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Press Release


Courtney Calcagnini and Bowie

Caitlyn Shiels and Cassius Presentation

Caitlyn Shiels and Cassius

Maria Rasmussen and Bliss

Hillary Johnson and Sorrento

Peter Pletcher and Quirino Presentation

Peter Pletcher and Quirino

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Peter Pletcher and Quirino Top First Year Green Hunters at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival

Written by: Sarah Harper
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2016-07-28

Traverse City, MI – July 28, 2016 – Thursday saw championships awarded in the professional hunter divisions at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival. Riders took home the tricolors and looked towards the hunter derbies that will be held over the weekend with the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by the Gochman Family and Baxter Hill Farm on July 30 and the $5,000 Glory Days Farm LLC, USHJA National Hunter Derby on July 31.

The R.L. Polk Family Main Hunter Ring kicked off with the First Year Green Working Hunters sponsored by Wrenwood Farm and Jenny Sutton. Peter Pletcher and Quirino, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Audrey Giles-Gates brought home the championship. The reserve went to Greg Crolick aboard Outshine, a 9-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Top Call Farm.

Pletcher was happy with his rounds and has his eye Saturday’s $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by the Gochman Family and Baxter Hill Farm. “Today was a lot better than yesterday,” Pletcher said.  “Yesterday he was a little bit fresh. Because of the derby being Saturday I didn’t do a lot with him yesterday and he was a little bit too fresh. Today, he was much better and he was back into the groove.”

Up next for division championships were the Conformation Hunters sponsored by Sugar Run Farm. The championship award went to Hillary Johnson and Sorrento a 9-year-old Westphalian owned by Copper Fox LLC. Maria Rasmussen brought home one of her three reserve championships with Bliss, a 9-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Corporate Way LLC.

Johnson was happy with her win on Sorrento and credited Pletcher for his help this week. “I’m trying something a little different with the horse,” Johnson said. “I’ve had him for just over a year now and Peter Pletcher used to show him when he was a Pre-Green horse. He actually helped me out with him a little bit this week, which was nice and I think we’re on the right track now. I was trying to go too fast and now he’s much happier going slower it’s amazing how that works.”

Rasmussen was happy with the performance of her young horse. “Bliss is a young horse,” Rasmussen said. “He’s just six and he’s been a little slow to come along but it all just clicking, he’s great he’s a lot of fun.”

In the Second Year Green Working Hunters Caitlyn Shiels and Donald Stewart’s Cassius took home the championship. The reserve spot again went to Maria Rasmussen. This time she was aboard Memorable, an 8-year-old warmblood gelding owned by Over Fences Farm LLC.

Shiels is another rider who has her eye on a win in Saturday’s $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby. A tack change in the classes today paid off with a championship. “Today, I changed it up a little bit,” Shiels explained. “I actually switched my bit, I went with a rubber D snaffle and he was a little bit lower in his frame and his canter behind was a little bit smoother so I really liked the ride today he was really with me at every stage. He’ll do the derby on Saturday.”

The High Performance Working Hunter Championship went to Courtney Calcagnini and Bowie, a 10-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Fleur de Lis Farms. Peter Pletcher brought home the reserve championship aboard Blanche Strunk’s Columbia, a 10-year-old Holsteiner Mare.

Maria Rasmussen was smiling all day long in the hunter rings, taking home one championship and three reserve championships. Rasmussen was champion in the Treesdale Farm 3’3” Pre-Green Hunter division aboard Synergy, a 6-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Copper Fox LLC.

Friday will see the junior riders have a chance to shine and begin vying for division championships.  Highlights in the hunter divisions in week four include the $25,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby presented by the Gochman Family and Baxter Hill Farm on July 30 and the $5,000 Glory Days Farm LLC, USHJA National Hunter Derby on July 31.

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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