Lexington, KY – July 29, 2021 – After picture-perfect rides in the hunter arena at the Kentucky Summer Horse Show (KSHS), Christopher Payne emerged with not one, but two championship ribbons in the Stonelea ring on Thursday morning. Payne piloted two Still Water Farm LLC entries, Gratitude and Reign, to take multiple top-three placings in the combined Green Hunter and High Performance Conformation Hunter division as well as the Green 3’6” Hunter division, respectively. Payne put the cherry on top by claiming the Hagyard Grand Professional Hunter Champion, presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, on Imagine after beating a competitive pack of 34 entries to take home top honors in the Green 3’0” Hunter division.
Payne rode the 7-year-old Warmblood gelding Gratitude to top placings during both days of the combined Green Conformation and High Performance Hunter division. On Wednesday, the duo kicked off the division with a second-place finish in the first over fences round only to beat their previous performance with a first-place finish on a score of 83.00. The pair rounded out their first day of competition on a high note, pinning first in the under saddle portion. On Thursday, Payne and his trusty partner managed to hold off the stiff competition to maintain their spot atop the leaderboard. The judges awarded the young mount for his steady pace, exceptional scope, expressive eye, and even composure as he met every jump with ease. Payne spoke eagerly about the gelding’s bold way of going and is looking forward to the second week of competition in Lexington during the Kentucky Summer Classic.
In the Green 3’6” Hunter division, Payne and Reign, an 8-year-old Holsteiner stallion, shut out the rest of the competition on Wednesday, taking home both blue ribbons in the over fences portion with scores of 87.00 and 88.00. The duo held their own in the under saddle to earn second place. Showcasing classic form and consistency around the arena, Payne continued with a streak of scores in the 80s during day two of division competition, ultimately rising to the top of the leaderboard.
To complete a busy day, Payne also claimed the title of Hagyard Grand Professional Hunter Champion, presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute on Imagine, the 11-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Julie Holzberger. Payne navigated the beautiful Green 3’0” Hunter course in the Claiborne Ring on both Wednesday and Thursday to complete the division with 31 points, earning the coveted Grant Hunter Champion title. The pair previously dominated the Split Rock Hunter Jumper Classic II in June, having won twelve classes.
Competition in the StoneLea Arena at the Kentucky Summer Horse Show will continue Friday, July 30, 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’’ Hunt Seat Medal.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Christopher Payne – Green Conformation & High Performance Hunter division and Green 3’6” Hunter Champion
On his partnership with Gratitude:
“He’s an exceptional horse – I’m very lucky to get to ride him. He is very straightforward and confident in his being. The more impressive the course, the better he is to ride because he has so much scope, and so much stride. He’s so brave. The bigger the challenge, the better he is. He really anteed up this week and rode beautifully.
On his partnership with Reign:
“He’s a really fun horse. Reign is an 8-year-old stallion and he’s not like a stallion at all. He’s really fun to ride. He has a great mouth and a beautiful jump. The more impressive the course, the better. This course was nice because I could ride at the jumps, and he’s beautiful across the ground, so it made the whole course very huntery and fun to ride. Every day he’s the same horse, he’s happy to see you and he’s happy to do his job. He’s really fun.”
On winning the Grand Hunter Champion Title:
“I feel very lucky to be a real Grand. With the horses and the riders that are here, it’s a very competitive show with lots of good horses and great riders, so I feel very fortunate.”
On Kentucky Horse Shows:
“I love showing at Kentucky. The management does a great job, the rings are wonderful, and the courses are beautiful and fantastically designed. It’s a great place to show.”