Temecula, Calif. – Apr. 30, 2022 – Junior hunters vied for championship honors Saturday morning in the Grand Hunter Arena to conclude their division during Temecula Valley National Premier II. Ecuador’s Andy Christiansen set the courses for the day, featuring a first hunter round, a handy round and an optional third round to be scored as the second round of the Junior Hunter Classic, sponsored by Jett Martin Equine Spa, which served as a National Equestrian Tournament qualifier. After all horse-and-rider combinations had completed the four courses plus the under saddle that counted toward the championship, the champions of the California-split division were Stella Wasserman with Skyhawk and Augusta Iwasaki with Small Love.
The day’s courses presented several challenges, especially when the handy round came into play. Riders had to gallop directly to the first fence off a short approach from the gate, then wrap around to the five-stride line, to which most riders opted for a tight inside turn, then navigate across a vertical through the middle before rolling back on the two-stride. Before completing the course they had to tackle a long-approach oxer with a rollback turn to the trot fence that led them to the final vertical of the course.
Iwasaki and the Iwasaki & Reilly-owned Small Love were among the first in the ring on day two of the division to navigate the courses. She and the 9-year-old Hanoverian, a newer mount for her, gracefully took on all three courses, letting the mare show off its scope and promise, despite being a more green ride.
Wasserman and Skyhawk, a 13-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Laura Wasserman, took to the ring shortly after Iwasaki’s first ride and delivered stunning rounds, propelling her to the top of the leaderboard where she would remain for both classes when the division came to a close. Once her two rounds for the division were complete, Wasserman regrouped and headed in for her second round of the Junior Hunter Classic, sponsored by Jett Martin Equine Spa. The course was several fences longer than either of the first courses, meaning both horses and riders required more endurance, especially on the final day of competition for the division, to put their best effort forward. Wasserman fluidly cantered the course and majestically jumped each fence in perfect rhythm to earn a score of 89. Combined with her first round score of 89, she topped the classic, earning herself a spot in the National Equestrian Tournament in June.
Iwasaki also took home the reserve championship for Section A of the Junior Hunter division aboard Small Kingdom, also owned by Iwasaki & Reilly. Reserve championship honors in Section B went to Violet Tatum and Valedictorian.
Temecula Valley National Premier II concludes Sunday with the $2,500 National Hunter Derby, sponsored by Rusty Brown Jewelry, followed by the CHPA 3’6” Junior and Amateur Medals and the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal. Temecula Valley National I kicks off May 18, 2022.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Augusta Iwasaki – Junior 3’6” Hunter Champion Section B
On Small Love:
“Her name is Small Love; her barn name is Honey. She’s a really sweet mare, and she hasn’t been a hunter for very long. We got her during the WEF circuit. She is a really fast learner and a sweet horse.”
On the hunter courses:
“The courses on both days were really nice. We had bending lines both days which I think is really nice to have, something more than diagonals. They are really nice courses to ride and I really like this ring.”
On showing at the Temecula Valley National Series:
“I’ll be back for the last week of the next series. I love [the improvements]. I showed in this ring when it was a grass ring and it was a little hard to ride with the hills. I thought it was really fun but I think this is much more suitable for everyone. It’s a really nice ring, I think the trees are really pretty in there.”
Stella Wasserman – Junior 3’6” Hunter Champion Section B Champion and $1,000 Jett Martin Equine Spa Junior 3’6” Hunter Classic Winner
“That’s my mom, [Laura Wasserman’s] horse; she let me ride him for last week and this week, which is very nice. This is actually his second show back in a year, he had a bit of a break so he’s feeling good and happy to be back. I don’t get to show him very often – it’s just an occasional thing – but he’s just the best. He’s so reliable and always wants to be good. He’s honestly just incredible.”
On showing at the Temecula Valley National Series:
“It’s all great. This ring is beautiful with all the trees and they do such a nice job with the jumps. The courses are always great in this ring, and it’s such a fun place to show. I’m going to be on the East Coast for the next part of the series, but I’m happy I was able to be here for two weeks. I’m going to Old Salem, then the Devon Horse Show and Upperville. I think Ali [Nilforushan] has done such a good job making everything feel special here and I love coming here. Especially the VIP and Grand Prix ring. The Grand Prix nights are always special!”