Talli Wallin, Olivia Sweetnam and Carlee McCutcheon Top Inaugural Junior and Amateur Owner Traverse City Hunter Finals

Talli Wallin and About Time

Traverse City, Mich. – Sept. 19, 20201 – Hunter athletes and their top mounts made a triumphant return to the Polk Family Hunter Ring Sunday morning for the second and final day of the inaugural Traverse City Hunter Finals. Developed by Traverse City Horse Show management to elevate the hunter divisions and incentivize riders to compete for some of the highest prize purses available in the sport, some of the country’s most renowned hunter riders and horses participated in the championship style event. Of the competitive lineup, it was Talli Wallin and About Time who rode to victory in the $25,000 3’3”-3’6’’ Amateur-Owner Hunter Final, presented by the Gajoch Family, Olivia Sweetnam aboard Big Business who bested the $25,000 3’3” Junior Hunter Final, and Carlee McCutcheon who rode KT Hedwich at the forefront of the victory gallop for the $25,000 3’6” Junior Hunter Final, presented by the Ingram Family.

Kicking off the day of exciting competition, horses for the $25,000 3’3”-3’6’’ Amateur-Owner Hunter Final, presented by the Gajoch Family, showed their best. The talented field made their way around the Keith J. Bollotte (USA) designed courses decorated with natural fences and set against the picturesque background. Following two consistent trips that showcase About Time’s scope and movement, Wallin and her 14-year-old Warmblood gelding shot straight to the top of the leaderboard for their scores of 78 and 84, totaling an unbeatable score of 162 at the conclusion of the class. Meghan Rohrbaugh Bear and R & R Hunter Horses LLC’s Waverly, an eight-year-old Hanoverian mare, ran a close second with scores of 80 and 81 for their two efforts, totaling in 161 for the second place honors. Samantha Gajoch’s Westeros would round out the top three. Piloted by Owen Gajoch, the 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding received scores of 83 and 77.5 from the judges, totaling in 160.5 for the third-place honors.

Meghan Rohrbaugh-Bear and Waverly

In the $25,000 3’3” Junior Hunter Final, Elodie Watrous and Summit were the first to ride over Bollotte’s 10-effort tracks, earning a score of 72 in round one and 75 in round two for a total of 147 from the judge’s booth. As the class progressed, a two-round total of 155 was awarded to Sweetnam and Maya Grove’s Big Business, who showcased style and correct technique over each fence. While the pair received a 68 in the first round, judges rewarded the seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding’s redeeming round with a score of 87 in the second round, leaving the pair at the top of the leaderboard for the duration of the class. Hot on Sweetnam’s heels, Natalie Grimaldi-Groulx rode to the second place honors with her own seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Vincent. The pair scored a 69 and 85 in their two rounds, totaling in 154. Grimaldi-Groulx also took home the third-place ribbon with her 16-year-old Oldenburg gelding, Believe In Me, who received scores of 80 and 73 for a 153 total.

Natalie Grimaldi-Groulx on Vincent

The $25,000 3’6” Junior Hunter Final, presented by the Ingram Family, wrapped up the day of prestigious finals in the Polk Family Hunter Ring. Crowned as the last winner of the day, Carlee McCutcheon and KT Hedwich, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, received impressive scores of 86 and 87 for a 173 total. The second-place award was given to Chloe Watrous and Joyride Eq LLC’s Exceptional, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding, for their scores of 87 and 85, totaling to 172. Augusta Iwasaki completed the podium with Iwasaki & Reilly’s Seaside. The 15-year-old Warmblood gelding produced scores of 83 and 84 for a 167 two-round total.

Carlee McCutcheon and KT Hedwich

Sunday’s Traverse City Hunter Finals competition concluded the Traverse City Tournament of Champions, as well as the 12-week Traverse City Horse Shows series. For more information on Traverse City Horse Shows, click here.


Talli Wallin – $25,000 3’3”-3’6’’ Amateur Owner Hunter Final, presented by the Gajoch Family, winner

On About Time:

“I got him when I was still a junior and I was doing the Children’s Hunter division. We had some success and then we went through a couple of years trying to figure each other out. We changed programs and he matured and we have had a lot of success the last year and a half with Cloud’s End Farm in Saint Louis, Missouri.”

On her plan for her two rounds:

“I like to show my horse the first jump because he can be a little spooky sometimes, so I like to tour him around the jumps as best that I can. I rode it like I would ride anything at home and trusted him. I tried to treat it like a schooling round, that is usually the best way for me to keep my nerves at a minimum. I was a little bit more determined in round two because I had a minor mistake in round one and I was very determined not to make that same mistake again. I rode a lot more forward with a bigger gallop and it was brighter and more flashy.”

On winning the inaugural $25,000 3’3”-3’6’’ Amateur-Owner Hunter Final, presented by the Gajoch Family:

“This summer I had a lot of success here in Traverse City, but I do pay most of the bills so it is hard for me sometimes. It means a lot to me to be able to come here and win and be able to pay all of my own bills with my winnings. I have never done any sort of championship in my entire life, so it is cool to be able to win the first one out with my long-term partner.”

On taking care of About Time:

“I spend three-quarters of my day with him and I think that our bond is so important. I clean his stall, and feed him in the morning. I take him on his hand walks and lunge him – I literally do everything with him and he knows. When I am talking to him around the course, he recognizes that we are partners, and that is a really important piece of it. I do not think that I would have that same kind of success without that bond.”

On competing at Traverse City Horse Shows :

“Traverse City is my favorite horse show, I have so much fun here! The weather is beautiful and the venue is awesome and the footing is always perfect with pretty jumps and they run a very smooth horse show every year. My horse always does his best here and it is a great place to be.”

Olivia Sweetnam – $25,000 3’3” Junior Hunter Final winner

Olivia Sweetnam on Big Business

On Big Business:

“He is a special horse and is owned by the Grove Family and trained by Maria Rasmussen. I have been riding him for quite a while now and he is really an amazing horse. I love him so much and I am very thankful to be riding him.”

On her plan for her rounds:

“I was a tiny bit nervous because I have not done anything like that on him, but he was good and we were hoping for something smooth. He felt really good in round two! It was very smooth and fluent throughout. We weren’t expecting much, but just hoping for the best and it happened.” 

On the Traverse City Horse Shows Hunter Finals:

“I like these hunter finals a lot. I think it is something really special and that it will attract a lot of people to come over here. I love the show in general, it is a beautiful scene.”

Carlee McCutcheon – winner of the $25,000 3’6” Junior Hunter Final, presented by the Ingram Family

On KT Hedwich:

“We bought KT Hedwich as an eight-year-old and I have had him for about eight months now. We have been bringing him along as an equitation, derby, and Junior Hunter horse. He wants to be good in every ring and I just love him.” 

On her plans in the ring:

“We were a little late coming from the jumper ring, so we had to get ready faster than I would have liked. He was ready to do the right thing and everything showed up the way that I wanted it to and he was right there to help me.”

On the Hunter Finals:

“I think it is so cool to be able to show in this big of a Junior Hunter class for that much money. It was so much fun and it is good for me to get in pressure situations. He was great and I think that it is good for the sport.”

On showing at Traverse City Horse Shows:

“I love it and I obviously wish that we did not have to leave. The weather has been so great and Ivan [Rakowski] and the Morrissey family put on such a great horse show and it is great to be able to be here.”


$25,000 3’3”-3’6’’ Amateur Owner Hunter Final, presented by the Gajoch Family:

Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total

  1. About Time / Talli Wallin / Talli Wallin / 78 / 84 / 162
  2. Waverly / Meghan Rohrbaugh Bear / R & R Hunter Horses LLC / 80 / 81 / 161
  3. Westeros / Owen Gajoch / Samantha Gajoch / 83 / 77.5 / 160.5
  4. Autumn Rhythm / Nilani Trent / Nilani Trent / 85 / 74 / 159
  5. Promise Me / Gabrielle Smoller / Queen Bean Investments LLC / 72 / 80 / 152
  6. Persuasive / Jill Donaldson / Jill Donaldson / 77 / 73 / 150
  7. Radiance / Rachael Herkowitz / Rachael Herkowitz / 70 / 79 / 149
  8. Moonwalk / Kendall Meijer / Copper Fox LLC / 46 / 88 / 134
  9. Counselor / Anne Mullally / Judgement Farms LLC / 84 / 44 / 128
  10. About Last Night / Nicole Jeffries / Nicole Jeffries / 75 / 38 / 113

$25,000 3’3” Junior Hunter Final:

Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total

  1. Big Business / Olivia Sweetnam / Maya Grove / 68 / 87/ 155
  2. Vincent / Natalie Frimaldi-Groulx / Natalie Frimaldi-Groulx / 69 / 85 / 154
  3. Believe In Me / Natalie Grimaldi-Groulx / Natalie Frimaldi-Groulx / 80 / 73 / 153
  4. Summit / Elodie Watrous / Joyride Eq LLC / 72 / 75 / 147
  5. Atlodetto FZ / Elodie Watrous / M.D.L. LLC / 66 / – / 66

$25,000 3’6” Junior Hunter Final, presented by the Ingram Family:

Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total

  1. KT Hedwich / Carlee McCutcheon / Carlee McCutcheon / 86 / 87 / 173
  2. Exceptional / Chloe Watrous / Joyride Eq LLC / 87 / 85 / 172
  3. Seaside / Augusta Iwasaki / Iwasaki & Reilly / 83 / 84 / 167
  4. Tradewind / Maya Rahaim / Carole Chase / 67 / 86 / 153
  5. Small Kingdom / Augusta Iwasaki / Iwasaki & Reilly / 55 / 84.5 / 139.5
  6. Alajolie / Augusta Iwasaki / Farber Farms LLC / 56 / 70 / 126
  7. Braavos / Maya Rahaim / Renaud Farm LLC / 45 / 40 / 85