Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 31, 2019 – Hunter competition returned to the Alltech Arena on Thursday morning for the conclusion of the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions at the 2019 National Horse Show. Showcasing beautiful movement and textbook jumping style, a total of 32 horses were seen over the course of two days for the 18-35 and 36 and over divisions. The action came to a pinnacle with the final round for each in the stake class to determine who would go home with the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter title and the Susanne Stroh Perpetual Trophy. Ultimately, it was Lynn Seithel who sealed the deal with Walk The Line.
Seithel and the 20-year-old Selle Luxemburg put on spectacular performances for judges Ralph Caristo and Linda Hough throughout their Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter 36+ division. The pair’s long-term partnership was apparent in the arena as they elegantly navigated each course for two second-place ribbons and a first in the handy. Walk The Line also received a second on the flat for his floating trot and rhythmic canter, topping off their leading score to end up champion of the Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter 36+ division in addition to the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter.
Walk The Line and Seithel’s partnership began when Don Stewart purchased him. Originally, Seithel would school ‘Walkie’ before the junior riders would get on to show him. Seithel fell in love with the handsome gelding and vowed she would one day own him. When Walk The Line turned 14 years old, she got the horse she had been so patiently waiting for. Their six years together have been filled with championships and blue ribbons, including a reserve champion finish in the Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter 36+ division at the 2018 National Horse Show. Seithel and Walk The Line’s success has culminated with the achievement of the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter at the 136th edition of the National Horse Show.
Following the finish of the Amateur-Owner divisions, junior riders took the spotlight for the start of their divisions. In the Small section, Erin Floyd piloted Cleopatra’s Smile, owned by Wolfstone Stables & Sales, Inc., to a top placing in the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 Handy class. The partners in competition were also rewarded for their handy trip with the Ovation Perpetual Trophy, an award given out by the judges for the best performance in the handy round.
In the Large section, Maggie Hill rode her very own Cassanto to two blue ribbons in the Large Junior Hunter Over Fences and Handy class. To top off their stellar rides, judges awarded Hill and Cassanto with the “Blue By You” Memorial Challenge Trophy, a prize given to the best handy round of the Large sections.
Hunter competition will be showcased Friday evening with the National Horse Show $50,000 Hunter Classic, presented by Friends of the National Horse Show. In the jumpers, the weekend’s feature events will be the $25,000 Hollow Brook Wealth Management Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur-Owner/Junior Jumper Grand Prix and the $225,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup ™ Lexington, while equitation will take centerstage Sunday for the Maclay National Championship for the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Class, presented by Chansonette Farm.
Lynn Seithel – Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter
On Walk The Line’s rounds:
“He is just perfect. He loves it here! He loves the footing here and he is always good here. I usually choke on the second day. [In the stake] I just wanted to go in and try to win! I ride with Daniel and Cathy Geitner. I did not do anything Daniel told me today except keeping my canter to the first jump! Yesterday, in the handy, I did everything he told me to do! He just told me to go in and have fun, so that is what I did. Daniel has helped me a lot with this horse so he just gets better and better every year.”
On her partnership with Walk The Line:
“He is one of a kind. I have a lot of nice horses but he is really special. I have had him since he was 14 years old and he is 20 now. I started out doing the 3’6” Amateur-Owners with him but we let him move down to the 3’3” when he turned 18 years old. He loves his job and he is a good boy. He is a little quirky – he relaxes if you let go and he likes when you ask him to do everything, you just have to tell him in a nice way. This was a horse that Don Stewart found and when I used to ride with Don I would get him ready for the juniors. He promised him to me so when Lillie Keenan was done with him I bought him. I waited for him for a couple of years! It is the best thing I ever got from Don Stewart!”
On being Grand Champion for the Amateur 3’3” Hunters:
“It is just amazing. It is truly a dream come true! This is really special. We were reserve in the division the last two years so it was great to move up this year. Walk The Line just gets better with age!”
On what is next for Walk The Line:
“We are going to do whatever he tells us he wants to do. He does not owe me a thing! I would like to come back next year but we will see how it goes. Maybe since we were champions here we might retire him, but I am going to let him tell us because I don’t think he will like sitting at home. He will probably be here next year, whether he is showing or not he will come with me.”
On keeping Walk The Line fresh:
“He is like the ever-ready-bunny. I rode him three times yesterday and he was still a little up today, not quite as relaxed as normal because we only rode him once today. I just try to let him go out on the lunge line and he has an easy life at home. He lives with me at home and he has a girlish whinny so he says hello every time I pull up! He is always happy I am home and I love having him there. He doesn’t like the heat so much and I am in Charleston, South Carolina, where it is humid, so I don’t ride him much in the summer.”
On competing at the National Horse Show:
“We love being here! This is Walk The Line’s favorite horse show. He is good everywhere else but this is his favorite. He floats around this ring and it is a lot of fun. I have been coming here for years.”
For more information, please visit nhs.org.