Clooney and Lavender Claim USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Southwest Regional Championship Titles at Blenheim June Classic

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Shauna Pennell and Clooney. Photo by McCool Photography

June 28, 2024 – San Juan Capistrano, CA – For the second year in a row, Shauna Pennell topped the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Southwest Regional Championship at Blenheim EquiSports, this time taking the win in the $5,000 3’6”/3’9” Championship aboard Clooney. In the $5,000 3’/3’3” USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Southwest Regional Championship, the top honor went to Leslie Steele and Lavender. 

Both of the two-round regional championships concluded on Thursday, June 27, during the Blenheim June Classic, with the participating green horses all competing on the expansive grass of the Oaks International Grand Prix Field at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, CA. 

“The class was beautiful out on the grass and rode really nicely,” said Pennell, who piloted Clooney to a first-round score of 87. That score shot them straight to the top of the leaderboard and positioned them as the last duo to return for the second round. 

When Pennell and the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding did return for the second Mike Nielsen-designed course, they only bettered their performance. This time, judges Richard Slocum and Randy Neuman awarded them a score of 90 to cement their victory with a 177 total score.

Shauna Pennell and Clooney in their winning presentation for the $5,000 3’6″/3’9″ USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Southwest Regional Championship. Photo by McCool Photography

Finishing in second place with scores of 86 and 85 for a 171 total were Lindsay Ransom and Wonderful, owned by Marilyn Miller. Simon Schroeder and Frankie Ruane’s Revelation rounded out the top three with an overall score of 170.

“Clooney is fabulous,” said Pennell of the striking chestnut, owned by Ilene Kurtzman. “He’s my friend; he’s my trail horse, and I believe in him. There’s not much to say other than he liked the grass and jumped really well on the grass – which was fortunate for me. The course itself was beautiful. It was nice; it was smooth. It rode well. He listened beautifully to me, so it worked out well.” 

In the $5,000 3’/3’3” USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Southwest Regional Championship, Leslie Steele and Lavender followed a similar path to victory, as they also led from beginning to end. 

In their first round, a score of 85 was enough to put them on top, and a second-round score of 89 was more than enough to keep them there, giving them the win with a 174 total. 

Taking home both second and third place was Natalie Rae Medlock who earned scores of 170 and 168.75 aboard Quaint and Cannon Beach, respectively.

Leslie Steele and Lavender. Photo by McCool Photography

“Lavender is a very special animal that just recently got sold from Pinnacle Equine Imports to Sandra Bierman,” said Steele of the 7-year-old Hanoverian mare. “I’ve had her for a couple years. Last year she got hurt; she got a bone bruise. So, she didn’t show last year, and the year before that she was like a rockstar starting out. Then she had a little time off, and this year she’s been just as good as can be!”

Steele continued, “She’s a soft, very rhythmical and easy to ride mare – but she’s super sensitive. You have to do things her way. She’s really quiet but sensitive. She’s a beautiful mover, a beautiful jumper and a beautiful horse.”

Lavender was one of five entries that Steele competed in the 3’/3’3” Regional Championship, and Steele was thrilled to have the opportunity to compete each of them on the grass for the first time.

Leslie Steele rode Lavender to the win in the $5,000 3’/3’3″ USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Southwest Regional Championship. Photo by McCool Photography

Lavender went out there yesterday in the first class, and she jumped high and hard a little bit in the first round,” explained Steele. “Then after that, she was like, ‘I’ve got this handled. I understand that it’s just grass, and we’re on a big field.’ It’s so nice to have them put the USHJA Incentive Finals out there and capitalize on all the hunters and what they’re doing this week. To be out there on that beautiful field with beautiful jumps – I can’t say enough good things about the Blenheim people and The Ridland Group and how much I love being here.” 

Steele concluded, “With the ocean breeze, the beautiful grass, it’s an unbelievable horse show. This facility and the way it’s run are second to none. It’s just a beautiful place. We’re lucky to have a couple really wonderful places to show on the West Coast and exceptional managers, and Blenheim would be one of them.” 

For full results of both USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Southwest Regional Championship classes, click here. To learn more about all competition at Blenheim EquiSports, visit ThePlaceToJump.com.

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