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Hilary Johnson and Moonwalk Presentation

Hilary Johnson and Moonwalk

Hilary Johnson and Voyager

Peter Pletcher and Quirino

Hilary Johnson and Voyager

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Hilary Johnson Scores Three Professional Hunter Tricolors at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival

Written by: Sarah Harper
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2016-07-21

Traverse City, MI – July 21, 2016 - Professional hunter divisions wrapped up the second day of competition at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival Week III. Hilary Johnson had a banner day finding herself with tricolors in both the Second Year Green Working Hunter Division as well as the Green Conformation Hunter Division and a reserve championship in the First Year Green Working Hunter Division.  

In the Second Year Green Working Hunter Division, the championship went to Hilary Johnson and Moonwalk, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Copper Fox LLC. Rachel Johnson and For Adventure, a 9-year-old warmblood gelding owned by Alex McNally, took home the reserve championship. Johnson was thrilled with her ride on this special horse.

“Moonwalk is a very special horse,” Johnson said.  “We just love him! I’m not sure how we got quite so lucky to come across one like him. He is one of those once in a lifetime kind of horses.”

Johnson animatedly described what a joy he is to ride. “He is one of the most fun horses to ride,” she said. “He’s just happy, he’s very fluffy and bouncy and you don’t have to pull on the reins, you don’t have to kick a lot he’s got one of those canters where you see the jumps from 30 strides out.”

Moonwalk does double duty also showing with owner Kendall Meijer. “The plan next year is that he really doesn’t need to move up to the High Performance,” Johnson said. “He’s going to be done with the professional ranks. He knows his job well enough so I hope to move her up to the Amateur Owners next year and keep cruising.”

Johnson was once again in the tricolors as the Green Conformation Hunter Champion with Voyager an 8-year-old warmblood gelding owned by Copper Fox LLC. Reserve Champion went to Maria Rasmussen and Bliss a 7-year-old warmblood gelding owned by Corporate Way LLC. In the High Performance Working Hunters the championship went to Courtney Calcagnini aboard Fleur de Lis Farms’ Bowie, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding. The reserve championship went to Peter Pletcher and Columbia, an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Blanche Strunk.

In the First Year Green Working Hunter Division, it was Peter Pletcher and Quirino, a 10-year-old Holsteiner owned by Audry Giles-Gates, who earned the top honors. The hunter ring is a second career for Quirino, who Pletcher began riding after last year’s winter season in Florida.

“He did the jumpers first,” Pletcher said.  “The owner called me and said, ‘Hey, I think this might be a hunter or derby horse. Would you give him a ride?’ I said, ‘Sure!’  She brought him to the farm, and I knew for sure that he would make a great derby horse.”

Pletcher’s instincts about Quirino have certainly proven correct. ““He is turning out to be a great hunter and derby horse, Pletcher said.  “He has a great attitude, brave and fun to ride. He won the $30,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby the first week of Country Heir. He has placed in almost all of them that we have done. We are excited for the derby finals.” The pair will certainly be one to watch in the hunter rings this week.

Hunter competition will continue Friday in the R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring with the junior riders getting a chance to shine. Sunday will see the $5,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Glory Days Farm LLC.

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.

To view the competition schedule, please click here.

For travel and housing information, please click here.

For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Brook Berganza at

For questions and comments, feel free to contact


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