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October 26, 2012

Plenty of Good Times For Cunniffe At Washington

Ailish Cunniffe rode that horse to the top of the small junior hunter, 15 and under, division.

Washington D.C.—Oct. 26

As the daughter of two trainers, Ailish Cunniffe more or less grew up in the show world. But that doesn’t mean she’s always had the fanciest horses in the barn. But at Washington International Horse Show, she was the one leading Good Times into the ring to collect the grand championship ribbon.

“We’re very fortunate to have him,” said her father, Frank Cunniffe, of the warmblood of unknown breeding. “In this business it’s the customers who have nice horses. It’s so wonderful she has him to ride. We’re very lucky—I hope she appreciates it.”

She does. Ailish, 15, considers “Red” as much a pet as a show horse. She knows him inside and out, which came in handy at Washington, where she kept their warm up especially short . At home she shares the ride on him with her mother, Bonnie Cunniffe, preferring to trail ride him or ride in the grass field than in the ring.

“He’s really lazy,” said Ailish, South Salem, N.Y. “He used to break by the ingate because he knew he was getting treats there. Now he’s not allowed to have treats outside his stall.”

He topped two over fences classes and took second in the other over fences class and under saddle to take the small junior hunter, 15 and under, tricolor.

Ailish brought Red to the National Horse Show (Ky.) last year, where they finished as reserve champions.  They’ll be back in Lexington this year to try to better that record.

Donovan Is Best
It’s Hasbrouck Donovan’s last trip to the Washington International as a junior, and she finished in style. She swept the small junior hunter, 16-17, division, took reserve in the large junior hunter 16-17, division on Wagner, then won the Best Child Rider title to boot.

Donovan 2008 Chronicle of the Horse Hunter Horse of the Year, Lyle to the championship for Stephanie Keen. After a year and a half out of the show ring, the 19-year-old gray paired up with Donovan at HITS Ocala (Fla.) this year on a whim of trainer Don Stewart. Donovan, 17, is in her last junior year.

“I was a little nervous because he’s so awesome, and it was his first show in a while,” said Donovan, Gainesville, Fla. “But he went in there and knew what he was doing.”

At Washington the Lyle won two over fences classes and a third-place ribbon to win over Donovan’s other ride, Confidential, owned by Stewart. She rode that horse to the grand junior hunter title back in 2009.

Charade Games Out A Win
Ashley Foster’s been coming to Washington for as long as she can remember, accompanying her mother (and hunter trainer) Patty Foster before that. But she’s never had a year like this. This time around she rode Charade to the large junior hunter, 16-17, championship for Mahala Rummell.

Ashley’s aunt (and jumper trainer) Mary Lisa Leffler hacked Charade in the main ring at 3a.m. so Ashley could “sleep in” until 4. But that didn’t faze the 16-year-old.

“I love showing here because we live so close,” said Ashley. “He just felt great in there.”

It All Adds Up For Inclusive
Perennial junior hunter champion Tori Colvin didn’t leave the nation’s capital without a few tricolors of her own. She rode Betsee Parker’s Inclusive to the top of both large junior hunter, 15 and under, over fences classes as well as the division stakes to earn the championship over Bergen Sanderford’s Happenstance. Colvin also rode Parker’s Ovation to the small junior hunter, 15 and under, reserve title. 

“He’s just a loose rein and stay nice,” said Colvin of Inclusive. “He has a hard jump. I’m not good at keeping my heels down, but somehow I stay on!”

Colvin has a special way to celebrate her win: she’s getting a Chihuahua puppy before she heads to Lexington to compete at the National Horse Show.

For full results, visit www.wihs.org.

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