Traverse City, Mich. – June 24, 2021 – Hunter riders took to the ring Thursday morning in the Polk Family Ring to compete for the champion title in the Chronicle Of The Horse (COTH) High Performance Conformation Hunter division during World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) week at the Traverse City Spring Horse Show. The cold, windy and rainy weather proved to be an issue for many of the horse-and-rider combinations, but Katie Morano on Business Time and Sandra Ferrell aboard Big Business had no problems with the weather and claimed the champion and reserve champion titles out of a competitive group of Conformation Hunter horses.
Course designer Joseph Carnicom laid out a beautiful 8-obstacle course for the first round that was straightforward and allowed the hunter riders to showcase their horses beautiful jump. The first round consisted of two long approaches to singles, a long path to a two stride, and ended with a short turn to an oxer that surprised many of the horses. The second round trip allowed the horses to open up their and shine a light on their lengthy strides with the long outside lines that many of the horses had to gallop up to.
Morano and Business Time, a 9-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Lily Cushman, made a splash in the COTH High Performance Conformation Hunters during day one of the competition Wednesday, earning two high scores of 77 and 78. The dynamic pair came into day two of competition Thursday and laid down two beautiful rounds, helping them secure a first-round score of an 84, which would lead the pack going into round two. Business Time continued to impress the judges with his stride, impressive scope and eager expression during the second jumping round, helping them earn an 82, which would secure them the champion title. Morano spoke highly of the talented young horse and believes that his eager attitude helped lead them to top honors.
Ferrell and Big Business, a 7-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Maya Grove, started day one of the competition Wednesday with a second-place finish in the handy round, earning them an 80. Day two of competition Thursday Ferrell and Big Business stepped up to the plate and impressed the judges during the first round with their consistency and great form over each jump, earning them a top score in round one. After laying down a solid first round, the pair returned for the second round and dominated the field of horses with a round that helped them secure a score of 84, which would allow them to claim the reserve champion title.
Top hunter competitors from around the country are making their way to Traverse City, Michigan, to join in on the brand new Hunter Incentive Program to highlight hunter athletes and their horses. Over $275K in guaranteed prize money is on the table, and exhibitors have the chance to opt-in to the Incentive Program throughout the 12 weeks of competition for their opportunity to earn add-back prize money. Additionally, horses not enrolled in the program are still eligible to compete for the prize money during the Traverse City Hunter and Derby Finals as long as they have competed for at least three weeks of the Traverse City Horse Shows series. The finals will run concurrently with the highly anticipated 51st Anniversary of the American Gold Cup, held during Week III of the Traverse City Tournament of Champions this fall.
Katie Morano – COTH High Performance Conformation Hunter champion
On Traverse City Horse Shows:
“I love everything about the facility. I actually haven’t been here in several years, and this is my first time to the new facility and it is breathtaking. It is better than I have imagined from all of the compliments I have heard about it. It is user-friendly, rider-friendly and is horse-friendly, and you can’t beat the weather in the summer for sure. I am just absolutely excited to be here and want to come back every year.”
On the rounds:
“I was very excited about the rounds. The horse is absolutely wonderful. He is just a real player and really wants to do well every day, so it is my job to just try to do the best that I can with him. He really stepped up to the plate. I thought the courses were really straightforward and yet they still had some good questions for the hunters to be able to come and just show their best. With the turns and the style of the jumps, he really just tried his heart out and tried his best.”
On the highlights of her rounds:
“Honestly my favorite part was probably the single oxer out of the shorter turn. It is not something that we always get in the hunter ring and [Business Time] really allowed me to stay patient and find it. Then he jumped it beautifully for me and again, I thought that was something fun the course designers gave us this week.”
On Business Time:
“We just acquired Business Time in late October. He actually does the Small Junior Hunters with his owner [Lily Cushman ] and he has just been really blossoming. We have been getting to know him over the last several months, myself included, and he is, personality-wise, an absolute sweetheart. It has been really fun to get to know how he likes to go and he has taught his owner [Lily Cushman] a lot and has also taught me a lot. It has been so meaningful to be able to increase our “A’ game each and every time he steps up and so do we.”