By: Violt Forbes on Oct. 15th, 2016

IParty and Alexa Lignelli.  ©Al Cook

Alexa Elle Lignelli, a 9-year-old fourth grader from New York, NY, and her 9-year-old pony IParty, were named Small Pony Hunter Champion, placing first or second in all the classes in the division for a point total of 32.  Sophie Gochman and Bit of Love, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker took the Reserve with 26 points. 

“I started riding her after Washington last year.  She is very huntery.  If you don’t know her pace you won’t find the distances. You don’t want to go forward galloping or you will pop or chip.  You want to have a normal pace, not like a real hunter, not that slow but like pretty medium,” explained the adorable Lignelli.

When asked what she likes about horse shows, Lignelli was very clear. “I like the competition.  I just love the sport. It is so fun.” 

Trainer Bill Schaub added “Two weeks before pony finals I got a phone call and she came to me.  They started off with a bang. They were Champion Section A in Kentucky the week before Pony Finals.  We had some bad luck at Pony Finals but we have been inching our way up.” 

“She has nerves of steel,” continued Schaub. “She doesn’t get nervous.  She is always telling me to calm down.  She loves the competition and that is unusual, if she has a bad round she comes out smiling and we discuss it and learn from it and it is over.  They have really come together.”

Rock Star, an entry of Roberts Sales LLC, and rider Sophia Roberts, a 12-year-old from Wilmington, OH, were the Medium Pony Hunter Champions with 24 points. Trillville, owned by Stella Wasserman and Augusta Iwasaki were the Reserve Champions with 16 points.

Rock Star and Sophia Roberts.  ©Al Cook

“It is my second time at Harrisburg, but it is his first,” said Roberts.  “He has never been to indoors before.  We got him about a year ago and I have been showing him all summer and I was really happy when we qualified for this show.  He is really sweet.  He is really fun and he has progressed a lot.  I love riding him. I have to slow him down in the lines and bend him in the turns, but he is pretty easy.”

The first thing Mimi Gochman, 12, of Palm Beach, FL, did after winning both Champion and Reserve honors in the Large Pony Hunter division was to transfer all her belongings to her new Pennsylvania National Horse Show backpack exclaiming “It has a pocket for my computer!” 

That new backpack was due to the wonderful rounds turned in by Fair Play Farm’s Storyteller.  Both Storyteller and Gochman’s other ride, Dr. Betsee Parker’s For The Best, had a point total of 20, however, Storyteller had more points earned in over fences classes to place him ahead.

Mimi Gochman with Storyteller and For The Best.  © Al Cook

“I am so happy,” said Gochman.  “He is such a good boy.  I wasn’t really thinking about the championship.  I was just trying to do my best.  He has a great rhythm, a nice smoot jump and is so comfortable, and he tries really hard all the time.  I love riding him.   Sadly, this is my last year on ponies so this is a good way to go out.”

Grand Pony Hunter Champion was awarded to IParty and Alexa Elle Lignelli, making it an even better day for the pair.  IParty’s caretaker, Amato Ramos took home the Groom Award for his efforts.

The EMO Agency Pony Hunter High Five award was given to Sophie Gochman and The Pony Hunter Sportsmanship Award went to Adam Edgar.

Final awards for the Junior Hunters were also handed out.   Evermore and Emma Kurtz were named High Point Small Junior Hunter, winning the Huntland Derby Perpetual Cup.  Brett Burlington’s Due West and was the High Point Large Junior Hunter.  Due West was also named Grand Junior Hunter, Perpetual Trophy,  with his groom, Milton Portillo, taking the Groom Award and Michael Delphiandra  winning the Trainer Award.  Best Junior Rider on a Horse, the Maxine Best Memorial Perpetual Trophy, was presented to Emma Kurtz and the Sportsmanship Award was given to Christopher Coberley.

A Tackroom Award is given out for the best decorated, most functional tackroom for Junior Weekend. This year North Run placed first.  The display from Beacon Hill was second, third went to Heritage Farm and fourth was Boggs Hill.

The draw for order of go in the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final took place at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. With 276 riders, parents and trainers present, all anxiously waiting to hear the starting positions in the prestigious class.  Show Manager Peter Doubleday did the honors, drawing Caroline Ellis as the first in the ring.  For the distinction of being the first, Caroline was awarded a jacket to keep her warm in the wee hour’s tomorrow morning as she warms up for her round.

“I want to congratulate all the riders for their hard work and dedication,” said Doubleday.  “I especially want to thank all the parents for their sacrifices in getting you to this level.  And I want to thank all the caretakers of these horses, who put in so much effort to make this possible.  I wish you all good luck.”