Hunt clubs held the spotlight on Monday night at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show during Hunt Night, one of the most popular events of the Show. Sewickley Hunt in Sewickley, PA, located just outside Pittsburgh, claimed the top three placings in the first event of the evening, the Field Hunter - Riders 35 Years of Age and Under class. Two Hunt Team members captured the top three ribbons: Mary Dubois rode Stonewall to first and second place with Flagmount Clover and Cindy McCullough was third with Summer Blueprint.
Dubois' mount, Stonewall, is familiar with both the show ring and the hunt field. "My aunt, Cindy McCullough, is my trainer and I horse show as well as foxhunt every Saturday," said Dubois. "This was a blast. We love coming here for Hunt Night. We have been coming for three or four years and each year it gets a little more fun, we figure it out a little more."
The Field Hunter class - Riders Over 35 Years of Age was won by Jennifer Webster on Campsite, a 9 year old Thoroughbred mare. They are part of the Potomac Hunt. "She is a former race horse, a pretty good racehorse in fact," said Webster. "She came off the track when she was 6. I bought her to foxhunt, I do show a little. Her first horse show was Warrenton where she did the 3' division. She's got style and she is pretty, but she is a natural as a hunt horse. It is great that she can have a new career doing something that we both love."
Twelve Hunts participated in the Hunt Team competition, the highlight of the night. Each hunt was allowed to enter two teams of three riders and all but two did just that, adding up to twenty total teams to attempt the intricate course. Each team started over single fences at the start of the course, then had to jump staggered fences set on the long side of the arena and culminated with a fence on the diagonal that was to be jumped in unison. Spacing and striding were of utmost importance to achieve the desired result.
The Team from Elkridge Hartford Hunt, comprised of Ellie Williams, Katie Doherty and Katie Fitzpatrick, rode in on matching gray horses and had the crowd cheering as they jumped fence after fence with true precision to take the top award.
"We didn't even practice," they said, still in unison. "We are all veterans. We do it to support our club, and to have fun. We knew we had a great trip, but we didn't get to see anyone else's trips so we were just holding our breath and hoping that we did really well. It is all a great time."
Another popular part of the evening was the exhibition by the Rose Tree - Blue Mountain Hunt, who brought out their pack of foxhounds and entertained the crowd, allowing the hounds to gambol around the ring, demonstrating how these lovely animals work together under the direction of the Huntsman.
Recognized as a premier equestrian event, The Pennsylvania National Horse Show runs October 8-17 and has been held indoors at the State Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg, PA since its inception in 1945.
Known locally for its contributions to the community and globally for excellence in competition, PNHS attracts top Hunters and Jumpers, sport horse enthusiasts and spectators who find the show exciting, educational and inspiring. Visitors enjoy the intimacy of one competition ring, a full concourse of shops and a variety of special events.
Proceeds from the show benefit the Harrisburg Kiwanis Youth Foundation dedicated to youth programs and The Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation supporting equine programs. PNHS is proud of its contributions, proud to be consistently recognized by the Show Hunter Hall of Fame and the North American Riders Group, proud of its heritage and looking forward to a bright future.