Hunter competition returned to the Alltech Arena on Thursday morning for the conclusion of the Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions at the 2019 National Horse Show. Showcasing beautiful movement and textbook jumping style, a total of 32 horses were seen over the course of two days for the 18-35 and 36+ divisions. The action came to a pinnacle with the final round for each in the stake class to determine who would go home with the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter title and the Susanne Stroh Perpetual Trophy. Ultimately, it was Lynn Seithel who sealed the deal with Walk The Line.
Photo by Phelps Media Group
Seithel and the 20-year-old Selle Luxemburg put on spectacular performances for judges Ralph Caristo and Linda Hough throughout their Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter 36+ division. The pair’s long-term partnership was apparent in the arena as they elegantly navigated each course for two second-place ribbons and a first in the handy. Walk The Line also received a second on the flat for his floating trot and rhythmic canter, topping off their leading score to end up champion of the Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter 36+ division in addition to the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter.
Walk The Line and Seithel’s partnership began when Don Stewart purchased him. Originally, Seithel would school ‘Walkie’ before the junior riders would get on to show him. Seithel fell in love with the handsome gelding and vowed she would one day own him. When Walk The Line turned 14 years old, she got the horse she had been so patiently waiting for.
“He is one of a kind,” Seithel remarked. “I have a lot of nice horses but he is really special. I started out doing the 3’6” Amateur-Owners with him but we let him move down to the 3’3” when he turned 18 years old. He loves his job and he is a good boy. He is a little quirky – he relaxes if you let go and he likes when you ask him to do everything, you just have to tell him in a nice way. [Don] promised him to me so when Lillie Keenan was done with him I bought him. I waited for him for a couple of years! It is the best thing I ever got from Don Stewart!”
Their six years together have been filled with championships and blue ribbons, including a reserve champion finish in the Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter 36+ division at the 2018 National Horse Show. Seithel and Walk The Line’s success has culminated with the achievement of the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’3” Hunter at the 136th edition of the National Horse Show.
Walkie’s age has never seemed to hold him back, but Seithel keeps close eyes on him to ensure his well-being. When asked about what his career looks like in the future, she responded: “We are going to do whatever he tells us he wants to do. He does not owe me a thing! I would like to come back next year but we will see how it goes. Maybe since we were champions here we might retire him, but I am going to let him tell us because I don’t think he will like sitting at home. He will probably be here next year, whether he is showing or not he will come with me.”
Following the finish of the Amateur-Owner divisions, junior riders took the spotlight for the start of their divisions. In the Small section, Erin Floyd piloted Cleopatra’s Smile, owned by Wolfstone Stables & Sales, Inc., to a top placing in the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 Handy class. The partners in competition were also rewarded for their handy trip with the Ovation Perpetual Trophy, an award given out by the judges for the best performance in the handy round.
In the Large section, Maggie Hill rode her very own Cassanto to two blue ribbons in the Large Junior Hunter Over Fences and Handy class. To top off their stellar rides, judges awarded Hill and Cassanto with the “Blue By You” Memorial Challenge Trophy, a prize given to the best handy round of the Large sections.