Petaluma, Calif. – July 23, 2019 – The USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic West, presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College, brought 59 riders to vie for the equitation title at its exciting new location, Sonoma Horse Park, in the wine country of Northern California. Through two challenging rounds and a work-off of the top four riders, Violet Lindemann-Barnett riding her own Cantoblaco proved victorious. Stella Buckingham came in second on Calvatos Z, while Emily Williams was third on Beach Boy, and Breanna Bunevacz rounded out the final four riding Vondel DH Z.
Named in honor of George Morris and his farm, Hunterdon, the USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic, presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College, is a three round class that combines the precision of equitation and the handiness of hunters over a course set at 3’6”.
With trademark sunny California weather on tap the first round was held in the main hunter ring and featured a hunter classic course designed by Scott Starnes. Judges Stacia Madden and Jimmy Torano gave the early lead to Emily Williams with an 86. Her high score held through until the second to last rider, Breanna Bunevacz, took over the lead with an 87.
For the second round the top 20 riders moved next door to the grand prix arena where an entirely new handy course awaited them, returning in reverse order of scores. The first round cut off score of 79 meant the top twenty riders were within eight points or less from the lead, so the second round pressure was on. Buckingham earned the high score in the handy round with an 87, moving her from the sixth spot to the lead position, with an overall score of 170.5 points, just a half point ahead of Lindemann-Barnett, who finished second in the handy with an 84.5, for a total of 170 points. Also returning for the top four were Bunevacz, sitting fourth on a score of 168.75, and Williams, the early leader now in the third position, with a score of 168.5. Only two points separated the top four going into the final round.
The top four riders to return for the work-off were asked to switch horses and jump a shortened course without help from their trainers; and only allowed only a two minute warm up to get a feel for their new mount. Aboard Bunevacz’ horse, Vondel DH Z, Williams was the first to work-off. Bunevacz then rode Williams’ horse Beach Boy. The next to contest the final course was Lindemann-Barnett aboard Buckingham’s mount Calvatos Z. Last to navigate the shortened course was Buckingham aboard Lindemann-Barnett’s horse Cantoblanco.
Close until the final results were announced, ultimately Lindemann-Barnett edged out Buckingham with a smooth, well-executed work-off round, taking the lead. Consistency paid off for Lindemann-Barnett, as her scores of 85.5, 84.5 and 86 respectively in the three rounds earned her the title of champion in the 2019 USHJA Hunterdon Cup Equitation Classic West.
“I was really excited, I have watched Stella’s horse before and he looked like so much fun. I got to jump a little bit in the schooling ring on him and he goes exactly like my horse, super light and uphill,” Lindemann-Barnett noted of Calvatos Z. “He was a lovely horse and I was so happy I got to switch on to him.”
Buckingham enjoyed the class format, especially switching horses, but still felt the pressure. “My biggest challenge was managing my nerves. I get pretty nervous and only having two minutes to warm up, I was very nervous to get in to the ring.”
The top two finishers were recognized with prizes from the classes generous sponsors, and riders were pinned through 10th place. The champion received a pair of Parlanti tall boots, an Essex Classics riding shirt, a Charles Owen helmet, a certificate for FITS Breeches, a CWD leather halter, a cooler, and a keeper trophy donated by Diane Carney and Lynn Jayne. The reserve champion earned an Essex Classics riding shirt, a Charles Owen helmet, and a certificate for FITS Breeches. All top 10 riders sported colorful sashes and ribbons.
Vondel DH Z, owned and ridden by Breanna Bunevacz, was named Best Equitation Horse by the judges.
Notably, all top ten riders scored 80 or above in both the classic and handy rounds. USHJA congratulates all participants and wishes to thank Sonoma Horse Park, Ashley Herman and her team for hosting this equitation event.