Meet Your 2022 Pennsylvania National Junior Hunter Champions
By: Anabel Barnett and Mollie Bailey
Presented by B&D Builders and Blackwood Equestrian Stalls
Eight 2022 Pennsylvania National coolers have found new homes as this years junior hunter champions were crowned today at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex. The winners include a working student, a double champion and a horse who started the season in the jumpers.
The Surprise Hunter: Isabelle Ehman And San Pedro 15
San Pedro 15 was never supposed to be a hunter. Isabelle Ehmans trainer Don Stewart spotted him showing in the jumpers at the World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida, this winter and thought he would be a great jumper partner for Ehman. And while they indeed started out over striped rails, Stewart quickly realized the horse was too beautiful across the ground and over the jumps to stay in the jumper ring.
Swapping to the other side of the showgrounds, the horse excelled in both equitation and hunters. Ehman and Pedro competed together at Devon (Pennsylvania) in the equitation then swapped to the hunter ring full time after that. And that switch proved fortuitous at this years Pennsylvania National, when he and Ehman claimed the large junior hunter, 15 and under, title ahead of reserve champions Kat Fuqua and Grand Remo, and the grand junior hunter championship.
Before I go in the ring [Stewart] always says, Big smile, star, said Ehman. He tells me to stay calm, to not rush through the turns because [Pedros] strides so big so I can just sit there and he will get there.
Ehman and Pedro earned 28 points across their division to take the title. It was the horses second time in an indoor arena in the United States, having shown atCapital Challengebefore coming to Harrisburg.
He can do it all, said Ehman, 16. Hes an amazing horse. Hes so smooth. Nothing about him changes, hes always so soft to ride. Hes one of the comfiest horses Ive ever ridden. He stays the same, and hes never nervous, and he never holds his breath. Hes just a very calm horse, which really helps when you have to go in and do something challenging. You know he always has your back.
Ehman, of Milton, Georgia, said the 8-year-old Hanoverian started getting really consistent in the hunter ring in June, with Jacob Pope riding him to two derby wins in Traverse City, Michigan, over the summer.
His jumper background helps because hes got so much scope to him, so I can allow a nice long canter and I know that he will make a good jump out of it, said Ehman, who also picked up the reserve Best Junior Rider on a Horse honors and the sportsmanship award. Hes able to jump from anywhere, and hes able to cover anything up.
To prepare for the fall indoor circuit Ehman said she practiced tough courses with Pedro to get him ready for whatever he might see here.
We did courses with tarps and spooky jumps, and hes super at them, obviously, because he doesnt bat an eye anywhere, she said. We dont tweak a lot with him because hes already so good. We just take him out, jump him around and make sure he stays fit.
Double Trouble: Augusta Iwasaki, Bond And Montauk
Hot off her championship win at the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search FinalsEast, Augusta Iwasaki, 18, was not to be trifled with at the Pennsylvania National this week, clinching both 36 junior hunter championships, 16-17, on two catch-rides: Bond, the small junior hunter owned by Shadowfax Equine LLC, and Montauk, the large junior hunter owned by Libbie Gordon.
The Calabasas, California, native only sat on her two junior hunter mounts this week. I did one day of the junior hunters on Bond in Kentucky over the summer, but I havent ridden him since. I rode him Wednesday afternoon, and then we started showing.
Iwasaki got the ride on Montauk, the large junior champion, from her friend, Libbie Gordon.
Libbie has been doing the amateur-owners on him, but he has a lot of junior hunter points from this year. She asked me if I could do it, and of course I said yes, Iwasaki said. This week was my first time riding him.
Iwasaki rode Montauk to the large 36 junior hunter 16-17 championship as a favor to her friend and Montauks owner, Libbie Gordon.
One point of consistency between these two rides: Iwasaki likes how both jump.
[Bonds] canter is perfect to find jumps from. His jump is so round and beautiful. Geoffrey [Hesslink] and Brendan [Williams] told me to just stay straighthe jumps his best when hes straight. His jump becomes so high and beautiful.
Because shes good friends with Montauks owner, Iwasaki has watched him jump quite a bit.
Ive always wanted to know what his jump felt like, she said. Hes so athletic and comfortable, hes really just fun to ride.
Though Iwasaki has catch-ridden all her life, her training with Ken and Emily Smith at Ashland Farms in Lexington, Kentucky, has helped hone her skills.
Ive been riding with them for six years, she said. We work on tracks a lot at home, as well as my position. Sometimes I focus a lot on my tracks and distances, so they remind me about my position. Theyre amazing to work with, and I feel like Ive learned so much.
Iwasaki brought that learning to Pennsylvania, where her dual-championships earned her Best Junior Rider on a Horse.
[Harrisburg] is the culmination of what youve worked on all year, she said. Its my last Harrisburg as a junior, so Im just trying to make the most of it.
Moving On Up: Clara Propp And Inquisitive
After sweeping the 33 junior hunter division last year on her mare Arabesque, 15- year-old Clara Propp came back for more this year, winning the small 36 junior hunter, 15 and under, championship on her 14-year-old gelding Inquisitive. Propp has ridden the gelding for two years now after her sister, Stella Propp, handed her the reins.
Before me, my sister had him for a couple years and she won everything, Clara said. I just want to follow in her footsteps, and hes really done that for me. Hes taught me so much.
Clara Propp scored her second consecutive junior hunter championship at the Pennsylvania National, this time in the small junior hunter, 15 and under, division on Inquisitive.
Under the tutelage of Brianne Goutal-Marteau and Krista Goossens, Clara moved up to the 36 with Inquisitive at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida) this past winter.
It was a little rocky at first, she said. It was new for me, at least, but the fact that he had done it before was so helpful. But he made me feel so confident, and then we just improved throughout. And now were here, and I think thats really cool.
While Claras in-ring worries disappeared before this week, her concerns outside the ring had not.
Coming into this week, I was really stressed about missing school and everything, she said. This win kind of made me forget about it all. It reminds me that its all worth it, and I think thats just so cool.
Ive been coming to the Pennsylvania National for a while, she added. I came here on the ponies as a kid. Im coming back next week for the jumpers, too, so Ill be here even more this year. I love the atmosphere, and to win with Inquisitive just makes it that more special.
The Sweet Spot: Ellie Sadrian And Wonderous
Wrapped in two championship coolersthe large 33 junior hunter, 15 and under, and 33 grand junior hunter championWonderous, aka Sugar, had certainly found the sweet spot.
His owner and rider, Ellie Sadrian, 14, of Summit, New Jersey, was right there with him. Surrounded by barnmates and her trainers, David Belford and Christopher Payne, Sadrian expressed excitement and gratitude for her division and overall wins.
He placed in the top three of every class in the division, she said. Im really proud of him.
Under the guidance of her trainers, Sadrian and her family imported the 10-year-old gelding of unrecorded breeding last year and started showing him in the 33 junior hunters in January. Payne, has continued showing him in the 33 performance hunters as well.
It feels really good to win here, especially with Sugar, she said. This is my third or fourth Harrisburg, but this is my first tricolor at indoors on horses. It really means a lot.
A Worthwhile Comeback: Maddie Brooks And Captain Jack
Fourteen-year-old Maddie Brooks of Wildwood, Missouri, had a lot to prove on Friday at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. The day prior, she and her mount, 13-year-old Captain Jack, placed third in the first over fences class, but had a rail in the handy round of the 33 small junior hunters, 15 and under.
It was very unfortunate, Brooks said. Especially after our third place in the first class. It put some pressure on me to perform today.
And perform she did. Brooks topped the third over fences class to take the division championship.
[Jack] is so perfect, she said. He really tries his best every round and wants to win.
The pair teamed up just over a year ago. Trainer Anna Schierholz connected Brooks and then-owner Lindsay Yinger to try the Dutch Warmblood of unrecorded breeding. The two immediately connected, and Jack and Brooks began competing in the 33 junior hunterswith great successshortly after she purchased him.
This win was particularly meaningful to Brooks.
Its my second time here, and it just means so much to have won with Jack, she said. Today, he was really good and just tried his best.
The Unstoppable Pair: Jordyn Scelsa And Royal Chanel
Jordyn Scelsa, 18, knows that some horses win regardless of any challenges they face, and Royal Chanel is one of those horses. The 11-year-old Danish Warmblood (CosemoQueen), was found to have an eye issue that left her blind in her left eye at age 4.
It doesnt affect her at all, Scelsa, of Islip, New York, said. Its super incredible how she performs and how it doesnt get in the way.
Scelsa serves as a working student for Lauren Gridley, whom she met when Scelsa was 13 and grooming at a polo barn in Florida. These days she also trains with Stewart.
Royal Chanel, owned by Catrine Golia, has been a project horse for Scelsa for about a year. The pair began showing in the 33 junior hunters at WEF in January.
Theyve been unstoppable since, topping the final over fences class of the large 33 junior hunters, 16-17, to secure the division championship in Harrisburg. Scelsa, a freshman on Texas Christian Universitys equestrian team, also credits her coaches there for the win.
Coach [Haley] Schoolfield and Coach Logan [Fiorentino] have been incredible in keeping me fit and keeping me in shape preparing for indoors, she said. Im extremely grateful.
Successful Stability: Caroline Signorino And Gramercy
How do you go about winning a championship? For Caroline Signorino and Gramercy, consistency is key. On Thursday, the pair won the first over fences class in the 33 large junior hunter, 16-17, placed fourth in the handy and second on the flat. They clinched the win on Friday with another fourth place over fences.
He was really great both days, she said. I couldnt be happier with how he went.
The Basking Ridge, New Jersey, native trains with Williams, Hesslink and Maria Takacs out of Wellington, Florida, who have helped 17-year-old Signorino bring 8-year-old warmblood Blake along, showing him in the 33 performance hunters before Signorino took the reins in May.
I just started showing him this summer because hes a bit green, she said. We imported him from Europe when he was 6, so hes taken a little bit of time.
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show means just as much to Signorino as the win.
I love this show, she said. Being here is so special because I have a lot of memories here from my pony days. Ive been successful at the show here in the past, and its nice to have that success after moving onto horses.
See full resultshere.Want more Pennsylvania National? The Chronicle will be on the scene through grand prix nightbringing you photos and stories. Plus see more analysis from the Pennsylvania National inthe Nov. 7 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.
2022 Pennsylvania National2022 Pennsylvania National Horse showIsabelle EhmanPennsylvania NationalSan Pedro 15
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