Traverse City, Mich. – Aug. 24, 2016 – The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) welcomed competitors to the R.L. Polk Main Hunter Ring for the seventh and final week of competition at the Flintfields Horse Park. Hillary Johnson of Lowell, Michigan, a consistent GLEF competitor, has shown numerous hunter mounts to the top of the leaderboard for tricolors throughout the two-part series, and she kicked off the final week of competition in a similar fashion, collecting consecutive blue ribbons in the professional hunter divisions to take a strong first day lead.
Johnson began the day by showing Moonwalk, owned by Copper Fox LLC of Grand Rapids, Michigan, to first and second place finishes over fences in the Green Working Hunters, and returned aboard Sorrento, owned by Copper Fox LLC, to also capture a first place and a third place over fences.
“Sorrento is one of the sweetest horses,” Johnson said. “He tries so hard to do what you are asking of him. We have been working on different things, and we are seeing everything come together, which is good timing right before indoors.”
During the Green Conformation Hunters, it was Johnson and Voyager, owned by Copper Fox LLC, who captured the judges’ attention, first winning the model and then taking the first place over fences. Johnson duplicated her efforts with Sorrento, claiming the first place in the handy, and also pinning second in the model and third over fences. Pick Six, with Kelsey Wickham in the irons, was awarded back-to-back red ribbons over fences, as well as the third place in the model.
“Voyager is a freak,” Johnson laughed. “I absolutely love that horse. We have taken our time and gone slow with him. We needed to give him time to mature, he needed some more time to come to the party. His owner, Kendall [Meijer], has been great about not rushing him. He is such a good mover, and he handled the cooler air and the wind great. All of the horses have been really good.”
Johnson continued her winning ways in the Performance Hunters, where she rode Rogelio, owned by Cole Battershall of Ada, Michigan, to a first-day sweep of the division. Kendall Meijer picked up the third place over fences, and the second in the handy, finishing the day with the second place under saddle. Johnson also took home the second and third place over fences with Foremost, owned by Battershall.
“Rogelio, or Roger, felt great today,” Johnson said. “His owner, Cole, will be back this week to show him. She actually just went back to school this week, so it is not the easiest schedule to juggle, especially since she is very studious. She will be back here Thursday night so that she only has to miss one day of school, and then she will show in the Junior Hunters.”
Johnson has plans to go to all four indoor shows with various horses, and said that she is happy with how all of the horses have been going leading up to the finals, and the duration of GLEF.
Series Two concludes Aug. 28, after featuring three weeks of hunter and jumper competition with a FEI CSI2* rating Week Five and Six and a FEI CSI3* rating during Week Seven, culminating in the $100,000 Grand Traverse Grand Prix on Sunday, Aug. 28. Hunter highlights for Week Seven include the $2,500 Glory Days USHJA National Hunter Derby, which will take place Sunday, Aug. 28.
The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival is set on 88 beautiful acres and showcases five world-class competition rings in addition to spacious schooling rings. The property features do not stop there as the park offers convenient on-site campgrounds and weekly nights of entertainment for a truly unique attendee experience.