Kelsey Thatcher and Mirasol master junior hunters

Washington, D.C. - October 22, 2009 - Today the Junior Hunter divisions began competing at the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), held at Verizon Center through Sunday, October 25. Kelsey Thatcher took an early lead in the Older Junior Hunter divisions, winning the first class of the Small Junior 16-17 Hunter division. Earlier in the day, Hasbrouck Donovan stole the show, earning two blue ribbons in the Younger Junior Hunter classes.

The Older Junior Hunter divisions got underway late this morning, and it was Thatcher, of Bluffdale, UT, that took home the first blue ribbon with Mirasol during the first Small Junior 16-17 Hunter over fences class. "It's pretty amazing," smiled Thatcher. "Mirasol can definitely be spooky, but he was much better here then he was at Harrisburg.

Today he was a little high-headed walking down to the other end of the ring, but as soon as we started cantering he relaxed."Thatcher is excited to be showing at the Washington International Horse Show, and enjoys having the opportunity to explore the city. "Everything is within walking distance, so there are always different things to try," she said.

"Yesterday, my family walked down to the White House and we saw the President's brigade leaving, so it was kind of exciting to do that while horse showing."

Small Junior Hunters 16-17

The Small Junior 16-17 Hunters also competed in a handy round, with Abby O'Mara and Lyle, owned by Stephanie Keen of  Ocala, FL, earning the top prize. The Large Junior 16-17 Hunter division was next, and the win in the first class went to Rejoice and Taylor Shearin, of Virginia Beach, VA. The Junior Hunter divisions came to a close with the Large Junior 16-17 Handy Hunter class. The blue ribbon was awarded to Vida Blue, owned by Laura King of Irvington, NY, and ridden by Jennifer Waxman.

Hasbrouck Donovan and Quality TimeThe Small Junior 15 and Under Hunter division started the day, with Donovan and Confidential, owned by Don Stewart of Ocala, FL, claiming the first win over fences. "He's very brave and fun to ride," commented Donovan after her victory. "He'll always jump around. He needs someone who is really calm around him, because sometimes he'll get really nervous with you. Even on the ground if you move too quickly or something he might get a little nervous. If you're just gentle around him though he's really good."

Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under

Later in the day the Large Junior 15 and Under Hunters competed, and Donovan scored another blue ribbon during the first over fences class, this time with Quality Time (left), owned by Don Stewart of Ocala, FL. "I just tried to go in with confidence today and know that I could do well," noted Donovan. "Quality Time is very good, he's really quiet and kind of lazy, but he's fun to ride."

Donovan is thrilled to have started off so well at the Washington International Horse Show because it is one of her favorite competitions. "I've always wanted to do really well at Washington," she explained. "It's one of my favorite shows because it's in the city. I find it really fun, and there's a lot to do when you're not riding. Hopefully I can just do well again tomorrow."

Also claiming top ribbons during today's Young Junior Hunter classes was Lillie Keenan and Heather Hooker. Keenan and Genuine, owned by the Chansonette Farm LLC of New York, NY, had the best score in the handy round during the Small Junior 15 and Under Hunter division. Hooker and Perfectionist, owned by Scott Stewart of Wellington, FL, followed in the Large Junior 15 and Under Handy Hunter class with the blue ribbon round.

The Junior Hunter divisions will come to a close tomorrow at the Washington International Horse Show with the presentation of championship and reserve championship prizes. The Grand Champion Junior Hunter trophy will also be presented at the conclusion of the four divisions. This week's highlight event is the $100,000 President's Cup Grand Prix, which will be held Saturday, October 24, at 9:30 p.m.