Zone 4 Teams Shine in Gold at USHJA Children's and Adult Amateur Hunter South Regional Championships
A new kind of team camaraderie enters the Hunter ring for top riders from Zones 3 and 4


Conyers, Ga. --- -June 23, 2017 ---- Against the scenic Georgia landscape on the grounds that once held the Olympic Games, Children's and Adult Amateur Hunter riders from USHJA Zone 4 earned top honors and gold medals in both sections of team competition today at the 2017 USHJA Children's and Adult Amateur Hunter South Regional Championships, presented by SmartPak.
In the unique format of these Hunter Championships, top riders from Zones 3 and 4 were organized into one Adult Amateur team for Zone 3, two Adult Amateur teams for Zone 4, one Children's team for Zone 3 and three Children's teams for Zone 4. Zone 3 teams were led by Chef d'Equipe Elizabeth Blaisdell, and Zone 4 teams were led by David Pellegrini. Teams were selected through a random draw held during Thursday's rider meeting.
"The whole team experience is just so great," said Blaisdell. "Everyone comes together in this unique concept, and the competition is really tough."
In the Adult Amateur Championship, Team 3 from Zone 4 earned a total of 1,215 points (an average score of 81 for all riders) across an under saddle and two over fences classes to take the gold medal. The team was made up of Wendy Rice of Lutz, Florida, Margaret Weaver of Hickory Valley, Tennessee, and Emily Mitzel of Tampa, Florida. Rice put in consistent trips with her own Caspar, earning a total of 385 points (average score of 77) across the under saddle and over fences phases. Weaver riding Maverick Austin Helmer's Stay With Me delivered great performances, earning her a total of 411 points ( average score of 82.2). Riding her own Pappy Van Winkle, Mitzel, who showed last for her team in the over fences phase, didn't disappoint, garnering a total of 419 points ( average score of 83.8) across all three classes.
Bob Bell, David Pellegrini and Elizabeth Blaisdell with gold medal Adult Amateur Team 3 (Margaret Weaver, Wendy Rice and Emily Mitzel). Photo credit: Megan Lacy/USHJA Archives

Team 2, also hailing from Zone 4, came in silver with a total of 1,108 points, which equates to an average of 73.87 across the three classes. Team 2 was made up of four riders-Caroline Carr of Tampa Bay, Florida; Kimberly Middlebrooks of Panama City, Florida; Samantha Kramig of Wellington, Florida; and Heather Conder of Camden, South Carolina. Carr rode Turtle Bay, owned by Terrapin Hill Farm LLC. Middlebrooks rode her own California Girl. Kramig rode her own Little Printz, and Conder rode her own Caspien. The team put in great effort throughout the courses, and their silver medals proved it.
Team 1 (Angela Pollex of Troutman, N.C., Sandra Savage of Pittsboro, N.C., and Vicki Autry of Greensboro, N.C.) from Zone 3 earned bronze.  Each rode their own horse, Pollex aboard Coconut Creek, Savage on Quintago and Autry aboard Toltec. The team had some very strong performances in all three classes.
In the Children's Championship, Team 2 (Sara White, 15, of Pinecrest, Florida; Victoria Herran, 16, of Miami, Florida; and Katie Kittrell, 14, of Madison, Georgia) took gold. Consistency was key with the team, who earned a total of 1,099 points (an average score of 73.27). Each of them put in solid over fences rounds to help them gain the lead after the under saddle. White rode Dragonfly Stables Inc.'s Lexington, Herran rode CPS Equest LLC's Con-Grande, and Kittrell showed her own Javite.
Bob Bell and David Pellegrini with the gold medal Children's team, Zone 4's Team 2 (Victoria Herran, Sara White and Katie Kittrell). Photo credit: Megan Lacy/USHJA Archives

Team 4 brought home the silver for Zone 4, with teammate Madison Hill, 12, of Germantown, Tennessee, earning the highest score of the day with a 92 in the under saddle aboard Vermeer, owned by Pumpkin's Patch Farms LLC. Katherine Habeeb, 16, of Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Addison Benio, 14, of Marietta, Georgia, rode their own horses, Simply Red and Umako De Virginia respectively to the team silver.
Team 3 clinched the third and final medal for Zone 4 in the Children's Championship. Team 3 also was the youngest team at the Championship, with team members Kat Fuqua, 9, of Atlanta, Georgia; Alexandra Kozel, 15, of Pinecrest, Florida, and Campbell Key, 12, of Atlanta, Georgia. Fuqua rode Float on Equestrian LLC's High Noon 3E. Kozel showed Eclipse Equestrian's The Good Life, and Key rode her own Outside The Lines.
While the Championships yielded tough competition, the team camaraderie was evident across the Georgia International Horse Park during the Atlanta Summer Classic II, hosted by Classic Company.
"I think the whole team concept is really great for the Hunters," said Pellegrini of the Championship format. "There were lots of high fives. Even on the sidelines you saw parents and spouses meeting other parents and spouses. It really brings people together in a different way."
The beautiful courses, designed by Allen Rheinheimer, were the perfect test for riders and horses, according to Pellegrini. The riders were judged by two panels of judges. Panel 1 judges were Mike Lowry and Kathleen Stamps, and Panel 2 judges were Heide Casciaro and Alexandra O'Toole.
Both Blaisdell and Pellegrini were very appreciative of the efforts of everyone involved with the Championships, especially Bob Bell and the Classic Company, as well as the USHJA.
"We're so grateful to the USHJA to have this opportunity and to Classic Company for hosting this incredible event," said Blaisdell.
Pellegrini echoed Blaisdell's praise, "Kudos to Bob and his team. They do a fantastic job and really make everything about the Championships special."

Team Championship awards. Photo credit: Megan Lacy/USHJA Archives

All riders received polo shirts and tote bags from the Championships' presenting sponsor  SmartPak. Medals and ribbons were awarded to the top three teams, with the gold medal team receiving embroidered coolers.
Complete results from the Team Championships are available at .

Tomorrow wraps up the Championships with the Individual competition. the  Individual Championships are pinned through 8th place.  Individual gold medalists will receive an embroidered cooler, Charles Owen Helmet, CWD halter, Professional's Choice Pro Performance Schooling Boots, Essex Classics Riding Shirt and FITS Riding breeches. And, the Individual Competition's Best Turned Out horse in each section will receive a grooming bucket with Shapley's products.

For more information about the Children's and Adult Amateur Hunter Regional Championships, and to see all Championship dates, visit .

Presenting sponsor of the Championships SmartPak Equine was founded by riders and horse owners for riders and horse owners in 1999 with the purpose of simplifying the administration of nutritional supplements to horses. Their patented SmartPakā„¢ supplement feeding system has been adopted by thousands of barns and horse owners across the country, who value knowing that their supplements will be fed correctly. In addition to the SmartPak supplement system, they offer a broad line of horse health, show apparel, tack, and canine supplies sold online and through their catalogs. More information is available at

Media Contact:
Megan Lacy
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