Traverse City, Mich. – Sept. 4, 2021 – Adult amateur riders took to the Hunter 2 Ring Saturday morning during Week I of the Traverse City Tournament of Champions to vie for the champion title of the Audra Jackson, Exit Northern Shores Realty Amateur Adult Hunter 18-35 division. Hunter athletes also had the opportunity to compete in the $500 Madd Horse LLC Adult Amateur Hunter Classic Saturday. After laying down two textbook rounds, Michigan’s own Kendall Meijer and her longtime mount Sorrento were crowned champion. Elliott Hodge and Apparently were hot on their heels to take home the reserve champion. Elise Iafrate and her very own Henrik took top honors in the $500 Madd Horse LLC Adult Amateur Hunter Classic.
Meijer and her trusted partner Sorrento, a 14-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Copper Fox LLC, were crowned champion in the Audra Jackson, Exit Northern Shores Realty Amateur Adult Hunter 18-35 after earning top scores during both days of competition Friday and Saturday. Meijer and Sorrento won the blue over fences class Friday, took second place in the second round, and earned second place under saddle, setting them up on top going into Saturday’s competition. Once again, the dynamic pair found themselves at the top of the class Saturday, winning the first round and earning the red ribbon in the second round, securing them the champion title. To top off their afternoon of awards, Meijer and Sorrento also collected a second-place ribbon in the $500 Madd Horse LLC Adult Amateur Hunter Classic.
Fellow competitor Hodge and her very own Apparently, a 12-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, took home reserve champion after placing right behind Meijer in every class. The pair placed in the top three in each class, keeping them at a steady reserve position throughout both days of competition. Hodge and Apparently caught the judge’s eye as they moved fluidly throughout each round with grace and fantastic form. In the end, they were able to capture the reserve champion title after earning top placings during day two of the competition Saturday.
Iafrate and Henrik, an 8-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Iafrate, won the $500 Madd Horse LLC Adult Amateur Hunter Classic after laying down a seamlessly perfect round. The pair were awarded for their form as they met each jump with ease. Iafrate talked highly of her new partnership with Henrik and believes that there will be much more success like Saturday’s win in the future.
Kendall Meijer – Audra Jackson, Exit Northern Shores Realty Amateur Adult Hunter 18-35 champion
“I would like to start by saying a big thank you to Audra Jackson [and Exit Northern Shores Realty] for sponsoring this division. I have had Sorrento for five or six years now; he is 14-years-old. He is just a great partner through and through. He is a great jumper, a great mover and is very soft. He is just a wonderful horse to ride.”
On the courses:
“The courses rode great. I love having a single oxer, so we got to practice that a little bit yesterday. They were nice, straightforward hunter courses both days.”
On competing at Traverse City Horse Shows:
“It is wonderful to be back here. The cooler weather is just fantastic, and we love being here in the fall.”
On the new Traverse City Hunter and Derby Finals:
“We will be participating in the [Traverse City] Hunter and Derby Finals during Week III. Our barn is very excited about this new incentive program and finals. I will be doing the 3’3” FinaI have a horse doing the first-year Green Hunter Final and a horse doing the Green 3’3” Final. We just nominated everything that we had in the barn.”
On the Hunter Incentive Program:
“It is very exciting. I can’t wait to see how it goes, and I think we are all really looking forward to it. I think it is always nice having a little extra prize money is exciting, and it really brings a nice feature to the hunter ring.”
Elise Iafrate – $500 Madd Horse LLC Adult Amateur Hunter Classic winner
“He was actually the first horse I have ever gone to Europe and imported myself with my trainer. I got him when he was five years old, and he is now eight. He has been a wonderful learning project for me. He is a lesson in patience and humility, and when we do well, it is the most rewarding feeling.”
On the courses:
“I think the courses have been amazing this week. They have really been horse and rider-friendly. They have allowed us to flow through the lines, have enough pace in the turns and challenge us enough without making it overly difficult. My courses today went very well. Henrik was very well prepared for it.”
On Traverse City Horse Shows:
“We come back to Traverse City Horse Shows every summer and absolutely love it. We almost always return for the fall because the weather is amazing. This is definitely one of my favorite horse shows.”