USHJA Zones 3 & 4 Riders Claim Medals and Gold Star Emerging Jumper Rider Titles at Championships


Culpeper, Va. —– Aug. 28, 2017 — –After three days of team and individual competition, riders from Zone 4 prevailed earning individual gold medals in the Children’s (1.10/1.15m), 1.20/1.25m Junior and Amateur and the 1.30/1.35 Junior and Amateur sections of the USHJA Zones 3 & 4 Jumper Team Championships. However, both zones had ample time on the podium in the individual championships.

Leading the Children’s competition from start to finish was the young and dedicated Mia Albelo of Zone 4 (Coral Gables, Fla.). At just 12 years old, Albelo bested a field of 25 of the best Children’s jumper riders from Zones 3 and 4 to end with just 4 faults she picked up in the final round. Julia Ziffer (16, Darnestown, Md.) earned the individual silver medal for Zone 3 and rounding out the podium was Zone 4’s Cayman Szegda (14, Marietta, Ga.) earning the bronze.

“It feels really awesome,” said Albelo of winning the gold medal. “I didn’t know what to expect because anything can happen. I went in today really nervous but felt confident in me and my horse, and after that rail (in the final round), we kept fighting. And, it felt really awesome when we crossed those timers, and they announced ‘you’re the gold medal champion.'”

Trainer Vivianne Marzullo spoke highly of Albelo and her courageous nature saying, “Mia is just one of those special kids that you just love training because she’s just always fighting no matter what, and a lot of people don’t do well under pressure and this kid just excels. It’s just a pleasure working with her and I can only wish her the very best.

Albelo has aspired to go to the Olympics since she began riding at age 6 and was very excited to be named a USHJA Gold Star Emerging Jumper Rider who will be invited to participated in a USHJA Gold Star Clinic in 2018 as part of the USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Program.

After five years of competing in the Championships, it was an emotional individual championship and awards ceremony in the Adult Amateur (1.10/1.15m) section, as Zone 3’s Wendy Libert (Charlotte Hall, Md.) earned the elusive individual gold medal, jumping fault-free across all rounds of competition. Libert also led her team in Saturday’s competition to a silver medal finish.
Zone 3’s Courtney Logan (Gaithersburg, Md.) earned the silver medal just 1.9 faults behind Libert, and Jessica Matelis (Washington, D.C.), took bronze.

“I love the team atmosphere,” said Libert of the weekend’s competition. “Zone 3 is so competitive. We have so many really good horses, and we go week after week showing against each other, so to be able to come together and really ride as a team and support each other, it’s really very nice.”

Libert, who has participated in the Championships each year since their inception had not just her Zone 3 teammates on hand to cheer her on this weekend, but also her family including her sister, trainer and the Zone 3 Chef d’Equipe Tracy Magness, her parents, and her daughter Brittany, who hopes to compete in the Championships in the future.

New to the Championships this year is the addition of the 1.20/1.25m Junior and Amateur and 1.30/1.35m Junior and Amateur sections.

Earning both team and individual gold in the 1.20/1.25m Junior and Amateur section was Flora Manship of Zone 4 (Atlanta, Ga.). Manship, who took a 10-year hiatus from showing to go to law school and begin practicing law, was excited to come back to the show ring with her home bred 8-year old gelding Endgame and compete on a team and as an individual. Hot on her heels was Lila Sessums (Clinton, Miss.) who earned the silver individual medal, just .2 faults behind Manship. Taking the individual bronze medal in the 1.20/1.25m section was Zone 3’s Bailey Doloff (Skyesville, Md.).

“This is seriously the most fun horse show I’ve ever been to, and everyone is so supportive, and I love the team component,” said Manship, who also had high praise for the courses.
The courses, designed by Mexico City native and FEI level 3 course designer Manuel Esparza, were technical and increased in difficulty and height throughout the competition.
“First of all I always try to make sure they learn something in every course,” said Esparza. “This is a perfect program for the kids and the amateurs to do these. It’s a very nice format; it is very safe for them, and they understand what the sport is about, and it’s a nice rhythm for the big level. So, I always try to make my courses the safest and fun for them to ride but still challenging. You have to ride, not just jump higher and higher. You have to think about it.”

Also helping Zone 4 to top the podium again in the 1.30/1.35m Junior and Amateur section was Quinn Larimer (Mableton, Ga.), who also was on the Zone 3/Zone 4 gold medal team on Saturday. Fellow teammate Shelly Zimmerli (14, Fairfax Station, Va.) was close behind Larimer to earn the individual silver, and Erika Jakobson (15, Boca Raton, Fla.) took home individual bronze.

“It feels really good!” said Larimer of winning the individual gold. “My goal was just to come and jump as many clear and consistent rounds as I could. I really enjoyed being on the combined Zone 3/Zone 4 team because I got to meet the Zone 3 members and well as Zone 4.”

With aspirations to move up to the U25 Grands Prix in the near future, Larimer had high praise for the new 1.30/1.35m Junior and Amateur section of the Zone Jumper Team Championships.

“I just really enjoyed the championships as a whole,” she said. “I think it was great to have jumped on a team at a height like this that prepares you for things in the future, and it was especially nice for me, because I had just moved up to the 1.40m, so I got to step back down a little for the Championship and work on riding my best without focusing on the height of the jumps. It was a nice way to calm my nerves.”

Larimer, a USHJA Emerging Athletes Program National Training Session Alumni, currently balances riding with her studies in industrial and systems engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Despite balancing showing and a challenging degree, Larimer is excited to participate and continue to advance and perfect her horsemanship and riding skills in the Gold Star Clinics as an Emerging Jumper Rider.

Zone 3 Chef d’Equipe Sandra Ruiz also expressed excitement for the new USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Program and the Gold Star Clinics for individual medalists and their trainers.

“I think it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever heard yet,” said Ruiz of the creation of the program. “Since I’ve been doing Young Riders (FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championship), I’ve said, ‘Now what? How do we get them there?’ Part of this was putting the 1.20m and 1.30m [sections] in the Championship so we can feed the pathway, which generates beautifully to the upper levels of riding.”

Individual Champions received an EQUO Sun Shirt, the Official Sun Shirt of the USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships, a pair of Professional’s Choice Pro Performance boots, a cooler, a ribbon and a medal.

Ruiz known for her in gate high fives and positive, enthusiastic energy was excited to participate in this year’s USHJA Zones 3 & 4 Jumper Team Championships.

“It’s a bunch of energy and I love it; I love every minute of it,” said Ruiz. “I live for it. I love when they smile, I love when they say ‘I’ve learned a lot,’ and I love they say, ‘I’m moving up next year.’ It’s music to my ears!”
Special thanks to HITS Culpeper for hosting the Championships.
For more information on the USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships, visit For more information on the USHJA Emerging Jumper Rider Program, visit
Children’s (1.10/1.15m) Individual Championship Results
Name Horse Zone City, State R1 R2 R3 R4 Total
1 Mia Abelo Cassandra Dreams 4  Coral Gables, Fla. 0.000 0 0 4 4.000
2 Julia Ziffer Ultimate 3  Darnestown, Md. 1.324 0 4 0 5.324
3 Cayman Szegda Valotti Vdl 4  Marietta, Ga. 3.547 2 0 0 5.547
4 Isabelle Song Eminem 3  Charlotte, N.C. 2.195 4 0 0 6.195
5 Ansley Wright Coriano Van Het Hermitage 4  Manalapan, Fla. 7.4165 0 0 0 7.417
6 Grace Hetherington Warsteiner 3  Great Falls, Va 1.583 0 8 0 9.583
7 Heloise Germain Quovetta Buisson Z 3  Owings Mills, Md. 2.228 4 0 4 10.228
8 Isabella Durnell Mtm Fashionista 4  Suwanee, Ga. 10.055 4 0 0 14.055

Adult Amateur Individual Championship Results
Name Horse Zone City, State R1 R2 R3 R4 Total
1 Wendy Libert Papillion Peanut 3 Charlotte Hall, Md. 0.000 0 0 0 0.000
2 Courtney Logan Prince Royal 3 Gaithersburg, Md. 1.939 0 0 0 1.939
3 Jessica Matelis Amalee 3 Washington, D.C. 0.908 0 4 0 4.908
4 Alyson Gurney Black Friday 3 Washington, D.C. 1.806 0 0 4 5.806
5 Tinita Hughes Proximo 4 Athens, Ga. 0.729 4 4 0 8.729
6 Annie Friedman Abitibi Blues 3 Washington, D.C. 1.865 8 0 0 9.865
7 Jennie Towner Britta Of Berga 3 Churchville, Md. 6.8655 4 0 0 10.866
8 Stephanie King Co-Starr 4 Saint Augustine, Fla. 4.362 0 8 0 12.362
1.20/1.25m Junior and Amateur Individual Championship Results
Name Horse Zone City, State R1 R2 R3 R4 Total
1 Flora Manship Endgame 4 Atlanta, Ga 0.803 0 0 0 0.803
2 Lila Sessums Jet 4 Clinton, Miss. 1.048 0 0 0 1.048
3 Bailey Doloff Diva 3 Sykesville, Md. 3.556 0 0 0 3.556
4 Amelia Zahn Tonkin De L’Ecu 3 Cary, N.C. 5.749 2 0 1 8.749
5 Abigail Frye High Tide 3 Virginia Beach, Va. 1.500 0 8 0 9.500
6 Lindsay Simmons Beale Don Loma 3 Middleburg, Va. 5.009 0 0 5 10.009
7 Katlynn Butler H & M Cisco 3 Mechanicsville, Va. 3.347 8 0 0 11.347
8 Ty Simpson Why Not 4 Jupiter, Fla. 0.000 4 4 4 12.000
1.30/1.35m Junior and Amateur Individual Championship
Name Horse Zone City, State R1 R2 R3 R4 Total
1 Quinn Larimer Bronson CR 4 Mableton, Ga. 2.674 0 0 4 6.674
2 Shelly Zimmerli Rockefeller Z 3 Fairfax Station, Va. 0.000 0 8 0 8.000
3 Erika Jakobson Up to Date Dodville 4 Boca Raton, Fla. 3.763 0 4 4 11.763
4 Hannah Toering Coquette BHF 3 Waterford, Va. 4.203 0 8 0 12.203
5 Danny Mahon Flashy 3 Middleburg, Va. 2.743 4 8 4 18.743
6 Abigaili Tate Sellers Plaisir Du Laurier 4 Cordova, Tenn. 3.597 8 12 4 27.597
7 Shanna Beyer Invictus 4 Collierville, Tenn. 6.501 8 8 12 34.501
8 Abby Grabowski Limoncello 18 3 Alexandria, Va. 12.371 16 30 12 70.371