This past week, the top young horses in the country showed off their best features at the 2015 Sallie B. Wheeler/US Hunter Breeding National Championships during the East Coast phase on August 29, in Lexington, Va. and the West Coast phase on August 26, in Del Mar, Calif. Following the East Coast and West Coast competitions, judges Mindy Minetto (Wellington, Fla.) and Chris Wynee (Virginia Beach, Va.) declared East Coast entrants Solaris EMF and Arbor Hill the Overall Grand Champion Best Young Horse and the Reserve Grand Champion Best Young Horse, respectively. This marks the third year in a row, and the ninth time in the Championship's two-phase history, the Overall Grand Champion has come from the East Coast phase.
East Coast Championship
The East Coast competition was held during the Virginia Young Horse Festival at the Virginia Horse Center. Solaris EMF (Sir Wanabi x Panache EMF/Pablo), a Hanoverian gelding, owned by Cismont Manor Farm and handled by Kenneth Wheeler, won the East Coast Best Young Horse Award. He also won the Yearling Hunter - Colts/Gelding Class and The American Hanoverian Society Breed Registry Award. The East Coast Reserve Champion Best Young Horse went to Arbor Hill (Aloha x Paisley/Private Account), a Hanoverian/Oldenburg gelding, owned by Kenneth Wheeler and Cismont Manor Farm and handled by Richard Taylor. Arbor Hill also won the Two-Year-Old Hunter - Colts/Gelding class. Taylor earned the Leading Handler Award and Mr. and Mrs. Earnest Oare were named the Leading Owners.
Additional Breed Registry Awards went to the following top horses: Ethereal Blue, owned by Patricia Michael and handled by Lexi Robinson, won The American Holsteiner Horse Association Award. Femineste MRF, owned and handled by Lubrano, took home The American Warmblood Registry Award. The Belgian Warmblood Breeding Association Award went to Ophelya PCS, owned by Ingrid Bergmann and handled by Dowell "Junior" Johnson. Idonis VZ, owned and handled by Amy Schull, earned The KWPN of North America Award. The RPSI Award went to Amorous, owned by Dr. Katelyn Ziggas and handled by Jay Francella. Joyful Hope, owned by Dr. Erica Feiste and handled by Johnson, won The Stud-Book sBs (Belgian Sport Horse Society) Award. Timeless, owned by Carrie D. Buxton and handled by Oliver Brown, received the Oldenburg Registry of North America Award and Vizier, owned by Nokomis Farm and handled by William Howland, picked up The Oldenburg Horse Breeder's Society Award.
West Coast Championship
The West Coast Championships were held during the Showpark All Seasons Summer Tournament at the Del Mar Horse Park. Reminiscent (Ragtime x Rio Cortez/Rio Grande), an Oldenburg gelding owned by Melissa Brandley and handled by Sue Lightner, won the West Coast Best Young Horse Award. Reminiscent also won the Two-Year-Old Colts/Geldings class. Together, Brandley and Lightner won two additional classes with Reflection: the Three-Year-Old Fillies class and the Three Year-Old Hunter Hack class.
Rodeo (Ragtime x Misty View/Star Choice), an Oldenburg gelding owned and handled by Lightner earned the Reserve Champion Best Young Horse Award. He also won the Three-Year-Old Colts/Gelding class and the Three-Year-Old Hunter Under Saddle class. Lightner also handled Reporting Live, owned by Autumn Hills Farm, who took the Yearling Colts/Geldings class. As a result of these top finishes, Lightner was awarded the Leading Handler award and Brandley the Leading Owner award.
Breed Registry Awards were given out to top horses. Rhetorical, owned by Cary Sparks and handled by Williams, won The American Hanoverian Society Award. The KWPN of North America Award went to Just a Star. The Stud-Book sbs (Belgian Sport Horse Society) Award was given to Rivercity Blues, last year's West Coast Best Young Horse, owned by Autumn Hills Farm and Mike Lowe and handled by Diane Yeager. Reminiscent won the Oldenburg Registry of North America Award, and Eminence Front SWS, owned and handled by Rachel Jansen Jones, earned the Oldenburg Horse Breeder's Society Award.
For more information on the Sallie B. Wheeler/US Hunter Breeding National Championship, click here.