Kelsey Epperson and Debonair Claim Green Hunter 3’ Championship

Traverse City, Mich. – Sept. 9, 2021 – Hunter competition resumed Thursday, September 9, at the Flintfields Horse Park, brining top riders and their mounts to the Polk Family Hunter Ring for the culmination of the Green Hunter 3’ and Green Hunter 3’3” divisions, as well as the $1,000 USHA Green Hunter Incentive 3’-3’3”. In the Green Hunter 3’ division, it was Kelsey Epperson and Debra Gross’ Debonair who topped the competitive field, while Tiffany Morrissey and East Wind Farms LLC’s Phanomen V bested the Green Hunter 3’3” division.

Kelsey Epperson and Debonair, photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

A total of 12 entries in the Green Hunter 3’ division made their way around the picturesque Hunter 2 Ring and Polk Family Hunter Ring Wednesday and Thursday afternoon. Starting strong in the division during Wednesday’s competition, Epperson and the 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding placed second and third in the initial two classes over fences. Debonair went on to claim the red ribbon in the under saddle, and another second and third in the final two over fences Thursday, concluding with 26 total points to claim the championship tricolor.

Samantha Schaefer and Waverly, photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

The Green Hunter 3’ reserve champion title was ultimately awarded to Samantha Schaefer and Waverly. The pair did not compete in the first day of the division, but made an incredible debut Thursday to tie with Epperson on 26 points – a tie that would be broken based on the number of points acquired over fences. Waverly, an 8-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by R & R Hunter Horses, LLC, strutted her way to the win in the under saddle class, and capped off a successful day of sport with a first and second place finish over fences to secure the reserve champion honors.

Tiffany Morrissey and Phanomen V, photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Prior to the Green Hunter 3’ division, Green Hunter 3’3” horses showed their best. Morrissey and Phanomen V finished Wednesday’s competition in winning fashion after claiming a blue ribbon in their first over fences round. During day two, Morrissey and the 6-year-old Westphalian gelding continued their winning ways to top the leaderboard in one round for their jumping efforts, and place third in the other round to seal their fate as champions.

Mckayla Langmeier and FS Montana, photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

Mckayla Langmeier and FS Montana rode to the reserve honors in the Green Hunter 3’3” division. The 7-year-old Warmblood mare placed second in both classes during Wednesday’s portion of the division, and went on to maintain their streak by placing second yet again over fences. A fourth place on the flat would ultimately lead Langmeier and FS Montana to the reserve championship.

In the $1,000 USHJA Green Hunter Incentive 3’-3’3”, talented junior rider Augusta Iwasaki rode Ever So Often to the top honors Thursday afternoon. The 7-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare owned by Ava Peck put forth a consistent trip that demonstrated style and pace throughout the track, scoring an 88 from the judges. Second place was awarded to Schaefer and Waverly on a score of 87, while Ed Copeland rounded out the top three with a score of 78 aboard Camelito de Muze Z.

The inaugural Traverse City Hunter and Derby Finals are quickly approaching, taking place during Week III of the Tournament of Champions and running concurrently with the 51st Anniversary of the American Gold Cup. Unique to Traverse City Horse Shows, hunter athletes will look forward to over $275k in additional prize money during the finals. Over the course of the show series, exhibitors have had the opportunity to enroll in the incentive program and compete for add-back prize money, with 70% of the enrollment fees added to the prize money pot. Horses not enrolled in the program are still eligible to compete in the upcoming finals as long as they have competed during at least three weeks of the Traverse City Horse Shows series.

Hunter competition will continue at the Traverse City Tournament of Champions Friday, September 9, spotlighting the children, junior and amateur competitors as they tackle the first day of each of their respective divisions.


Kelsey Epperson – Green Hunter Incentive 3’-3’3” winner

On Debonair:
“He is relatively new, we got him last fall. He is only six years-old. I did him in the young hunters in Florida and the young hunters earlier in the year here, and then moved into the 3’ Greens, which is more of a competitive division. He has really stepped up and gotten a tri-color every time we have shown him. I am thrilled with him!”

On Debonair’s strengths:
“He really loves to horse show! He responds so well to the atmosphere and loves to ‘turn it on’. He is fun at home and is going to also do the Adult Hunters. He is great for his owner, but he loves going into the horse show ring and really wants to perform.”

On Traverse City Horse Shows:
“It is so nice to be here for the fall. I really liked being here for the summer and doing summer activities but it is so nice that we get to stay here and enjoy this facility as we gear up for indoors and what we are going to do for the winter plans. It is nice to be able to stay up here and have these horse shows.”

On the new Traverse City Hunter & Derby Finals:
“I am super excited for next week and to have that available for all of the divisions, not just the Derby. For them to welcome the hunters with so much prize money and have something big to look forward to at the end of the fall when everyone is excited about it and talking about it is cool to have it for the hunters too, like they have for the jumpers.”