History and pageantry were evident in the arena at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, as competitors in the Hunt Night classes brought their unique style, foxhounds and fun-loving attitude to this traditional facet of riding.
Members from thirteen recognized or registered Hunts, from all across Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, traveled to the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in order to come together in friendly competition.
No Hunt Night would be complete without foxhounds, and this year the River Hills Foxhounds from Kirkwood, PA, led by MFH James Paxson and his pack of Penn-Marydel hounds entertained the crowd with a demonstration of how foxhounds as a pack, work together.
Two-time Olympic eventer Boyd Martin returned to the Pennsylvania National Horse Show to defend his title in the Gentleman’s Hunter Hack with Right On Que for Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds. Martin is the only rider in the world to have competed at every 4-star event in the world, including the Olympic Games and the World Equestrian Games, and now he can add two back to back wins during Hunt Night the Pennsylvania National Horse Show to his resume
“I love it,” said Martin. “You just have to go around in a circle and they tell you what to do.”
The Hunt Teams competition, always a hotly contested class where three riders from the hunt follow each other over a course of fences and then for the last fence, jump in unison, saw 16 teams vie for the title. Emerging victorious was Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds Team 2, with riders Erika Nesler, Tanya Emslie and Anabel Barnett.
“I showed yesterday in the Equitation Final,” said Barnett. “Showing is what I mainly do, but on the side I hunt with my Mom and Dad. It is something we can all do together. This was a great lot of fun. I meet with my team three or four times before this weekend. It is an honor to be a part of a team doing something you love and it is all the better when you have this kind of outcome.”
The Field Hunter – Riders 35 Years of Age and Under was won by Erika Crowl and Weekend In Paris, from the Elkridge Hartford Hunt in Moulton, MD. In order to be eligible for the class, horses must be ridden by a Hunt member and must have hunted at least three times.
“I have been wanting to do this since I was a kid,” said Crowl. “I got the opportunity to come to the Pennsylvania National a couple of months ago and I’ve got a great horse, so I have been practicing. I have been waiting for thirty years to do this and I loved it.”
The Field Hunter – Riders 35 Years of Age and Over was won by Marlene Allen and Vivian for the Potomac Hunt.
“I might be an old fossil, but I love this,” said Allen. “This is the mare’s eighth horse show in her life, she has never let me down. She foxhunts just like this. She loves it. She is very special.”
Jill Wilson, representing the Keswick Hunt, took first place in the Ladies Hunter Hack with her mount Back Story. The beautiful bay bested a field of 38 entries, the largest class of the night, to take home the blue ribbon.
“I have been coming here for Hunt Night for a few years,” said Wilson. “Back Story is pretty amazing. He has done all the big show hunter stuff and his owner has taken him out hunting because she wants to do something a bit different with him. It was fun for me to get the opportunity to show him.”
Hunt Night culminated with the awarding of the Ralph A. Alfano Memorial Perpetual Trophy sponsored by Kinsley Construction. For the second year in a row the trophy was presented to Mr. Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds.