It was a quite a gaggle of people and horses that trucked up U.S. 29 from Sweet Briar to Commonwealth Park in Culpeper for the Horse Shows in the Sun, aka HITS, circuit finals from Sept. 29-Oct. 2.
Between two hunter show teams, the jumper show team and individual students who qualified to compete on their own, there were 17 Sweet Briar riders and horses there. The show draws a national field of competitors. Four humans and two Sweet Briar school horses would make the return trip as reigning champions in various classes. Also among the weekend’s highlights: Sweet Briar riders placed first through seventh in a single equitation class of 14 riders.
The aforementioned champions included Aly Booth ’13, who won her adult amateur hunter division and was reserve champion in adult equitation, riding Sweet Briar’s Oh So Fine. Katie Drake ’14 and Chinook, another school horse, also were champions in their adult amateur hunter division. Indeed, Chinook and Oh So Fine combined for enough points to share the equine championship in the 18- to 35-year-old adult amateur division, beating 22 other horses in the field.
Sophomore Olivia Smith actually finished ahead of Booth in the 18-35 adult equitation, giving Vixen riders first and second place in that division. Greer Gordon ’12 collected two more championships on her horse First Knight, winning both the high adult amateur jumpers and the level three jumper division.
Becca Davidson ’13 on SBC’s Theodore won the 18-35 adult amateur under saddle class, and Elizabeth Hansbrough ’13 and Love Z placed second in the competitive $2,000 Marshall & Sterling/National Adult League Adult Jumper Classic. Also making second-place finishes were Amanda Wager ’14 riding SBC’s Loki and Haley Bagwell, who was competing independently on her own horse, Companiero.
Sizing up the results, riding director Mimi Wroten couldn’t help but observe that three of the five 18-35 adult amateur hunter classes were won by riders on Sweet Briar horses.
The students did manage to squeeze in some study time around lots of loading and unloading, coping with cold, rainy weather and being ready to enter the ring when it was their turns, says Matt Payne, who coaches the hunter and jumpers.
“Of course, the ladies all brought their books since it was over Reading Days,” he said.