HARRISBURG, Pa.--Luke Jensen of Denton, Texas topped a field of 230 of the nation’s best junior riders to win the Hunter Seat Medal Championship after three rounds of competition at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show on Sunday, Oct. 15.
Skylar Wireman of Bonsall, Calif., was second and Kate Egan of Glen Gardner, N.J., was third.
“The prestige of this horse show is incredible, so I'm very grateful to be able to compete here, and to be here and show at the highest level,” said Jensen, who trains as a working student with John Brennan and Missy Clark of North Run. “The competition is incredible. Every rider here earned their spot, and they're all incredibly talented – all the horses, all the riders. To be able to win it is very special to me and the prestige just makes me all the more grateful to be here.”
The opening round of competition got underway at 7 a.m. with a challenging course set by designer Thomas Hern, Jr., with input from judges Karen Healey and Mark Jungherr.
THE TECHNICALl track posed difficult questions every step of the way, aiding Healey and Jungherr in narrowing down the large field to the top 25 riders that would then return for a second round.
“This is the highest level of this discipline, equitation, so I thought that it was a fair level of technical,” said Jensen of the course. “It would need to prepare you for future riding endeavors. The questions they asked were very fair; I felt very prepared coming from the North Run team. I think that we prepared very well, and I was able to confidently answer those questions.”
“I wanted it to be a championship course," said Healey. "I didn't want to be cookie cutter. I didn't want it to be run of the mill or what we see week in and week out. I wanted to ask tough questions, but I thought if you knew where your horse was and if you were aware of where you landed or what you had to do to come out, you could make everything work. It was all about keeping track of where you and your horse were.”
Jensen did just that exceptionally well, putting him at the top of the standings at the conclusion of the first round.
Coming back as the final to return for the second-round course, Jensen riding Jamaica, again checked all the boxes to hold onto his lead.
Wireman delivered a similarly well-executed second round, moving her from fourth place up into second on Famous.
The top four of Egan, Wireman, Jensen and Isabella David returned for further testing.
Each of them was handed a slip of paper listing the test – which included two challenging counter-cantered fences, a trot jump, and a hand gallop down to the final triple bar fence.
They were given time to review the test while mounted in the ring before being asked to exit as to not see any of the other riders’ tests.
Returning in reverse order of their standings, David and Egan each had some minor bobbles in their counter-canter work, but Wireman returned in the penultimate position to throw down the gauntlet for Jensen.
Jensen, however, rose to the occasion to hold on to his win.
“They were both very, very close at the end,” said Healey. “I thought all of you guys did a great job. I mean the first course was not easy, and at first, I thought the second one was going to be way too easy. Then it kind of took care of itself a little bit. Then, it ended up working out the way we wanted it to at the end.”
“Luke came in winning both rounds, and then their work-offs were very close," said Jungherr. "He had a great connection with his horse, and he kept the same weight in his hands all the way through the three rounds over a lot of jumps.
Jensen has had the ride on Jamaica, owned by North Run, since the beginning of the year when he began taking care of the 13-year-old Belgian warmblood gelding in his working student role.
“Getting to take care of him is very, very special to me,” said Jensen, whose name will be added to the Adrian Van Sinderen Memorial Perpetual Trophy for the win. “I'm so grateful to do it, and I think it makes a big difference to know the personality of your partner.”