Fourteen-year-old Florida rider Victoria Colvin won the fifth Annual George Morris Excellence in Equitation Championships at the Winter Equestrian Festival on Friday night.
The class was held in three rounds with 34 riders competing in round one, the top 13 coming back for round two, and the top four returning for the third and final round. The course walk and schooling were the sole responsibility of the riders. Competitors were allowed no contact with their trainers during the class and were responsible for time management, warm up, and schooling of their own horses with the assistance of one groom.
The course was designed by Richard Jeffery, of Bournemouth, England, in conjunction with the judges. The riders were judged by two panels and also received a score in the schooling area after the first and second rounds. Judging Panel 1 included George Morris and Kirsten Coe; Panel 2 included McLain Ward and Kent Farrington.
After two rounds of competition, the top four returned for the final round and switched horses. The top four riders were Victoria Colvin, Schaefer Raposa, Catherine Tyree, and Michael Hughes.
After a final deliberation from the judges, Colvin was deemed the class winner. Raposa finished in second, Tyree in third, and Hughes in fourth.
On the final decision to pin Colvin at the top of the class, judge McLain Ward explained, “She had a really nice feel, a very good eye. We were looking for nice, consistent riding, obviously making good choices, and keeping it together through three different rounds. She did a good job. She had a pretty significant lead going into the final round. She didn’t make any major errors and she kept it together and was consistent throughout.”
Colvin, who trains with Scott Stewart, Ken Berkley and Missy Clark in the equitation, has had many big wins in the hunters and jumpers, but this is her biggest win in an equitation championship.
This win ranks among Colvin’s best, including her recent victory in the $50,000 WCHR Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular. That was an impressive feat for a 14-year-old rider against many experienced professionals, but Friday night was a different kind of win, one that did not come as easily.
“I am not very good at equitation, so it was good,” Colvin said. “I have to work harder at the equitation. I don’t have the best position, but I try hard. It takes a lot of practice.”
VIP Z is a ten-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Hemmingway that Colvin first rode three years ago. “We got him at the Hamptons and I had never ridden him before and I just showed him,” she said. “He was always supposed to be my equitation horse. He did the jumpers too. He can do it all. He did the hunter derby in Kentucky too.”
Rounding out the top twelve were Charlotte Jacobs in fifth, Shawn Casady in sixth, Liza Finsness in seventh, Lauren Tyree in eighth, Megan MacPherson in ninth, Anna Cardelfe in 10th, Kelcie Brophy in 11th, and Michael Janson in 12th.