges,” said Hyyppa, of Portland, Conn.

Hyyppa didn’t sit on, let alone jump, North Country until five days before the finals. But she was able to show him in the junior hunter division at the HITS-On-The-Hudson V the weekend before the finals, where they earned top ribbons.

The week Hyyppa spent getting to know North Country was enough to propel them to the top of the division at the finals.

“We went into the [handy hunter] class, and he was just great. He was so nice and so sweet,” said Hyyppa, who has been a working student for trainer Andre Dignelli at his Heritage Farm in Katonah, N.Y., for the past 18 months. “We put in a really good round, and he jumped everything great. He just got a little excited at the trot jump and took it a little fast, but otherwise everything was perfect.”

By the time the classic rolled around, the pair was in sync. “We jumped everything so good. Our classic round couldn’t have been better,” said Hyyppa smiling.

Having conquered the challenges at junior hunter finals, Hyyppa will wrap up her show career after the fall equitation finals in November. She’ll start classes at the University of Vermont in January, where she plans to study chemistry.



A First Time For Everything

In her first year at the USEF Junior Hunter National Championships-East, Genevieve Zock, Scarsdale, N.Y., piloted her Caprice to the large junior, 15 and under, championship.

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Originally, Caprice and Zock’s Solleone were to be her equitation mounts, but trainer Val Renihan had the 14-year-old switch back and forth between the two, going into hunter classes to get them accustomed to the show atmosphere. Eventually, both horses proved to be so adept at the hunter classes that Zock now alternates them in the juniors.

“Val had me do a lot of exercises to prepare,” Zock said. “But the courses here were difficult. I just tried to find my pace and keep to it.”

Zock topped the division over Adrienne Sternlicht and Mimosa, who led the standings after the first day, and eventually took the reserve championship.

 Caprice also won the War Dress Memorial Trophy for the highest-scoring mare in the finals.



Schaefer Is One Better

After taking home the 2007 USEF Junior Hunter National Championships-East reserve title in the small junior, 15 and under, division on Keli Colby’s Sunset, Samantha Schaefer did herself one better this year, earning the division’s championship with Corvet Z.

Schaefer, 14, Westminster, Md., took over the ride on Corvet Z in the juniors in April.

“He was really solid and reliable for the turns in the handy class, so I could do the inside turns,” said Schaefer, who trains with Kim Stewart and works with her mother, Stacey Schaefer. “If I ride it right, he’ll come through.”

The natural obstacles in the handy class, built to resemble jumps found in the hunting field, didn’t faze Corvet Z, who is owned by Manhattan Mortgage Co.

“He’s pretty brave about those things,” said Samantha. “I turned inside to the water, and he cantered right by it.”

The pair went on to place seventh in the flat class, but the gelding turned in “an outstanding round in the classic,” Samantha noted, to take the tricolor in the division over Sirius Black and owner/rider Christina Gellos.

Nancy Degutis

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