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Press Release


HIllary Johnson and Rogelio

Kelsey Wickham and Pick Six

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Hillary Johnson and Rogelio Kick Off GLEF Series II with Strong Lead in Performance Hunters

Written by: Kendall Bierer
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2016-08-10

Traverse City, Mich. – Aug. 10, 2016 – After a week of rest, horses and riders kicked off the opening day of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) with high spirits. The professional hunter divisions commenced early in the morning, with some of the top horse and rider combinations contending for the opening day accolades. Ultimately, it was Hillary Johnson and Rogelio, owned by Cole Battershall, who took the first-day lead in the Performance Hunters, while Kelsey Wickham rode Pick Six to the top of the leaderboard during the Conformation Hunters.

Johnson was the busiest of the riders in the Performance Hunters, showing three horses to the top ribbons in the combined division. She first showed Rogelio, a show jumper imported from Europe only a year prior, to the top of the leaderboard in the first over fences, competing at the 3’6” height. She then returned to take the third place in the handy and concluding the division with the first place finish in the under saddle.

“He is one of my student’s junior hunter horses,” Johnson said. “He is wonderful. We leased him last year, and Cole got along so well with him that we decided to lease him for another year. He does this division as a little tune up. He is wonderful. He was imported as a 12-year-old, and last year was his first year in the United States. He was a little shocked by the brush at first, coming from the jumpers, but now he has really settled into the groove. He is such a lovely mover, and has such great expression.”

Johnson also picked up the second and fourth place awards with Foremost and Winchester, respectively, in the handy round of the Performance Hunters. It was Alise Oken and Cavalia, owned by Hi Hopes Farm, LLC, who captured the first place in the handy.

“I really liked how there were options in the handy today,” Johnson explained. “It allowed for you to press the horses that are ready to make some pretty snug turns. It was a lot of fun.”

“For us, this is so close to home,” Johnson explained. “We usually go to Kentucky in the summer, but with this being here, we decided to give it a shot and see how it goes. We are really looking forward to exploring Traverse City a little bit more, seeing the lake and some of the restaurants. I think the management is doing a great job, they know the lay of the land, the facility and they have been really welcoming and accommodating.”

It was Samantha Gajoch and Catango V who kicked off the first of the hunter classes early Wednesday morning, capturing the win in the model section of the Conformation Hunters, sponsored by Sugar Run Farm, but it was Kelsey Wickham with Pick Six who stole the show over fences. Wickham rode the 10-year-old Warmblood gelding to two back-to-back blues in the over fences, kicking off the opening day of GLEF with the Conformation Hunter division lead. 

Wickham has only had Pick Six, or ‘Bandit’ as he is more affectionately known, for a little over a year. She purchased him from a client, stating that “he was too nice, and we didn’t really want him to leave the barn,” so she bought him.

“We competed with him in the Pre-Greens last year and then moved him up. He is just mine, so this is his only job, which is nice, and a lot of fun for me to be able to do that,” Wickham said. “We went to Devon for the first time this year and did really well there. It was really nice, to be able to compete in the professional divisions. We are hoping to qualify for Indoors, which is why we are staying here, for the points. We are aiming for Harrisburg, and today helped a lot. We have been working on a lot of things, and it has been nice stepping up, a really good confidence boost.”

Wickham is the head trainer of Wait and See Farms, a family-run business specializing in hunters and jumpers, which is only three hours south of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, and the Flintfields Horse Park.

“We are from right down state,” Wickham said. “This show is close, and nice. We have been coming here for a long time, pretty much since it started. We went when it was the old show grounds, and now here. I love the new management, it is running really smoothly, it’s huge, and I love the extra three weeks. It is great to have, especially so close to home.”

Wickham was thrilled with the first day outcome, acknowledging Bandit’s jump as one of his top qualities. “I like the hotter rides. He is like a Thoroughbred in a Warmblood body. He goes like a Thoroughbred, and he doesn’t really like for you to touch him. He is a blast. You pretty much just drop the reins and then he has this great jump,” Wickham smiled.

Hillary Johnson and Sorrento, owned by Copper Fox LLC, took the second place in the first over fences, and the third in the handy. Catango V and Gajoch picked up the third and the second place, respectively.

During the Green Working Hunters, Hillary Johnson and Moonwalk, earned the blue ribbon in the first over fences class, with Jennifer Nadalin and Westeros finishing in second. Nadalin returned to capture the handy round win, paving the way for the first-day lead. Wickham and Pick Six put in a good effort in the handy for the second place, while Johnson rode her second mount Voyager to the third place. 

Series Two kicked off on August 10 and will run 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. Hunter highlights include the USHJA National Hunter Derby, which will take place each Sunday through the end of the second series.

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 or to view schedules, please visit or


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