Harrisburg, Pa. – Four young athletes from Texas stole the show at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show on Friday night, turning in two superior rounds in the team competition at the 2022 Neue Schule/USEF Junior Jumper National Championship (Prix des States).
The team from USHJA Zone 7 is Sofia Cady (Austin, Texas), Tessa Downey (Houston, Texas), Lola Head (Houston, Texas), and Carlee McCutcheon (Aubrey, Texas). All four team members have known each other for a long time, and reaching the top of the podium together was a sweet victory. But Alan Wade’s challenging course kept them on their toes en route to gold.
“I thought it felt really great. It’s always hard to ride in such a small ring and the triple bar didn’t come up for me like I wanted it to, but everything else I thought was really fun to ride,” said Downey.
“I thought the course had a really nice variety of questions with shortening and lengthening and getting across the spreads, which is sort of what got me,” said Head. “But I think it was a challenging course that weeded out a bunch of really good riders. And for those of us that are doing Sunday’s [Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final], it was nice preparation to get in there and see how it rides.”
Only one rider in the entire team competition, Virginia Bonnie of Zone 3, made it through two rounds with no jumping penalties. The members of the Zone 7 team all finished on an equal score, each having just one rail each from the two rounds.
“I’ve been watching Harrisburg since I was still riding western back when I first started,” said Cady. “I came here last year and did the medal finals but I stayed and watched the jumpers, and it always seemed like a really cool environment. I’ve known [my teammates] for a really long time, and they’re so supportive.”
“This is my third Prix des States, my second one here, and it’s just so fun to show in that arena,” said McCutcheon. “It’s such a privilege to be on a team with these girls. It means so much. [We won] team silver last year, and it just felt so good to capture gold this year.”
Phase II of the individual competition also took place on Friday evening. Ansgar Holtgers (Wellington, Fla.) took first place riding Chaploon, a 2010 Oldenburg gelding owned by Gut Einhaus, LLC. Ainsley Wright and Diamanto JT Z finished in second place, and Danielle Vahdat rounded out the top three with Gernice Van De Postbaan.
After the first two phases, Virginia Bonnie (Upperville, Va.) currently stands in first place individually with Heldorado, Nina Bonnie’s 2012 KWPN gelding.
Competition concludes tomorrow with Phase III of the individual competition at 5:45 p.m. ET.
Watch all the action live from the 2022 Neue Schule/USEF Jr. Jumper National Championships and all of the Pennsylvania National Horse Show on USEF Network.