After successful rides in the hunter arena at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show (KSHS), two seasoned victors emerged to tie for the Grand Hunter Champion title. Scott Stewart rode Persuasive, owned by Rivers Edge, to a near sweep in the Green 3’3’’ hunter division to finish on a total of 44 points, while Christopher Payne and Gratitude, owned by Still Water Farm LLC, also earned 44 points in the Green Conformation Hunter. Awarded to the competitor with the most points accumulated in the Green 3’3” Hunter, Green 3’6” Hunter, Green 3’9” Hunter, High-Performance Confirmation Hunter, or the High-Performance Working Hunter Divisions, Stewart and Payne impressive performances garnered them both the coveted honor.
Stewart and the up-and-coming 8-year-old Westphalian mare rode to top placings during both days of the Green 3’3’’ division, placing first in almost every class but one. The beautiful chestnut mare was awarded by judges for her steady pace, impressive scope, eager expression and even composure as she met every jump with ease. Stewart spoke very highly about the mare’s eagerness to please and is looking forward to the second week of competition in Lexington during the Kentucky Spring Classic.
In the Green Conformation Hunter division, Payne and Gratitude, a 7-year-old Warmblood gelding, put down stellar performances in the Green Conformation Hunter division. Showcasing finesse around the arena, Payne rode Gratitude through textbook hunter rounds, ultimately rising to the top of the leaderboard. The pair wowed the judges, also riding to four first place finishes. Payne looks forward to campaigning the talented young gelding in the USHJA International Hunter Derby Sunday, May 16 and future Hunter Derby classes to come.
Competition in the Stonelea arena at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show will continue Friday, May 14, as equitation competitors take center stage to vie for top honors in the ASPCA Maclay, Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3’’ Medal and the USHJA 3’3’’ Hunter Seat Medal.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Scott Stewart – Grand Hunter Champion
On his partnership with Persuasive:
“Persuasive is a horse we bought as a 5-year-old and she is now just turning 8 years old, so this is her second year doing the Green Hunter division. I only showed her three times in Florida [at the Winter Equestrian Festival this year] and was very proud of her. I have been extremely happy with her here so far. It was nice getting her into a different ring; she was quite intricate with the jumps. It always means a lot to me to earn Grand Hunter Champion here.”
On Kentucky Horse Shows:
“It is really nice with the green horses especially to come here. They are able to see a brand new ring and a new environment. They step up and go a lot better I think. The jumps were beautiful. They get a little bored in Florida but here they are really interested and it is always nice coming here and to a new environment.”
Christopher Payne – Grand Hunter Champion
On his partnership with Gratitude:
“We imported him as a young horse and did the Green 3’0 Hunter division on him. Last year we started the green division but then stopped because everything got shut down, so we did not show him at all last year. He did the Green Hunter in Florida, but then we thought we should try the Conformation Hunter division on him. He had been circuit champion in the Green 3’6’’ Hunter in Florida but then we thought we would go ahead and try the Conformation on him, and he won the model and then won five of the six total classes. He was really good.”
On his upcoming plans:
“We will probably do the [USHJA International Hunter Derby] this weekend and then next week we will continue with the Conformation Hunter division. He is so scopey and is just a beautiful horse. I think he will really like the derby classes. We are going to add this to his repertoire and see how it goes.”
On Kentucky Horse Shows:
“It is so nice to be back here. The weather is amazing, the courses are beautiful and it is so nice to be showing here where they put so much effort into making the jumps beautiful and the rings beautiful and it makes you want to horse show again and again. The horses love the rings and the way it rides. It is really fun to be back in a place where they put so much effort into the hunters.”