May 26—Devon, Pa.
“It goes without saying that she’s going to win every class unless something blows up,” Don Stewart quipped about junior phenom Tori Colvin.
Nothing blew up at Devon, so Colvin did indeed win just about everything. She stormed her way to the grand junior hunter and small junior hunter, 15 and under, division with Ovation, and then she claimed champion and reserve in the large junior hunter, 15 and under, section with Way Cool and Inclusive. Ovation also earned the overall small junior hunter title and the grand junior hunter championship. Colvin also won the junior jumper title later that evening aboard Waminka.
“Nobody outrides that kid,” Stewart said of Colvin, who is trained by Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley. “She’s on it, and everybody likes her. She’s good with the horses. I’m sick of looking at her rear end, but it’s hard not to be happy for her to win.”
Don might be full of admiration for Colvin, but he was quite critical of the decision judges James Clapperton and Shane George made when they named her first in the Best Child Rider judging. Don’s students, Meg O’Mara and Hasbrouck Donovan, took the two junior hunter championships that Colvin didn’t claim—O’Mara rode Walk The Line to the large junior, 16-17, and overall large junior hunter titles, while Donovan claimed the small junior, 16-17, tricolor on Confidential.
O’Mara was named third in the Best Child Rider judging, and Donovan fourth. Lillie Keenan was placed second behind Colvin.
“I was very disappointed in the Best Child Rider judging. I thought my girls both had a shot at that and to be third and fourth is, in my opinion, the bottom of the barrel,” Don said.
“Neither one of these girls made an inch of an error all week long, in the equitation or the hunter rounds. I believe in these girls. They work really hard. I always feel like, as a judge, if it’s close, then let’s go with the older, experienced girls. This is their last shot at it, and it’s very disappointing as a trainer to have worked this hard and have these girls ride that well and that consistently and not get it.” Both O’Mara and Donovan are 18 and in their last year showing as juniors. Colvin is 14.
Sometimes You Win
Betsee Parker, who owns all three of Colvin’s tricolor mounts—Ovation, Way Cool and Inclusive—diplomatically countered Don’s open dissatisfaction. “Don Stewart is as fine a trainer as there is in the United States. His riders ride beautifully, and it can go any way. I’m very pleased that today it happened to go this way,” she said.
“Tomorrow it might go another way. We all put everything we have into this sport, and at the end of the day, anything can happen. Sometimes we’re delighted by how we’ve done, and sometimes we’re shocked and disappointed.”
Delighted might be an understatement for Parker’s feelings after Devon. Of the three horses and one pony she brought to Devon for Junior Weekend, all four will be going home with tricolor ribbons. The large pony For The Laughter claimed the championship in that division.
“What makes me the happiest about it is that the teams work so hard, the riders, the trainers, the grooms, the parents,” Parker said. “There’s so much hard work involved in this and so many hours and so much passion. It’s gratifying to me, because I can’t ride anymore. I get a lot of vicarious pleasure out of seeing the teams get the credit for this. I enjoy it very much.”
Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta also reaped the benefits of Parker’s horses’ success. She donates all the prize money they earn to their 501c3 Danny And Ron’s Rescue, a dog rescue they run out of their Camden, S.C., home.
There was simply no contest in the small junior hunter, 15 and under, division for Colvin and Ovation. They won every class—all three over fences and the under saddle—on their way to the tricolor. Vivian Yowen’s stylish jumper Whatever made a game effort to catch them, placing second in all three over fences classes, but had to settle for reserve.
“He felt fantastic. He’s jumping great,” Colvin said of Ovation. “You just have to loop the reins. He’s so easy.”
This year’s results were an echo of 2010, when Colvin rode Ovation and Way Cool to the same titles. Last year, she claimed the grand junior title and small junior, 15 and under, title on Sanzibar and the large junior, 15 and under, tricolor on Touchdown.
Donovan, of Gainesville, Fla., was also champion at Devon last year, riding her own Quality Time to the top of the large junior, 16-17, division, but this time it was Don Stewart’s Confidential that she partnered to the same title. “I thought he was very good and consistent. He felt very relaxed and comfortable. Sometimes he can get a bit worried. But I really enjoy the handy courses on him because he’s really good at them,” said Donovan. She and Confidential won the small junior, 16-17, handy class and one other over fences class. They also won the under saddle.
As the stake class loomed, it looked like they might tie with Colvin and Ovation for the grand title. But a third place in the stake meant Donovan had to be content with the division honors.
Making The Best Happen
O’Mara came to Devon knowing it was her last time showing there as a junior. “I told myself that I could make it the best weekend or the worst weekend of my last junior Devon,” she said. “Something clicked with me mentally, because I usually kind of freak out.”
O’Mara kept her cool to guide Walk The Line, a horse she and Don both admit is a difficult ride, to a first, two seconds and a third for the large junior, 16-17, tricolor. O’Mara also won a section of the ASPCA Maclay and a section of the Washington International Equitation Classic at Devon.
The Ronnie Mutch Equitation Championship, however, went home with Charlotte Jacobs, who won sections of the Washington International Equitation Classic and the USEF/Pessoa Medal classes and was third in a section of the ASPCA Maclay. It was Jacobs’ second consecutive Ronnie Mutch title at Devon.
“This means so much, because it’s about your performance overall, not just in one class,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs almost didn’t even make it to Devon in time to show. Her flight out of Buffalo, N.Y., the night before Devon’s May 24 start was canceled at the last minute. She and her mother, Joan Jacobs, drove from their East Aurora, N.Y., home to Devon through the night. “We got in a rental car at 5:50 p.m. on Wednesday night, drove 7½ hours here, and I was on a horse for a lesson at 4:45 the next morning,” Jacobs said. “I think I might have gotten four hours of sleep.”