Lexington, Ky – May 21, 2023 – The sun rose over the Kentucky Horse Park Sunday morning, marking the final day of the Kentucky Spring Classic Horse Show. This time, it was the junior athletes’ turn to compete for the Grand Junior Hunter Champion award, presented by Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. With the same guidelines as the other Grand Hunter Champion awards, top junior athletes and their mounts worked to put together successful rides across a two-day span in an effort to accumulate the most points amongst the group of athletes. Points towards the title were awarded to the horse-and-rider combinations in both the 3’3” and 3’6” sections of the junior hunter divisions. Ultimately, Collin Sweetnam and Coppertone tallied several top scoring rides on both Friday and Saturday to emerge victorious and take home the coveted honor.
The StoneLea Ring on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park played host to these hunter classes with courses designed by Jasen Shelley (USA) throughout the week. With plenty of experience designing hunter courses, Shelley strategically set the tracks to give opportunity for the horses to show off their lengthy stride, while presenting their unique partnership with their riders over each obstacle. The talented horses amongst the group were challenged to execute several key points throughout each course including hunting pace, movement, style of jumping and manners, while their rider counterparts were judged on their positioning in the tack and the ability to communicate and control their mounts throughout the course.
Although the junior athletes are just embarking on their horse showing careers, they presented a sense of confidence and maturity throughout their rides. Each pair brought their own unique approach to the ring, and showed off their skills to the judges over the two day span. Sweetnam and Coppertone stood out however, with their consistency both in the flat and over fences. Sweet Oak Farm’s Hanoverian gelding carried Sweetnam around the ring with unmatched rhythmic cadence, and Sweetnam held proper form to impress the judges. The duo’s jumping form was second to none, and they performed well beyond their years.
Sunday’s competition closed out the Kentucky Spring Classic Horse Show. Horses and riders will be back in action at the Kentucky Horse Park for the Kentucky Summer Horse Show July 26-20, and the Kentucky Summer Classic Horse Show August 1-6, 2023.