Local equestrians claim top prize at Chagrin Valley Farms
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Train as you might, in the end, success at an equestrian competition can come down to the horse.
So says Jill Hardie, 52, of Glenshaw, who with Barbara Halpern, 64, of Shadyside, took first-place awards Jan. 17-20 in a top horse show in Cleveland.
Hardie rode Eli, who she stables at her home in Glenshaw, and Hardie credits the Hanoverian cross horse for her win at the Chagrin Valley Farms Winter A-rate show.
“(Eli) is easy to work with,” Hardie said. “He's a quick learner and very talented.
“He makes my job a little bit easier. I've had other ones that have been much more difficult and not as easy as this one.”
Hardie took the top title in the Baby Green Hunter division, for horses with minimal experience.
Halpern took first in the Low Adult Hunters division, for non-professional riders on experienced horses, riding Trusted, a 15-year-old chestnut gelding.
Top scores in the hunters' division mean riders meet standards for form, grace and consistency, among other factors. Even the rhythm of the horse's stride is calculated.
“There are eight fences and you have to be very steady and you have to have an even pace,” Halpern said. “The horse has to jump in perfect form. The reason my horse wins a lot is because he really jerks his knees up over each fence.
“The judges like that because it's a safe way to jump. He's not going to catch his hoof on the fence and flip over. Plus, on the flats he has a sweeping gate. In other words, when he trots his legs go in a low sweeping movement to the ground.”
Both Halpern and Hardie have been training with freelance instructor Ahna Cafaro at the Horse on Course Equestrian Center in Valencia. Halpern drives to the center every day while Hardie trains at home.
Halpern's appearance in Cleveland was her first since breaking five bones after falling while test riding a horse in Florida.
“I was very nervous,” said Halpern, who ran the Hartwood Show Jumping Festival from 1990-2000 at Hartwood Acres in Hampton and Indiana townships.
But she credits Cafaro — and a set of hockey shoulder pads she now wears for protection — with helping her return to competition.
“(Cafaro) has been extremely instrumental in building my confidence back so that I am confident enough to go back in a show ring.”
When Halpern is not riding, she helps raise funds for the Western Pennsylvania Professional Horsemen's Association.
“To go out for the first time to a big rated show like this and to have this much success, I was just on cloud nine,” she said.
“It's a really great feeling to know that the hard work you've put into the running, all the training and stuff that goes into it has paid off.”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Pirates must land Lester
- Steelers notebook: Brown calls Sanders’ comments about Roethlisberger ‘terrible’
- Wiz Khalifa’s life not the same, but he’s still having fun
- After years of lobbying, Big Ben has Steelers running the no-huddle
- Pirates notebook: Trade rumors for Red Sox pitcher Lester still swirling
- Steelers hold high hopes for pass defense
- Fire causes Blairsville bar to collapse, flames spread to neighboring building
- U.S. Steel looks to expand its Research & Technology Center in Munhall
- Joe Greene only 2nd player in Steelers history to get number retired
- Beloved teacher at 3 Western Pa. schools hears from students across nation
- Pittsburgh braces for waves of demonstrations, marches on EPA rules