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Parkland and Lillie Keenan Are An Unstoppable Force in Small Junior 16-17 Hunters

RELEASE: February 17, 2013
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Lillie Keenan and Parkland (Anne Gittins Photography)
Lillie Keenan and Parkland (Anne Gittins Photography)
Wellington, FL
- Parkland and Lillie Keenan continued their domination of the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division during week six of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival. The pair has taken home championship honors every week they have competed in the division, making this win their fourth tricolor victory.  Keenan and Parkland, an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Jennifer Gates, were a force to be reckoned with throughout the two days of competition for the division. They placed third and first over fences on day one and won both over fences rounds day two before wrapping up the division with a fourth place on the flat.

Reserve champion was Romance, ridden and owned by Spencer Smith. Smith and Romance were sixth over fences on day one and placed second in both over fences rounds day two. The pair edged out Keenan and Parkland under saddle, placing third in the final class of the division.

Romance and Smith were also honored with the Owner/Rider championship title for the division. The award recognizes riders in junior divisions competing on their own horses and is tallied separately from overall division championship awards. Reserve Owner/Rider champions were MTM U Call It and Cloe Hymowitz.

Keenan, of New York City, and Parkland began their partnership during week one of the FTI WEF, when the pair first took home the tricolor prize.  Since then, the two have proven that it wasn't just beginner's luck that earned them top honors.

"He's a really special horse. He's really fancy and it's nice to have [a horse] in the division that you can trust to do his part. He's a great mover and his strongest quality is how beautiful he is across the ground. His owner, Jennifer Gates, is so nice and comes to see him all the time, so it's nice to have a lot of support behind you with a horse as special as Parkland," Keenan stated.

"We've gotten closer as circuit has gone on," Keenan continued. "He's really part of the [Heritage Farm] family. When he first came, I'd never ridden him before he got to Florida but we've gotten to know each other very well. We can rely on each other in the ring."

Keenan attributes much of her success with Parkland to the gelding's incredible natural talent, but the bond the two shares is an undeniable factor.  "I know what he likes and I know what to expect. He's a very reliable horse. The style I ride is very similar to the way he wants to go. It's a lot easier to match up with a horse that goes the way you like to ride. We naturally have a connection and we've worked on it a lot," Keenan described.

"He's dead brave and he moves and jumps well, which is a great foundation to work from. I just have to hold him together and keep him in a solid rhythm. It's really just monitoring his pace and that's all it takes," Keenan continued.

Keenan and Parkland will aim to continue their winning streak over the remaining six weeks of the FTI WEF. Keenan is eager to return for week seven of the FTI WEF for the World Championship Hunter Rider Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular, hosted in the International Arena next week.

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