Greg Crolick and Samantha Schaefer Top First Day of Inaugural Traverse City Hunter Finals

Traverse City, Mich. – Sept. 17, 2021 – The Traverse City Hunter Finals kicked off in spectacular fashion Friday morning with ribbons being awarded to some of the most competitive hunter athletes in the country. In its inaugural year, the Hunter Finals program was developed by Traverse City Horse Show management to elevate the hunter divisions and incentivize riders to compete for some of the highest prize purses available in the sport. Following the finale of the first three championships, it was Greg Crolick and Samantha Schaefer who were rewarded for their outstanding rounds with the top honors in their respective divisions.

Samantha Schaefer and Waverly, photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

The first final to take place in the Polk Family Hunter Ring was the $25,000 Traverse City 3’-3’3” Hunter Final. Eight horse-and-rider combinations were the first to compete before the 3’ horses took their turn. The 11-obstacle course designed by Keith Bollotte challenged the riders with impressive oxers and forward lines that were aimed towards riders showcasing their horses style, athleticism and adjustability. Of the eight riders to compete at the 3’3” height, the early leaders were Jacop Pope aboard Vincent with a score of 86 and Hillary Johnson on Suede, who earned an 84.5 from the panel of judges. After the jumps were adjusted to the 3’ height, an additional nine horses competed over the first round, bringing even more riders to the limelight for their first round performances. Of the additional riders, Schaefer and Waverly jumped to a score of 84, and Kelsey Epperson rode Debonair to a score of 84.250, both sitting comfortably in a top spot on the leaderboard.

The top 12 riders from both sections returned for a second round, with the 3’ horses competing first. Schaeffer expertly piloted R & R Sporthorses LLC’s Waverly, an eight-year-old Hannoverian mare, to a second round score of 86, landing her on a combined score of 170 which would eventually secure her blue ribbon honors at the conclusion of the second round. Johnson and Pope also each returned with stellar performances to earn second and third place, respectively, with scores of 169.5 for Suede and 169.25 for Vincent.

Greg Crolick and Braavos, photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Immediately following, competitors for the $25,000 Green Hunter 3’6’’-3’9’’ Final took to the Polk Family Hunter Ring. The 11-obstacle first-round track saw Schaefer and Caristo rise to the top of the leaderboard for their high score of 86. Sandy Ferrel and Insightful sat comfortably in second place for their first round score of 84, while Crolick and Braavos rounded out the top three at the conclusion of the first round with a score of 83. The nine-obstacle second round saw a switch-up in the leaderboard as Ferrel and Schaefer suffered unfortunate mistakes, leaving them both out of contention for first place. Crolick was able to move his way up the leaderboard riding the eight-year-old Warmblood gelding Braavos, who is owned by Renaud Farm LLC. Crolick bested his first round score to earn an 86 to finish on a total of 169, good enough to push him into the lead.

Greg Crolick and Braavos

In the end, none of the other competitors could match Crolick’s leading score, ultimately lending him the first place honors. Augusta Iwasaki and Ashland Farms’ Attendu de Lannois Z made their way into a top-three spot following an impressive second round, earning scores of 78 and 83 to claim second place on a two-round total of 161. Rounding out the top three was Johnson riding Lonesome Dove, owned by Copper Fox LLC, to scores of 72 and 81, finishing with a total score of 153 to claim third place.

Greg Crolick and Testify, photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

To conclude the first day of Hunter Finals competition, 21 horse-and-rider pairs had their shot at the top prize in the $50,000 Performance Hunter Final. In the end, Crolick rose to the occasion once again, this time aboard Jon Cotton’s Testify. Crolick piloted the seven-year-old Hannoverian gelding to scores of 89 and 90, topping both the first and second round cards to secure first place honors at the conclusion of the class. Second place was awarded to Kelsey Epperson aboard Didgereedoo VDL, owned by Lashier Properties LLC, for their two-round effort of 172.5. Pope took home third place riding Maya Grove’s Undaunted to a total score of 171, just one half of a point behind Epperson.

Greg Crolick and Testify, photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Hailing from Northern Michigan, Crolick spoke highly of the opportunity to compete in a Hunter Final of this caliber in Traverse City. Though his more seasoned mounts entered in Friday’s competition did not take home the top prize, Crolick was thrilled with young talents Testify and Braavos as they rose to the occasion during the show season’s finale event. Crolick looks forward to Sunday’s finals competition as he competes with Testify in the $50,000 3’ Pro Traverse City Derby Final, while Braavos will take to the $25,000 3’6” Junior Hunter Final presented by the Ingram Family with owner Maya Rahaim in the irons.

Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals competition will conclude Sunday, September 19, spotlighting an action-packed day to include the $25,000 3’3” Junior Hunter Final, $25,000 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunter Final, $25,000 3’6” Junior Hunter Final, presented by the Ingram Family, $25,000 3’6” Amateur- Owner Hunter Final presented by the Gajoch Family, the $50,000 3’ Pro Traverse City Derby Final and the $25,000 Non-Pro Traverse City Derby Final, presented by Makoto Farm.


Samantha Schaefer – $25,000 Green Hunter 3’-3’3’’ Final winner

On Waverly:
“Waverly is a horse that we purchased from Jenny Dundon. Holly Orlando was her rider for many years. We purchased her for Meghan [Rohrbaugh Bear] to compete in the 3’3” Amateur division, that is her primary job. Then for these kinds of classes, she is still [green] eligible so we take advantage of the great opportunity that they provided us with here. I have only shown her a few times, and even then it was more to help and set her up for Meghan. Holly actually showed her at the incentive finals a few weeks ago so it was just fun to have an opportunity to compete in that class on such a nice horse. She is really a show horse and tries really hard to give you her best, so it was fun to get to do this today.”

On her strategy:
“The first round, like I normally do, I did not watch that many and just kind of winged it. My plan was to do the soft 10 strides in the first line and when I landed I just kind of looked in and saw the nine strides. I thought that maybe it set my pace too forward for the rest of the first round. For the second round, I just tried to be consistent and not overdo it. She is a small horse but she has the stride of a 17-hand horse, so you have to be focused on being calm and consistent. The second round I felt was much much better.”

On competing at Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals:
“I think the main hunter ring is awesome and I really do enjoy showing it here. I loved the jumps, which are always beautiful and really stand out. I think this week they made the extra effort to make it feel like a championship week and I am grateful that they have given us the opportunity to have these big money classes for hunters. It is amazing and we would not miss it for anything. We are very privileged to be here. I think that this show alone speaks for itself. I think that everybody loves not only the show but the town and the weather. We attended three weeks in the summer and have now been back for two weeks. These finals were definitely something that we geared this horse for the [$25,000 3’3” Amateur Owner Hunter Final] on Sunday, so this was a bonus for me to compete in this class but also a great opportunity to get [Waverly] in this ring.”

Greg Crolick – $50,000 Performance Hunter Final & $25,000 Green Hunter 3’6’’-3’9’’ Final winner

On Braavos:
“Braavos is an eight-year-old Warmblood and we have had him for two years. He has really come up the ranks and matured. He started to do the job for [Maya Rahaim] as a Junior Hunter and I think that was a turning point for him in a level of maturity. He is a wonderful horse.”

On the courses:
“The courses were lovely today. They were very flowy and inviting. He was a little bit slow and lazy in the first course but he came back and really pulled it together for the second course and shined through.”

On Testify:
“Testify is a seven-year-old Warmblood that we bought in partnership with Jon Cotton in Florida in March. We have been doing the big derbies and had some good success, and also some medium success, and today was a great day for him. Both rounds were wonderful and he was very consistent and it really paid off in the end.”

On winning with young mounts:
“Today was very exciting. We are also really looking forward to Sunday’s classes and the [$25,000 3’6” Junior Hunter Final, presented by the Ingram Family] with Bravos [and Maya Rahaim]. It has been a lot of fun so far. You always have highs and lows but today was a day when both horses shined and hopefully we can keep that going.”

On the Inaugural Traverse City Horse Show Hunter and Derby Finals
“I think this Finals experience is great not only for the athletes but also for the horses and the owners. It is nice to be in a show that offers that kind of money. It is great to have a payback especially in the hunters. It makes it more fun and exciting. The Traverse City venue is amazing and we are really happy to be here and having a good showing.”


$50,000 Performance Hunter Final
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Testify / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 89 / 90 | 179
2. Didgereedoo VDL / Kelsey Epperson / Lashier Properties LLC / 88 / 84.5 | 172.5
3. Undaunted / Jacob Pope / Maya Grove / 84 / 87 | 171
4. Virgo DC / Jacob Pope / Evergreen Stables LLC / 84.5 / 86 | 170.5
5. Counselor / Jacob Pope / Judgement Farms LLC / 85.5 / 83 | 168.5
6. Worthy / Sandy Ferrel / Sunset View Farm LLC / 90 / 78.25 | 168.25
7. Caristo / Samantha Schaefer / R&R Hunter Horses LLC / 83 / 85 | 168
8. Ever So Often / Augusta Iwasaki / Ava Peck / 86 / 81 | 167
9. KT Hedwich / Carlee McCutcheon / Carlee McCutcheon / 81.5 / 84 | 165.5
10. Handwritten / Greg Crolick / Jon Cotton / 80.5 / 80 | 160.5
11. On Your Mark / Tiffany Morrissey / Lisa Berger / 80 / 79 | 159
12. Copernicus K / Tiffany Morrissey / Kathryn Withers / 85 / 70 | 155

$25,000 Green Hunter 3’-3’3’’ Final
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Waverly / Samantha Schaefer / R&R Hunter Horses LLC / 84 / 86 | 170
2. Suede / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox LLC / 84.5 / 85 | 169.5
3. Vincent / Jacob Pope / Natalie Grimaldi-Groulx / 86 / 83.25 | 169.25
4. Cayman / Tamara Provost / Laurie Stevens / 81 / 88 | 169
5. Debonair / Kesley Epperson / Debra Gross / 84.25 / 84 | 168.25
6. Serengeti / Tamara Provost / Moyer Farm LLC / 87 / 80 | 167
7. FS Montana / McKayla Langmeier / Linda Langmeier / 90 / 75 | 165
8. Hendricks / Rhein Rittmueller / Bitsy Woods / 83 / 76 | 159
9. Color-Coded / Tiffany Morrissey / Ella Short / 73 / 81 | 154
10. Hallmark / Sandy Ferrel / Maya Grove / 76 / 77 | 153
11. Saint Tropez / Hillary Johnson / Haley Stubbart / 77 / 75 | 152
12. Switchfoot / Ehrin Rittmueller / Melissa Hirt / 74 / 71 | 145

$25,000 Green Hunter 3’6”-3’9” Final
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score / R2 Score | Total
1. Braavos / Greg Crolick / Renaud Farm LLC / 83 / 86 | 169
2. Attendu de Lannois Z / Augusta Iwasaki / Ashland Farms / 78 / 83 | 161
3. Lonesome Dove / Hillary Johnson / Copper Fox LLC / 72 / 81 | 153
4. Alajolie / Augusta Iwasaki / Farber Farms LLC / 82 / 60 | 142
5. Insightful / Sandy Ferrel / Sunset View Farm LLC / 84 / 55 | 139
6. Caristo / Samantha Schaefer / R&R Hunter Horses LLC / 86 / 0 | 86