Traverse City, Mich. – July 15, 2016 – It is no secret that weeks, and even years, of preparation can go into a junior rider’s winning equitation round. The situation was a little different for Summer Hill, however, as she and her catch ride, C’est Blue, had only been working together for a few weeks. Nonetheless, Hill proved her skills in the ring, ultimately earning the win in the USEF Platinum Performance Show Jumping Talent Search at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival.
Even with cooler temperatures and the drizzle of rain, Hill and her mount, C’est Blue, remained unfazed and tactful throughout their course. Hill only began riding C’est Blue at the Devon Horse Show, but their partnership is proving to be a winning match.
“I ride him for Ken and Emily Smith, so he’s kind of a new ride for me,” Hill explained. “It’s kind of different ride, he’s a big slow horse but he’s always taking you a lot. It’s really nice, everything kind of shows up really nicely on him and he’s a really good boy!”
Hill entered the ring with confidence as she piloted C’est Blue through a nice round, skillfully answering the questions that course designer, Nick Granat, had set for the competitors.
Riders started off the course with a bending line, followed by a two-stride line out of the corner that led to a skinny vertical. Riders then turned the corner to tackle an oxer that led into another two stride, and continued on to jump a water jump. Riders were then met with another bending line to a two stride, finishing over a widespread water jump down the centerline.
“It was a nice course,” Hill commented. “I like that the water is at the end because I’ve never done an open water on him so I wasn’t sure how he would be.” She laughed, “At least I got to get the course done before I jumped it, so it was nice! Everything rode well and came up really nicely out of the corners.”
Following the courses, the top six riders were called back for the flat to work off. The judge diligently tested riders as they were asked to show skills like sitting trot, counter canter, and lengthening of stride. It was Hill that stood out the most, earning the blue ribbon to best the field of riders.
“C’est Blue likes to get a little high headed, so I just kind of focused on keeping him low,” Hill said of her flat phase. “He was really good, he held the counter canter the whole time, which I was a little bit worried about, so I’m really happy with him!”
Second place finisher, Addison Piper, also had both a strong over fences and strong flat round. Piper was aboard her mount Even Keel, owned by Wolfstone Stables and Sales, Inc. Piper has been competing in the equitation divisions for three years, but this is only her mount’s first summer tackling the divisions.
“He’s only 7, this is his first summer doing the USET, so it’s kind of like a new experience for him,” Piper said of Even Keel. “I’ve kind of had a little bit of a second place streak in the USET, but I’ll take it! He’s been awesome.”
Piper had the chance to compete in the W.I.H.S. Equitation Jumper phase just before the Talent Search, and was able to ride the similar tracks and fences to prepare for the class.
“I thought it was good,” Piper said of Granat’s course. “It was pretty similar to the Washington Jumper Phase, a lot of the lines were the same. I thought it was fair. I liked that they finished on the water, overall it was pretty good!”
Piper has been traveling to Traverse City, Michigan to compete for three years, and really enjoys coming to the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. She said, “This is my third year coming here, and I love it! It’s just a good atmosphere, lots of things to do here. I love the jumper ring and my horses love the footing in the jumper ring. It’s just a fun horse show, everyone is so nice around here.”
Rounding out the top three in the USEF Platinum Performance Show Jumping Talent Search was Paige Matthies riding Whacumean, owned by Don Stewart and Lynn Pederson.
In the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (T.H.I.S) Children’s Medal 14 and under, Sophie Gochman aboard VIP Z took home the blue. Gochman piloted her mount VIP Z, owned by Scott Stewart, to a score of 85 and a winning work off round to earn the win. Second place in the division went to Morgan Colby on Sportsfield Finnegan, with Mia Wayne and Gentle R, owned by Kim Carey, rounding out the top three.
Competition at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival continues Saturday, July 16, beginning at 8 a.m. For more information, visit www.greatlakesequestrianfestival.com