East Dorset, Vermont — It has been awhile since Christine Walsh of Kinnelon, NJ, has had the opportunity to compete. But that didn’t stop her from winning the $2,500 Marshall & Sterling Adult Amateur Jumper Classic, sponsored by CM Hadfields Saddlery, at the Vermont Summer Festival, held at the Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Walsh, 25, recently graduated from Fordham Law School in New York and completed her bar exams. Needless to say, it has been hard for her to find time to compete. She and Charleston, her 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding, hadn’t shown since this winter in Florida. But their two clear rounds in 37.58 seconds today never hinted to any time off.
“He’s always jumped great and he’s speedy,” said Walsh who admitted the clock has been her biggest enemy at times. But beyond the ring, “He’s like a big dog. I think he wishes he could come home from the barn with me,” she added of “Charlie.”
Jenn Thomas of Schomberg, Ontario, turned in the only other clear first round of the class aboard Footloose, but they dropped two rails in the jump-off. For Walsh, being first to jump off worked to her advantage.
“It was less nerve-wracking for me to go first because I feel like I got to set the bar,” said Walsh who trains with Lisa Rex. “It was a fun course. I really enjoyed it.”
Walsh also rode her big 18-year-old gelding, Muzcot, to sixth place in the class. “He’s perfect; a gentle giant,” she said.
Molly Newsome of Mendham, NJ, also collected multiple ribbons today in the $1,500 Marshall & Sterling Children’s Jumper Classic, sponsored by CM Hadfields Saddlery. Aboard Touch N Go, she took the win while riding O’Hara earned her a yellow ribbon.
“My trainer and my parents help me out so much I have to thank them first of all,” said 15-year-old Newsome who trains with Jamie Maillet. Her mother Mei Mei and sister Riley also ride at the Vermont Summer Festival along with her father Jim. “They are always there to support me no matter what. I know it takes a lot of time and money to support this but I appreciate all that they do for me,” Newsome added.
Touch N Go is a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare with grand prix experience who Newsome said has been a great teacher. “I actually have to ride her. She always covers for my mistakes though,” she said. “I love how much energy she has and how she really loves to jump. Once she gets out there, she just keeps going.
Newsome first met Touch N Go on her birthday. “My dad said I was getting a saddle,” she remembered. But much to her delight, the horse under the saddle was part of the deal. Her trainer bought the mare in the Netherlands from Robert Peck. Newsome bonded instantly with her. “She licked my face as soon as I met her in the stall. I’ve never had a horse do that before.”
Newsome hopes to continue up the ranks with Touch N Go and return for a second time to the Vermont Summer Festival next year along with her family.
During the year, more than 2,400 riders from coast to coast compete at over 800 Marshall & Sterling League member horse shows to earn a spot at the Finals. Since its inception in 1991, the Marshall & Sterling League Finals have provided the goal that has fueled the competitive spirit of child and adult riders at all levels of competition.
Competition at the Vermont Summer Festival is held daily Wednesday through Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m. and running until approximately 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children Wednesday through Saturday. On ‘Grand Prix Sunday’, admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children. All gate proceeds are donated to the Friends Foundation for MEMS, benefiting programs in the local Elementary & Middle Schools.
New England’s largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show, the Vermont Summer Festival offers over $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event in the state of Vermont. Visit the Vermont Summer Festival website for more information, including full results.