Several years ago, trainer Tom Brennan of Winter Hill Farm set out to develop a rewards incentive for Junior riders who don’t get to spend as much time in the saddle as those students who participate in on line programs and have access to private tutors. The underlying notion was that riders who attend a traditional “brick and mortar” high school full time have less opportunities to compete at horse shows and deserve special recognition for their efforts. In order to be considered for eligibility, riders had to submit an application, letter of Good Standing from their school and verification that they were in physical attendance at the school at least 85% of the time in the prior school semester.
Scholarship funds were raised throughout the year through personal appeals from Mr. Brennan, a trainer-based pie eating contest at the Lexington Spring Horse Show, and through donation forms available on the Pennsylvania National Horse Show website, www.PAnational.org.
Eligible riders in each of the four Junior hunter sections competed for a $1,000 scholarship check and first through third place ribbons. Gift bags were provided for second and third place winners and additional gift bags were also presented to the parents of the recognized riders. Although in its first year, the program had 20 eligible riders. Scholarship checks were awarded to Claudia Freedman (Small Junior Younger), Emma Woldfogel (Small Junior Older), Kelsi Okun (Large Junior Younger), and Quinn Larimer (Large Junior Older).
After the awards, Tom Brennan said, “I am very impressed with the participation and success of the program for our first year. The Scholarship and Recognition really fit in with the mission of the PNHS Foundation. Now that people have seen how it works, I look forward to growing the program both in numbers of riders and monetarily. The feedback has been positive and very enthusiastic.”
“We were so happy to host this program at our show,” said Liz Shorb, president of the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. “The Juniors already have so many important classes and championships at our show, including the Randolph College/USEF Prix de States Junior Jumper Championships and the Pessoa/US National Hunter Seat Medal Final. It just seems fitting that this new program should find a home with us as well.”
The Pennsylvania National Horse Show is one of the largest indoor horse shows in the U.S., hosting horses and competitors from across the country with 15,000 spectators and 1,400 qualified horses and riders competing for $475,000 in prize money. The show features Hunter and Jumper competition and the $85,000 Grand Prix de Penn National.
Proceeds from the event benefit community equine and youth programs. Since its inception in 1945, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation has donated over $1.5 million to charitable entities. For more information on the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, visit www.PANational.org.