Porter, 14, from St. Louis, MO, and Dragonfly’s Acerado, owned by Dragonfly Farm, took home the blue ribbon in the $10,000 North American League Children’s Hunter Final.
Porter and the 10-year-old Dragonfly’s Acerado, or ‘Poodle’ as he is known in the barn, won the NAL Final, a two-round competition open to junior riders on either horses or ponies who have competed in NAL classes throughout the year, with a total score of 172.5.
The pair had a lovely first round which garnered them a score of 85, the third highest score of the round. They then came back in the second round and turned in a trip that was even better than the first and received a score of 87 points from the judges, for the win.
“I want to thank everyone who got me here,” said Porter. “Especially my parents and my trainer, Stephanie Petersen, for making this all possible. I have always wanted to win something big and it has finally happened. I am very happy to have this honor.
“I am a very nervous rider when it comes to something big, so I just tried to be as confident as I could, even if it was false confidence, and just feel like we were going to do great, and it worked. My horse is very sweet, I have been riding him for a year now. This is my first year on horses. I really loved ponies, but it is really fun to step up to the horses, because it just felt like I was getting somewhere. I picked the NAL classes because I felt confident in the starting my first year off in the three-foot division. This Final was the goal. I wanted to go all year, and I got here and I did well so I am very happy about that.”
“He is pretty perfect, and they complement each other very well,” said Stephanie Petersen, Porter’s trainer.
The $10,000 North American League Adult Hunter Final was awarded to Jef Lauwers and Sutherland, owned by Peter Pletcher. Lauwers, who recently moved to the US from Belgium and is now based in Magnolia, TX, and Sutherland, a 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, had the top scores in each of the two rounds, 87 points, for a total of 174 points for the win.
“I know Sutherland is good and always nails it,” said Lauwers. “If I just stay calm and make it smooth he jumps amazing. He jumped both rounds really well. I have been riding Sutherland since the first Kentucky show. I started to do him in the NAL and the Adult divisions and I think that every Classic and NAL he won. He is a really nice horse, an incredible mover and jumper. He is my first hunter that we are going to keep and he will help build my career. I am really thankful that I have a horse like him, one who has the possibility to become a truly amazing horse.
“It is a different style of riding here in the US, it is a little bit of an adjustment to ride loose and calm, and not really ride up to everything, but I am getting used to it. I love the hunters, how they are all about the horse, the elegance and the riding of the course. It was a really nice switch from jumpers.”
The NAL hosts National Finals annually at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg, PA, and West Coast Finals at the Las Vegas National Horse Show in Las Vegas, NV. Both Finals include the following five divisions – Children’s Hunter, Adult Hunter, Children’s Jumper Presented by EquiFit, Adult Jumper Presented by SmartPak, and Low Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper.
The NAL qualifying period runs September 1 through August 31. NAL competitions are open to all who wish to compete, however points are only awarded to current members. For more information regarding the North American League, please call (717) 867-5643, email to NAL@Ryegate.com or visit www.ryegate.com.