East Dorset, Vermont — Molly Braswell of Ocala, FL, topped a field of 39 entries to win the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search held Thursday, July 9, at the Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show in East Dorset, VT.
Riding Tenacious, Braswell successfully completed the jumping phase before advancing to the flat phase where competitors were tested on their ability to perform the counter-canter in both directions. In the USEF Talent Search, open to competitors under the age of 21, judge Frank Madden evaluated the riders on their show jumping skills and abilities.
“I thought I did really well in the jumper phase,” said Braswell, who has also topped the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search competition at other shows, including at HITS Ocala this past winter. “The flat phase was important because there were so many in it. They have you counter-canter in both directions, which no other medal class does.”
When the final marks were in from the judges, Braswell came out on top ahead of California’s Zazou Hoffman riding Catwoman. Hoffman is trained by Missy Clark and John Brennan of Warren, VT, as is the fourth-placed finisher, Grace Rogers, who was riding Skor. Taking third position was Andrea Robbins and Milltyme Lambrini.
Braswell trains at Quiet Hill Farm in Ocala, FL, with Christina Schlusemeyer and her father, Bob Braswell. Being coached by her father does present a unique challenge. Braswell admitted, “It is hard to take direction because he is my parent, but we work through it. It is good because he is one of the best trainers, so it is worth it.”
Braswell’s equine partner, Tenacious, is a black gelding that was imported from Europe three years ago. He is owned by Braswell’s mother, Anne, who was a well-known hunter competitor, winning three consecutive hunter championship titles at the prestigious National Horse Show in New York. Although she gave up her competitive career after giving birth to her only child, Braswell’s mother often rides Tenacious and gives her daughter tips.
“He’s a funny little horse,” said Braswell, 15. “You’ll be playing with him, and then all of a sudden, he decides he wants to bite you. He’s a sweet horse, but he likes to play rough. We call him ‘the shark’!”
Braswell, who began riding before she could walk, looks forward to the annual journey to the Vermont Summer Festival Horse Show.
“I have been coming to Vermont for as long as I can remember,” said Braswell who, last year, won the overall WIHS equitation title during weeks two and four of competition. “I like the location, and the horse show is really well run. The town is awesome, and the scenery is beautiful.”
Friday’s featured event at the Vermont Summer Festival is the $10,000 Betsey Johnson Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets. Running through to August 9, 2009, the Vermont Summer Festival is the largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show in New England, as well as the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont offering more than $750,000 in prize money.