The Sweet Briar Fall Hunter team’s season got off to an excellent early start during September. It was a busy month in which the Vixens captured one individual champion and three individual reserve champion titles, including one at the Middleburg Classic against a strong field.
The action began with a trip to the Greensboro (N.C.) Hunter Jumper Classic from Sept. 5-7, about the same time Tropical Storm Hanna was dumping torrential rain on the East Coast. The weather didn’t stop the Vixens from having a good first outing of the season, though.
Sophomore Morganne Young and SBC’s Braveheart teamed up to take home the title of champion in the Children’s Hunter division for riders ages 15 to17. Young placed first, second, third and fourth in four Over Fences classes to win the division.
Senior Alison Sims, riding Sweet Briar’s Chinook, was the reserve champion in the Adult Amateur Hunter division for ages 18 to 35. In addition to two first-place ribbons, she earned third-, fourth- and eighth-place finishes.
Sarah Fishback ’11 and her horse Almond placed second three times and third once in Over Fences classes in the Adult Amateur Hunter 18 to 35 division and placed seventh in the Under Saddle class. Hers was Sweet Briar’s most consistent performance of the weekend, said SBC assistant director of riding Mimi Wroten, who coaches the Fall Hunter team.
Nell Malbon ’11 and her horse Feature Presentation also participated in the Adult Amateur Hunter division. She was third in the Under Saddle and sixth in two Over Fences classes.
The next stop for the team was the Middleburg Classic, where Sweet Briar riders competed on Sept. 19, the fourth of the show’s six days. Middleburg is a competitive event, Wroten said, and this year there were so many riders in the Adult Amateur Hunter 18 to 35 division that organizers divided them into sections A and B.
Sweet Briar’s Chinook and Sims again had strong, consistent rides, placing second in both Over Fences classes and fifth in the Under Saddle. The pair’s performance was enough to take the reserve championship in section A.
Riding in section B, Malbon and Feature Presentation placed eighth in the Under Saddle and Fishback was eighth in one of the Over Fences classes riding Almond.
The team also rode in the U.S. Grand Prix League finals held the last weekend in September in Culpeper, where Malbon and Feature Presentation won the reserve championship in the Adult Equitation 18 to 35 division. Her individual ribbons were first for Equitation Over Fences, and fifth and eighth in two Over Fences classes in the Adult Amateur Hunter 18 to 35 division.
Also at Culpeper, Young and Braveheart won the Virginia Horse Show Association Hunter Seat Equitation Medal class, in addition to winning one of the Over Fences classes in the Children’s Hunter 15 to 17 division. Young also had one eighth-place and two fifth-place finishes in other Over Fences classes. She was eighth in the Under Saddle class and fifth in the Children’s Hunter Classic.
Riding Almond in the Amateur Owner 18 to 35 group, Fishback was second and third in two Over Fences classes.
Sims and Chinook also did well at Culpeper, placing second in the Marshall and Sterling Adult Hunter Classic. In the Adult Amateur Hunter 18 to 35 division, she placed third twice, fourth and fifth in four Over Fences classes. In the Adult Equitation 18 to 35 division, she was second and fourth in Over Fences.
Reflecting on the past month’s work, the Vixen riders drew some praise from their coach.
“The reserve championship at the Middleburg Classic is a top notch award and the other championships and reserve ribbons were good wins as well,” Wroten said.