Last year, Paige Matthies had to settle for second in the $15,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic with the fastest four-fault round. This year, there was no stopping her as she claimed the title, and the Ambassador’s Cup Perpetual Trophy, donated by Ambassador and Mrs. Marion H. Smoak, with the only clean round in the class riding Climbus.

“He has a heart of gold,” Matthies said of Climbus, a 13-year-old Holsteiner by Cartani and owned by Barbara Smith. “He wants a clear round and to win. He’ll put his all into it if he feels like you need it, and he did that today.”

Course designer Olaf Petersen, Jr., set a tough course for the class, and Matthies was glad she went first in the class and didn’t watch the problems later riders encountered. “A lot of people don’t prefer that because you don’t get to watch other riders go and see how the course rides, but with as many tricks as showed up on the course today, I felt like it was almost better that I wasn’t thinking about them,” she said.

Paige Matthies and Climbus topped the $15,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic at WIHS. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

“I just went out and rode the course. There were a lot of blind turns. That just continued throughout the course, with different tests. It was also a test of the horse’s scope because it was a big, wide course,” Matthies said.

Matthies, of Lake Leelanau, MI, has been riding Climbus for two and half years. He was her first high junior jumper, and he’s helped her gain confidence in the division. “He’s kind of an unconventional horse,” she said. “He goes with his head up, and he’s very quick on his feet. You have to ride him. He wants a polite rider, but you have to be effective and tell him what you want. If you do that, he’ll do the job for you.”

This is Matthies’ last year as a junior rider, so she was a bit nostalgic about her last junior jumper class at WIHS. “This has always been one of my favorite shows, with the setting,” she said.

Finishing second in the class with the fastest four-fault round in 58.44 seconds was Elizabeth Lang riding her own Zephyr. Sophie Gochman rode Gochman Sport Horse’s Carola BH into third with four faults in 59.05 seconds.