Devon, Pa. – May 24, 2019 – Day two at the 2019 Devon Horse Show and Country Fair saw the nation’s top equitation riders return to the Dixon Oval to attempt to write their name into history. The highly regarded R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Championship, sponsored by Dover Saddlery, was awarded to the junior athlete who accumulated the most points throughout the two days of equitation competition. This year, it was Paige Matthies of Lake Leelanau, Michigan, who earned Junior Weekend’s top equitation prize by totaling 19 points to take home the R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Challenge Trophy.
Matthies and her two equitation mounts, Conto Blue and Blurred Lines, dominated the equitation divisions throughout both days of competition. On the first day of the Devon Horse Show, Matthies rode to a blue ribbon finish with Blurred Lines in Section A of the WIHS Equitation Classic – Jumper Phase, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds, scoring an 89 with the 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding. Day one continued to help her earn points towards the R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Championship as she and the 8-year-old Conto Blue finished second in Section A of the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search 3*, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds. Another second place finish in the U.S. Hunter Seat Medal, presented by Dover Saddlery, with Blurred Lines also placed her one step closer to carving her name into Devon history.
Matthies, who is enrolled in online school to help her maintain a competitive show and riding schedule, trains under the tutelage of the prestigious Ashland Farms and Northern Pines Farms. The 18-year-old athlete credits the success of both her and her horses to her trainers, Ken and Emily Smith as well as Melissa Hirt. Matthies is also a fierce competitor in the jumper ring with her two mounts, Climbus and Dirkie Z.
In addition to the awarding of the R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Challenge Trophy, the Dixon Oval also hosted the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship class, sponsored by Lugano Diamonds, on Friday morning. Due to the large number of entries, the class was split up into three sections, all awarding different horse-and-rider combinations a Devon blue. In Section A, Hallie Grimes and Boldly Stated captured first place, while Isabelle Song and Casper Van’T Gestelhof took home the top prize in Section B. Finishing out the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship competition, Section C saw Tanner Korotkin and Zapfier take home first place.
The course in the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship utilized 11 fences resembling natural brush and colors to test athletes and their horses. The course featured a number of rollback turns, in addition to three lines with varying strides. Tackling the course in the first section of the day, Grimes and Can We Keep It? LLC’s Boldly Stated set the bar high with their first place finish. Training out of North Run with Missy Clark and John Brennan in addition to Berry Porter, Grimes expertly tackled the course, noting how the track suited her horse.
Section B saw another Ashland Farms student claim the top spot with Song and her own 17-year-old Belgian Warmblood, Casper Van’T Gestelhof. Song is ending her final junior year at Devon on a high note with her first place finish, and looks to spend the upcoming summer season showing up north.
The final section of the day, Section C, saw Korotkin return to take top honors with Missy Clark’s Zapfier. At the 2018 Devon Horse Show, Korotkin claimed another first place finish with the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood, demonstrating his consistency in the equitation ring.
Junior competition will resume in the Dixon Oval on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. with the handy phases of the Small and Large Junior Hunter divisions followed by the ever-popular leadline classes before junior hunter champions are crowned.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Paige Matthies – R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Championship winner
On winning the Ronnie Mutch Equitation Class:
“We’ve been planning this for many years so I’ve always had a goal for this to happen. I did four equitation classes for this. The first one I did was the Washington Jumper Phase which I won with an 89. That was my first class here so I was very happy to start this week off like. My favorite was probably the USET Talent Search because I’ve always wanted to do well in that class here and the USET is a big deal to me so I was very happy with that.”
On the courses:
“They were all very well designed to ask questions of the riders regarding your accuracy, your track and making sure you could hold the horses straight, especially in the Maclay today. The course designer really asked to see straightness and an even pace throughout the course.”
On her horses:
“His name is Conto Blue and we call him Blue. He is the sweetest horse I’ve ever been around on the ground and in the saddle. He always wants to please. I got him through Ken about 2.5 year ago and it’s really nice to have him perform as well as he did. I’ve had [Blurred Lines] for the same amount of time. I bought the two of them at the same time. He is 13 now so he’s been the one that I’ve sort of relied on for bigger classes like here, Finals, I did him in 3 of the 4 classes here.”
On balancing school and riding:
“I do online school. I switched about 5 years ago for the purpose of being able to travel and ride. I just finished classes, I’ve signed to go to Auburn University in the fall and ride on their team. This summer, I will be showing at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival in Michigan for all of July and then the first two weeks in August and I will do North American Young Rider Championships and then finals in the fall.”
Ken Smith – Ashland Farms trainer
On Paige Matthies’ win:
“We’ve been preparing for this Devon for a couple of years. We tried to get her here two years ago but it didn’t work out. Last year we had a pretty good show, but a little inconsistent I’d say. We did end up winning the big jumper class, which was quite exciting. But for this year we really made a plan. She came to Kentucky last week and we really tried to be prepared as best we could. Melissa [Hirt] had the horses absolutely in perfect shape. Paige was in a really good place in her brain, rode very consistently and we couldn’t be happier. The horses were great. Like she said, the USET was really important. It’s a younger horse she did in that class and he has been a little bit green and over the year has really come through for us and he’s stepping up nicely so we’re very pleased with him.”
Hallie Grimes – ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Section A winner
On Boldly Stated:
“This is Bruno, I got him last year at the [Winter Equestrian Festival]. He has turned out to be such a cool horse with the help of Berry Porter and I couldn’t be prouder. I was actually supposed to ride another horse this week so I was a little nervous. But this horse stepped up to the plate with every course he did and I’m just so proud. He is such a solid guy and always tries really hard.”
On her plan for the course:
“The course today was pretty straightforward. Except, when I walked the diagonal line it walked as a seven and a half, so I was a little unsure. But Savannah Hemby went it and showed us that it would be a beautiful eight strides so that’s what I did. It was a really nice course today because it made it very possible to have a nice round no matter what horse you were on.”
On showing at Devon:
“It means a lot to show here. Last year was my first year and it was a great experience. I was really excited to come back and see how much we’ve improved. It’s so excited to see how much all the hard work pays off.”
Isabelle Song – ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Section B winner
On Casper Van’T Gestelhof:
“I’ve had him two years. He is so reliable. I’m so thankful for how he steps up to the plate every time. He is pretty lazy and likes to sleep a lot, but he really knows when it’s game time.”
On showing at Devon:
“This is such a prestigious show and I’m so honored to be here. This is my second year here and my last junior year so it’s nice to finish off with a Devon blue. It’s such a fun show.”
ASPCA Maclay – Section A:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner
1. Boldly Stated / Hallie Grimes / Can We Keep It? LLC
2. Vagrant Z / Nora Andrews / Maria Schaub
3. Curt Z / Kennedy McCaulley / Sophee Steckbeck
ASPCA Maclay – Section B:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner
1. Casper Van’T Gestelhof / Isabelle Song / Patricia Garrett
2. FRH Remarkable / Ellie Ferrigno / FRH Group
3. Vanderpump / Augusta Iwasaki / Ashland Farms
ASPCA Maclay – Section C:
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner
1. Zapfier / Tanner Korotkin / Missy Clark
2. Charisma / Addison Piper / Heritage Farm
3. Caston / Natalie Jayne / Molly McAdow