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Amanda Thomas Takes to the Top For Opening Day of Equifest I Professional Hunter Divisions

RELEASE: July 25, 2013
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Ashley N. Williams for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Amanda Thomas and Bonfire swept the Pre-Green 3'3" Hunter division over fences for the first day of Equifest (Ashley N. Williams/Phelps Media Group)
Amanda Thomas and Bonfire swept the Pre-Green 3'3" Hunter division over fences for the first day of Equifest (Ashley N. Williams/Phelps Media Group)
Wayne, IL
- The Lamplight Equestrian Center grounds were immaculate as exhibitors gathered for Equifest I. Blue skies and a light breeze welcomed riders to the hunter ring as they took on the first day of courses. Of the competitors, Amanda Thomas rode four horses to the top of the rankings. Aboard Kapalua in the Performance 3'6" Hunter division, Thomas swept the two rounds over fences, as well as piloting Beyond Time and Catani to the top honors in the First Year Green Hunters. Her success continued into the afternoon when she guided Bonfire to the Pre-Green 3'3" Hunter victories over fences.

The course was designed by Allen Rheinheimer, with fences skillfully placed among the newly installed GGT Footing. The course was arranged in the classic hunt field style where in-and-outs and diagonals were all connected by wide left and right turns at the top and gate side of the ring. Natural woods and painted green-and-white, as well as red-and-white oxers paralleled the ring fences and populated the inner lines while riders jumped a total of eight obstacles to complete the course.

The first division of the day, the Performance 3'6" Hunters, saw Amanda Thomas compete several top mounts against her fellow contenders. Thomas rode Kapalua, owned by Hadley Graham of Chesterfield, MO, and Beyond Time, owned by Samantha Hall of O Fallon, MO, in a battle of the best during today's Performance 3'6" Hunters. It was Kapalua who caught the judges' attention, placing first in both rounds to sweep the over fences. Last Wish, ridden by Amy Farmer and owned by Madision Edwards, took second during the first round, while Beyond Time fell short and took second behind Kapalua during the second round over fences.

"He went amazing today," shared Thomas. "I was so pleased. He was unsure about the footing yesterday, so I was a little nervous how he would do, but he went very nicely and I was so pleased with him."

Thomas continued affectionately, "He is a fantastic horse. He was champion at Harrisburg in 2008-in the Greens-and he's a wonderful horse. He is so sweet in the barn. Honestly, he's my pet."

In the First Year Green Hunter division, rider Amanda Thomas brought two horses to showcase their talents. Beyond Time reemerged from the earlier Performance 3'6" Hunter division, eager to earn his rank. They took first place in the first over fences with a picturesque round, while Thomas' other horse, Catani, owned by Samantha Mccarty of Zionville, IN, took the first place position in the consecutive class, perpetuating Thomas' supreme skills as a rider. Erin Mccabe and Golddigger, owned by Elizabeth Miller of Union MO, held strong throughout the rounds to earn a pair of third place ribbons.

"Beyond Time is a First Year horse with his junior owner, Samantha Hall. He just turned 7 years old, and he is a puppy dog of a pony," Trainer Meghan Trilling informed. "She [Samantha] just moved up from the Large Ponies to him, and they are a great match. He is quiet, safe, easy, and just a sweet horse. He walked off the trailer yesterday and went first and fourth in the Performance Warm-Up, and was first and second today. He doesn't look at the jumps, he's just quiet and a good boy."

In the Pre-Green 3'3" Hunter division, Erin Mccabe proved to be a worthy adversary, placing first in the division's under saddle upon Remy Martin, owned by Nancy Gordon of Ocala, FL. It was Amanda Thomas's outstanding horse Bonfire though, that rose to the top of the leader board with high marks in the over fences to take home the blues. Bonfire is owned by Helen Gilbert of Saint Louis, MO. Sarah Robertson and Denmark took the second and fourth place finishes over fences, while also earning the third place in the under saddle.

"I love this horse show, it's beautiful. The grounds are beautiful, and the footing and course rode great," Explained Thomas. "His [Bonfire] right to left change is a bit hard, but he landed correctly after the first jump and did the change perfectly, so I was so pleased with that. It's his last real thing to figure out, so he rode beautifully. I just looped the reins and put him in a rubber snaffle and he responded well."

Among the other divisions of the day, in Performance 3'3" Hunters, Amanda Thomas rode Confidential, owned by Susan Koedding of Saint Louis, MO, to the blue ribbon in the first of over fences class. Owner and rider, Jill Worman of West Bend, WI, rode Random Harvest to the top award in the second class over fences. Molly Mcadow guided Kenyan, owned by Nina Donnelly of Evanston, IL, to high ranks among the division's rounds, nabbing the second and third place ribbons.

In the Pre-Green 3' Hunters Molly Mcadow returned aboard Barina, owned by Donnelly, and rode to the first and the third place ribbons over fences. Shema with Lynda Zema in the irons capturing the second place over fences today. Shema is owned by Andrea Ferguson, and the hardworking pair of Zema and Shema are sure to return tomorrow with their eyes on the championship.

Equifest I at the Lamplight Equestrian Center started with nothing less than the perfect conditions today, but more is in store for the rest of the week as the hunter action continues. Tomorrow the divisions with wrap up with the championship titles in the Professional Hunter divisions, and riders will be looking forward to the approaching hunter classics, as well as the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby this Friday and Saturday.

To find out more about Lamplight Equestrian Center, go to:  http://lamplightequestriancenter.com/.

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