Devon, Pa. – July 8, 2019 – The country’s top equitation riders took to the ring to compete in the highly competitive USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic – East Coast, taking place at the historic Devon Horse Show grounds. The Dixon Oval saw 101 junior equitation riders vie for the top prize, but at the end of three rounds of competition it was Madeline Schaefer and Samantha Schaefer’s Correndo who walked away with the prestigious Hunterdon Cup trophy.
Developed in 2005, the Hunterdon Cup features three rounds of competition, with this year’s east coast competition judged by Keri Kampsen and Rachael Kennedy. Named after George Morris’ farm, Hunterdon, the competition tests junior equitation riders to complete a hunter style course on their equitation mounts. The course, designed by Skip Bailey, strategically used a variety of elements, asking riders to compete over bending lines, combinations, and angled verticals. The Hunterdon Cup is open to any junior rider that has won USEF Medal, ASPCA Maclay, USEF Show Jumping Talent Search, or Overall WIHS Equitation Classic during the qualifying year.
Following the first round, Schaefer sat in first place with a score of 92. After the first classic round of competition, the top 20 riders returned to the ring to compete in the second handy round. Carefully watching the 19 riders before her, Schaefer opted to utilize her skills at the hand gallop rather than opt for some of the more difficult inside turns. Scoring an 84.5 during the handy round, Schaefer managed to hold the lead by half of a point heading into the third and final round of competition.
The other three riders who were asked to return in the top four included Ava Stearns, Addison Piper, and Hannah Hoch. Riders were asked to swap horses and after limited warm-up time on their unfamiliar mounts, they returned in reverse order to complete a new, shortened test over fences.
Stearns, riding Piper’s original mount Heritage Farm’s Charisma, entered the ring first and set the bar high for her competitors. Next to go was Piper, riding Nevergreen Farm LLC and North Run Farm’s Colando, who was originally Stearns’ mount. The final two competitors, Hoch riding Correndo and Schaefer on Hoch’s mount, Heritage Farm’s Carlson 83, had to put in near perfect rounds to hold their top two positions. As the last to go, Schaefer delivered a flawless trip, effortlessly navigating the unfamiliar mount to clinch the prestigious championship.
Trained by Kate Conover, Samantha Schaefer, Stacey Weiss, and the team at Heritage Farm, Schaefer was well-prepared for the Hunterdon Cup. Schaefer and the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding have been partnered together for just over two years, working up through the equitation ranks together. The pair fined tuned their experience in the equitation ring throughout the winter circuit in Ocala, Florida, regularly placing in the top three in the various equitation classes.
To round out the top three, Stearns’ flawless test ultimately moved her up from fourth place to earn the reserve championship honors. Stearns and the 11-year-old Warmblood Colando have been paired together since the start of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, Florida. Piper and her veteran equitation mount Charisma rounded out the top three after their consistent trips over three rounds of competition.
Madeline Schaefer – USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic – East Coast winner
On the win:
“It’s a great honor to win this class. I hadn’t been to junior hunter finals before last year, so I haven’t had many chances to see the class. The first round started off pretty good, I was pretty confident. The second round was good, and then I switched to Hannah Hoch’s horse [Carlson 83] for the test which was a lot of fun. I’m honored to win.”
On the handy:
“As I got to go towards the end of the handy round I noticed that the judges were really rewarding the hand gallop. I compromised other inside turns for the hand gallop to make sure that it was showcased. My horse doesn’t love his right lead, but he was great for me today. He was perfect.”
“Correndo was the first equitation horse that I ever showed in a class when Karen O’Connor and Raylyn Farms owned him. He had an injury and went away for a little bit and then he came back to us. I ended up showing him for probably a year when she still owned him. We bought him after that and we’ve had him a little over two years.”
Ava Stearns – second place
On the class:
“Today went really well. I was so happy with the way my horse went. I believe this is his first final and he really stepped up to the plate. I got to switch to Addison [Piper’s] horse Charisma and he could not have been any better.”
On the handy:
“I actually went ninetieth in the order so I didn’t have that long of a break in between the first and second round. I was super excited when I saw the handy because my horse is super handy, super quick on his feet, and there are a lot of cool inside turns that you could do and they gave you a lot of opportunity to show off. I was really excited to see what I could do with it.”
“My horse is a little bit new to the equitation, he’s been doing it for about a year. He’s a little bit new to me too. I’ve worked with him a lot, he was my sole horse through WEF. The more that he’s learned and the more that we’ve been able to work together I’ve learned that he just never disappoints.”
Addison Piper – third place
On the class:
“I felt really good about today, my horse was great and I couldn’t have asked him to be any better. I had so much fun. I have never actually done this class, it’s my first year doing it. I couldn’t have asked for a better team and a better horse to do it on for my first year. The test was so much fun, I got to ride Ava Stearns’ horse Colando which was really fun, so overall I think it went really well and I was really happy with it.”
On the handy:
“I was a little bit nervous, there were a lot of inside turns that you could do and you had to really stay on top of it, especially after doing a really long hunter round. You had to be competitive. My horse was great, he’s done this class, he listens well, and it was a lot of fun! You had to stay on top of it and look for the turns.”
“I’d say our relationship is fairly new, I started with him around the beginning of WEF, in December, and we were just trying to get to know each other throughout WEF. In the spring we definitely started to click, and he’s the most amazing horse ever, he’s magical. As soon as it clicked it was amazing, it’s an honor to ride him.”