Hunt Night at the Warrenton Horse Show is one of those annual Labor Day weekend events that signals the end of summer and the rapid approach of the hunting season. What used to be an official series of 5 competitions is now two -- Warrenton in September and the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in October. Despite the rain, foxhunters demonstrated their hardiness and the competition -- and the parties -- went on late into the night.
About 50 horse/rider combinations participated in the traditional Hunt Night and Sidesaddle Divisions, with a strong showing by juniors in the foxhunters section. Warrenton's Eliza Van der Woude, daughter of huntsman Matt Van der Woude, won the Foxhunter Corinthian Class, riding Alice Laimbeer's Nikiya. The Corinthian class is judged on performance (50 percent), appointments (25 percent) and conformation of the horse (25 percent). Van der Woude also joined Warrenton teammates Sophia Vella and Curious George and Amy Robinson on Limerick, to triumph in the Hunt Teams Class. Added to that were second places in both the Junior Hunter Over Fences and the Junior Hunter Hack, leading to Eliza's coronation as leading rider at Hunt Night. Sophia Vella won the Junior Hunter Over Fences class over 15 other entrants, as well as the Junior Hack. These wins combined to give Warrenton the overall reserve championship for the evening.
Keswick dominated many of the remaining classes and won the overall Hunt Night championship. Most touching was the winning ride by Sandy Rives and daughter Lizzie in the competitive Hunter Pairs, besting 14 other combinations. Keswick Hunt members carried off blue ribbons in a number of other events, beginning with Foxhunters 18-30, won by Jill Wilson on Sally Lamb's Wingman. In the 18-35 age group, Whitney Gammell bested the rest, again riding a Sally Lamb mount, Texas Hold 'Em. In the over-46, another Lamb entry, House Calls, carried Mary-Alice Scola to the victory lap. Wingman also captured the Ladies Hack with Wilson in the irons, followed in second place by his stablemate Private Eye, ridden by Laura Fisher.
Texas Hold 'Em reappeared to win the Hunt Staff class, this time with Keswick Huntsman Tony Gammell. The pair repeated their first place in the Gentlemen's Hunter Hack. Other placings in the Staff Class included Technician, ridden by Sandy Rives, Idlehour Fearnought, ridden by Old Dominion's Ross Salter, Cappucinno Ice and Tennessee Valley staff member Nicolette Merle-Smith, Baron with Bull Run's Rosie Campbell, Kermit and Orange County's Josh Warren, and Keepsake with Keswick's Jennifer Nesbit. In the Master's Class, Keswick's Sandy Rives triumphed over Bull Run's Rosie Campbell and Warrenton's Richard Laimbeer on Nikiya.
In the Ladies' Sidesaddle Division, Jill Wilson won the Under-Saddle and Over Fences classes on Sally Lamb's Uno, while Middleburg MFH Penny Denegre claimed the blue in the Sidesaddle Hack and the overall reserve championship on Garnet.