Traverse City, MI. – July 20, 2016 – The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival welcomed hunter competitors to its third week Wednesday at the Flintfields Horse Park. Riders have dubbed the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival the “destination show,” and it has already collected favorable reviews for the 2016-edition. With cloudless skies and mountain views, a number of contenders came into the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring intending to set the bar high, and started the first day of competition strong with top placings.
In the High Performance Working Hunters Courtney Calcagnini took the top spot in the over fences class, as well as the handy round, aboard Fleur de Lis Farms’ Bowie, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding. Taking second place in both classes was Tamara Provost and Jus d’O a 7-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion owned by Rick Moyer. Rounding out the top three were Peter Pletcher and Columbia, an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Blanche Strunk in the over fences class and Meagan Murray and Editorial, a 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding, owned by Rebecca Price in the handy class.
Calcagnini was thrilled to start off her week on such a high note, especially after a bit of a setback during the second week of the series. “Last week I was here and I jumped two jumps,” Calcagnini said glumly. “He flung his shoe off into the jump, and I had to pull up—that was my week.”
Her two trips Wednesday morning had a much better outcome and the pair is now getting ready for the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by the Gochman Family and Baxter Hill Farm on Saturday, July 30. Calcagnini was happy with her rides to start off the week. “I just wanted to be really smooth,” she said. “He did all the inside turns really well. He is a derby horse, so he’s super handy and he’s perfect so I’m just along for the ride. He has a huge stride so you have to be careful, you want to go a little bit around the end of the ring but then get him back a bit in the lines because he can leave out a stride easily.”
Calcagnini is returning to Traverse City for the first time in a few years and was full of praise for the show and the new management. “The management is super,” she said. “They’ve done an awesome job. It is such a relaxed atmosphere, everyone loves it. Going out on the lake in the afternoons and on Mondays is so much fun.”
In the Regular Conformation Hunter division, sponsored by Sugar Run Farm, it was Hilary Johnson and Maria Rasmussen trading out the top spots with Kelsey Wickham and Pick Six placing third in both classes. Rassmussen took home the blue in the over fences class aboard Bliss, a 7-year-old warmblood gelding owned by Corporate Way LLC; while Johnson and Voyager, an 8-year-old Warmbood gelding, owned by Copper Fox LLC, were on top in the handy round.
Rasmussen was happy with the rounds that her young horse put in. “I’m really proud of that horse,” she said. “He’s really green and we’ve been working really hard. He went awesome today, he’s a really good boy. He’ll do just the conformation classes this week.”
In the First Year Green Working Hunter Class, sponsored by Wrenwood Farm, the top spot again went to Johnson aboard Copper Fox LLC’s Voyager, an 8-year-old Warmbood gelding. Second place was awarded to Quirino a 10-year-old Holsteiner, piloted by Peter Pletcher and owned by Audry Giles-Gates. The third place went to Kelsey Wickham and Wait and See Farms’ Pick Six. In the handy round, Pletcher took the first place, while Melissa Donnelly and Corlando 49, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Elizabeth Becker, finsihed in second place and Jennifer Nadalin and Westeros owned by Katie Jordan rounded out the top three.
Johnson was enthusiastic about her rides to start off the week. “I was very happy with the horses,” Johnson said. “Voyager is a blast to ride, he jumps like a freak. He’s a young horse. He did the high Pre-Green Hunter division last year, and we just took our time with him. We let him mature and he’s really coming into his own. He’s a quiet horse, he takes a lot of leg, a lot to motivate him, especially on a hot day like this, but he just gives you such a cool feeling in the air.”
Hunter competition will continue Thursday in the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring with division championships. Sunday will see the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Glory Days Farm LLC.
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 don’t stop there as the park offers convenient on-site campgrounds and weekly nights of entertainment for a truly unique attendee experience.
To view the competition schedule, please click here.
For travel and housing information, please click here.