Jef Lauwers and Screenshot Secure Lugano Diamonds Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 3’6” Championship
The Lugano Diamonds Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 3’6” division had 18 competitors in the Rost Arena on Saturday morning before the championship presentation. Jef Lauwers secured the tricolor ribbon aboard his mount, Screenshot, and dominated the division with a first, first, first, and fourth over fences with a sixth in the under saddle.
“We are a great team,” said Lauwers. “It’s always a nice feeling to win here at WEF because it is so competitive. There are new people and better horses every week, so to win three out of five classes in a division is an amazing feeling, especially with [Screenshot], since we are both still learning at the same time.”
This year’s Winter Equestrian Festival welcomed the nine-year-old Warmblood gelding into the hunter ring for his debut as a first-year horse after a successful 2017 finish in the Amateur-Owner 3’3” division. After Screenshot accompanied the young rider from Magnolia, TX, at both the 3’3” and 3’6” height for their first week at WEF, Lauwers felt confident that the young gelding would continue to shine over the bigger fences.
“He has been truly amazing,” added Lauwers. “I like a loose ride and to be part of a team. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses well, so he helps me and I help him. He is not really a new horse for me, since I have had him now for five months, but he was the one that originally helped [move] me up to the bigger jumps.”
The duo claimed reserve honors in the division last week and the gelding stepped up to the plate for the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Hunter Spectacular when Lauwer’s other mount turned up injured.
“He was actually my second horse,” said Lauwers of his choice of ride for World Championship Hunter Rider week at WEF. “We got into the night class, and he really stepped up. He can be a little green here and there, so I have to show him where he needs to be, but he has been incredible.”
Lauwers added that the pair will be showing in Houston, TX, in two weeks, and that he hopes that they will continue on to qualify for the Devon Horse Show and indoors, this year.
“It’s going to be a fun year with him,” said Lauwers.
The reserve award went to Madeline Thatcher and Standing Ovation, owned by Pony Lane Farm, with a first-place finish over fences
Samantha Weinerman and Bahnoe Capture THIS Children’s Medal 15-17
The final day of week seven at the Winter Equestrian Festival began with Samantha Weinerman claiming top honors aboard Bahnoe, owned by Stonehenge Stables, in the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) Children’s Medal 15-17. The duo was one of the top four to return for the second round of testing in ring seven and were the only pair to ace all elements presented by the judges.
“I think we really won it at the trot jump today,” said Weinerman, who had originally returned to the ring in second place with a score of 85. “He came back nicely in the middle of the line, and he got it done easy.”
Siena Vasan and Calvin Klein, owned by Palm Ponies LLC, were sitting in first place with a score of 86, but fit a single canter step in before the trot jump in the test, which moved them to third. Grace Klein finished in second aboard Avedon, owned by Elizabeth Klein, with a score of 79 and a successful testing round.
“My goal for today was to focus on keeping him in front of my leg and to make sure all the distances and transitions were smooth,” said Weinerman. “So, I think that worked out! He is really quiet to ride, and he knows what he is doing.”
Bahnoe is a 12-year-old KWPN gelding by Gentleman x Kiya and a recent import from Europe with experience in the big equitation classes. Weinerman added that she hopes to move up with him over the next few weeks at WEF.
Animo Medium Pony Hunter Win Goes to Baylee McKeever aboard Sterling
Baylee McKeever, of Brewster, NY, had a success-filled week seven finish aboard her mount, Sterling, owned by Madeline Schaefer. The pair took home the Animo Medium Pony Hunter division championship win on Sunday with a first, second, fourth, and eighth over fences.
“He is a very sweet pony,” said McKeever of the 14-year-old Welsh Pony gelding. “He is very adjustable, and he loves to jump. My favorite part about riding him is how smooth he is to find the distances and how you can kind of just cruise along and stay at one rhythm the whole way around.”
When asked about her preparation for this weekend’s competition, McKeever added that Sterling can be difficult at times, but that overall, today proved that the pair has come a long way.
“He can ride very differently on different days,” said McKeever. “Sometimes he has trouble with some things, but it meant a lot to win today, because we worked a lot on collecting and he turned out really well. I am very excited, and I feel like I have come far with this pony. My goal for this weekend was to be consistent, since we can have some off rounds here and there, and he was really good throughout all of our rounds.”
Reserve honors went to Georgia Jacob and Frosted, owned by Kathryn Mccarthy, with a first, fourth, and sixth over fences.