Top Equestrians Set to Compete at Pennsylvania National
By: Betsy Batish
Starting Oct. 10, the focus of the equestrian world will be trained on Harrisburg, Pa., for the 68th edition of the prestigious Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
With over 1,400 horse and rider teams competing for $420,000 in prize money– including the $85,000 FEI Grand Prix de Penn National – the show features ten action-packed days filled with the best and brightest athletes in both Hunter and Jumper competition. Attracting talented youth and adult equestrians from around the country – contestants who must qualify to compete – the Pennsylvania National is one of the nation’s largest indoor horse shows. It is also one of the most highly celebrated, consistently earning a Top 25 rating from the North American Riders Group (#6 in 2013), as well as a place in the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame.
The show opens with Junior Weekend, Oct. 10 – 13, featuring riders 18 years old and younger competing in Pony and Junior Hunter Divisions with a wide variety of classes running over four days. Prime-time events include the USEF National Individual Junior Jumpers, NAL Pony Hunter Championships, USEF Prix des States Team Championships and the prestigious Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Finals.
Competing in the Hunter Seat Medal Finals at the Pennsylvania National is a sort of ‘coming of age’ for young equestrians. Many top riders and Olympians, including George Morris, Katie Monahan-Prudent and Victor Hugo-Vidal have held the coveted title. T.J. O’Mara, brother to last year’s talented Medal winner, Meg O’Mara, is qualified for the finals possibly making the legacy a family affair. The Pessoa/US National Hunter Seat Medal Finals, presented by Randolph College, begin at 7 a.m. (EST) on Sunday, Oct. 13.
The USEF National Junior Jumper Championships Individual and Team competitions showcase top junior jumpers showing over technical courses designed by Alan Wade. Day one of the Pennsylvania National includes the Individual Junior Jumper Speed class, the first of a multi-round contest. Six teams hand-picked from different ‘zones’ across the nation will face off in the Team Championship. Based on a modified Nation’s Cup format with fence heights up to 1.45m, the $15,000 USEF Prix De States Team Championship is a fan favorite. Team action takes place on Oct. 11 and 12.
Following the excitement of Junior competition, Adult Week kicks off on Monday, Oct. 14 at the Pennsylvania National. Highlights include the ever-popular Hunt Night on Oct. 15, Gambler’s Choice Jumpers with a special Salute to the Military by the Canadian Cowgirls Precision Drill Team on Oct. 16, sidesaddle classes on Oct. 17 (including Over Fences and Hack divisions) followed by a $40,000 Big Jump speed contest, and the $33,000 FEI Keystone Classic Open Speed Stake as well as a 5-Drum Celebrity Barrel Race pitting Grand Prix Riders against the Canadian Cowgirls on Oct. 17. Also on Friday night, top youngest riders return to the ring for the always exciting NAL Pony Jumper Final. The show wraps up with a spectacular grand finale showcasing the world’s top Grand Prix riders squaring off in the $85,000 Grand Prix de Penn National, an FEI World Cup Qualifier, on Saturday night.
Often affectionately referred to as “The Horseman’s Show,” organizers of the Pennsylvania National are committed to ensuring the safety and comfort of all horses and riders by providing such top amenities as leading edge Equestrian Services International (ESI) footing in both the competition and warm-up arenas, hot water wash racks in the barns, and of course, the centerpiece, the beautiful 120-foot by 240-foot main indoor arena which seats 7,318 spectators.
Watch Meg O’Mara ride the 2012 Pessoa US Hunter Seat Medal Finals
[youtube link=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLyuNhJw8tQ” width=”590″ height=”315″]
Watch Kent Farrington & Uceko win the 2012 Grand Prix de Penn National
[youtube link=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEBM399DIdk” width=”590″ height=”315″]
For more information about the Pennsylvania National, visit www.panational.org