New Three-phase Equitation Challenge Provides Unique Learning Experience

Tier 1 Overall Winner Madison Weaver. Photo © Winslow Photography

HJAM Spring Circuit Equitation Challenge, presented by Gardian Farm

June 1, 2019 – Waterloo Hunt Club, Grass Lake, MI – During the three-week 2019 Hunter Jumper Association of Michigan Spring Series, a new and exciting Equitation competition called the HJAM Spring Circuit Equitation Challenge, presented by Gardian Farm, was held to the delight of exhibitors.  This unique three-phase event offered junior and amateur riders and their trainers an experience similar to the national EMO Insurance/USHJA Jumping Seat Finals held annually in the Fall; however, depending on their schedule and experience level, riders had the choice to compete in one, two, or all three phases over the course of the three week show series.  Each phase awarded ribbons thru 8th place; riders who chose to show in all three phases earned overall ribbons & prizes based on their total score.   

Eq Challenge Flat Phase Top 8. Photo © Winslow Photography

The Equitation Challenge was further broken out by Tiers which were determined by what competitions the rider was currently competing in – Tier 1 was for riders currently competing over fences 3’6” or greater and Tier 2 was for riders competing at 3’3” and lower.  For the Challenge fences were set at 1.0m-1.10m and .90m-.95m respectively. At the conclusion of the event Madison Weaver, who rides with Cindy Petherbridge of Huntsover Farms, rode Cyrus to the Tier 1 win; taking home the Overall Tier 2 title was Taylor Collins & Optimo who rides with Dorothy Campbell of Just a Folly Farms.  Amateur rider Kiera Corbin Phlipot who not only enjoys equitation but is dedicated to supporting the continued growth of Michigan horse shows, created the concept for the Challenge and with her Red Roc she claimed the overall Tier 1 fourth place award. Brody Robertson served as the official Course Designer.

Tier 2 Overall Winner Taylor Collins. Photo © Winslow Photography

During HJAM Spring Welcome I (May 1 – 5) the first phase held was the Gymnastics Phase which commanded riders to jump a course that included three gymnastic type questions.  The first test, which started right off at Fence 1, featured a trot in/canter out in & out. The next question presented was an S turn series of jumps at Fences 3-4-5 and called for the two bending lines to be ridden in five strides each; as Fences 8-9-10 riders had to ride the same S turn bending lines back the other direction in 6 strides.  As judged by Bobby Braswell, Madison Weaver rode to the win with a score of 86; Belle Zachary placed second with an 84 and earning third was Olivia Combs with an 83. In the Tier 2 Gymnastics Phase riders also rode the S turn in the same number of strides but instead of the in & out their course featured a bounce at fence 7. Hannah Tarrance won with an 81 score; Kelly Doherty earned second with a 77 & Taylor Collins placed third with a 74.  

Tier 1 Runner Up Belle Zachary. Photo © Winslow Photography

During HJAM Spring Welcome II (May 8-12) the Flat Phase was featured; riders were asked to work as a group on the flat demonstrating collection and lengthening at each gait plus were asked to show each direction at the counter-canter.  Tier 1 riders were also told to ride some of these commands without stirrups. Linda Andrisani officiated and chose Belle Zachary as the Tier 1 winner with a score of 89; Christopher Coberly placed second with an 88 and Grace DeFoe earned third with an 87.  The Tier 2 group was won by Alaina Schwartz with an 82.5; Isabel Cassar placed second with a 78 & Delaney Hughes won third with a 76.

Tier 2 Runner Up Isabelle Cassar. Photo © Winslow Photography

On the final day of competition during the HJAM Annual Horse Show (May 15-19) the final phase, which was the Jumping Phase, took place.  Riders returned to the ring in reverse order based on their overall score however if riders did not previously compete, they were placed at the beginning of the start order.   The Tier 1 group showed first and after numerous solid rounds over a course that featured several six stride lines set at various distances, plus a Liverpool, a Triple Bar and a Swedish oxer, Madison Weaver again found her place at the top with a score of 86 from Judge William Sparks.  Hot on her heels was Jada Fuleky with an 83 and with an 81 Belle Zachary ended up third. With an overall score of 254 points Zachary finished on top two points ahead of Weaver, however with rules in place stating that further testing would occur if any rider was within two points or less of the leader, Weaver and Zachary then dueled it out for the Overall win.  After they each tested TWICE jumping fences put in order by Sparks, Weaver scored an 85 to end on 337 total points while Zachary ended up on 335 points with a testing score of 81. Jada Fuleky earned the overall third placed honors with 245 points. In Tier 2 a similar situation occurred where the overall top two placings were decided in a work off – earning the blue on 294.5 total points was Taylor Collins (who also placed fifth in the Jumping Phase); Isabel Cassar earned the overall second place ribbon with 267.5 points (and fourth in the Jumping Phase); Kim Gorman placed third with 214.75 overall points (and second in the Jumping Phase).  Winning the Tier 2 Jumping Phase was amateur rider Elise Iafrate who scored an 80.

Tier 1 Overall Winner Madison Weaver. Photo © Winslow Photography

Gardian Farm’s Alan Phlipot (husband to Kiera) was on hand to award rider sashes, coolerettes and saddle pads to the overall Top 8 winners; and as the Overall Champion of the two tiers Madison Weaver earned a saddle from Becca MacWilliams, representing sponsor Antares Sellier.  Belle Zachary also took home a saddle for earning the highest overall total prior to further testing.

Tier 2 Gymnastic Winners Jump for Joy. Photo © Winslow Photography

For a full set of results please see; for more information on the Hunter-Jumper Association of Michigan visit  Photos:  Winslow Photography, LLC.

About Hunter-Jumper Association of Michigan:  The Hunter-Jumper Association of Michigan is organized for the purpose of stimulating the sport of riding and showing in the Hunter and Jumper divisions, to service, promote and protect the interests of the Association and the exhibitors, to insure uniform and consistent standards for all Association shows; to encourage the development of exhibitors of all ages by making objective and fair rules for governing competition and to insure impartial and competent judging for all shows; and, to serve and promote the best interests of the USEF and to support and enforce the rules of the United States Equestrian Federation under which all competitions shall be held.

Tier 1 – Top 8 Overall Winners:

1)  172-Madison Weaver-Cyrus-86,80,86,85=337 points
2)  306-Belle Zachary-Cinda-84-89-81-81=335 points
3)  201-Jada Fuleky-Say What-76-86-83=245 points
4)  228-Kiera Phlipot-Red Roc-69-85-80=234 points
5)  255-Alexis Schwarz-Sequential-66-84-79=229 points
6)  298-Christopher Coberly-Glen Moray-63-88-72=223 points
7)  167-Ariel Acosta-Pacari-67-75-74=216 points
8)  177-Morgan Colby-Ferragamo-68-78-63=209 points

Tier 2 – Top 8 Overall Winners:

1)  227-Taylor Collins-Optimo-74-70.5-71-79=294.5 points
2)  302-Isabel Cassar-Zoe Power-67.5-78-72-50=267.5 points
3)  175-Kim Gorman-Confidant Z-67.75-72-75=214.75 points
4)  174-Joanna Acosta-Cornerstone-67-67-62=196 points
5)  233-Kelly Doherty-Cambel-77-65-20=162 points
6)  173-Kelsey Acosta-Ce Si Bon-58-58-31=147 points
7)  202-Caroline Berg-Mozzafiato-68-0-50=118 points

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