East Dorset, Vermont — Rhode Island’s Thea Chafee was crowned the winner of the fourth annual Adirondack-Green Mountain Challenge at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. The six week competition takes place at Harold Beebe Farm through August 11.
The Adirondack-Green Mountain Challenge counts points for horse-rider combinations competing during the two-week Skidmore College Saratoga Classic Horse Shows in June and the first two weeks of the Vermont Summer Festival. The overall high point winner is awarded the Adirondack-Green Mountain Challenge Perpetual Trophy. Chafee topped the standings with Robin Swinderman’s INXS after racking up points in the Large Junior Hunter division.
Chafee and INXS are newly paired, having just begun competing together during the first week of the Saratoga Classic Horse Show. Chafee typically competes in the equitation divisions, but was offered the ride on INXS to keep her busy during the summer months.
“INXS is really cool because he’s different from any other horse that I’ve ridden,” Chafee explained. “This is the first time I’ve gotten to do the hunters. It’s very different, and I think it gives me a chance to improve.
“There are a lot of little things that he does to help me improve,” Chafee continued. “He jumps really well but very big, which helps me work on keeping my body still.”
In addition to being an excellent teacher, Chafee appreciates INXS’ natural style over fences, which she credits with their success.
“The way he jumps definitely helps us place well and he’s also very adjustable,” she commented.
This year marks the second time INXS has been the winning mount of the Adirondack-Green Mountain Challenge. The 10-year-old Trakehner gelding helped Swinderman reach the winner’s circle in 2010, the inaugural year of the challenge.
“It’s amazing to be able to see him do well with someone else,” Swinderman beamed. “I’m thrilled that he’s going on with Thea and doing really well. INXS really likes her. She’s a very soft rider and he really likes the way she rides him.”
“We’re all very excited,” added Chafee’s trainer Shachine Belle. “It’s been great. This is only our second year together, but Thea’s come very far. She really tries hard, that’s the biggest thing. She hears what you say and tries to do it, which is great.”
The Vermont Summer Festival and Saratoga Classic Horse Shows are favorites of both Belle and Swinderman, who has been competing in Vermont for 20 years.
“The town of Saratoga is great and [executive director] Adele Einhorn does a great job. I don’t sponsor every horse show, but I sponsor there because I think they do a really great job,” Belle commented.
Swinderman added, “Vermont’s show grounds are also great. It’s great that the two horse shows have this partnership. Saratoga is also a beautiful show, and these are two of our favorite shows throughout the year.”
The Vermont Summer Festival’s third week of competition begins July 16 with Equitation Tuesday, followed by World Championship Hunter Rider competition Wednesday through Sunday. Top hunter riders will converge at Harold Beebe Farm to face off in the toughest hunter competition of the circuit.
The six-week circuit, celebrating its 20th anniversary in its current Manchester location, offers more than $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont.
The first five Saturdays of the Vermont Summer Festival feature a $30,000 Grand Prix. The $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix will be held during the sixth and final week on Saturday, August 10. The weekly $10,000 Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, is held each Thursday. The hugely popular $5,000 3’3” Hunter Derby is also held each Thursday for the first five weeks, with week six featuring the $15,000 Hunter Derby.
The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). Please e-mail us or visit our website for more information about the Vermont Summer Festival.