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ATTACHED PHOTOS

Meagan Nusz and Willow

Meagan Nusz and Willow

Meagan Nusz and Willow

Brett Burlington and Bluf

Lacey Gilbertson and Echo D

Jada Fuleky and Rubens

Jada Fuleky and Rubens

Elise Buhl and Patron

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Meagan Nusz and Willow Clinch $25,000 Amalaya Investments Welcome Stake at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival; Jada Fuleky Wins Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children's Medal

Written by: Taylor Renner, Allyson Lagiovane
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG) http://www.stadiumjumping.com/sj/index.cfm
Release Date: 2016-07-08

Traverse City, Mich. – July 8, 2016 – Meagan Nusz and Willow began their partnership three years ago, but it was not until just three months ago that Nusz and the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding really hit their stride. They showcased their winning relationship on Friday by clinching the first place prize in the $25,000 Amalaya Investments Welcome Stake at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival.
 
"Three years ago, at that time in my riding, I wasn't really ready for a horse of his quality," said Nusz of Willow. "I rode him for a little over a year. I had some good success on him, but he was really strong and spooky. He can be a little intimidating unless you're really positive about what you're doing. I had a bit of a rough year along with some good classes and made the decision to give the horse to my trainer, Kent [Farrington]. Kent had the ride for about two years. He had major success with him all over the world. I knew he was a super star, but it was either me ride and ruin him or give him to Kent to produce a little."
 
After recently selling one of her top mounts, Dynamo, and with another horse injured, Nusz was short on horses to compete with at the grand prix level. As a result, Farrington generously offered to reunite Nusz with her old partner to see if they could re-establish a winning relationship. Farrington's instinct was spot on as shortly after the pair went on to the win the $30,000 Walter Oil & Gas Grand Prix at the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show in April.
 
"I thought [Kent] was out-of-his-mind crazy!" said Nusz. "I remember riding Willow and I remember watching him with Kent and thinking, 'Thank gosh it's not me anymore because that thing looks out of control. He looks so difficult!' So Kent told me, 'No, I believe in you. I think you can do it.' He gave me the horse and some lessons and sent me to a horse show, and I won the grand prix! Willow is a different horse now. He's still very strong, hot, intimidating and very animated, but he's not nearly as spooky and you can tell that there's been a lot of behind-the-scenes training that has gone on to produce him to a top level horse that I can somewhat manage.
 
"I never got the chance to jump the 1.30m, 1.40m, I just went straight to the top level and then kept jumping 1.60m," continued Nusz. "It's been nice to have him here. These classes are like his specialty. It's nice to have one that I can really go and compete on. He is so game. He knows his job almost too well. I have to remember that I don't have to think for him because then I'll get in trouble or cut the turn too early so I just kind of go with him and let him do his thing and stay out of his way."
 
With Friday's win under their belt, Nusz and Willow have re-kindled a partnership that will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with in upcoming competitions in the future.
 
"He's a super weird horse," said Nusz. "In the barn he doesn't want any attention unless your giving him a cookie, and then he turns in the corner and stares at the wall. In the schooling ring, he's totally out of his mind, but he loves his job. Twice a week, he loves to trail ride on a loopy rein wherever you want to go. It's better for him just to be Zen. It's almost as if the more you do, the more amped up he gets. I've learned that about him. I like getting to know my horses' personalities individually and training them the way that they want to be trained. I feel like that really helps you in the ring. They want to do good for you when you do right by them."
 
Thirty-eight horse and rider combinations aimed to jump clear around the challenging first round course, designed by Olaf Petersen, in order to secure their chance to return for the jump-off. Many collected faults at fence nine, a tricky double combination, and only 13 were able to successfully advance to the short course, with six producing double clear rounds.
 
"I didn't think the first round was too big, but I definitely thought it was tricky enough," said Nusz. "There were some difficult obstacles and the time allowed was short enough. You had the option to go inside or outside with the timer. My first horse went inside and knocked it down so with Willow I decided to kind of go out and manage. There were a few places that you could either leave out or add, and the oxers and the combinations were very scopey.
 
"For the jump-off, a good friend of mine from Texas, because I'm originally from Texas, Martien Van Der Hoeven, helped me a little bit," continued Nusz. "I always want to do these leave outs — I'm used to training with Kent all year — but then I'm like, 'Oh I don't know, is that right, am I doing too much?' So he kind of helped me. I did exactly what I wanted to do except for the first line. I ended up getting too quiet and had to add one, which he really helped me out with and took care of me there so luckily he was able to get out of the way. That was a fault on my part. Other than that I thought he jumped the round beautiful."
 
Brett Burlington, a 17-year-old from Miami, Florida, and Bluf, owned by Allison Sweetnam, were the first clear pathfinders as second in the jump-off order-of-go. They set the pace for the rest of the class in 40.370 seconds.
 
"I got Bluf last summer in August," said Burlington. "He's really cool. I've shown him in the U25 in Florida and I jumped him in a grand prix at Country Heir. I'm going to jump him again this Sunday in the grand prix.
 
"With him, I have to be aware of my time allowed but also keep him together at the same time without letting him get strung out," continued Burlington. "The course was pretty straightforward. There were obviously some tricky parts, but I thought it was fair. I knew he was going to do his job and I just needed to do mine. In the jump-off, I went second so I only got to watch one person. I had to go fast wherever I could and take a couple of risks. I think where the winner got me was from fence two to the fence six combination because she was neater than I was. I went fast, but I went wide. Bluf was great though."
 
Seven trips later Nusz and Willow entered the Grand Prix Ring at Flintfields Horse Park and laid down a blazing, clear round, tripping the timers in 40.190 seconds and catching Burlington's time by just 2/10th's of a second to take the top spot and knock Burlington down to second.
 
Lacey Gilbertson and Allison Sweetnam's Echo D followed Nusz's round with another double clear performance and just barely missed the cut for second place after finishing in 40.374 seconds — 4/1,000th's of a second behind Burlington. However, Gilbertson's time would go on to garner her third place honors.
 
Both Nusz and Burlington are newcomers to the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival and are immensely enjoying all the horse show and Traverse City have to offer thus far as the first series of competition kicks off this week.
 
"Normally I'm in Europe or at Spruce Meadows so I never get the chance to come, but we've heard wonderful things about Great Lakes Equestrian Festival," said Nusz. "This is my first year here. The city is great, the hotels are great, the whole horse show organization just bends over backwards, and they're so catering and so kind. It's a fun horse show to come to. The atmosphere is great. We're really having a blast and we've only been here for four days! We'll be here for four weeks, but we're loving it so far."
 
"I love it here, it's great!" said Burlington. "I think it's really nice. I just love the show and I love Traverse City in general. It's just so great and pretty here."
 
As quickly as the rain came down, the skies cleared and the sun shined down upon the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. Children's hunter riders navigated their way through the scattered showers to earn top honors in the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children's Medal division. Twelve-year-old Jada Fuleky from Temperance, Michigan, and her mount Rubens were the pair to come out on top.
 
Fuleky earned the highest score after completing round one of the division, finishing with an 86. Fuleky and her mount, Rubens, defended their first place spot by delivering a strong work-off round. Fuleky said, "My over fences I thought was good. I had a few distances that I thought I could've done a little bit better. For my work-off, it was really good but I got a little bit long out of the two stride, but I pulled it together."
 
Rubens is a 12-year-old gelding and is owned by Susan Guip. "He's really fun to ride; I love him," expressed Fuleky. "He's a really good horse!" Their partnership paid off in the ring, and they walked away with the blue ribbon for the class.
 
Elise Buhl ended her first round with a score of only 82, but had a strong enough work-off round to earn the second place spot. Buhl was riding Patron, an entry owned by Falcon Ridge Stables. Rounding out the top three in the T.H.I.S. National Children's Medal was Hannah Coleman riding Charming Charly 5 for Fox Meadows Farm.
 
GLEF will continue to welcome riders and thrill spectators over the next four weeks throughout the first series of competition, which runs July 6–31. Feature jumper events for Week One in the Grand Prix Ring include the $5,000 NAL Low Junior/Amateur Jumper Classic on Saturday and the highlight event of the week on Sunday: the $50,000 Grand Prix of Traverse City, presented by North Face Farm.
 
The second week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, held July 13–17, has completely sold out of stabling space with limited spots remaining for Week Three, July 20–24. Act now to reserve stabling spots for August, and do not miss out on the chance to compete during the all-new FEI Great Lakes Equestrian Festival series in August.
 
Series Two kicks off on August 10 and runs through August 28 featuring three weeks of hunter and jumper competition with a FEI CSI2* rating Week Five and Six and a FEI CSI3* rating during Week Seven culminating in the $100,000 Grand Traverse Grand Prix on Sunday, August 28.
 
The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival is set on 88 beautiful acres and showcases five world-class competition rings in addition to spacious schooling rings. The property features don't stop there as the park offers convenient on-site campgrounds and weekly nights of entertainment for a truly unique attendee experience.
 
For more information, please visit www.greatlakesequestrianfestival.com
 
Results: $25,000 Amalaya Investments Welcome Stake
 
1 WILLOW MEAGAN NUSZ 0 40.190
2 BLUF BRETT BURLINGTON 0 40.370
3 ECHO D LACEY GILBERTSON 0 40.374
4 GENTLEY FILIP DE WANDEL 0 40.973
5 UNICO SPENCER BRITTAN 0 41.501
6 FENOM VAN KALPSCHEUT ELIZA LEHRMAN 0 45.545
7 DONEGUE DAVID JENNINGS 4 38.774
8 CARLOTTA ANDREW BOURNS 4 39.177
9 BEEZIE HAYLEY BARNHILL 4 41.132
10 BERKLEY II DOUGLAS BOYD 4 41.577
11 EMINEM MICHAEL TOKARUK 4 44.096
12 RUMOROSA DAVID BEISEL 8 41.976
13 JACKPOT LORCAN GALLAGHER 8 44.386

 

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