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Best of the West

Samantha Sommers claims first and second at 2013 USEF Junior Hunter West Coast Finals

From Horsetrader staff reports - August 1st, 2013 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

CoverDEL MAR — In her last performance as a junior hunter in regional USEF National Junior Hunter competition, Samantha Sommers of Malibu was a hit.

The 18-year-old incoming freshman at the University of Southern California took Small Affair and Illusion to the championship and reserve, respectively, at the USEF Junior Hunter West Coast Finals held at Showpark July 22-23.

The impressive showing sets up a curtain call for Sommers at the Capital Challenge Horse Show Sept. 28-Oct. 6 at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Md., where she will vie for the USHJA World Championship Hunter Rider title. She is currently ranked second nationally, first regionally.

“Coming in with two really good horses, I knew my chances were good,” said Sommers, who trains under Elizabeth Reilly of Calabasas. “I was nervous, but I went in focusing on doing well rather than thinking I simply had to be grand champion. — because then you end up overthinking it and making a mistake.”

Samantha Sommers of Malibu soars to the USEF National Junior Hunter West Coast Finals title on Small Affair in competition July 22-23 at Showpark in Del Mar. She also took reserve on Illusion.

Samantha Sommers of Malibu soars to the USEF National Junior Hunter West Coast Finals title on Small Affair in competition July 22-23 at Showpark in Del Mar. She also took reserve on Illusion.

Photo Credit: Capturedmomentphoto.com

Her eloquent rides added to the venerable show records of Small Affair, owned by Iwasaki and Reilly, and Illusion, owned by Oscany, Inc. and trained by Tara Metzmer. Sommers began riding Small Affair in March after the HITS Desert Circuit in Thermal. She took the reins this year from Olivia Esse, who last year finished her Junior Hunter career in similar fashion — winning the West Coast title on Small Affair, the reserve on Illusion.

Sommers has ridden Illusion about in about a half-dozen shows, the last four because her good friend Destry Spielberg, who leases the 14-year-old Warmblood gelding, has been gone for the summer.

“They’re completely different rides in my opinion, but they are both amazing horses in their way,” said Sommers. “Although different, they both have amazing jumps and they both have amazing canters. It’s very nice for me to ride both of them.”

At the West Coast Finals, Sommers captured the Large Junior Hunters 16-17 Division on Small Affair, with Lillie Keenan taking reserve on Oscany Inc.’s Small Celebration. In the Small Junior Hunters 16-17, Sommers guided Illusion to first place, with Whitney Downs riding Coffeetalk to the reserve.

Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg rides Triton Z to the Small Junior Hunters 15-under title at the USEF Junior Hunter West Coast Finals held July 22-23 in Del Mar.

Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg rides Triton Z to the Small Junior Hunters 15-under title at the USEF Junior Hunter West Coast Finals held July 22-23 in Del Mar.

Photo Credit: Capturedmomentphoto.com

In Large Junior Hunters 15-under, Mikayla Stuart took her Verdana to first place ahead of Melanie Selleck riding her Volturi.. Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg rode her Triton Z to the Small Junior Hunters 15-under crown, with Eugenie Kilb riding her Autumn Lane to the reserve title.

With the West Coast Finals behind her, Sommers will wrap up her 2013 season with three competitions in California, then to the Middleberg Classic in Virgina and the Capital Challenge. She says her competitive riding will be curtailed so she can focus on studies at USC, where the daughter of film director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy, GI Joe, Van Helsing) soon will commence her cinematic arts education.

“As cool as it would be to continue riding as a professional, I’d rather stay riding as an amateur and focus on college,” said Sommers, who is drawn to her father’s film industry after witnessing the creative magic behind movie-making first-hand.

“I’ve been on set, but once my dad did a small independent film, and they ended up editing a lot of the movie in my garage,” she recalled. “I would come home from school and sit in my garage, talking to the editors and hanging out with them. It was really fascinating. As much as an actor’s role is in a movie, the director creates the movie and puts it together — they really form it. It’s really cool. Editing, directing, producing — it’s all really interesting.”

Sommers, who credits Reilly, Metzmer, Chris Iwasaki and John French (along with her parents) for her sucess in 2013, said she will ride with her barn next year in perhaps five shows, “but I won’t be showing like I have this year, going everywhere!”

MORE ONLINE: http://bit.ly/137B_USEF

USEF West Coast Junior Hunter Finals
July 22-23, 2013 * Del Mar, Calif.

Place – Horse – Owner – Rider

Small Jr Hunters 15 & Under6 horses competed in first class
CH Triton Z/ Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg/ Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg
RES Autumn Lane/ Eugenie Kilb/ Eugenie Kilb

Small Jr Hunters 16 – 176 horses competed in first class
CH Illusion/ Oscany Inc./ Samantha Sommers
RES Coffeetalk/ Whitney Downs/ Whitney Downs

Large Jr Hunters 15 & Under8 horses competed in first class
CH Verdana/ Mikayla Stuart/ Mikayla Stuart
RES Volturi/ Dinnia Digennaro/ Melanie Selleck

Large Jr Hunters 16 – 1710 horses competed in first class
CH Small Affair/ Iwasaki & Reilly/ Samantha Sommers
RES Small Celebration/ Oscany Inc./ Lillie Keenan

Junior Hunters2 horses competed in first class
CH Small Affair/ Iwasaki & Reilly/ Samantha Sommers
RES Illusion/ Oscany Inc./ Samantha Sommers

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