Hollberg Takes Top Honors in Open Intermediate and Preliminary Divisions at 2023 Essex Horse Trials
Event Concludes with Thrilling Cross-Country Phase and Peter Chesson Memorial Classic Car Show at Historic Moorland Farm
Far Hills, New Jersey — June 4, 2023 — Hannah Sue Hollberg of Kennett Square, PA, was on a winning streak at the Essex Horse Trials on Sunday, claiming victory in both the $10,000 Open Intermediate and Open Preliminary divisions with two horses that are fairly new to her. Some difficulty on cross-country did not stop her mount Hachi from claiming victory in the Open Intermediate with a score of 101.6, while Open Preliminary partner Rockster finished on his dressage score of 27.3.
The Essex Horse Trials has become a tradition for families looking to spend an exciting and fun-filled weekend in their own backyard. Featuring some of the nation’s top riders with their Intermediate and Preliminary horses competing in the thrilling sport of eventing, the two-day sportfest took place June 3-4 with dressage and show jumping at the iconic Hamilton Farm, home of the USET Foundation Headquarters in Gladstone, NJ, and exhilarating cross-country at the historic Moorland Farm in Far Hills.
“The weather couldn’t have been better this weekend,” Hollberg said. “It’s unfortunate we’ve had so little rain lately, but they did a great job with the footing and put on such a great show. It’s so much fun coming here because of all the tailgaters. With everybody cheering for you, it feels like such a big-time event, and I wish more people would come to enjoy such a beautiful show.”
Hannah Sue Hollberg (USA) and Hachi won the $10,000 Open Intermediate division at the 2023 Essex Horse Trials © AK Dragoo Photography
In the $10,000 Open Intermediate division, Hollberg and Hachi sat in second place overnight following Saturday’s dressage and show jumping tests. The 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Christa Schmidt and Jacqueline Mars did not have the best cross-country run with a few glance-offs and a circle in the water, but Hollberg used this as a positive learning experience with the goal of moving him up to Advanced.
“I just got him in late December from Phillip Dutton, who took him up to the 3* level in about two years,” Hollberg said. “He was a show jumper before that, competing at events like Spruce Meadows (Canada). He’s such a character and a really cool horse, but we’re still getting to know each other. I did one 3*-Short at TerraNova (Florida) this spring, and I’m still sorting out his bit and working on our turns.
“I thought it was a great course today, but he jumps so big that we didn’t quite lock onto a few of the questions,” she added. “This was a pretty hard track, but now I know where we’re at as a team. That’s really why I wanted to come here with him – it’s always such a good event, and I learned what we still need to work on.”
Hollberg and Rockster won the Open Preliminary division © AK Dragoo Photography
In the Open Preliminary division, Hollberg’s focus on flatwork with Tricia Arnold’s 9-year-old Morgan gelding paid off as she and Rockster claimed an early lead and held it throughout the weekend.
“The jumping’s always been there with Rockster, but when I first got him in January, he was a little off the bridle,” Hollberg said. “I’m so thrilled that he came in and won the dressage this time, and with the best score he’s ever earned. Then he jumped clear in the show jumping, and I knew he’d be amazing on cross-country. Once you get him in and out of the box, he’s on autopilot. He deserved this win completely.
“Tricia’s had him since he was 4, and I’m so grateful she reached out to me when it came time to sell him,” she continued. “I hope to find him a perfect little rider because he’s so ready for someone else to just have a blast riding around.”
Other division champions included Caroline Pamukcu of Riegelsville, PA, and her Billy Be Jolly in Open Training (24.3); Sierra Lesny of Camp Hill, PA, and Edith Rameika’s Sebastian in Training Rider (28.1); Lee Maher of Springtown, PA, and Redfield Farm’s Redfield Lennon in Open Novice (18.6); Peyton Brienza of Califon, NJ, and their The Brave Little Toaster in Novice Rider (27.2); Kylie Stangle and Janina Parmelee’s Redfield Mikke in Open Beginner Novice (25.5); and Savannah Gibbins of Califon, NJ, and her Kenzo De La Roque in Beginner Novice Rider (28.8).
In addition to Sunday’s cross-country, families also enjoyed the popular Peter Chesson Memorial Classic Car Show with nearly a century of eye-popping automobiles on display. Scott Sampson of Hampton, NJ, won the Peter Chesson Memorial Award for his 1968 Chevrolet Camaro.
“It’s the kind of car my father would’ve liked,” said Tim Chesson, Peter Chesson’s son. “It’s fast, looks good, makes a lot of noise and has a big engine. Congratulations to Scott, and thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s show.”
Scott Sampson and his 1968 Chevrolet Camaro earned the 2023 Peter Chesson Memorial Award. Shown here with the Chesson family. © Jamie Saults
Proceeds from the 2023 Essex Horse Trials benefit the Greater Newark LifeCamp in nearby Pottersville, which provides an enriching day camp experience for approximately 300 Newark-area youths per day for six weeks during July and August.
The Sport of Eventing
Eventing, often referred to as an “equestrian triathlon,” combines the elegance of dressage, the thrill of cross-country, and the precision of show jumping. Eventing provides a rare opportunity for spectators of all ages and interests to witness a discipline that highlights the unique trust and bond between horse and rider.
About the Essex Horse Trials
For three decades, the famed Essex Horse Trials has been a major highlight on the equestrian calendar, attracting top American and international competitors as well as thousands of fans who enjoyed its social aspects in addition to the thrilling competition. The event was originally conceived in 1968 by the Haller Family at Hoopstick Farm.
Hamilton Farm, the iconic site of the former Olympic Equestrian Training Facility, currently serves as the headquarters of the USET Foundation as well as prestigious qualifying US Equestrian Federation events.
Moorland Farm, a picturesque 230-acre property, provides the breathtaking setting for the event’s current edition. It is the home of the annual Far Hills Race Meeting, a nationally prestigious steeplechase race meeting held each October.
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Essex Horse Trials
P.O. Box 469
Gladstone, New Jersey 07934