Teamwork Makes Dreams Work at USHJA Zones 9 & 10 Ch/AA Hunter Championships

Anusha Sarkar and Alice Marks earn gold in the individual Children's and Adult Amateur Championships

Thermal, Calif.—November 14, 2018—The sunny Southern California desert welcomed Children's and Adult Amateur Hunter riders to the main hunter arena of the AON HITS Desert Horse Park for the USHJA Zones 9 & 10 Children's and Adult Amateur Hunter Championships, presented by SmartPak.

Twenty-one riders from USHJA Zones 9 and 10 competed over the two days of Championships, which included both team and individual competition. Riders competed as combined Children's and Adult Amateur teams during Saturday's competition and as separate Children's and Adult Amateur sections during Sunday's individual competition.

The courses were designed by Joe Lombardo, who also sat on Panel Two, judging with Stacie Ryan. Across the ring were judges Fran Dotoli and Pattie Zumbrun (Panel One).

Saturday's team competition brought the riders together and created a positive energy that made for lasting memories. With seven teams of three competitors each, the Pink Team of Nancy Butano, Melissa Frost, and Kathleen Waldorf prevailed as gold medalists.

"This is such a great experience for these riders to get into the bigger ring and have an opportunity to experience the handy format that they will have to do if they continue into the 3'3" in coming years," said the Zone 10 Chef d'Equipe Katie Taylor. "The team aspect is a great way for all of the competitors to get to know and cheer on their peers."

Children's and Adult Amateur Hunter Team Medalists. Credit: ESI Photography

The Orange Team of Georgia Yewell, Ayanna Kimbro, and Georgia Botham earned silver, and the Yellow Team of Makenna Reeves, Whitney Hejmanowski, and Allie DeSimone earned bronze.Sunday was a fresh start for the Individual Championships, but the team spirit continued on in the respective sections. The Children's riders began their Individual Championships with the under saddle under the afternoon desert sun.

Anusha Sarkar rode her longtime partner Atticus to the gold medal in the Individual Competition, earning an eighth-place ribbon in the under saddle, a second-placed finish in the classic round, and a very strong win in the handy round. The pair scored a total of 401 points.

"Atticus and I recently switched over to the Children's Jumpers, which has been really exciting. When I found out that I qualified for these hunter championships, I was very excited to compete in them, as it's probably my last show with him in the hunter ring," Sarkar noted.

Earning the silver medal by only four points, Georgia Botham rode Handsel to a second-placed finish in the under saddle phase, a fourth-placed finish in the classic round of competition, and a second-placed finish in the handy round of competition to earn a total of 397 points.

Rounding out the podium, Allie DeSimone rode her own Lord Livingston to a third-placed finish in the under saddle, a win in the classic round, and a fifth-placed finish in the handy round to earn a total of 385.5 points.

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Adult Amateur Individual medalists Alice Marks, Jennifer Boyce

and Nancy Butano. Credit: ESI Photography

Children's Individual medalists Anusha Sarkar, Georgia Botham

and Allie DeSimone. Credit: ESI Photography

The Championship continued into the afternoon with the Adult Amateur Hunter Individual Championships, where Alice Marks and Chicago earned a gold medal finish. With a seventh-placed finish in the under saddle phase, winning both the classic round and handy round moved her to the top of the score card for a total of 424 points and the win.

Marks was elated with this weekend's competition, "I've been showing him in the adults this year. He's only eight years old, so we're still getting used to things. These USHJA Championships have been my goal all year long. I really liked the courses; they were beautiful, rideable, and user-friendly. The courses worked out great for me!"

Jennifer Boyce and Maximus Z finished with a fifth-place ribbon in the under saddle phase and a third-placed finish in both the classic round and handy round of the championship to earn a total of 420.5 points and a silver medal.

Nancy Butano earned another place on the podium with a bronze medal during the Individual Championships. Butano and her horse Sideswipe earned a total of 398.5 points, with a tenth-place under saddle ribbon, sixth-placed classic round finish, and a second-place ribbon in the handy round of competition. 

All riders received polo shirts and tote bags from the Championships' presenting sponsor SmartPak. For their efforts, Sarkar and Marks earned gold medals, ribbons, and numerous prizes, including an embroidered cooler, Charles Owen Helmet, CWD halter, Parlanti Boots, Professional's Choice Pro Performance Schooling Boots, Essex ClassicsRiding Shirt and FITS Riding breeches .   

USHJA extends special thanks to Tom Struzzieri and the entire HITS Coachella team for hosting the USHJA Zones 9 & 10 Children's and Adult Amateur Hunter Championships, presented by SmartPak. USHJA also thanks presenting sponsor SmartPak, as well as awards sponsors Charles Owen, CWD, Parlanti, Professional's Choice, Essex Classics and FITS Riding.

For more information about the USHJA Children's and Adult Amateur Hunter Championships, visit