Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 7, 2020 – Week five of equitation competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) continued Friday with the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search 2* despite heavy rainfall in the morning, which delayed the show. Besting the pack of talented junior challengers, Hallie Grimes and her mount Juice Wrld performed consistently well over both the jumping and flat portions of the class to come out on top.
Ring 6 welcomed a smaller but prominent group of 12 horse-and-rider pairs to tackle the course made up of 14 jumping efforts, designed by Nick Granat, within the time-allowed of 73 seconds. The first round over fences consisted of a triple combination, an optional water jump and an optional 12th jump, making for a possible total of 15 jumping efforts. Riders had a choice to jump the water obstacle or a vertical, and then gallop down the line to the optional 12th fence with the choice of a vertical or an oxer.
Following the jump phase, all 12 competitors were invited back for the flat phase in an effort to impress the judges enough to earn top honors. Riders were tested at the walk, trot and canter, including an extended canter and the counter-canter in both directions. In the end, Grimes and Juice Wrld emerged victorious and walked away with the blue ribbon, while Eliza Kimball and Tessa Downey finished in second place and third place behind Grimes, respectively.
Grimes, under the training of Missy Clark, Berry Porter and North Run, dazzled the judges with a slick round over fences despite the wet footing. She piloted Royal Sport Horses’ Juice Wrld over the optional water jump, which many of the exhibitors chose not to take, and finished the course beautifully over the optional 12th vertical. Grimes re-entered the ring for the flat phase where she showed off Juice Wrld’s adjustable stride and her outstanding form in the irons. In the line up, Grimes’ number was called out first and she accepted the blue ribbon on her way out of the ring.
Kimball and her mount, Chacom Ask, owned by Kristy Johnson, claimed the second place honors under the guidance of trainer Andre Dignelli. Downey and her ride, HH Moonshine, owned by Double H Farm, finished in third place, with direction from Peter Pletcher.
Equitation competition will continue Saturday, Feb. 8 at 8:00 a.m. with THIS Children’s Medal 14 & Under and the SFHJA Junior Medal 14 & Under in the South Ring.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Hallie Grimes – Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search winner
On her horse: “Juice Wrld is a horse owned by a client of Berry Porter’s – Royal Sport Horses from Texas. He just started the equitation down here this winter. They let me do him in a few classes and it’s been lovely. He seems like he’s been doing it his whole career, and I think he’s a really, really talented horse. It’s been a pleasure. I’ve shown him the last three weeks.”
On the course: “I thought it was a good course. For me, the biggest issue frequently is the time-allowed, and so it really challenged me because a lot of the lines rode a little bit steady, especially for [Juice Wrld] because he has such a big stride. It really challenged me to go forward between the lines and then slow down in the lines. I like that it challenged that with me. [Juice Wrld] is such a lovely water jumper, so that’s never an issue with him. It was a good course because I think I got to work on my time-allowed management issues.”
On the wet conditions: “I remember two weeks ago I showed [Juice Wrld] and it was really muddy, and a lot of horses were having rails, and [Juice Wrld] I think really stepped up. He’s really good at that deep footing. It’s not really fun to ride in, but I think he really stepped up. He knows what he’s doing. It’s not as much of an issue for him as it is for other horses.”
On her plans for the rest of WEF: “I’m really excited. It’s my last year and we’re qualified for the Excellence in Equitation class. That’s always something to look forward to. Beyond that, I’m really lucky to have some High Junior Jumpers going, and I have a young hunter going, and my old hunter. I feel really lucky right now because I think all the horses are in a great place and going really well, and of course, Berry allowed me to ride [Juice Wrld] for a few weeks. I don’t really have any major goals set or expectations. We’re just going to keep going and see what happens.”