Wayne, IL - June 14, 2009 - It was an exciting day for 16-year-old Kelsey Thatcher of South Jordan, UT, as the 2009 Showplace Spring Spectacular concluded its final day of competition. Thatcher won the $50,000 Showplace Productions Grand Prix with her jumper Carlotta, was honored with the award for Overall High Point Junior Hunter Rider prior to that, and was also presented with the award for the Showplace Spring Spectacular's Grand Hunter Champion with her horse Gianni. Thatcher won all four Junior Hunter Classics over the two weeks of competition and earned several championships as well.
During week one Thatcher won the first $1,000Artisan Farms Junior Hunter Classic with her new horse Early Applause, and then went on to win the second Classic of the week with Gianni. Week two Thatcher won the first $1,000 Junior Hunter Classic, sponsored by Our Day Farm and Alex Jayne, with Gianni, and was then the winner of the $2,500 Junior Hunter Classic, sponsored by Roy and Paula May, at the end of the week with Mirasol.
Thatcher and Gianni were also reserve champion week one and champion week two of the Large Junior Hunter 16-17, and she rode Mirasol to the reserve championship in the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 for week one.
"Gianni was great this week. He finally relaxed; he was nervous about the new place," Thatcher stated. "He's a little bit of a nervous guy, but this week he relaxed and jumped great. Mirasol went really well yesterday in the mud. He was one of the ones who was fine, and he was really good in the Classic. We scored an 84 and an 88.5. I got the highest scores of the show on Early Applause with an 85 and an 88, and Gianni was up there too with an 86 and 87. They all went really well here."
Thatcher won a best rider title as a pony rider when she was younger, but this was her first time to win a title as a junior hunter rider. "It's great to have these awards. It only helps you with your confidence," she smiled. "I really just started doing the big stuff last year. It's been hard because all of these kids, everyone my age, has been at it for three or four years. I'm just trying to get as much experience as fast as possible."
Thatcher has been showing at the 'A' level for five years, but only started doing the higher level jumpers and the junior hunters two years ago, and just last year she started competing in the big equitation classes. She has come a long way in a short period of time and proved that over these past two weeks.
Kelsey's 12-year-old sister Madeline also did very well at this year's Showplace Spring Spectacular. Madeline won all but one of the Pony Hunter Classics over the two weeks of competition and earned several championships.
During week one, Madeline won the first $1,000 Pony Hunter Classic as well as the Small/Medium Pony Hunter championship with Hillcrest Blue Cwilt. She also won the second Classic of week one on Beau Rivage.
In week two, Madeline won the final $2,500 Pony Hunter Classic, sponsored by Our Day Farm and Alex Jayne, as well as the Medium Pony Hunter championship with Hillcrest Blue Cwilt, and then was reserve champion in the Large Pony Hunters with Beau Rivage. Madeline has also started showing in the Junior Hunters and was champion of the Small Junior Hunters 15 and Under with her horse Francesca during week two.
"I am really excited because this was a lot of good points towards indoors for my ponies," Madeline smiled. "I like the classic courses because it is a little bit of a longer course, and you always end on a single vertical or oxer. I like to take the challenge of finding that last distance perfectly for that good Classic score."
Madeline explained the differences between her two ponies, Beau Rivage and Hillcrest Blue Cwilt. Beau Rivage is owned by Casey Green, and the Thatchers have him on lease until the end of the year. "He is obviously a very famous pony, and he is a lot of fun to ride," Madeline stated. "I had him throughout WEF and we did pretty well there, and we did well at Devon also. Now we are doing well here. He is pretty old, but he is very experienced."
"He is actually a lot of work, and it took me a little bit to figure him out, but now that I have him figured out he is really easy and he is a lot of fun," Madeline continued. "He needs a lot of leg and hand connection, and I have to decide the distances for him. It is definitely a challenge taking a famous pony that can go and win at good places, but it is a fun challenge."
Madeline has owned her other pony Hillcrest Blue Cwilt for about four years, and she feels that they are a good match. "We are a great team," Madeline said. "She is a really easy ride, and she is one of the ponies that I can just go in and have good trip after good trip. Right now she is getting bred to Kelsey's High Junior Jumper Milous De Fontaine, so she is going to have a baby, hopefully a large pony. She had two babies before, but not with us, so that is exciting."
Madeline moved up to riding the Junior Hunters this year and explained that she enjoys the change. She remarked, "It is a little bit challenging going from the ponies to the juniors because of the stride difference, but I am getting it worked out and it was a great weekend. I love doing the horses and the ponies."
The Thatchers plan to stay in Chicago for most of the summer to compete. They will then travel to Lexington, KY, in August for Madeline to show at Pony Finals before they go east for indoors.
This was the final day of competition for the 2009 Showplace Spring Spectacular, but Showplace Productions will be hosting many more exceptional horse shows throughout the summer. For more information, please visit http://www.showplaceproductions.com
Photo Credit: Madeline Thatcher (pictured with Hillcrest Blue Cwilt) swept the Pony Hunter Classics over the two weeks of competition. Photo © 2009 Jennifer Wood/PMG and OC Photos. Photographs may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/kelsey-thatcher-junior-hunter-championship-06-09.html">Kelsey Thatcher Awarded Overall High Point Junior Hunter Rider and Grand Hunter Championship</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com