Last weekend was a big one for Team Knollwood as we finished two very successful show seasons for 2017. Our show horses were in Kansas City competing against the best in the country at the UPHA National Championship American Royal Horse Show.
Meanwhile, back at the home office, our academy riders were finishing their 16th show of their 2017 campaign at the Knollwood Fall show.
In many ways, these two shows celebrate the same things. Our riders of all levels have shown tremendous progress since the first shows of the season. The more you ride and the more you show, the better you get. This was so evident with several of our riders, and we'll get to their stories later.
Respect for our equine partners was evident at both shows. Academy riders and national champion riders were both hugging and patting their mounts after classes, and spending time with them back in the barn.
Sportsmanship abounds. Horse shows don't have an obvious scoring system, and we rely on the experience, knowledge and opinion of judges for each event. Judges are human, and can only judge what they can see from their vantage point in the ring.
It's a hard, often thankless job, and they are trying to do their best. We ask their opinion as we enter the ring, and accept it as we leave the arena.
How do we deal when we don't see things the same way? We congratulate the winners and reflect on our performances. Instructors and trainers are excellent sources of critiques and usually dispense it freely. If they're happy, life is good.
We had a blast both in Kansas City and Hartland, and here are some of our favorite stories of the week.
The Young and The Eternally Young
Our Knollwood finale showcases riding as a sport everyone can enjoy for life. From our 4 year old leadline riders to our grown ups competing in both walk trot and walk trot canter classes, a good time was had by all.
Our adult walk trot canter championship on Saturday featured a champion and reserve champion whose age difference spanned more than 25 years. Not many sports can match that!
Earlier we said that the more you ride and the more you show, the better you get at this. Lora is a shining example of our mantra, having amassed the most loyalty points in history at the Hotel Berget.
You see, Lora lives 7 hours away in Iowa, and has taken a gap year to finish her last year of equitation finals before she heads off to the University of Virginia.
Lora practically lived at Knollwood this summer, except when she was traveling to shows.
Her hard work has really paid off in her final season, as she finished in the Top 10 of all of the Big Three equitation finals, the UPHA Challenge Cup, The Good Hands, and the USEF Saddle Seat Medal.
We congratulate her on her great success with her beautiful partner, Sophie.
Isabella's New Horse
Kansas City is a famous horse shopping destination, as it's the last show of the season and many riders are aging out, changing divisions, or looking for something new.
Scott and Carol have been looking for a horse for Bella for a few months. She has enjoyed success the last 2 seasons leasing and showing Tura Lura Lura, known in the barn as Maddie.
Bella's grandparents purchased Far Away Garfield at the show from Elisabeth Goth with Neil Visser as her agent. Scott and Carol represented the Kingsburys.
This cool young horse won his Country Pleasure qualifier at the Royal with former Knollwood Kid Michelle Krentz catch riding. We can't wait to watch Isabella's upcoming adventures with her new partner!
As you may know, Susan lost her beloved western horse In The Zone last spring. She and Carol have been searching high and low for a new partner, and Susan purchased Sir Don Juan as a western prospect.
Susan's daughter Kerry is known far and wide for her riding ability and her uncanny skill of finding great spots in the show ring. She's currently showing her charismatic and sometimes quirky park mare Brookhill's Passion Punch, known to all in the barn as Leila.
Susan's new western prospect needed some ring time, so Kerry started working with Carol on western riding, and she showed Rudi at Mane Event to great success. Team Rudi headed to KC where they won the ladies western qualifier and then went on to win the national championship.
Congrats to Kerry and Susan. Is there anything Kerry can't ride?
Team Knollwood went to Kansas City with 5 equitation ladies who have been competing very successfully all season.
Our two junior riders, Hanna and Finn enjoyed a great time at the Royal. Hanna finished 4th in the Junior Challenge Cup National Final, 3rd in the National Championship for Junior Equitation Riders, and made the first cut in the Medal Final. This is her first year out of academy, and she was showing walk trot academy last season!
Finn and her beautiful mare Nuttin But a Lady finished 5th in the Junior Challenge Cup National Final, and 7th in the Junior National Championship. She also had the opportunity to catch ride a country pleasure horse, and won both her qualifier and a national championship!
Our senior riders were in deep, deep competition. In a year where 12 riders will be aging out as they reach the end of their 17 year old year, the competition was beyond fierce.
All three of our riders made the first cut in the UPHA Senior Challenge Cup Final, and Lora went on to finish in the Top 10.
15 year old Haley finished 4th in the Senior National Championship, and Madison turned in some flawless workouts to finish her Junior Exhibitor career.
Finals of the Knollwood Challenge
In an effort to introduce the equitation final concept to our up and coming academy riders, we started the Knollwood Challenge about 10 years ago. Our most experienced academy stars in both walk/trot/canter and walk and trot compete in qualifying classes at our three shows, and the riders who finish first or second qualify to ride in the final at the November show. Qualifying classes include railwork and a pre-set pattern for all riders.
Riders compete on the rail in November and then get to perform a difficult pattern in the arena by themselves before all the finalists return to the arena for the awards ceremony.
The Challenge winner receives a custom show shirt from deRegnaucourt and a traveling bronze trophy.
Competition was strong again this year, and the patterns were pretty spot on.
Maddie won the walk trot and canter division after winning the walk and trot division last year. She becomes only the second rider to win both divisions with Emma being the first.
Emma won the walk and trot division in only her first attempt at winning the final.
Congratulations to all the competitors on a job very well done!
Remember when we said that the more you ride and show, the faster you progress? Richie could have written that himself.
Richie started his academy show career in 2016 at the ASAW Summer Showcase, winning the maiden division on Klem. He fell in love with the sport and has been with us for almost every show we attend. He helps at the barn to earn extra saddle no stirrup time and often rides 4 times a week.
He was fortunate to become the new partner of the one and only Miss Mheirry Mack when his parents purchased the equitation superstar last spring. Richie and Carol have been working tirelessly getting the team together, and they made their debut at IASPHA at the end of October.
All that hard work has paid off with Richie traveling to KC for his second show where he finished Reserve National Champion in the UPHA Challenge Cup Walk and Trot National Final. To top it off, he qualified for the 2018 final by winning a qualifying class the following day.
Richie is a student of horses. He appreciates every horse he rides, and takes care of them as if they were his own. He was particularly close to Chip who passed away this spring, and wears Chip's halter name tag around his neck when he shows.
He stays after rides to help Marin with Tink, and has learned much from this once in a lifetime caretaker. He can now bandage almost as well as his caretaker mentor Marin!
It's been a great show season, and we're grateful to everyone who came along for the ride.