For little Alexa Lignelli, New York, NY, it truly was Family Fun Day, as, with her whole family watching, she and her ponies Iparty and Rollingwoods Knee Deep were named Pony Hunter Champion and Reserve Champion. For Iparty it was a repeat win, as she had won the title in 2016.
“My PapPap and Grandma were here to watch me,” said 9-year-old Lignelli. “I thought I could win again. I believed! I have improved in all my lessons, really working on my position, holding my body, and my pace on the ponies. That was my goal, and I am really happy. Henry was Reserve and he really deserves it, he is such an amazing pony, and so is Rosie.
“Yesterday we started out a little rough,” said Lignelli’s trainer Bill Schaub. “But she is the come-back kid. We sorted out what we needed to and we just took a deep breath and went for it.”
Caroline Signorino, 12, from Basking Ridge, NJ, and Anisette, owned by Hannah Hoch, won the Medium Pony Hunter Championship. The pair won the Handy class on Friday and followed that up with another win in the Stake class on Saturday.
“We are on a bit of a streak right now. I won at Capital Challenge,” said Signorino. “I have been riding Annie for a year and she is very sweet and very easy to ride. You can fit in any distance. She has taught me a whole bunch. I play field hockey at school, but I love riding more.”
Spellbound, owned by Stella Wasserman and 15-year-old catch rider Caroline Passarelli, High Falls, NY, took home the Large Pony Hunter Championship, the Grand Pony Hunter Championship, Best Junior Rider on a Pony, and the EMO High Five Award, given to the pony who receives the highest numerical score throughout the Pony Hunter division. Armando Celayo received the Grooms Award for his care of Spellbound.
“This is incredible,” said Passarelli. “The last time I was here was 2014 with my small pony when she was champion. I can’t begin to thank Archie Cox and the Wasserman family for lending me this pony for the weekend. He is everything you could want in a pony. Stella Wasserman could not make it here to show him and so I got the opportunity, and he stepped up to the plate like he always does.”
Junior Hunter Grand Champion was awarded to Augusta Iwasaki, Calabasas, CA, aboard Lyn Pedersen’s Small Affair. Iwasaki, 13, and the 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding were presented with the Ovation Perpetual Trophy for their spectacular performances in the Large Junior Hunter division. The much-acclaimed pair also won the PNHS High Point Large Junior Hunter Trophy and Iwasaki was named Best Junior Rider on a Horse.
Chris Iwasaki, Liz Reilley and Keri Kampsen, the trainers of Small Affair and Augusta Iwasaki, were presented with the Grand Junior Hunter Trainer Award. The Grand Junior Hunter Grooms Award went to Jose Espinoza.
Mimi Gochman, Palm Beach, FL, and Evermore, owned by Gochman Sport Horses, were named High Point Small Junior Hunter. Evermore won this award in 2016 as well. They were presented with the Huntland Derby Perpetual Trophy.
The Junior Hunter Sportsmanship award was given to Leah Toscano, Chesterfield, NJ. This award is given to the rider who exhibits the highest degree of exemplary personal conduct with respect to good sportsmanship.
The EMO High Five Award, given to the Junior Hunter who receives the highest numerical score throughout the Junior Hunter division, was awarded to Small Affair, Evermore and Garfield, ridden by Sophie Gochman. Each earned a score of 90 over the course of the competition.
The Claire Mawdsley Scholarship Awards is given to riders in the Junior Hunter divisions who attend traditional ”brick and mortar” high schools on a full time basis. This year the award for the Small Junior Hunter division was given to Emma Wujek, Grosse Point Farms, MI, and Olivia Yukon, Germantown, TN, for the Large Junior Hunter division.