Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 28, 2021 – Competition at the 2021 National Horse Show (NHS) continued Thursday, October 28, bringing adult equitation athletes back to the Alltech Arena for the second day of top sport. A marquee event for the National Horse Show, the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) NHS Adult Equitation Championship is one of the most coveted titles for competitive adult amateur riders. For the first year ever, the prestigious class was split into two separate championships, one for athletes between the ages of 18 and 24, and one for athletes over the age of 25. In the Taylor Harris Insurance Services NHS Adult Equitation Championship 18-24, it was Madison Olvert aboard Green Book that rode to victory after two over-fences rounds and a flat phase.
A field of 45 horse-and-rider combinations put their names forward for the winning title. Bobby Murphy (USA) set the first-round track, which featured a first fence that rode directly past the in-gate and doubled back for a winding S-turn through the arena. The demanding course encouraged adjustability and fluidity throughout, while riders were challenged to maintain correct position and form as they met each fence. Of the 45 starters, only 24 would advance to the flat phase where riders were tested through the walk, trot, sitting trot and canter in order to determine their second-round order-of-go.
With all 24 riders set to return in reverse order of judges’ preference, Murphy’s second-round track upped the ante. Eleven fences made up the tie-breaking course that featured a series of bending lines set for riders to shorten and extend their horses’ steps in order to meet the fences in perfect stride. The winding pattern led to a number of errors for riders in the second round, causing a shake-up in the standings. As the 18th in the order of go, Amber Broder and her mount, Tip Jar, laid down a solid course, leaving the remaining competitors to match or beat her round. One round later, Owen Gajoch and Westeros showed their best, producing a respectable round that would keep him in contention for a top placing.
Tension increased as the top three made their way into the arena. Of the remaining three, Hannah Eddlemon and her mount Donatello would have an unfortunate error on course to knock them out of the running for the winning title. Immediately following, Olvert and Green Book expertly navigated the second round track, wowing the judges with their precision and accuracy. The final combination on course, Amelia Bergeron and Halouet, also incurred a luckless round to leave the top spot up for grabs.
With no additional testing to be required, it was Olvert and her 11-year-old Warmblood gelding Green Book who wore the championship tricolor for their consistency throughout the Taylor Harris Insurance Services NHS Adult Equitation Championship 18-24. Second place was awarded to Broder and Tip Jar, a 16-year-old Warmblood gelding that was champion with Broder in the irons during Wednesday’s Section A of the Pérez & Bennett Adult Amateur Equitation 18-24, presented by Cindi Pérez & Anne Bennett. Rounding out the top three was Gajoch and his 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding Westeros.
Olvert, who was the reserve champion of the Hamel Foundation 3’3” Equitation Championship in 2020, was thrilled with her win. The 19-year-old athlete and Green Book have been partnered together since November of 2019, and have seen great success in the equitation ranks. Olvert looks forward to continuing her partnership with “Booker” and potentially transitioning to a professional in the future.
The 138th edition of the National Horse Show will continue Friday, October 29, with junior equitation athletes taking over the Alltech Arena for the first installation of the Pérez & Bennett Open Equitation divisions for riders 14 and Under, 14-15 and 16-17, all of which will crown their respective champions Saturday, October 30.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Madison Olvert – THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championship 18-24 champion
On the course:
“My initial thoughts were that the course was beautifully set, the jumps were beautiful, and the greenery was amazing. I love doing S-turns so I was very happy there were two in there. The course morning rode absolutely beautifully, everything just flowed really nicely into the corners and everything was really forward. He’s a really good horse so it worked out really well.”
On Green Book:
“My horse’s name is Green Book, he’s 10 years old and I got him from Don Stewart in 2019. He is my whole heart, I couldn’t imagine not having him in my life. He’s there for me every day, no matter if I have a good day or a bad day he always makes it better. He loves cookies and he just has the best personality I’ve ever met.”
On competing in the adult equitation championships:
“For me, being able to compete at the National Horse Show in the THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championship means so much. I worked really hard all winter and summer just to get here and it’s just an honor. Everyone has been so happy and nice. This week was amazing.”
On being champion after earning reserve champion in the Hamel Family Foundation Equitation Championship last year:
“It leaves me kind of speechless. Last year was amazing, but this year I was the winner so I can’t even imagine it. It really feels good to have all my hard work throughout the year pay off.”
Amber Broder – THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championship 18-24 reserve champion
On her plan going into the second round:
“I did this event in 2019 and I didn’t make it back in the second round because of my nerves. My plan was to have as much fun as possible because I’m so lucky to be on my favorite horse and compete over the second round of fences. I just wanted it to be smooth and keep him as calm as possible.”
On Tip Jar:
“My horse also came from Don Stewart, he was leased by my mother and I started riding him in the summer of 2019. He has been incredible. He’s 16 years old and he’s super experienced. He’s done everything from grand prixs to big equitation, so to have a partner that confident, experienced, and kind to me in the ring just makes me feel so lucky every time I get to compete with him.”
On competing in adult equitation championships:
“It means a lot, I didn’t compete as a junior so I didn’t experience the big equitation finals and being able to have an adult final gives me a goal to work towards each winter and it’s really meaningful to have it at the national horse show.”
On managing nerves not having had Junior competition experience:
“That’s something I’ve been working on since I started riding. I rode as a very little kid then took a very long break, and I came back when I graduated high school. It’s something I’ve been working on for four years, managing my nerves in competition. My trainer really emphasizes the mental preparation as well as the physical preparation with the horse, so that’s a skill I’ve been working on. Just staying as level-headed and focused as possible is a big part of my prep, more than walking the course and deciding the strides.”
Owen Gajoch – THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championship 18-24 third place
On his mount:
“It’s my sister’s horse and I typically show him in the amateur-owners. The horse I usually ride in the equitation got hurt so I ended up riding him in it. It’s taken a lot of preparation this week and a lot of riding last week to prepare for this and make sure we are in the right mindset and are as confident as possible. He’s such a sweet horse and a steady eddy, he just wants to come out and do his job every day no matter what. He never wants to let you down so it’s nice to be able to see the hard work pay off, and get back here and place again.”
On competing in adult equitation championships:
“It means a lot because I did the big eq when I was younger, and it was really tough because the stage was set so high. It was really tough coming here and participating, and it’s nice to be able to keep competing at his high of a level and be able to see the improvements and growth.”
Michael Taylor – THIS President and Director
On supporting the competition:
“One thing I really love about this event which Mrs. Jennifer Burger put together three years ago is that everyone I see participating has a big, fat smile on their face. You don’t see that everywhere at these horse sports that you go to. Taylor Harris Insurance Services is very happy to sponsor this event, we love the idea that we can give back into the sport that we participate in. Well done to everyone.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner
THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championship 18-24:
1. Green Book / Madison Olvert / Maidson Olvert
2. Tip Jar / Amber Broder / Kimberly Griffiths
3. Westeros / Owen Gajoch / Owen Gajoch
4. Cashman / Texie Loyd / Carly Hoft
5. Nobel Laureate / Angela Calicchio / Barn Rat LLC
6. Konfessions / Abigail Tinsley / Brookside Pine Farms
7. Constantin / Anna Koenig / Brookside Pine Farms
8. Vidarco / Miela Gross / Holly Hill Farm
9. Merlot / Sarah Demczuk / Sarah Demczuk
10. Hakim Ourai / Dawson Amick / Singh Family Farms LLC
11. Romana Black / Autumn Janesky / Autumn Janesky
12. Casual Date / Shaney Enck / Shaney Enck