Lexington, Ky. – Aug. 22, 2021 – Junior Hunter riders took to the StoneLea Ring on the final day of competition at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show to vie for the coveted Grand Junior Hunter Champion title. Awarded to the horse and rider combination with the most points accumulated in the Large Junior 3’6”16-17, Large Junior 3’6” 15&U, Small Junior 3’6”, Junior 3’3” 15&U and the Junior 3’3” Hunter 16-17 divisions, Mary Caroline Nolan and Custom Made were the pair to ultimately emerge victoriously and be crowned by the Grand Junior Hunter Champion title amongst a competitive group of athletes.
The Junior 3’3” Hunters wrapped up their division on Sunday with a regular hunter trip, followed by a technical handy round that consisted of 8-obstacles. Many riders found difficulty with the direct approach to fence one followed by a short rollback to a trot jump, but Nolan and Custom made stepped up to the challenge and laid down a seemingly perfect round, securing them a handy score of 88, which ultimately put them on top of the class.
Nolan and Custom Made, a 16-year-old Mecklenburg gelding owned by Hallie Grimes and leased by Nolan, came into day one of competition Friday afternoon with a fierceness that would ultimately put them in a good position going into day two of competition Sunday. The dynamic pair earned third in the first round Saturday with a score of 84 and would also take home the win in the under saddle class out of a competitive group of 18 horse and rider pairs.
Day two of competition for the Junior Hunter divisions was hosted Sunday morning in the StoneLea Ring. Five sections of the Junior Hunters were vying for division champion and Grand Junior Hunter Champion. In the end, Nolan and Custom Made came out on top after laying down two beautiful rounds. The pair were one of the first in the Junior 3’3” Hunter 15&U division to try their hand at the first round and impressed the judges with their flowing pace, consistency and form over each jump, which would help earn them a score of 84. After a consistent first round, Nolan and Custom Made proved to be a force to reckon with as they laid down a jaw-dropping handy round securing them a score of 88, putting them on top of the class.
The Junior Hunter divisions concluded competition in the StoneLea Ring at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show. Competition for the KHJA will start on Wednesday, August 25 and run through Sunday, August 29.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Mary Caroline Nolan – Grand Junior Hunter Champion
On Custom Made:
“Custom Made, also known as Red in the Barn, is owned by Hallie Grimes. I have been leasing him for this year. He is a little older, so we are only going to focus on the Junior 3’3” Hunters and then his lease sadly comes up in December. He has just been so amazing. He is the sweetest horse I have ever met and I can always trust him. If it is a little long or a little deep, he just goes with it. He is perfect.”
On Upcoming Goals:
“I will be doing Capital Challenge and hopefully indoors if I get in. We hope to just finish out the year strong in the Junior Hunters. I also plan to move up to the 3’6” in the new year on some of my other horses. I want to do the 3’6” equitation classes and just become consistent in those classes. I just want to have a good and consistent finish to this year and into next year is really the end goal.”
On Plan for Handy:
“The first round today just went really well. I was hoping to just have a very smooth and consistent round. I was going to the last in and out and saw that the distance was getting a little bit long, but Red just stepped up to the plate and took care of me. I was so happy with how it went and he is always just so perfect. He is just an awesome horse.”
On Kentucky Horse Shows:
“This was my only week here at the Kentucky Horse Shows. I have not been back since Pony Finals 2019, so it has been a minute. It is as great as always and I really love it here and so do the horses.”