East Dorset, Vermont — It has been a busy couple of weeks for 16-year-old Grace Rogers of Lititz, PA. It seemed nothing could stop this junior rider from earning the blue ribbon in the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal class held Thursday, July 31, 2008 during week four of the Vermont Summer Festival at the Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, VT.
Rogers and her family used to live in Burlington, VT, but their recent move to Lititz had Rogers packing for the past two weeks instead of showing. In addition, during week one of the Vermont Summer Festival, she picked up the reins of a new mount, Wyntoon, a 10-year-old bay gelding owned by Stephanie Ingram.
“Yeah, it’s been busy,” Rogers said with a laugh. “This is only my second week [competing] with him, but we connected right away. He’s such a good boy. He’s very quiet and easy to ride.”
Rogers was first of six competitors asked to return for further testing from the 44-horse starting field. Judges asked riders to canter a vertical, then canter the next oxer, halt, counter-canter another oxer, trot the next vertical, and then return to the line-up in a sitting trot. All six riders completed the test without error, but Rogers and Wyntoon excelled.
“I think our halt was right on and gave us that extra push to stand out. We were able to do it sooner and smoother than everyone else,” Rogers said. “I mainly just tried to follow directions and remember the course. He’s got such great rhythm and a good spring in his jump. He’s always very pretty to watch.”
Rogers started riding at the age of six and began training with Missy Clark at 14. Before Clark, she had little experience on the ‘A’ circuit, but she’s taken to it like a fish to water and now travels to shows frequently throughout the year. “I love it!” she said frankly. Online classes allow her the flexibility she needs to continue her studies while also maintaining a busy competition schedule.
Her family has come to the Vermont Summer Festival for four years now.
“It’s always been the one big show we look forward to every year,” Rogers said. “I just love the scenery and the mountains and the laidback atmosphere.”
Rogers also won the ASPCA Horsemanship class during week one and placed third overall with her other horse, San Remo, in the WIHS classes that week. She hopes to add more wins to her resume throughout the final three weeks of the Vermont Summer Festival.
Rogers has also set her sights on the Pennsylvania National Horse Show this fall for the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Finals. “Last year was my first year there and it was really nerve-wracking,” she said of the prestigious indoor show. “But this year I feel like I’ll be more prepared and be able to have more fun.”
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 School.
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.