Scoring 86s on Both of Her Rides, Ava (on Raggedy Ann) Wins the GHJA Finals Pre-Childrens Hunter Derby.

Alpharetta, GA Despite showing for years on ponies, Ava Hartman wasn’t sure how her first competition on a horse would go. At the 2020 GHJA Finals competition, instead of her familiar large pony, Jackson, Ava would be riding a horse, Raggedy Ann (Annie), that belongs to her trainer Lauren Schwendel. Not only was it Ava’s first time competing on a horse, it was also Annie’s first horse show.

Ava and Raggedy Ann

Neither Ava nor Annie let any of this get to them — they just rode their rides and, not only won the competition (out of 20 riders), but they did so in style. They were awarded 85 points plus 1 point for choosing the high option in the first round of the Derby. Their 86 point first round put them in first place among the 10 riders called back for the Handy Round. This meant that they would have plenty of time to think about it because first place rides last to close out the Derby.

For the Handy Round, again, they went out and did their job. Going in, they knew that a cumulative score of 156 was the score to beat if they wanted to finish in first place. That didn’t turn out to be a problem as they, again, were awarded a score of 86 — for a total score of 172.

The first place ribbon awarded by GHJA President Jay Sims.

“After that first round, I would have gone home with a big smile on my face even if I didn’t end up winning” said the happy eleven year old. “My previous hunter round high score was 84, so receiving an 86 in the first round made my day. Going back in and getting another 86 in the Handy Round and ending up in first place was an absolute dream. Annie was such a good girl and it just felt like I could see my distances so clearly today. It was a great way to end the year.”

Ava and Annie clearing the high option in the first hunter round of the Derby.
Lot’s of Smiles, and a few tears, at the end of the Derby.

FLASHBACK: This weekend was not Ava’s first GHJA Finals Derby win. In 2018, she won the GHJA Finals Short Stirrups Hunter Derby on Foxmor Lovestruck (Stewie).

The 1st place 2018 GHJA Finals Short-Stirrups Derby ribbon awarded to Ava by Cheryl Sims.