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Saddle Seat Equitation

The art of equitation continues to be one of the healthiest aspects of the show horse world. Each year the parity is even more evident as riders from around the country challenge the traditional establishments for world and national titles.

“Equitation was harder for me to judge than the Saddle Horses,” said Ann Speck. “Some of those [equitation] classes didn’t separate themselves as much as the horses did and some of the riders you expected to make good shows didn’t have as good of rides as some of the lesser known kids. I think it was a very good division this year.”

Walk and Trot Equitation has grown from an introductory level division into all-out competitiveness with riders turned out to the hilt aboard big-time show horses which are doing their jobs safely. This is a credit to both the trainers and the instructors.

What a success story pert Lindsay Landrum has been. The daughter of famed Walking Horse trainer David Landrum and his wife Karla, Lindsey, who has a smile that could light up Freedom Hall, returned to Louisville to win the 7-year-old and under class for the second consecutive year. The DeLovely rider scored a unanimous decision. Landing two reserve votes Jessica Northcutt proudly rode out of Freedom Hall a reserve world’s champion. She is trained at Carowill Farm and her equitation was polished by the team at Cricket Hill Farm.

With nine riders on tap for the 8-Year-Old Walk and Trot class, Alexandra Waller turned in a world’s champion performance taking the Louisville blue back to the Shadow Run tack room. From a family of horsemen and women in North Carolina, Allie Wellington represented Drowning Creek Farm with the reserve world’s title.

Back in Saturday’s championship round for the 8 & under riders Lindsey Landrum delivered her second unanimous ride of the week to make a victory pass with a blanket of Louisville roses. A veteran horsewoman, even at this tender age, Lindsey then went into cheerleading mode to support stablemate Brittany McGinnis who was riding for the 9-10 championship a few classes later. Following that she jumped in the car with her parents and returned to Shelbyville, Tenn., to win a class at the Walking Horse National Celebration. Not a bad day’s work for a seven-year-old.

Rising to the occasion just like she did in the championship at Lexington Junior League, Callie Smith is a talent to behold as evidenced with her reserve world’s championship ride from Cryst-A-Kell Farm. She qualified with a third place ribbon. The remaining 8 & under championship ribbons went to Caroline Walker, a third place finisher in her qualifier, Alexandra Walker, Jessica Northcutt, Tyler DeVore, Max Kaplan, and Allie Wellington.

A ring of 12 rode for the 9-year-old world’s title and there were three very familiar faces at the top of the final card. DeLovely’s Brittany McGinnis graduated from last year’s 8 & Under World’s Grand Champion to ride as the unanimous winner of the 9-year-old class. Her stablemate Grace Mullins was there for the reserve world’s title, closely followed by Shelby Gregory. All three of these young ladies have enjoyed victory passes at major shows this year.

The 10-year-old competition was split with 10 riders in the first round and eight making it to the ring in the second split. Keeping the DeLovely lock on the division, Gabriella Flynn was the last rider to leave the ring with a blue ribbon flowing from the bridle of CF First Light Of Dawn. Newcomer Jacob Grieme showed the ladies how to ride with his reserve world’s champion performance under the direction of Lynda Freseth. Eleanor Watkins has stayed at the top all season and came away with third.

Division two of the 10-year-old riders belonged to Richlon Farm’s Kristen Meyers. This young lady just gets stronger every show and she put it all together on the green shavings. Bill and Nancy Becker greeted their multi-titled walk and trot star Amber Lynn Lowry as she rode from the ring with the reserve world’s title ahead of another sharp youngster, third place finisher Melissa Milligan.

Interest was high in the 9-10 Walk and Trot Championship as 16 riders had their sights on the tricolor and blanket of roses. There were lots of nervous parents and instructors as these calm and cool youngsters gave it their best shots. When it was over Brittany McGinnis received her second set of unanimous votes and rode out with her second world’s grand championship in as many years for DeLovely Farm. Giving DeLovely yet another title, Gabriella Flynn finished her dream week with a reserve world’s grand championship. The team of Amy Rives and Galahad’s Puppeteer has been right at the top every time they enter the ring and they left Louisville ‘02 with a third place finish in the championship round. Just getting started with Callaway’s Coraleen, Ashley Stine represented Fairfield South with a strong fourth place ride. Also taking great memories home were Grace Mullins, Amber Lynn Lowry, Jacob Grieme, and Ellen Medley Wright.

Looking at the junior walk, trot, and canter competition the numbers and the level of talent was very encouraging. The 10-year-old class which has usually suffered the greatest because of the walk and trot division, did have 12 entries this year. Nelson Gaker, a young man from Ohio who has been delivering winning rides all season, represented the Boggs’ Cape Cod Farm in the winner’s circle of this contest. Reserve world’s champion honors belonged to Colorado’s Gabriella Londono. Simpsonville, Ky., native Catie Ray Clark rode out with the yellow streamers.

A former walk and trot champion, Olivia Weber is no stranger to the winner’s circle in the walk, trot, and canter ranks either. She was this year’s 11-Year-Old Saddle Seat Equitation World’s Champion for Zubrod Stables. Under the direction of Michael Craghead, another former walk and trot star, Jared Hill was the reserve world’s champion representing California. An extremely versatile rider, Jessica Moctezuma was the third place finisher for North Wind Stables The older the age group the stronger the competition. There were several household names in the 12-year-old class and could they ride! Mounted with Callaway’s Will Gillen, Alexandra Flynn flowed from transition to transition on her way to the world title. With her equitation face on, multi-titled Kelsey Price scored the reserve title placing in front of the savvy Kyle Gagnon.

Lexington’s Junior Equitation Grand Champion Shana Jo Brown blew into Louisville and gave another commanding performance with a unanimous tie in the 13-year-old age group for trainer/instructor Tom Sworm. From Cardinal Farms, Amy Rives has been battle tested and she garnered reserve on this Tuesday morning. Shadow Run’s Jessica Keys was right there with a third place finish.

On Saturday morning the Junior Equitation Championship with 13 strong had Freedom Hall buzzing. It was a field of talented young men and women most with winning records throughout their short careers. Many of the top riders were well versed in the performance ranks as well so this was an equitation championship all about showing your horse.

Judges Speck, Matthews, and Effinger wanted to take a look at an additional six riders for the individual workouts and what a group it was. After Olivia Weber, Shana Jo Brown, Alexandra Flynn, Kyle Gagnon, Jessica Moctezuma and Katelan Elizabeth Crabtree performed individually on Louisville’s center stage it was time to announce the new Junior World’s Grand Champion.

Last year’s winner, Betty Cox, had graduated to the senior ranks, however, it was another DeLovely rider occupying the winner’s circle for 2002. Lillian Shively and Todd Miles greeted the newest grand champion, Alexandra Flynn, for the presentation picture and rose covered victory pass. Alexandra had won two of the three first place votes to claim the biggest win of her career to date. Under the direction of Tom Sworm, Shana Jo Brown received a great ovation for her ride as she received the reserve world’s grand champion ribbon. The remaining four from the workout placed in this order: Katelan Elizabeth Crabtree, Kyle Gagnon, Olivia Weber, and Jessica Moctezuma. Also taking home championship ribbons were Jared Hill and Jessica Keys, a great feat in itself considering the depth of this championship competition.

Nine juniors also competed for the 13 & Under Kentucky Riders Equitation class. With coach and mom Kris Price Knight on the rail, Kelsey Price proceeded to put on a riding demonstration that earned the top prize. She had strong competition from reserve champion Olivia Weber, a student of Bonnie Zubrod and Cindy Boel.

Kentucky Riders 14-17 featured 10 proven stars trying to sort it out. Dakota Willimon made the second victory pass of Saturday morning with another smooth ride under the Premier banner. Lucinda Hartley made every pass count as well to take reserve honors from Clearview Stables.

Making her first Louisville ride in the senior section, Betty Cox got off to a good start with a victory pass in the 14-year-old class. She defeated nine other challengers including reserve world’s champion Ashley Alden. Mandy Martin proved she was up to the challenge with a third place finish.

An equitation blue returned to Ohio and Cape Cop Farm as beautiful Sarah Taylor showed the winning form that had been with her most of the year. She was the 15-year-old world’s champion ahead of another young lady with a long list of wins behind her, Whitney Irwin. Jordan Leigh Underwood gave it a great shot to earn the yellow prize.

The 16-year-old division just couldn’t be any stronger. In first you had Lexington’s grand champion Dakota Willimon, followed by Devon Garone who has won Walk and Trot and Junior Equitation World’s Grand Championships. In third was former Junior UPHA Challenge Cup National Champion Tasha Rose Sandler.

Adding to the DeLovely total, Caroline Gillespie nailed down a blue ribbon performance among the (10) 17-year-old riders. It has been that kind of year for Gillespie who tied ahead of Lucinda Hartley and Melina Lukas in second and third. They represented Clearview Stables and Knollwood Farm.

The elite of the elite was one way to look at the 20-rider Senior Saddle Seat Equitation Championship which opened a refreshed Thursday evening session. This was a serious group of riders determined to get a leg up on the season ending Finals just around the corner and it remained close to the bitter end. Judges Speck, Matthews, and Effinger decided upon 10 riders to test their workout skills.

One by one they followed the given pattern trying to perfect each intricate part. When the cards had been tallied the votes were varied but it was Illinois resident Ashley Alden at the very top. Teamed with her miracle mare, Carboness, Ashley had defeated the best of the best and it took a minute for it to sink in with her instructor Donna Pettry-Smith. She had to be reminded to go in the ring and meet Ashley in the winner’s circle. What a wonderful moment it was for the entire Alden/Royal Scot team.

Reserve world’s grand champion honors went to the well decorated Dakota Willimon. Sarah and Rob Byers have had Dakota tuned to perfection this entire year. DeLovely’s Caroline Gillespie left the ring Top 3, followed by Tammy DeVore’s Lucinda Hartley in fourth. Representing Fairfield South with a fifth place finish was Devon Garone, while Tasha Rose Sandler brought the sixth place championship ribbon home to Shadow Run. DeLovely’s Betty Cox and Cape Cod’s Sarah Taylor earned the remaining two prizes.

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