It’s not very often a junior rider wins a major equitation final, then has to run from the press conference to change into white breeches for an international grand prix. But Tori Colvin isn’t an average junior rider.
Colvin topped the Washington International Equitation Classic Final on 24 October, the final equitation class of her storied career, after three fantastic rounds. She beat out Madison Goetzmann, with Hunter Holloway finishing third.
If that isn’t enough, not only did she make her FEI World Cup Qualifier debut at Washington, she placed fifth in the $125,000 Longines Washington CSI-W aboard Cafino against a serious international field.
Colvin tacked up seasoned equitation horse Patrick for the WIHS Equitation Classic Final.
“I have been coming here for a couple of years now, and I’ve had a lot of great trainers who have helped me get to where I am now,” said Colvin, who just turned 18 last month. “Patrick has been an amazing horse, so to win on him here was just a fantastic feeling and having it be my last round on him was emotional. But it was good—it was really good.”
Colvin, Loxahatchee, Fla., took a narrow lead over Hunter Holloway in the hunter round, scoring an average mark of 91.5 from judges Shane George, Bill Ellis, Susie Schoellkopf and Joe Fargis. Holloway won this afternoon’s jumper phase—though both Colvin and Holloway each earned a score of 95 from opposite panels of judges.
“I was very disappointed that they didn’t adjust the time down,” said Don Stewart, who trains Holloway. “That is supposed to be a big factor and it always has been. This year the first girl had a very slow round and was still 10 seconds under the time. That was disappointing because you could go as slow as you wanted to. I don’t know if anybody had a time fault.
In the final round the top 10 riders swap horses and repeat the jumper course, and Colvin drew Vondel DHZ, the horse of Morgan Ward. Colvin had a feel for that horse already as he happened to be from Heritage Farm, where she rides. While she hadn’t ridden him before, trainer Patricia Griffith was able to give her a few pointers. Colvin also got a workout scaling the stairs to get to Andre Dignelli, who’s in a wheelchair after undergoing hip surgery after a riding accident.
Her flawless final trip secured the top spot, and the judges effused over the quality of her round and of the field in general.
“She makes it look effortless,” said Ellis. “Even when she changed horses after the first jump she figured the horse out immediately and trusted it and rode it like she’d been riding it forever.”
Second-placed Madison Goetzmann, who won the high junior/amateur-owner jumper championshipearlier in the day, was excited to trade with Holloway and swap her own Eclipse for Any Given Sunday.
“I have heard very great things about him,” said Goetzmann, 15. “I was a little nervous because this was my very first horse switch and Hunter was telling me how great a horse it is and how he is pretty straightforward. As soon as I jumped the first jump I gained a lot of confidence and was able to breathe. He was just so great.”
Colvin’s win continues her winning championship season. It started with her winning the Platinum Performance/USEF Talent Search Final (N.J.), then she headed to the Pennsylvania National where she finished fourth at Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals. Plus she earned back-to-back grand junior hunter titles at the Pennsylvania National and Washington.
“I feel like I got a little bit lucky this year because both of my riders in the top 10 ride a lot of hunters and a lot of different hunters, and they catch-ride,” said Griffith. “For sure the jumper phase is something that is a little trickier, and then I got lucky because they switched onto each other’s horses, so I was able to tell them exactly how to warm them up and exactly what they were going to do in the ring, and they pretty much did it just like that.”