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    Caroline Ingalls (second from left) and Small Town win the USEF National Junior Hunter Championships--West Coast Overall title. They are congratulated by Monarch International representatives Joe Thorpe and Keri Kampsen, owner Elizabeth Reilly, and trainer Hap Hansen.

    Captured Moment Photography

    Caroline Ingalls (second from left) and Small Town win the USEF National Junior Hunter Championships--West Coast Overall title. They are congratulated by Monarch International representatives Joe Thorpe and Keri Kampsen, owner Elizabeth Reilly, and trainer Hap Hansen.

    SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Caroline Ingalls and Small Town earned the Overall Champions title at the 2009 U.S. Equestrian Federation’s National Junior Hunter Championships–West Coast, hosted by Blenheim EquiSports, held Aug. 11-12 at Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park.

    More than 40 juniors from various West Coast locales hunted their horses for two days of competition and exhibitor parties under cloudless skies.

    With an overall three-phase adjusted score of 251.6, including impressive Classic scores of 88, 86 and 88, Ingalls riding Small Town, a Large Older Junior Hunter Hanoverian gelding, owned by Chris Iwasaki, took home the Monarch International Perpetual Award for the West Coast and a gift certificate for The Clothes Horse. The Overall Reserve Champion was a Small Junior Older Hunter, Pringle, ridden by Amber Henter and owned by Ashley Pryde.

    Course designer and local San Juan Capistrano resident Scott Starnes set both the handy and classic courses in the grass Grand Prix field. The handy included a bounce, trot fence, hand-gallop fence, as well as a halt.

    In the individual divisions, Small Town won the Large Older Junior Hunter division. Peter Rabbit, ridden and owned by Kilian McGrath, won the Large Younger Junior Hunter division. Pringle won the Small Older Junior Hunter division; and Breckenridge, ridden by Hannah Von Heidegger, took home top honors in the Small Younger Junior Hunter division.

    The Handy Hunter phase began just before noon, with the Small Juniors in the older age group going first. While last year’s handy course took too much of a toll on some horses–with spooky elements that caused refusals and even elimination–the 2009 hunter-friendly course had jumps made of shrubs and flowers, a natural post and rail, a trot jump and a hay bale bounce.

    In the younger division of small junior hunters, Whitney Downs and Coffee Talk, trained by John Bragg, went flawlessly from start to finish. Picking a perfect pace and jumping each fence out of that gorgeous forward rhythm, the horse’s expression never changed. With scores of 86, 86 and 87 from the judges, it was the trip that couldn’t be beat. The Under Saddle phase concluded Tuesday’s competition. It is notable that the top three scores after day one were all small junior hunters exhibited by younger riders.

    Wednesday was both the start of the horse show and the completion of the Junior Hunter Championships. The final classic round went in the afternoon after the open horses competed. Starting with the large junior hunters, it was Caroline Ingalls aboard Small Town, owned by Iwasaki and Reilly, who laid down the trip of the day, receiving scores of 86, 88 and 88. When it came time for the last division of the day, the top three younger small juniors had yet to show.

    Show officials said one important lesson of horse showing is to take the highs with the lows, and both Corrine Miller and Whitney Downs deserve sportsmanship awards for their final round performances. Sitting second and first respectively, both of these young girls encountered unexpected spooks and dealt with them like champs. Miller’s young mare, Lucille, peeked and jumped sideways as she cantered down to the first jump, which was a bit shadowy, and although she jumped it her scores certainly reflected the trouble.

    Downs riding Coffee Talk were once again having a trip for the history books, when heading to the last line her horse stiffened and spooked, forcing her to circle. With the horse still a bit startled, she had to ride him through the spook when making her second approach. Both girls rode well and dealt with the disappointment in a mature manner, show officials said.

    As the 2009 USEF Junior Hunter Championships on the West Coast came to a close Wednesday evening, four perpetual trophies were awarded and the overall Reserve Grand Champion and Grand Champion were presented with coolers and trophies:

    • Huntover Farm Perpetual Trophy – Champion in the Small, 15 & Under:
      Breckenridge, ridden by Hannah Von Heidegger

    • Shalanno Farm Perpetual Trophy – Champion in the Large, 15 & Under:
      Peter Rabbit, ridden by Kilian McGrath

    • Rivers Edge Perpetual Trophy – Champion in the Small, 16-17:
      Pringle, ridden by Amber Henter for owner Ashley Pryde

    • Magic Word Perpetual Trophy – Champion in the Large, 16-17:
      Small Town, ridden by Caroline Ingalls for owners Iwasaki & Reilly

    For complete results from Blenheim EquiSports events, visit: www.showpark.com/results.asp

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