Traverse City, Mich. – Sept. 2, 2021 – Hunter competition during Week I of the Traverse City Tournament of Champions (TCF) was in full swing Thursday morning in the Polk Family Hunter Ring, as hunter athletes geared up for the final day of competition in the Perfect Products Green 3’6″ / High Performance Hunter division. Following the final two over fences classes and under saddle, Brooke Kemper and La Vida Loca ultimately walked away with the championship. Ilana Halpern and Long Game secured the reserve champion title.
Kemper and La Vida Loca, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Emily Cryway, were the second horse and rider combination to enter the ring to try their hand at the eight-obstacle course set forth by Tom Carlson. The dynamic pair laid down two beautiful rounds showcasing textbook form, fluidity and their strong bond, which would ultimately secure them scores high enough to edge out Halpern and Long Game who took home third.
Halpern and Long Game, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Peggy Towers, were first to take on the flowing course in hopes of claiming victory. The pair showcased style and ease to each fence to turn in two stunning rounds, setting the pace for the remainder of the athletes. The judges were ultimately impressed with the pair’s grace as they executed the course with confidence but, in the end, would be beaten out by fellow competitors Kemper and La Vida Loca who would take home the blue ribbon.
The champion of the division came down to the under saddle portion. Ultimately, Kemper edged out the competition in the under saddle, ensuring a victory in the class with Halpern hot on their heels closing in on the reserve champion title.
The inaugural Traverse City Hunter and Derby Finals is quickly approaching,taking place during Week III of the Tournament of Champions and running concurrently with the 51st Anniversary of the American Gold Cup. Unique to Traverse City Horse Shows, hunter athletes will look forward to over $275k in additional prize money during the finals. Over the course of the show series, exhibitors have had the opportunity to enroll in the incentive program and compete for add-back prize money, with 70% of the enrollment fees added to the prize money pot. Horses not enrolled in the program are still eligible to compete in the upcoming finals as long as they have competed during at least three weeks of the Traverse City Horse Shows series.
Hunter competition will continue Friday at 8:30 am in the Polk Family Ring with the start of the Amateur Owner Hunter 3’3” 18-35 and will conclude the day with the USHJA 3’3” Hunter Seat Medal.
Brooke Kemper – Champion of the Perfect Products Green 3’6″ / High Performance Hunter
On La Vida Loca:
“La Vida Loca is a 10-year-old gelding we bought two years ago for an amateur client, Emily Cryway. Emily has gone back to school in Florida so she’s not here this week, so I get to ride him when she’s away. He’s really turned out to be a lovely hunter and we’ve really enjoyed producing him and watching his partnership with Emily grow as well.”
On her ride:
“La Vida Loca, we call him Leo, he’s always more relaxed the second day and when he came out this morning, he just felt great. He was soft and quiet and I felt like he jumped really well. He was nice and smooth and just went in the ring, picked up a nice canter and moved around the ring without changing his rhythm.”
On Traverse City:
“This is my first time in Traverse City. I’ve actually never been here. It’s beautiful and I don’t know why anyone would want to leave so I’m really hoping to encourage some of my customers to join us here next year. I’m here for two weeks and then I head home.”
On Incentive program:
“ I think it’s fabulous and it’s really exciting to see that kind of prize money offered for the hunters. I hope it’s successful and I hope to be able to participate next year.”