Paige Matthies Starts Strong in Large Junior Hunters
Amateur-Owner Hunters Kick-Off During Week Six
Paige Matthies and Justified earned two first place ribbons over fences in the Large Junior Hunters to take the first day lead.
For 14-year-old Paige Matthies, the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) has been the proving ground for her recent mount Justified, owned by Dudley Smith. During the seven-week series, Matthies has continually worked with the 9-year-old Warmblood in the Junior Hunter divisions, riding to the top of the leaderboard consistently. Week Six proved no different as she duplicated her efforts with the bay gelding in Large Junior Hunters.
Matthies picked up two first place finishes over fences with Justified, showing off his handiness during the second over fences course, where designer Eric Maybrook challenged riders with a serpentine track. They also picked up the second place under saddle, just behind Cole Battershall and Rogelio.
Matthies smiled, "The courses were great. It let me show his handiness, and his beautiful trot. There were a few chances for inside turns, and although I wasn't originally planning to do them, I landed from a couple of the jumps and I knew that I could do them with him."
Matthies and Justified were one of the first pairs of the class, kicking off the hunter competition during a sudden storm that blew through the lower peninsula Saturday morning.
"I haven't ridden him in the rain a lot," Matthies said of the early morning storm that passed through during her rounds aboard Justified. "He was perfect today. He didn't seem to care about the rain. He acclimated really well."
It was Icaris Vede, also owned by Smith, who captured back-to-back red ribbons in the Large Junior Hunters with Matthies in the irons. Also known as "Rufus," the chestnut gelding has consistently climbed the equitation ranks, and proved competitive against the hunters.
"I have been competing with him in mostly equitation classes, but the past few weeks I moved him into the hunters to give him a bit of a break from the equitation. He is an adorable jumper, and he has been able to do well against the competitive Junior Hunters. Since he is an equitation horse, he is very handy, which works well when wanting to show him off in the handy round and take some inside turns," Matthies smiled.
Matthies plans to compete with both mounts in the $5,000 Glory Days Farm, LLC USHJA National Hunter Derby scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
During the Junior 3'3" Hunters, Kathryn "Kit" Brown returned to take a strong first day lead with her own Bourbon Street, pinning first in the handy, as well as the under saddle, and finishing in the second place for the over fences. Brown was all smiles as she walked out of the under saddle class saying, "We usually don't place in the under saddle. It was a surprise that we won it, but he was moving really well!"
Kathryn Brown and Bourbon Street
Brown has been working on flexing him and getting into a frame to prepare for the under saddle, "I am so proud of him!"
It was Brown's second round that made Bourbon Street really shine. She opted to take several inside turns, a big step as Brown showed off Bourbon Street's handiness at only his second show since she acquired him after the Wellington winter circuit.
"I liked the handy a lot," Brown acknowledged. "There were a lot of options for turns, but it wasn't too handy, in the sense that you had to do too many rollbacks. He really cooperated. We do a lot of rollbacks when we are at home. This show is really his first time competing in the handy classes, and seeing courses like that."
Crystal Lettinga and Winchester currently sit just behind Brown with the first and third over fences, as well as the second place in the under saddle.
It will be a tight race to the Amateur-Owner 3'3" Hunter Championship on Sunday as Kendall Meijer, Jill Donaldson and Barbara Goldberg competed for the tricolor. Saturday, Meijer took a marginal first day lead aboard Breckinridge with the first place in the handy, as well as the second place over fences and in the under saddle. Donaldson was hot on her heels with Troubadour, winning the under saddle and finishing second and third over fences. Goldberg concluded the first day of competition with the first and third over fences riding Aha, as well as the third place in the under saddle.
Kendall Meijer and Breckinridge
Meijer commented, "Breckinridge was so good today. I have been having a lot of fun doing the handy classes with him. They used to be a real challenge for me, but he has made it really fun. I thought the handy was super fun, I loved it, and he was feeling great, so I knew we could go inside, and he was game!"
Series Two kicked off on Aug. 10 and will run through Aug. 28, featuring three weeks of hunter and jumper competition with a FEI CSI2* rating Week Five and Six and a FEI CSI3* rating during Week Seven, culminating in the $100,000 Grand Traverse Grand Prix CSI3* on Sunday, Aug. 28. Hunter highlights include the Glory Days Farm, LLC USHJA National Hunter Derby, which will take place each Sunday through the end of the second series.
Horses are not the only form of entertainment lined up for this year's Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. The festival has teamed up with top musicians and entertainers from around the country to offer fun-filled evenings for this year's concert and dinner series.
Week Six hosted the Kari Lynch Band and farm BBQ dinner by www.PorterhousePresents.com on Friday, Aug. 19, at 6 p.m. at the Flintfields Horse Park, while Week Seven will headline the Billy Strings Bluegrass Closing Party by www.PorterhousePresents.com at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28.
The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival is set on 88 beautiful acres and showcases five world-class competition rings in addition to spacious schooling rings. The property features don't stop there as the park offers convenient onsite campgrounds and weekly nights of entertainment for a truly unique attendee experience.