IHJA “A” Medal Finals Crowns Champions at Showplace Productions’ Fall Classic

Maya Thomas with trainer Emily Elek won the IHJA Pony Medal Final. Photo by M4E

Roscoe, IL – September 12, 2021 – Year-end champions were crowned at the Illinois Hunter Jumper Association (IHJA) “A” Medal Finals during the Showplace Productions’ Fall Classic. Tough competition for all levels of riders included a challenging course in the Ledges Sporting Horses huge grand prix ring followed by work-off tests for every division to see who would walk away with the coveted title. 
 
The show is always a local favorite as show manager Patrick Boyle pulls out all the bells and whistles for a spectacular event with fantastic hospitality, amazing awards, beautiful courses, and victory gallops for all. The competition helps riders prepare for the big fall indoor championships as well as the chance for the coveted championship title. The IHJA graciously hosted a fabulous brunch ringside during the event.

IHJA Pony Medal 
Pony Medal riders kicked off the day with the top four heading to the work off. Maya Thomas came back for the work-off in the top spot followed by Jane Cimaroli, Bailey Paige Anderson, and Julia Capozzi. After the test it was Maya Thomas who held the lead for the win. Thomas won the $2,500 Alltech USHJA Pony Hunter Derby Final on Saturday with her pony, Until Tomorrow. 
 
For Thomas, the win is bittersweet since this is her last junior year so her pony will move on to another lucky young rider and Thomas plans to head to the jumper division next year. Thomas trains with Emily Elek in Ixonia, Wisconsin, at Stonewall Farm. Riders in the top three spots all rode ponies owned by Elek. 
 
“Our program is a little different from other programs, we don’t have any grooms, we definitely just take care of everything ourselves so it really builds on that horsemanship and helps me to bond a lot more with my horses. I think it’s a really great program for me,” explained Thomas. 
 
Thomas added, “Ledges and Showplace Productions put on a great show so it was really a nice final.”
 
RESULTS – IHJA PONY MEDAL FINAL
1 – MAYA THOMAS
2 – BAILEY PAIGE ANDERSON
3 – JULIA CAPOZZI
4 – JANE CIMAROLI
5 – ALEXANDRA MILLER
6 – SAVANNAH JURS
7 – EMMA BROSIUS
8 – ALITA LIGGETT

Brooke Vonwesternhagen with the Judgement Farm Team sported her tricolor championship ribbons. Photo M4E

IHJA Adult Mini Medal
Adults were next to tackle the track designed by Patrick Boyle. Judges Steve Wall and Kim Dorfman put the riders through the paces with a challenging work-off, demonstrating the hand gallop, a halt, back, and a trot jump in addition to the canter jumps. Acing the test for the win was Brooke Vonwesternhagen, who rides with Judgment Farm and trainers Tina Judge-Boyle and Lorrie Hollands in Oswego, Illinois.
 
Vonwesternhagen has ridden with Judgement Farm for over 10 years and says her horse, Unwritten, is so good to her and is very honest and forgiving. Judge-Boyle says Vonwesternhagen is a good student and a hard worker, which is what got her to the win.
 
“This has never happened to me before,” laughed Vonwesternhagen. “I’ve never made it this far before so I was pretty happy just getting to do the test!”
 
“We were so excited when we heard the finals were going to be back at Ledges – we were happy it was going to be a Showplace Productions event,” said Judge-Boyle.  “I love the pomp and circumstance that goes along with it.  It’s been a wonderful week and wonderful weather, thank you Showplace!”
 
Finishing behind Vonwesternhagen were several Galway Farm riders with trainer Lorrie Canady of Long Grove, Illinois. Team Galway riders Catharon Miller, Pauline Schultz, and Kristen Goodfellow all made the work-off and the top four with Kelly O’Bryan catching the ninth place spot. 
 
“Our group was so happy to be back at Ledges,” commented Canady. “Pat does an amazing job making it feel special. The ring is beautiful, the office staff is amazing, and having the hospitality back is the icing on the cake! It’s been a fun show for all of us.”
 
RESULTS – IHJA ADULT MINI MEDAL FINAL
1 – BROOKE VONWESTERNHAGEN
2 – CATHARON MILLER
3 – PAULINE SCHULTZ
4 – KRISTEN GOODFELLOW
5 – SAMARA TUCHBAND
6 –  KAYLEE DAWIDIUK
7 – SUZI REINHOLD
8 –  FELICE HYBERT
9 – KELLY O’BRYAN
10 – MELISSA GIERMAN

Rachel Hall with the Breakaway Farm Team clinched the victory in the IHJA Children’s Mini Medal. Photo M4E

IHJA Children’s Mini Medal
Children’s Mini Medal riders had their time to shine in the decked-out grand prix ring. After the first round, it was Chelsea Santos who lead the pack with a score of 84. The judges handed out a slightly different test for the group which included a halt, a trot jump, and the sitting trot in addition to a few jumps. Rachel Hall, Liana Epstein, and Nayana Shah rounded out the top four riders. When the testing was complete, it was Rachel Hall who took home the top honors. 
 
Hall has ridden with Breakaway Farm in Madison, Wisconsin, and mother/daughter trainers Abbie Dvorak Peat and Ginny Dvorak for around seven years. Now at 16, Dvorak Peat says Hall is what every trainer wants in a student.
 
“She listens really well, she’s always in a good mood, she’s always nice to her horse. Her horse is actually very green and he can be difficult at times but she always sees it through and she’s never mad at him,” added Dvorak Peat. 
 
Hall borrowed the horse, Brooklyn, for the finals and loves riding him at home. After her victory today, Hall plans to keep working with her own young horse to bring him up the ranks. 
 
RESULTS – IHJA CHILDREN’S MINI MEDAL FINAL
1 – RACHEL HALL
2 – LIANA EPSTEIN
3 – CHELSEA SANTOS
4 – NAYANA SHAH
5 – ASHLYN BARLOW
6 – MADISON STROKER
7 – MAKENZIE ERDMAN
8 – REESE REBHOLZ
9 – ELA MILLER
10 – WILLIAM BURTARD
11 – MADISON DECRANE
12 – GILLIAN O’CONNOR

Kathleen Nichols with Ginny Dvorak and Abbie Dvorak Peat. Photo M4E

IHJA Adult Medal
Another Breakaway Farm rider rode to the win in the very competitive Adult Medal. Kathleen Nichols, who was second after the first round, moved up in the work-off for the victory. The top four riders were only separated by one point after round one. Amy Martin had an 84, Nichols had an 83, Debra Kirsch had an 82, and Lauren George landed an 81.
 
Nichols rode Highlife, a 10-year-old Hanovarian she purchased two years ago that Dvorak Peat rides in the green hunters while Nichols shows in the amateur division. The team plans to head to the Marshall & Sterling USHJA National Championships in Las Vegas on November 15 – 21, 2021, which show manager Patrick Boyle also helps manage. The group went two years ago and had a great time, so they are looking forward to going again. 
 
Dvorak Peat spends a lot of time showing at Ledges especially since it is an easy drive for them from Madison, so they were happy the “A” Finals were at Ledges. 
 
“Pat of course went above and beyond making it look nice and it runs smoothly,” added Dvorak Peat.  “Obviously it’s been a really fun day for us (with two winners) but either way it’s been a really fun week for us.” 
 
RESULTS – IHJA ADULT MEDAL FINAL
1 – KATHLEEN NICHOLS
2 – DEBRA KIRSCH
3 – AMY MARTIN
4 – LAUREN GEORGE
5 – MEGAN SELINGER
6 – SHELBY SPECTOR
7 – RITA KREJCI
8 – ERICA LEVINSKY
9 – GRACE GROVE
10 – JESSICA BERTOGLIO
11 – MARIA KOGEN
12 – SOPHIA PAUL

Kendall George with trainer Sirena Liggett of Platinum Farm. Photo M4E

IHJA CHILDREN’S MEDAL
Kendall George was the best in the Children’s Medal with the help of her trainer Sirena Liggett of Platinum Farm in Marengo, Illinois. Platinum Farm is a family-run business where Liggett’s two daughters also ride and her husband, Tim, is a farrier. 

The George family, with daughters Lauren and Kendall, have been with Liggett for about 10 years. Both girls have a winning resume and a history of success in the sport. Kendall also won the Modified Children’s/Adult Jumper Classic with the same horse on Saturday. 

Their horse, Reveren Saegoun, is a 6-year-old they have had for about 6 months and just started moving into the 3’3″ hunters and equitation and hope to get to the junior hunters by next season.  

RESULTS – IHJA CHILDREN’S MEDAL FINAL
1 – KENDALL GEORGE
2 – SAMANTHA MICHAEL
3 – MAGGIE LAWLER
4 – LIBBY SMITH
5 – JULIANA GULLO
6 – CHARLOTTE BERTOGLIO
7 – AMELIA SEDROWICZ
8 – AVERY STREETER
9 – MEGHAN TAYLOR
10 – ABIGAIL KULIKOWSKI
11 – BRIANNA MALLICK
12 – TORI LEE

Emma Lackey with Perfecta Farm trainers Kim Gardiner and Mara Kraz-Olseng. Photo M4E.

IHJA JUNIOR MEDAL 
Last but by no means least, the highly competitive Junior Medal Final is always one to remember. Boyle designs a special course to challenge junior riders and to help them get ready for the upcoming championships like the ASPCA Maclay Medal Finals at the National Horse Show and the Dover/USEF Huntseat Medal at The Pennsylvania National Horse Show. Boyle is also the show manager at the Pennsylvania National this year. 
 
Again, the top four scores were very close with Emma Lackey scoring an 82 in the first round, Maggie Bresch rode for an 81, Alexis Bauman an 80, and Natalie Bertoglio 78. The judges had the riders enter the ring before the test was given so they couldn’t receive help from their trainers. Once the directions were given, riders had to face the outside of the ring so they could not watch other riders complete the test. 
 
Emma Lackey received the judges’ approval for the victory after the testing was complete. Lackey rides with Perfecta Farm and trainers Kim Gardiner and Mara Kranz-Olseng near Elgin, Illinois. 
 
“I was so nervous (for the test), but I laid it down and my horse was amazing,” said Lackey. “Lucero is a seven-year-old and we just started him last year. He came from Europe, and he was very green and could barely go around. He’s become such a young but amazing horse. I feel he always wants to win.”
 
Lackey goes to the NCEA Finals next week at Lamplight and the Maclay regionals in Kentucky the following week. If riders make the cut in Kentucky, they continue to the National Horse Show for the ASPCA Maclay Medal Finals. 
 
RESULTS – IHJA JUNIOR MEDAL FINAL
1 – EMMA LACKEY
2 – MAGGIE BRESCH
3 – NATALIE BERTOGLIO
4 – ALEXIS BAUMAN
5 – EMMA GUTSTEIN
6 – SKYLER HENDRICKS
7 – ELIANNA KIRSON
8 – JACKIE STARY
9 – TAYLOR KOGEN
10 – HANNAH REED
11 – BROOKE TEGTMEYER
12 – SINEAD FENNELLY

The event was live-streamed at starcreeklive.com with commentary by USEF Licensed Official Diane Carney. Another added touch by show manager Boyle, spectators loved the online riding lesson Carney gave and valued her thoughts on the rides since she is also a judge and has judged the Maclay Medal Finals. 

Special Thanks
The “A” Finals week included fantastic hospitality including a BBQ dinner and live music Saturday night sponsored by Alltech, Sunday brunch on the balcony courtesy of IHJA, Tacos by Cantina Taco, Kona Shaved Ice sponsored by Palladia Pony Moms, and a pizza party Friday night. Thanks to Mark McKone and MM Equestrian for the coffee and donuts every morning to get the day started. 

A big thank you to Tim Karl and everyone from Alltech for their great support of Showplace Productions and for all the supplements donated to the riders and trainers at the finals. Exhibitors are extremely grateful for the sponsorship of the $10,000 Alltech USHJA Hunter Derby Final and the $30,000 hunter and pony derby series all year. Pat Boyle is looking forward to seeing you all at Harrisburg and Las Vegas for the championships. Thank you for your dedication and investment in the horses and the industry.

Most of all, thank you again to Clay and Donna Struve for your continued support of the Chicago area horse industry. Your continued investment in the facility and your backing of the events mean so much to many local trainers and riders. Keeping the traditions alive has provided joy and excitement to those who love horses as much as you do. Thank you for all you do. 

Video interviews of the winners can be found on Showplace Productions’ Facebook or Instagram TV. 

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