Edited Press Release
World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) week at Traverse City Spring, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, went off with a winning start for Hillary Johnson. The Michigan native took home championship honors in the 3’6” Green Hunters with Suede and the 3’9” Green Hunters with Elliot, both owned by Copper Fox LLC.
Johnson piloted both mounts to top placings in the five classes of each division, winning both under saddle classes. A big week for hunter riders, WCHR week provides opportunities for hunters to show off and qualify for special year-end awards as well as WCHR Finals at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, MD.
“He’s very brave,” Johnson said of Suede, an 8-year-old Westphalian gelding by Los Angeles. “We don’t hand walk him in the ring or let him see anything. He just walks in there and rises to the occasion and enjoys doing the fun classes.” Suede topped the $5,000 Traverse City Hunter Derby during Traverse City Spring I, kicking off a busy season of special classes for the gelding.
“We love it up here,” Johnson continued about Traverse City. “It’s our favorite show of the year. We chose this year to stay all summer. I’m looking forward to setting up a home base.”
Johson now aims both horses at Saturday’s $100,000 WCHR Central Hunter Spectacular in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring. The coveted class, open to juniors, amateurs, and professionals who are WCHR members and who compete at the 3’6” fence height or above, will invite competitors to jump a classic round then call back the pairs with the top 12 first-round scores back for a handy round.
“I love any opportunity that showcases hunters,” said Copper Fox LLC owner Kendall Meijer, who is often the one to beat in Amateur-Owner and Adult Hunter divisions at Traverse CIty Horse Shows. “It’s exciting to see Michigan host some of the best horse shows of the year, and the level of sport in Traverse City is incredible.”
Reserve championship honors in the 3’6” Green Hunters went to Sandman, owned by Jacqueline Zhai and ridden by Katie Milton, while Empyrean and Ehrin Rittmueller claimed reserve championship honors in the 3’9” Green Hunters.
Additionally, nine champions were crowned Thursday between the Main Hunter and the GGT Footing Rings.
Kingsley and Abbygale Funk for MMK Equestrian LLC were named champions in the 3’6”/3’9”Conformation Hunters, while Hendricks and Ehrin Rittmueller for Bitsy Woods took reserve champion.
Heartfelt II and Tiffany Morrissey for Deitler Farms, LLC, claimed top honors in the 3’6” Performance Hunters, while Paper Trail and X for Joyride Eq, LLC, took reserve champion.
The California split 3’3” Performance Hunter division titles went to Paisley Park and Chivalry, both piloted by Geoffrey Hesslink and owned by Little Brook, LLC. Reserve championship honors went to Dom Perignon with Renato Troiani for Samantha O’Brien and Rockette with Sterling Malnik.
The 3’3” Green Hunters awarded Corino championship honors, with Steven Gregorio for Aster Hill in the irons, while Mr. Special took the reserve championship with Abbygale Funk for MMK Equestrian LLC.
Say When and Vivian Yowan for Saddle Ridge LLC topped the 3’ Green Hunter division, and Kyoto, with Geoffrey Hesslink aboard for Brendan Willams, took reserve championship honors.