By: Jamie Saults on Oct. 13th, 2016

Sophie Simpson and Why Not  © Al Cook -

Sophie Simpson and Why Not intimidated the competition jumping fast and fault-free early in the lineup to win the Individual Phase One of the Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championship at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, presented by The Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund.

"My plan always for the speed is to just go have a nice clear," said Simpson. "The second I try to go fast it doesn't really work out very well, so I just have to be smooth and relaxed and it all works out."

The 17-year-old resident of Jupiter, FL, jumped seventh in the lineup and watched as the remaining riders in the field of 35 attempted to beat her time of 55.710 seconds on the Steve Stephens-designed course. Katherine Strauss nearly dethroned Simpson jumping All In to a clear round score 56.542 seconds for second place. Madison Goetzmann and Wrigley had a faster time than Simpson and Why Not, but they knocked down a rail. Since jump faults were converted to seconds in the speed class, four seconds were added to their time of 52.955 leaving them in third with a score of 56.955.

Simpson was thrilled with her victory, especially since she had not been able to ride her 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood for nearly a month, relying on her mom and trainer Nicole Shahinian-Simpson to prepare for Harrisburg.  

"My mom's been riding her and keeping her fit for me. I just rode her the other day for the first time in a while," said Simpson. "But I have had this horse three years, so I know her very well."

Scores from the Welcome class carry over into Friday's USEF Prix de States Team Championship/Phase Two of the Individual Championship. The Championship culminates on Saturday evening with the top 60% from Phases I and II.