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Press Release


Safari and Caitlin Ziegler were the Grand Junior Hunter Champions.

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126th National Horse Show Awards Final Two Grand Hunter Championships

Written by: Jennifer Wood
Client: National Horse Show
Release Date: 2009-10-30

Safari and Ziegler Ride to Grand Junior Hunter Championship, Toben and Nijinski Are Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champions

Syracuse, NY - October 30, 2009 - The 126th National Horse Show had a full morning of hunter competition, and they awarded special prizes and trophies to the winners. Caitlin Ziegler of Mequon, WI, rode Safari to the Grand Junior Hunter Championship, while Darby Toben of Princeton, NJ, and Nijinski were the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champions.

The National Horse Show finished their hunter competition today, but their highlight event, the ASPCA Maclay National Championship, will be held on Saturday, October 31. The 126th National Horse Show is featured at the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament, which holds jumpers classes through Sunday, November 1 in the War Memorial at the Oncenter Complex in Syracuse, NY.

Ziegler and Safari competed in the Small Junior 15 & Under Hunter division, where they were fifth over fences, second under saddle, won the handy hunter, and finished with a win in the stake class today to be named champions. Their top ribbons also gave them the grand championship for the junior hunters. They were presented with the “Blue By You” Memorial Challenge Trophy, donated by Miss Elyse Novick, for their division championship. For the grand champion award, they were presented with the “Theodorus Van Wyck Cushny” Memorial Challenge Trophy, donated by Cora C. Cushny and Family. The reserve champion in the division was Genuine, ridden by Lillie Keenan and owned by Chansonette Farms LLC.

Ziegler said of her seven-year-old gelding, “He’s pretty good for being so young. This is his first year doing any of the indoor shows. A lot of people here had some trouble getting down the lines, and he had a huge stride actually, at all of the indoor shows.”

Safari and Ziegler have been paired for two years, and Safari has improved and taught Ziegler along the way. “I’ve learned a lot from riding him. He’s come along so far. You can see the difference when you’re riding him, especially in places like this where it can be spooky. He handled it so well,” she explained. “My riding has developed a lot from him. This is the first year that I’ve qualified for most of the indoor shows. I just did one horse last year at Harrisburg, so to be able to do all of the indoor shows and end so well means a lot to me. You can see there’s a big improvement over last year.”

Ziegler was very excited to win the championship at the National Horse Show in her first year of showing Safari indoors. “The grand championship was kind of a surprise, and we weren’t really expecting that. It’s really important and exciting. This is probably one of the biggest things I’ve ever won,” she expressed. “It’s big enough just to qualify, and I was excited just to be coming here, so to win is really great.”

In the Large Junior 15 & Under Hunter division, Lillie Keenan of New York, NY, stepped up to the championship spot on North Country, owned by Blantyre Farm. They placed first and second over fences during the week. They were presented with the “Nevertheless and Pappy Clifford” Challenge Trophy, donated by Turtle Lane Farm. The reserve champion was Quality Time, ridden by Hasbrouck Donovan for Don Stewart Jr.

Keenan leases North Country, and this was their last show together. “This is my first time showing here. I didn’t really expect it, and since it’s the last indoor show of the year, I was really happy,” Keenan expressed.

North Country was the first large junior hunter that Keenan showed, and the talented gelding taught her a “new way of riding.” She explained, “He taught me how to always be ready, to ride forward but be aware of what’s going on. He’s always been a really nice horse, and he’s a good teacher.”

Jennifer Waxman of Chagrin Falls, OH, finished out her last show as a junior rider with plenty of success in the hunters. She rode Red Panda for John Ingram to the championship in the Small Junior 16-17 Hunters and Vida Blue for Elm Rock LLC to the top tricolor in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters, which was presented by Suzanne Marquard.

Waxman and Red Panda were awarded the “Follow Me” Challenge Trophy, donated by Miss Carrie Lane. Vida Blue and Waxman were presented with the “Canitoe Farm” Challenge Trophy, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Sokoloff.

Amalfi and Danielle Cooper were reserve champions in the Small Junior 16-17 Hunter division, while Saer Coulter rode Positano to the reserve championship in the Large Junior 16-17 Hunters. For winning the stake class today, Positano and Coulter were presented with the “Whiskey Before Breakfast” Memorial Challenge Trophy, donated by Turtle Lane Farm.

Waxman and Red Panda have been paired for two years, and Waxman thinks they have a special relationship. That was put to the test for the indoor season when Red Panda injured his eye this summer. After three months off from showing, he returned to compete at the PA National Horse Show. Waxman felt that the time off helped him come back to the show ring even better.

“It was kind of good for him because it wasn’t a leg injury or anything, so he really felt good when we brought him back,” she said. “He didn’t start jumping until two weeks before Harrisburg. The first day here he was not quite into it, and yesterday he felt like his old self again.” This week, Red Panda finished third over fences on the first day, second in the under saddle, he won the handy hunter class, and was third in the stake.

She added, “I’m so thankful to Tom Wright, the Ingrams, and Ken and Emily Smith because there are only so many horses like that. I was pleasantly surprised here. He had as many excuses to do whatever he wanted, but he didn’t. He went right in here and clocked right around.”

Vida Blue is a new ride for Waxman, but she has made the most out of her time with the pretty grey mare. They were champions at the PA National Horse Show, the Washington International Horse Show, and here at the National Horse Show. Their ribbons this week included a third in the stake class and the blue ribbon in the over fences and the handy classes.

“Vida is so nice. This weekend, I was really just starting to get to know her,” she pointed out. “I’ve only been showing her, so at Harrisburg and Washington you just warm up in a small schooling area, and you don’t really know a horse that way. This week, showing over three days, she felt like she trusted me more.”

Waxman thanked Vida Blue’s new owners, the DeMartinis, as well as Vida Blue’s new trainers, Andrew Lustig and Susie Humes. This is Waxman’s last show as a junior rider, and she feels “bittersweet” about it. Waxman will miss being a junior, but she looks forward to attending college and focusing on her jumpers.

Darby Toben and Nijinski have been on a roll this fall and picked up their second Grand Champion title here, thanks to their championship in the Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunters, presented in part by Virginia Fout in honor of Paul and Eve Fout. They won the same titles at the PA National Horse Show two weeks earlier. This week, they won all three over fences classes and finished second under saddle.

Nijinski and Toben were awarded the “Scot To Do” Challenge Trophy, donated by Ellen Van Dyke, for their division championship and the “Ruxton & Scot To Do” Challenge Trophy, also donated by Ellen Van Dyke, for the grand championship. The reserve champion in the division was Londeur, ridden and owned by Elizabeth Perry.

Toben had full confidence in her horse, who she said “has been the same since day one and been perfect.” She continued, “He’s pretty simple and always the same every day. He’s not spooky or anything.”

Toben has owned Nijinski, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, for five years and this was one of their biggest wins together. “I was a little nervous going into today,” Toben admitted. “I’ve never swept the jumping classes at an indoor show, and this was our first championship here.” After a break from showing this summer, Nijinski returned at Capital Challenge and went on to have his best fall indoor season.

In the Amateur-Owner Over 35 Hunters, Ellen Toon of South Salem, NY, repeated her championship performance from last year on Invincible. They won the opening class, were second in the handy, fifth in the under saddle, and finished fourth today for the championship in the division, which is presented by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest M. Oare. The reserve champion was Fine Kiss, ridden and owned by Betty Oare.

Toon was happy to be showing here after a health issue with Invincible before the Capital Challenge Horse Show. Although Invincible recovered quickly, Toon was unsure of how he would be. They competed in Harrisburg, and after a few days off, Toon said that Invincible was “back to his old self.”

She described, “You don’t have to worry about him. He’s always on your side. I wasn’t perfect, but he was.”

Toon was thrilled to be back in the winner’s circle at the National Horse Show. “They make a huge effort here. The courses were great, and the jumps were big and full. My horse jumps great here. The NHS definitely means something to me,” she expressed.

Francesca’s success in the Regular Conformation Hunters with Maggie Jayne in the irons gave them the title of National Horse Show Grand Hunter Champion. Francesca, owned by Pony Lane Farm, won all four classes and the model. They were presented with the “Overdressed” Challenge Trophy, donated by David H. Clarke Family in memory of Robert Lee Henry.

The 126th National Horse Show concludes tomorrow with the ASPCA Maclay National Championship. The first round begins at 6:30 a.m., and the second round will run in the afternoon. Last year’s winner, Jessica Springsteen, will be on hand for the presentation to this year’s winner, who will have their name noted on the ASPCA Horsemanship Trophy, along with the historical list of famous past winners.

For more information on the National Horse Show, please visit For more information on the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament, please visit

Photo Credit: Safari and Caitlin Ziegler were the Grand Junior Hunter Champions. Photo © Reflections Photography Inc. and Jennifer Wood/PMG. Darby Toben rode Nijinski to the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Championship. Photo © 2009 Jennifer Wood/PMG. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.


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