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Grand Champions Reign in Old Salem Hunter Divisions

RELEASE: May 13, 2013
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Lillie Keenan and Parkland (The Book LLC)
Lillie Keenan and Parkland (The Book LLC)
North Salem, NY
- The Grand Junior Hunter Champion was Parkland, owned by Jennifer Gates and ridden by Lillie Keenan. The pair was champion in the Small Junior Hunters and placed fifth, second, and second over fences and won the under saddle. The reserve champion in the Small Junior Hunter division was Wonderland, ridden by Morgan Ward for John Skinner. Keenan was also named Best Junior Rider on a Horse.

Keenan has been paired with Parkland since the beginning of January and they had incredible success at the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Keenan said, “After WEF, where he was really successful consistently, we gave him a little break. He went to South Carolina and had a nice vacation for a few weeks, just to get time away from a show. I think it's good for them to get away and relax. This was his first show starting up again in the spring. He was fantastic. We did what we always do. He's not a difficult horse to prepare, and he wants to win.”

One of their wins this week was in the Handy class. Keenen called Parkland “really game” and said that he has learned to be more handy and adjusted to her style. “I like to do tight turns and really gallop at the long approaches, to really test the boundaries,” she explained. “He's gotten used to me and the way that I like to ride him. He's really learned to go with it. He's happy to do whatever I ask him. He's really good at trot fences too, so it's nice to have a horse that you can really spin back to that. He's gotten really handy.”

Keenan plans to show Parkland at the Devon Horse Show. “He is really the kind of horse that you can count on for special events, so hopefully that works out for us. He's fancy, and everything you'd want in your ride to go to Devon,” she remarked.

The Large Junior 15 & Under Hunter division awarded the championship to Catwoman, ridden by Ailish Cunniffe for Missy Clark, and Sophie Michaels and Further Lane Farm's Mahalo picked up the reserve championship.

Bishonen, ridden by David Oberkircher for Southlands Farms LLC was named champion in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters, while Cameo, ridden by Mallory Edens for Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Caristo, was the reserve champion.

The Grand Pony Hunter Championship went to Isport, ridden by Morgan Ward for Redfield Farm. They won all four over fences classes and were third in the under saddle to win the championship in the Green Pony Hunters. The reserve champion in the division was Pride, ridden and owned by Francesca Dildabanian.

Fifteen-year-old Ward is from Milford, NJ, and started riding Isport this winter when they started the 11-year-old mare in Ocala. Competing in both the Green and Large Pony Hunters, Ward described, “She goes like one of my junior hunters. She's very scopey and has a big stride. She's always honest, with whatever you put her at.”

Imported from Europe by Emil Spadone, Isport had not competed in hunter classes before coming to the U.S., but she learned immediately. “She started out like this and she's never changed. It's really weird. We never get (horses like) these!” Ward said with a laugh.

Of the grand championship, Ward said, “It's nice to have. It means a lot to me, especially on a green pony. It's nice to have that from schooling her all week and it's proven in the ring.”

The Small Pony Hunter division, sponsored by Gotham North, awarded the championship to Rolling Stone, owned by Further Lane Farm and ridden by Madeline Schaefer, while the reserve champion was Coco Fath and Blueberry Hill, owned by Jordyn Rose Freedman.

Mimi Gochman swept the Medium Pony Hunters with David Gochman's True Love as champion and Truly Noble, owned by Pegasus Show Stable Inc., as reserve champion. For her great success this weekend, Gochman was named as the Best Junior Rider on a Pony.

In the Large Pony Hunter division, Pride and Francesca Dildabanian picked up their second championship of the week. Daisy Farish and her pony Beau Rivage were reserve champions.

The Grand Children's Hunter Champion was They Say, ridden and owned by 16-year-old Page Soper of Southport, CT. They were awarded the Hunter Horse Challenge Trophy. The pair was the Children's Hunter 15-17 champion. The reserve championship went to Qrocus Landais, ridden and owned by Sabrina Kalimian.

Soper and They Say won all three classes in their division along with the Marshall & Sterling Children's Hunter Classic. Coming into the second round, they were leading the class. “I was a little nervous, but I knew I could trust him,” Soper said.

They have been together for a year and have competed at shows like Fairfield, Vermont Summer Festival, and Old Salem. This was their first Grand Champion award. “I'm really happy. He was so good. My trainer, Jenni Martin-Rudaz, was so helpful. He's smooth and listens well,” she noted. Soper hopes to go to the Marshall & Sterling Finals later this year.

The Children's Hunter 14 & Under championship went to Allura, ridden and owned by Samantha Cohen. For her top riding, Cohen was named Best Child Rider on a Horse. Reserve champion was Troubador, ridden and owned by Daisy Farish.

The Best Child Rider on a Pony Award went to Eliza Altman, who was champion in the Children's Hunter Pony Large division.  They were given a plate donated by Pegasus Therapeutic Riding. The reserve champion was Celtics Creek Irish Belle, ridden by Siena Vasan for Peacock Ridge LLC. In the Children's Hunter Pony Small/Medium division, Beaucatcher, ridden by Sienna Pilla for owner Abigail Blankenship, won the championship and Canterbrook Prince Charming, ridden by Kathryn McCarthy and owned by Joe Currais, was reserve champion.