John French and Boss topped the two-round standings and have already earned $7,674.19.
Lexington, KY - August 13, 2014 - Amateur rider Kyle Owens picked a good day to break into the 90s for the first time in his riding career.
And, his excellent timing and performance aboard Messick paid impressive dividends, as he tied professional John Barker with Carlotta for the blue ribbon in the Second Round of the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Championship, August 12-14 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
"This was so exciting. I'd never even gotten a 91 before," said Owens who scored 86, 89 and 91 for a 266 total from judges Julie Winkel, Chris Wynne, Hap Hansen, Jeanne Marie Dunford-Miller, Scott Williamson and James Clapperton who sat in pairs around the Stonelea Ring. "In fact, that was my first 90. It feels awesome!
Photo Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography
"Yesterday, he was still a little green," added Owens of the 5-year-old Westphalian he purchased last year. "I mean, he's never been in a ring with all of the stuff on the sides, banners and so much to look at. Today he jumped better than yesterday. He jumped so high and was really careful, and I was pleased with how he went."
Barker, of Eight Oaks in Middleburg, VA, piloted the 6-year-old warmblood mare Carlotta to the identical score of 266 for the tie. The two winners each took home $9,647.55 for their efforts today.
Although Johnny and his wife Kitty purchased Carlotta as an adult amateur hunter for student Ashley Hodges, the Pre-Green Incentive Program and Championship has proven to be a great addition to their program.
Carlotta, an elegant bay, showed off the presence and great scope that first attracted Barker to her when he was searching for Hodges' next partner.
"Yesterday, she was a little fresher. She went nicely, but after the jumps she shook her head. Not badly, and I don't know if the judges really counted off for that, but she was a little more relaxed today and used to everything," he said. "She went great."
He praised the USHJA Pre-Green Incentive Program for helping to increase interest in the green hunters. With 131 entries in this year's second annual Championship, it's evident the program is already taking off in popularity.
"I think it's wonderful and so good for the horse business," he said. "The owners want to participate and to purchase these young horses." Barker and Carlotta finished the First and Second Rounds in sixth place overall and earned a place in tomorrow's Championship Round.
Owens, 22, of Powell, OH, who trains with Peter Pletcher, of PJP Farm in Magnolia, TX, usually shows Messick (Furst Grandios--Strutbuch 1) in the Adult Amateur section. In July, during Horse Shows by the Bay in Michigan, however, Owens took over the reins in the Pre-Greens as well. After he earned grand championship honors and topped all of the professionals, they decided to continue on with that plan during the Pre-Green Incentive Championship.
While Owens admitted he might be a little nervous for tomorrow's Championship Round, where he qualified as the 16th best after the First and Second Rounds, he will step into the ring with added confidence along with great memories from one of the best days of his riding career.
Photo Credit: Shawn McMillen Photography
"Oh, yeah! Now I have to put in another round that will be that good. We'll see if I can do it again," he said with a laugh. "Even if tomorrow I fall off, I'll be so excited. I can say, 'Yesterday I got a 91!' I'm thrilled that it turned out this way."
The top-30 horses, with the highest combined scores from the first two rounds, will return tomorrow with a clean slate for the Championship Round over a third course designed by Patrick Rodes, of Argyle, TX.
Laura Wasserman, of Beverly Hills, CA, was also thrilled with how everything has turned out so far. Her 8-year-old warmblood gelding Boss (Samba Hit-Vulano D) placed third in the Second Round with John French aboard. And, when combined with his fourth place in the First Round, Boss is the appropriate name that appeared atop the list of the 30 qualifiers for tomorrow's Championship Round. In addition, Boss has already amassed $7,674.19 for his efforts.
Scott Stewart, of Wellington, FL, continued his consistent performances aboard a variety of horses. After the First and Second Rounds, Stewart placed second aboard Classical, third with Enough Said, fifth with Remarkable, 11th with Wisdom and 25th with Simply Cool.
"I think it's great for everyone to bring out their nice young horses, and the prize money is super," said Stewart, who has already won $24,824.93 with his mounts after just the first two rounds.
First Round winner Hunt Tosh, who is also the event's defending champion, guided the 6-year-old Holsteiner Gotham, owned by Douglas Wheeler, to 11th place after the First and Second Rounds and claimed a spot in the top 30. He also qualified last year's co-champion Crisp for place in the Championship Round, finishing in ninth overall.
The Pre-Green Incentive Program has gained popularity since its debut in December 2012 and has garnered praise from members across the country for its encouragement of the development of young horses. The program would not have gotten off the ground without the early support of many people, including USHJA committee members and staff.
The Founding Members include: Colleen McQuay, Amanda Lyerly, Bill Ellis, Betty Oare, Diana Strumberg, Don Stewart, Emil Spadone, Geoff Teall, Jenny Karazissis, Joey Darby, Liza Boyd, Louise Serio, Peter Pletcher and Susie Schoellkopf.
The USHJA thanks the Official Sponsors who helped to make this championship possible, including: Charles Owen, the Official Helmet of the USHJA; Rood and Riddle, the Official Equine Hospital and Veterinary Pharmacy; Nutrena, Official Feed Sponsor; Standlee, Official Forage Company of the USHJA; The Clothes Horse, Official Cooler of the Pre-Green Championship; KY Lake Trailers Sales, Award Sponsor; Shapley's, Best Turned Out Award Sponsor; Hospitality Sponsor SmartPak; and Contributing Sponsors Perfect Products and Crown Equine Services.