The Amateur Owner Hunter divisions crowned their respective champions on Saturday at The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair. Lisa Arena Davis returned to Devon after six years to earn the Grand Amateur Owner Hunter 3’3’’ championship title aboard Balou.
During Friday’s portion of the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’3’’ Hunters, Davis and Balou received first place in the under saddle after impressing the judges with Balou’s stunning looks and impressive movement. On Saturday, the pair earned another first place in the stake class with a score of 85. In the handy round, Daivs and Balou finished in second place, finishing their course with a score of 88.
“Balou is 14 years old this year,” Davis shared of her mount. “I’ve had him since he was 6 years old. This is my first time actually showing him at Devon. Yesterday he won the hack, which was great, and he was just super both days. He really tries to rise to the occasion. I just tried to keep my nerves in check and just try to enjoy being at Devon.”
In 2012, Balou took home reserve champion in the Second Year Green division with Davis’ trainer, Amanda Steege. This year, Davis returned to Devon to pilot the 14-year old gelding to a championship in the Amateur-Owner 18-35 3’3’’ Hunters, and ultimately the Grand Amateur-Owner 3’3’’ Hunter championship. Davis and Balou were also awarded the Jenepher McLean Kelly Challenge Trophy in honor of their championship.
“I’ve shown here before with my other horse, but I think it’s been five or six years since I’ve been. It’s my first time showing Balou here and honestly, it’s such a special place. He was reserve champion here in the Second Year Greens in 2012. There’s no other horse show like it,” said Davis.
Reserve champion in the Amateur Owner 18-35 3’3’’ Hunter division went to Stephanie Danhakl riding Enough Said. The pair received a first, second, third, and fourth throughout the two days of competition to earn the reserve championship title.
In the Amateur-Owner Over 35 3’6’’ Hunter division, Beth Bidgood and Uprising returned to the Dixon Oval after laying down impressive courses during Friday’s portion of the class and earning two first place ribbons. On Saturday, Bidgood and Uprising once again took top honors, receiving first place in the handy round with a score of 90.
Bidgood’s collection of Devon blues would ultimately earn her the championship and the Morris H. Dixon Memorial Challenge Trophy in the Amateur-Owner Over 35 3’6’’ Hunter division. Bidgood and Uprising also walked away with the overall Grand Amateur-Owner 3’6’’ Hunter championship as well as the Leading Amateur-Owner 3’6’’ Hunter Rider award.
Becky Gochman and Catch Me were awarded the Amateur-Owner Over 35 3’6’’ Hunter reserve championship. The Sambalino Award and Sambalino Perpetual Trophy was awarded to Laura Sexton and Set to Music, a horse the judges felt best exemplifies the classic hunter horse in movement, style and presence.