an you believe the time has come for the indoor season? Neither can I. As hard as it is to say goodbye to the summer months, the fall indoor season welcomes new opportunities, growth, and a time to prepare for the long winter ahead. Before we all make the move to hibernate in Florida, the indoor show circuit is high on the priority list when it comes to going head-to-head with the best of the best. And what better way to do that than head to the 73rd Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS).
From October 11-20th, riders and non-riders alike will flock to the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA to enjoy top-level competition, family fun activities, and the pure love of horses. Designated as one of USEF’s Heritage Competitions, the PNHS combines its rich history and tradition with modern-day competition. Whether you watch via the livestream or have the opportunity to watch the action in person, the PNHS is a show you don’t want to miss.
Top Level Competition
As the first stop on the indoor circuit, the PNHS is one of the premier indoor equestrian events in the country drawing 40 top competitors from five different countries across the world. The show attracts big names such as recently crowned World Equestrian Games Champions McLain Ward and Adrienne Sternlicht, Beezie Madden, Lillie Keenan, Leslie Burr-Howard, Ian Millar, Kelli Cruciotti. Cormac Hanley, Daniel Coyle – the list goes on. These elite riders will compete for the premier event, the thrilling $132,000 Prix de Penn National Grand Prix – one of the most prestigious Grand Prixs in the United States.
During last year's competition, Canada’s Nicole Walker took home the top honors including the Open Jumper Championship title. Will she win it two years in a row?
A Show For All Ages
Not only a show for elite show jumpers and Olympians, the PNHS features two separate Junior and Adult weeks of national competition. The two weeks includes 1,400 qualified Junior and Adult competitors from the United States vying for top places, titles, and eight national championship titles. One of junior equitation's most prestigious prizes will be awarded – the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final, as well as the coveted Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Individual and Team Championships.
A major win in an equitation final elevates a junior rider's career into the upper echelons of riding. Winning the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final last year, Taylor St. Jacques joined an elite group of riders who have etched their names in history. Who do you think will take home the title this year?
New Hall of Fame Inductees
Established in 2013, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Hall of Fame honors select individuals who are recognized for their impact on the horse community and PNHS. From their efforts, commitment, and dedication, the inductees are some of the sports most passionate people and are dedicated to achieving excellence. This year’s inductees are Olympic medalist Leslie Burr Howard and the late Jack Stedding, a renowned trainer. The ceremony will take place on October 20th prior to the start of the $132,000 Prix de Penn National Grand Prix.
The PNHS has been on Leslie Burr Howard’s show schedule for 50 years running. Every year, crowds come to watch “Leapin Leslie” as she gallops around the arena at blistering speeds. Not only is Leslie dedicated horseman, but she also has a slew of championship titles that she’s earned over the year. Major highlights include being apart of Team USA at the 1984 and 1996 Olympic Games where she won team gold and silver, respectively. Leslie has competed at over 18 FEI World Cup Finals and is one of only five female to have ever been crowned champion. Following decades of trying, in 2015 Leslie was named Open Jumper Champion – will she add another victory to the list this year?
As one of the top hunter professionals in the United States, the late Jack Stedding spent his time at various farms in Maryland training some of the country’s best horses and riders. Some of his most decorated riders include Scott Evans, Quentin Judge, Jennifer Marshall, Sandy Ferrell, and Tommy Serio. Along the way, he’s also developed top horses including Cruisin’ The Coast, Legend Has It, Space Cowboy, and Touch of Magic. Although Jack passed away in 2017 at the age of 75, his legacy lives on through the many horses and riders’ lives he touched.
Passion for Giving Back
Not only about competition and sport, the PNHS is dedicated to giving back. The Pennsylvania National Horse Show Foundation is passionate about the community and since 1999, has provided over $1 million in support of national therapeutic riding and equine rescue programs. With all proceeds from the show going directly to the PNHS Foundation, the show makes it their mission to fund grants specifically for charitable and educational purposes related to therapeutic equestrian endeavors and equine rescue efforts.
Dispersed throughout the show, the PNHS features a variety of events and fun competitions for all ages to enjoy. Some highlights include Family Fun Day on October 13th, the Pony Up for Pink! – a celebrity challenge with the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition on October 17th, a performance by the First Capital Drumline on October 18th, the Therapeutic Riding Championships and Therapy Horse of the Year Presentation on October 19th, and concludes with a performance by Stunt Dog Productions which features rescue dogs from pounds and shelters across the country to perform stunts and tricks on October 20th. How can you miss any of those events?
To learn more about the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, click here.
Photos by Al Cook Photography, courtesy of the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.