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Lexington Junior League - Friday Morning

The Friday morning session of the Lexington Junior League Horse Show lasted for nine and a half hours. That includes the rain delay that left the USEF Adult Saddle Seat Medal National Finals riders back in the barn until the beginning of the evening session at the moved up start time of 5:30 PM.

First up on this short morning was the kids’ version of the USEF Saddle Seat Medal, though just a qualifier. Hunter Chancellor continued a stellar season aboard Chanti’s Prayer with a blue ribbon performance to start things off just a few hours after her double wins the night before. Brooke Boyer made trainer Kent Swalla proud in reserve with The Crowd Favorite. This young rider already qualified for the UPHA Challenge Cup Finals at Midwest last month.

The traditionally well-filled Pleasure Equitation division had just three in its 13-and-Under Championship. A Reserve National Champion Academy rider a year ago, Anna Leigh Amrein made a fantastic show today to take the tri-color by the unanimous choice of the judges. In her first victory pass out of the Academy ranks, Anna Leigh rode from the winner’s circle halfway down the straightaway directly out the gate! The crew outside got her course reversed and back into the ring for the well-earned round of honor. "Come back down here, honey!" called instructor Cindy Boel from halfway down the long track. Qualifier winner Brett Self was the Reserve Champion aboard Paradoc’s Korygami. Self rides with Stephanie Lilly in West Virginia.

Apparently there is some kind of alarm attached to class 100 (the 13-and-Under Pleasure Equitation Championship), because as it left the ring, the weather gods woke up and said, "Hey! This is Junior League! We almost slept through it!" They aren’t morning people, those weather gods, and they unleashed their frustrations on the UPHA Hackney Pleasure Driving Classic. It was one of those "wait a minute, why is it so dark all of a sudden?" moments that preceded an absolutely torrential downpour. Sandra Surber made her first drive a memorable one with Palisades Margarita. The undefeated young star splashed to the blue with trainer Rich Campbell joking around in the lineup with the other trainers. You could hear that big, cackling laugh over the rain even from the end of the ring. Linda Fischer drove Margarita to wins at Lawrenceburg and Midwest already this year. Kathy Capsuto-Walker was also making her first drive with Night Heiress, catch-driving for Mike and Jane Schallock. Rick Wallen braved the rain to head up his entry in reserve. It was a class none of those present will soon forget.

So as the expected rain delay was ready to set in, announcer Mark Farrar called for the Pleasure Equitation 14-17 Championship… Nobody could really see what was going on at that point, but apparently they decided the kids were already soaked to the bone out in the warmup ring, so they just brought them right on in! It was a dry cleaner’s delight in this one. Even the hat brims were basically melting on the few riders who didn’t have on their rain gear. Scott Matton called out encouragement to his charges in the class as he took in the beating from the storm by the out gate. "You love this! He looks great!" he called. "Don’t forget to smile!" That might have been the real kicker. The top four riders were "rewarded" with additional testing, as the pattern had to be performed. The other riders were excused from the ring back to the safety of the barns. The "lucky" young ladies who got the privilege of staying in the ring were Abigail Mutrux, Taylor Newton, Kristen Smith, and Caroline Moeller. The judges didn’t bother doing the reverse numerical order they had been doing all day and just let Kristin Smith lead things off. With the rail a running river and various ponds around the ring, it was a truly professional job done by all of these young riders just to keep their mounts on course. They left the ring once the last pattern was done, and the results were announced during the evening session. Abigail Mutrux was all smiles throughout the storm, and she put together a pinpoint pattern somehow with Blackboard. Trainer Mark Turner spent most of the class under the awning in the terrace box at the ingate end of the ring. Ever the picture of elegance in the saddle, Taylor Newton was the Reserve Champion with CH Recoup under the direction of Shelley Fisher. They were the qualifier Champions. Taylor was the 14-Year-Old World’s Champion and Senior Reserve World’s Champion of Champions in 2009.

The session was called after that point, and the grounds crew got to work trying to rescue the show ring. Between the time the Saddle Horse Report team bailed out of there at the end of the Pleasure Eq Championship to the time we returned for the USEF Adult Saddle Seat Medal National Finals, Scott Snider, Dewey Bass and their crew of miracle workers had waved their magic wands and basically put the entire surface of the show ring back together. Horses were moving well without a hint of slippage, and the only visible water in the ring was in a six-inch trench along the grandstand rail. It was an impressive job that had to take a Herculean effort. Job well done, gentlemen.

The final class of the "morning" session came to the ring with a solid nine entries to compete for the National Championship. An intricate pattern that was already scheduled to be done off the rail made a lot more sense once the actual rail was a bit dug up. Tying the class in reverse order, Sherrill Ducharme was called out first, followed by Karen Vick, Connie MacQueen, John Stutts, and Anna Hormann. With four riders remaining in the lineup, last year’s Reserve National Champion and the 2003 National Champion, Dr. Morgan Wolin, was called out for fourth with Schroeder. Third went to Jamie Weisbach, in her first year in the Adult ranks, having been a Pleasure Equitation star for Zubrod Stables for several years prior to aging out. Coming into this week, Jessica Moctezuma had never lost an Adult Equitation class in her two years since ending her junior exhibitor career as the UPHA Senior Challenge Cup Reserve National Champion. After finishing reserve in the USEF Adult Saddle Seat Medal qualifying class on Wednesday, she was a Reserve National Champion once again here in the late afternoon. The last one standing was National Champion Ali Judah. Showing Mollie Kregor’s normal Equitation mount, Lemon Shake Up WRF, Judah topped the field in her first week back in the Equitation ranks since 2007. She was the qualifier winner on Wednesday as well as the National Champion here tonight. Judah was the Senior Saddle Seat Equitation Reserve Champion here in 2007 before going on to famously capture the tri-color in Freedom Hall the following month.

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