Lake Forest, Ill., rider Stephen Foran came away the winner of the U.S. Hunter Jumper Association’s Emerging Athletes Program Finals on Nov. 18. The 17-year-old high school senior competed against a group of 16 riders over the course of the clinic, held over four days at Fields and Fences in Gurnee, Ill.
“I’m still pinching myself,” said Foran, who trains with his father, Steve Foran, at the family’s Liberty Farm. “I can’t really put into words how badly I wanted this when I was coming here."
As the winner of the Finals, Foran earned a spot in the upcoming George H. Morris Horsemastership Clinic in Wellington, Fla., a $3,000 training grant and a $1,500 gift certificate from Dover Saddlery, the presenting sponsor of the EAP Finals.
“Stephen was pretty much in first place throughout the whole weekend,” said lead clinician Peter Wylde. “His riding is exceptionally good. It’s thoughtful, it’s precise, and it’s accurate. I see that kid as going far in this sport.”
While the EAP Finals don’t award placings beyond first, one additional rider does get an invitation to the Morris Horsemastership Clinic, and this year Ana Forssell of Petaluma, Calif., earned the spot.
“She’s very talented,” Wylde said of Forssell, a 20-year-old professional who trains under Renee Ronshausen. “I was able to ride the horse that Ana had for the week, and that gave me an even greater appreciation for her skill. She’s a thin, not very tall young woman and was on a big, huge, heavy warmblood horse, and she was really able, with a smile on her face, to execute everything we asked of her. She was very precise, very accurate, and did a really good job.”
This year also marked the inaugural season of the USHJA’s Horsemanship Quiz Challenge, and the Finals for that program were held in conjunction with EAP Finals.
Hollis Toussaint, Wellesley, Mass., topped the individual standings and led Zone 1 to the team win. She also earned the award for best written score.
“I had had no idea [we were going to be such a strong team] at all,” admitted Hollis, a 19-year-old sophomore at Mount Holyoke College (Mass.). In fact, she didn't get to meet her teammates until halfway through the competition. “I thought I was going to be the weak link!”
Hollis and her Zone 1 teammates, Lindsey Bailey (who also won the best practicum score award) and Abigail Mulhern, earned gold medals, $1,000 training grants and Charles Owen helmets.
Zoe Conlee of Ridgefield, Wash., placed second individually, followed by Stephanie Whitworth of San Jose, Calif. In the team competition, Zone 10 (Mary Anastasi, Elizabeth Evans and Devyn Hinkle) took the silver, while the team from Zone 2 (Eliana Rabinowitz, Holly Torsilieri and Anna O'Connor) won bronze.
For a full report from the 2012 EAP and HQC Finals, check the Dec. 3 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.