Samantha Schaefer takes One-Two-Three
Green Cove Springs, FL—FEB. 2, 2007—
When all the scores were tallied, it was 14-year-old Samantha Schaefer sitting in the top three spots of the $25,000 Jacksonville Jerry Parks Insurance/“Artists” by Timothy Priano Open Hunter Classic held under the lights of the covered arena at the Clay County Agricultural Center in Green Cove Springs, FL. The number one horse of the evening was Lazy Sunday, owned by Keli Colby and piloted by Schaefer.
In all, 29 horses competed on the course designed by Allen Rheinheimer. The class consisted of three sections, with amateurs and juniors jumping 3’6” while professionals (mostly) took 3’6”, 3’9” or 4’ fences depending on the horse’s level. The layout of 10 fences requiring 12 efforts asked several questions of both horse and rider with it’s bending and broken lines throughout the course, along with a final line consisting of two oxers, something not common place in hunter designs. Judges Sara Booker, Wayne Eubank, Kevin Lenahan, and Chris Wayne presided over the scoring returning only the top 12 pairs for round 2.
Schaefer, who won this Classic last year aboard Lyle, the 15-year old German Warmblood owned by Stephanie Keen, has transitioned from being one of the nations most acclaimed pony riders to a top junior rider. Tonight found herself in an interesting twist of fate, that of being the defending champion rider going up against the defending champion horse. “He’s still awesome!” a beaming Sam said of Lyle, “but so is this guy!” Referring to “Hobbs” as he’s known at home, an 8-year-old Zangersheide who competes at the 3’6 heights- 2nd Year Green Hunters. “He [Lazy Sunday] hasn’t competed since the National Horse Show in early December.” interjected trainer Kimberly Stewart, “this is his first show back.” Samantha added, “This is his second year doing this, but you wouldn’t know it. He’s so perfect.” The pair was third in the first round, putting forth a classic score of 86.
Jackson, also ridden by Samantha [owned by mom Stacey], jumping in the 3’9 section led the first round with a score of 90. Only the top 12 would come back and the cut score by the end of the first run was 75.5. Returning for the second round in reverse order, the early leader was Schaefer and the scopey “Hobbs”, whose total score of 173 dominated until the last two contenders took the course, one of which was Samantha with her own Jackson, “He’s still a baby and just got tired.” she said of the duo’s finishing score of 168.5. Hot on their trail was last year’s champ Lyle with Taylor Adams aboard entering the arena with a first round score of 88 and a lot of determination. The pair had a solid second round finishing with a 165 just short enough to pass the crown to Samantha and her new partner.
“He’s an awesome horse,” said trainer Kimberly Stewart, who works with Schaefer, “He’s a really great. He placed 2nd in this Classic last year with Scott Hofstetter riding against Lyle.” When asked her thoughts about the competition she faced tonight a blushing Sam replied simply, “I don’t know what to say, they’re all good.” then with a nudge from Kimberly added, “We went up against Lyle, it’s hard to beat Lyle.” Sam shared that Taylor Adams and she are in fact friends, often joking and egging each other on when competing against one another. “We have a lot of fun with each other.”
Kim Stewart procured the horse from owner Colby and was confident of the match-up between “Hobbs” the eager youngster and the equally young Schaefer. With only a couple of 2nd Year class rides during the week, the duo felt prepared enough to attempt the Classic. And the trainer had absolutely no qualms about sending the 14-year-old rider in against adult amateurs and professionals, “She’s a tough, tough rider,” confirmed Kimberly. Don Stewart, who had worked with Sam and Kimberly last year, described the young Schaefer as, “She’s a quick study and a very agreeable girl.” She also makes some hefty decisions about her mounts, knowing exactly what each one is capable of and when. Her third place finish came aboard Monroe, who’s been off since last summer recouping from an injury, and now working his way back this season. “We actually just decided this morning to enter him. No warm up just right in.” Sam said, “I told them [trainer and mom Stacey] he’ll be fine. I know, let’s just go.” And they had quite the “go” finishing with a third place score of 166.
She’s also quite precocious. While her trainer says “We had some good luck.” When asked if she was at all anxious about competing young horses against the big guns she quickly quipped, “Nah, I’ve got nothing to lose. I could lose and say ah they’re green horses.” While she’s excited about this very auspicious kickoff season with the horses, Schafer says she will occasionally show in the green pony division—at least until she’s either too tall or convinces her trainer otherwise. “The ponies are still fun,” she noted, “but I want to concentrate on the horses now.” She’s happy to pass on the pony mantle to little sister Maddie, who debuted this afternoon in the small hunter pony division with Silver Rain. “I’m happy to root her on! She got a 5th in her first class!”a very proud big sis boasted.
Schaefer, who hopes to compete on “Hobbs” again when she goes to the Palm Beach meet later in the month, received $7,500 of the prize money for her 1st place win and the “Artists” by Timothy Priano Perpetual Trophy, which was donated and presented by class co-sponsor Timothy Priano along with Ronda Mack of Jerry Parkes Insurance, and Jamie Hartley of the Gift Horse.
In celebration of her big win Sam said, “I’m going straight to the camper, take off my boots and sleep. Normally I’d go back to the barn but I started at 5 this morning-riding Jackson.” Oh and she’ll be right back in the saddle tomorrow morning at 6.
The Jacksonville Winter Series continues through February 10th with classes Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8AM until about 5PM. Sunday at 2PM spectators are invited to come enjoy the $35,000 Jacksonville A to Z Grand Prix to benefit the Jacksonville Zoo. Admission to the shows are free, a $5 donation is requested for special events, which in turn is given to various local charities.
For more information or results on the 2008 Jacksonville Winter Series please visit www.classiccompany.com or call the show office at 904-284-9492.