Traverse City, Mich.—Sept. 14, 2021—The 2021 USHJA Young Jumper Championships concluded on a high note Sunday with the Final Competition for 4-, 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-Year-Old age groups. In its first year, the Championships were held in Traverse City and saw unprecedented success. Horses from 5 to 8 years old competed over a three-round format that featured First and Second Qualifiers, culminating in a Final set from 1.15-1.40m based on each age section, as well as a Consolation Classic for horses not competing in the Final. In addition to prize money through fifteenth place, incentives and bonus prize money were offered for United States breeders and American-bred horses.
On Thursday, the 4-Year-Old Final was the first to crown champions. In a tie at the top was John Porter’s TikTok Z (Toulon X Mendini van de Hunters), bred by Hunters Studfarm LVS NV, with Brooke Kemper in the irons and Aliboo Farm Inc.’s Cool Running VDV Z (Cicero Z X Zianne), bred by Eef van de Veerdonk and piloted by Taylor Flury. Lauren Ditallo was awarded the distinction of riding the best U.S. bred horse and third place finisher, High Finance Farm’s HHF Minted Munny (Thunder Van de Zuuthoeve X Elize Van de Broekkant), bred by Muny Sunk Stables, Inc.
"I think that this program is fabulous. I think it is wonderful to have a national championship for young horses. It gives us a chance to showcase these horses in an appropriate environment with appropriate courses and it gives us a chance to thank our owners for supporting us and believing in these young horses. It is a great opportunity for them to be in the spotlight. We have a year-end goal now to work towards with the horses," said Kemper.
Kicking off the day of competition in the Jumper Annex Ring, 5-Year-Old Young Jumpers took to the arena for the finale of their division. Solid performances throughout the three days of sport led Jill Gaffney and Freestyling Farms’ FF Loyalty (Ogano Sitte X Hoblesse) to the overall victory and the Best Young Horse Award. The overall second place honors went to Gail Dady’s Tornado PJ (Taalex X Crispy Jo PJ), bred by Pferdezucht Dr. Jacobs, with Agustin Rosales in the irons. Third place went to Patricia Kobble’s Chin-Chimney (Coeur D’Hannah X Quendollien). Bred by Kobble herself, Chin Chimney was piloted by Samantha Schaefer to ultimately take home the best U.S. Bred Horse award and earn Kobble the U.S. Breeder Bonus for the 5-Year-Old Young Jumper Championships.
"We mostly develop young horses, including FF Loyalty, and we have aimed almost all of them towards this competition. I thought that it was really well done. The course was really nice and the first and second qualifiers being clear rounds was great and helped to build up to the final, which was a little bit bigger. It was built stout but not overly done," said Gaffney. "Oftentimes in the past the young jumpers has felt like an afterthought and it was really nice for it to be a focus and it made it feel important, which is great because it is important. These horses are the future of our sport. This class definitely showcased how many nice 5-year-olds there are out there.”
Set in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring, athletes and their 6-year-old horses made their way under the arches to compete one last time. Following a victory in Thursday’s 6-Year-Old Young Jumper Championship Second Qualifier, Soehnke Theymann and Henrietta (Contefino X O Black Cherry) topped the leaderboard heading into the final day. Two clear rounds and a fourth place finish in the Final solidified the German’s spot leading the victory gallop. Bred and owned by Platinum Capital Management USA LLC, Henrietta was awarded with the best U.S. Bred Horse at the conclusion of the division, and Platinum Capital Management USA LLC received the U.S. Breeder Bonus.
The overall second place honors were given to QBS Equestrian's Doonaveeragh Balou (Wild Balou Bill X Doonaveeragh Seabrae), who was piloted by Matthew Williams and bred by Ivan Gardiner. Rounding out the top three was Catherine Tyree aboard QBS Equestrian’s Cantalupe V/D Holtenhoeve (Canaletto Z X Polarsterne Van de Richter), bred by Luk Bloemen.
"Most of my horses are bred in the United States, so I think it is very important to use this platform to produce good horses and perform well for the owners. Having a nationwide championship is a great concept and I hope that it continues to take off and grow. I hope that show management will give us a chance to continue to show young horses in a more affordable way so that the breeders and owners are encouraged to have them perform," said Theymann.
In the 7-Year-Old Final, Gaffney and Freestyling Farms’s FF Blade Runner (Jordan Z X Bright Eyes) took home the championship honors out of the 15 horse-and-rider combinations. Reserve honors were awarded in a three way tie between Sandra Dalman with Dalman Show Jumping’s Elite Girl (Elvis Ter Putte X Fontarina), bred by Festut Lewitz; Quentin Judge and Double H Farm’s HH Janneke B (Floris X Golden Girl B), bred by G.F. Brinkman; and Jonathon Miller with Cavalier (1850 Cannavaro X 54/610 Cala), bred by Zemsky Hrebcinec
Tlumacov S.P. and owned by Alison Sondel.
The final age group to compete in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring were the 8-Year Old jumpers. A field of 10 horse-and-rider combinations competed over the same course as the 7-year-old division, but with jumps that were raised to meet the standard of 1.45m.
Dawning the division championship title after impressive cumulative performances was Caroline Blum's MTM Kappa Kappa Gamma (Casiro X Sue), bred by Markus Franz and ridden by Kemper, and Take the High Road LLC's Ideaal ES (Ukato X Renata), bred by Egbert Schep and ridden by Filippo Pignatti. American professional Andrew Welles was the overall third place finisher with the Itasca Group’s, Idol H&H (Action Breaker X Mantana), bred by H. Stegeman. Sandra Dalman was the proud recipient of the Best U.S. Bred Horse award in the division, with Dalman Show Jumping’s Drake (Dulf Van Den Bisschop X Caretina 3), bred by Maura Thatcher.
"I do go to Europe sometimes to buy horses but I buy most of my horses stateside because I can take my time trying them and watch their records, and I feel a lot of pride in buying them here. I produced [Drake] and brought him along to his first 1.45m today, and I thought he handled it really well. I had horses in the 6-, 7-, 8-year-old classes here and it has been a great event and venue to bring those horses along," said Dalman.
Rounding out the afternoon of awards, Trevor and Jill Gaffney of Freestyling Farms received the Leading Owner award, presented to the top-performing owner from all age groups. The Leading U.S. Breeder amongst all five age groups emerged as Muny Sunk Stables.
The USHJA extends a special thanks to the Traverse City Horse Shows for hosting the Championships. The USHJA also thanks official sponsors CWD, Nutrena, Parlanti, and Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital and championship sponsor Straight Arrow Family of Brands.
Release and photos by Phelps Media Group for USHJA