Harrisburg, Pa. – Thirty-three junior athletes took to the Harrisburg Coliseum at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show for the start of the USEF Junior Jumper National Championships. The $5,000 Individual Championship Phase I served as the premier event Thursday evening, and the combinations did not disappoint with their determined efforts over Nick Granat’s course. Zone 4’s Olivia Sweetnam and Ina were the second pair to go in the class, and they laid down an efficient round with a quick time of 58.601 seconds that held up through the end of the competition.
“I went second, which I was quite nervous for, but it turned out to be good because I didn't get in my head about anything and I kind of just went with it,” said Sweetnam. “I didn't really stick to my plan, but it worked out. [The course] was quite technical. There were a couple turns that were hard, but she handled them really well.”
Despite riding Ina for only about five months, Sweetnam (Wellington, Fla.) has developed a solid partnership with Triple S Group’s 2013 KWPN mare. They will put their partnership to the test as they head into the next phases of the competition.
“Going into the second day on top will be really nerve wracking,” said Sweetnam. “Just the pressure of being the only person going in on zero is a little scary but it's okay. I’ll have to deal with it.”
The pair dealt with the initial pressure of competing in the Harrisburg Coliseum and aims to continue to have strong results.
“There's an atmosphere in this ring that's hard to describe,” said Sweetnam. “There are so many amazing riders here, but it's a good feeling, especially when you come out with a good round. It's really relieving.”
Second place went to Zone 2’s Hunter Champey (Bedminster, N.J.) and High Hopes SFN, MDHT Equestrian, LLC’s 2012 KWPN gelding, with a time of 59.144 seconds. Zone 7’s Carlee McCutcheon (Aubrey, Texas) and Coco Mercedes, Purple Rein Investments’ 2013 Westphalian mare, were third with a time of 59.713 seconds.
Competition continues Friday with the $15,000 USEF Prix des States Team Championship and $5,000 Individual Championship Phase II starting at 4:45 p.m. ET.
Find out more about the USEF Junior Jumper National Championships.
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The USEF International High Performance Programs and the USEF High Performance Pathway Programs are generously supported by the USET Foundation, the philanthropic partner to USEF. High Performance Program support is also provided by the USOPC and USEF sponsors and members.