FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Del Mar, Calif. — –July 23, 2018 — – Of the 47 riders who competed in the third annual USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic – West Coast, presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College, Kaitlyn Lovingfoss stood out with the top score in each round to take the win. On a gorgeous day at the Del Mar Horse Park, the unique equitation class challenged riders to show their equitation skills over courses set by Thomas Hern.
Though the USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic is only in its third year on the West Coast, it has been an annual event for East Coast riders since 2005. The class, named after George Morris’s farm, Hunterdon, tests each rider’s ability to adjust to a hunter course on an equitation mount.
This year’s West Coast judges were Joseph Dotoli of Chepachet, Rhode Island, and Robert Crandall of Wellington, Florida. They both valued course designer Thomas Hern’s choices in creating the tracks, and reflected that his designing gave both rider and horse opportunity to shine.
“Tommy’s courses were terrific. They gave enough challenges to the riders so that they had to work at it a little bit, and the handy round really helped show which riders could take advantage of the track,” said Dotoli.
Round One is a classic hunter course. Round Two is handy hunter course, and Hern’s track included going up and down a sloping hill, with a trot fence at the top, while fences five through eight included two combinations and two option fences. The top 20 riders returned for Round Two in reverse of scores from Round One. As a final test, the judges brought back the top six overall to switch horses and complete a work-off.
Lovingfoss, aboard Elvenstar’s Caracas 89, earned a two-round total of 178 points with a 90 in Round One and an 88 in Round Two, which appropriately averaged out to 89, given her mount’s name. Trained by Jim Hagman and the Elvenstar team, the 16-year-old had the highest scores in both rounds.
During the work-off, Lovingfoss switched mounts with second place finisher Tessa Darling, whose horse Lolita, owned by Ashland Farms, was awarded Best Equitation Horse overall. Darling of Corona Del Mar, California, remarked that their horses “could not be more different,” but that she was proud of how they both adjusted to their respective new rides.
“My favorite part was definitely switching horses,” said Lovingfoss of Canyon Country, California. “I love the pressure and I love riding other horses, so that was really fun for me.”
The work-off course included cantering three fences on tight rollback turns as well as a trot fence on the Grand Prix Field’s hill. Each rider only had a few canter circles and two warm up fences on their new mount before entering the ring.
“I think the switch really shows who the real riders are and teaches you how to adapt to new horses,” said third place finisher Jordan Allen, who competed in this class on the East Coast in 2017. “It has also really taught me to watch all the horses in Round One, because you never know who will end up in the work off.”
Each of the top riders expressed their gratitude for the amazing horses they have had the opportunity to ride. Lovingfoss described Caracas 89 as “brave” and “a great partner,” while Darling said that Lolita gives her the confidence she lacks in the show ring.
Sixteen-year-old Darling, who rides with John Bragg of Bridgeport Farms, was the only one of the top four who had never competed in USHJA Hunterdon Cup before. Her scores of 85 and 87 were impressive, earning her that second spot just six points behind Lovingfoss.
Fourth place finisher, 16-year-old Emily Williams of Santa Clarita, California, trains with Stephanie Haney but was assisted by Archie Cox during the class. Williams worked on her consistency and timing throughout her rounds, and she was grateful for the ride on Allen’s mount, Durango, in the work off.
When it came time for awards to be presented, an interesting turn of events occurred. Each rider had solid work-off rides, yet each of them had missed one jump called for in the test, and therefore none of them received scores for the third round, which meant the placings going into the work off were unaffected.
The top two finishers were recognized with prizes from the class’s extraordinary sponsors, and riders were pinned through 10th place. As the champion, Lovingfoss walked away with a pair of Parlanti tall boots, an Essex Classics riding shirt, a Charles Owen helmet, sets of Professional’s Choice VenTECH Leather Open Front Jumping Boots and VenTECH Leather Open Front Ankle Boots, a CWD leather halter, a cooler, and a keeper trophy donated by Diane Carney and Lynn Jayne.
As reserve champion, Darling earned an Essex Classics riding shirt, a Charles Owen helmet, and a set of Professional’s Choice VenTECH Leather Open Front Jumping Boots. All top 10 riders sported colorful sashes.
USHJA congratulates all the competitors on a safe and successful event. USHJA extends special thanks to Stephanie Wheeler, Melissa Brandes, Alexandra Zulia, and the entire Blenheim EquiSports team.
Thank you to all our sponsors: Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College, Essex Classics, Charles Owen, Inc., CWD, Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and Pharmacy, Parlanti and Professional’s Choice.
Next Monday, July 30, HITS Saugerties will host the 2018 USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic – East, presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College.