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AHJF Has A Winner In Its Annual Hunter Classic

The American Hunter Jumper Foundation Continues to Achieve Its Goals

Seven years ago when the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation, Inc. (AHJF) decided to debut the first ever AHJF Hunter Classic it was the beginning of a new vision for the sport of show hunter competition. The concept was to have a very special class, different than what had been done in the past. The class would premiere in the evening under lights, offer the largest prize money purse in the history of show hunter competition and serve a fine dinner affording spectators a quality view of the class. All of this was designed around the needs of the exhibitors and created to serve as the single largest fundraiser of the AHJF. Money from the fundraiser would enable the organization to continue its many programs geared to benefit hunter horses and riders. As the years pass the Hunter Classic continues to achieve its goals.

“The AHJF are doing such a good job promoting the hunters,” commented Scott Stewart, who has both participated in and trained a number of the riders who have competed in this competition. One of his riders, Cody Baird, won the class on Most Wanted in 2000. Most Wanted placed eighth in the 2001 Classic and was fourth in 2002, when Baird was also ninth on Allstar.

“Jumping under the lights was special. Then all the people watching. It really is a fun class,” commented Baird after winning the 2000 Hunter Classic.

Kavar Kerr watched the crowd react warmly to Baird’s victory, “I think the size of the crowd speaks for itself. People love seeing the hunters in the spotlight. I hope more effort will be made to give the hunters more events that showcase their beauty and artistry. It is an art form all to itself.”

Noted hunter rider Holly Hays, who annually competes in this event, commented, “People are more interested.” Hays placed second (The Winning Edge) and third (Spectacular Ruler) in 2000. In 2001 she again placed second, this time on Regall.

“We’ve worked equally as hard and are equally as skilled as the jumper riders, but we didn’t have any of the pomp and circumstance,” added Louise Serio, Kennett Square, PA, the founder of the AHJF.

The American Hunter Jumper Foundation grew out of the idea of a World Champion Hunter Rider Association. Eventually the AHJF became the umbrella organization, which incorporated the WCHR awards, a system that rewards the hunter riders based on the strength and consistency of their performances. The WCHR Awards Program sanctions a limited number of shows throughout the U.S. and Canada, and presents a limited number of special events, including the AHJF Hunter Classic. The program offers both national and regional awards. The National Championships take place at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in the fall.

As if this weren’t already enough, the AHJF supports its own by offering a Retired Equine Placement Resource, an Emergency Relief Fund, Educational and Member Programs, Industry Seminars and Forums and a Business Support Association for its members.

As a membership organization, the dues go towards all of the above, but in the end it is fundraisers like the Hunter Classic, which raises the funds that allow the AHJF to provide the hunter industry with the support and rewards it deserves.

"Those of us at the AHJF work tirelessly during the months leading up to the Classic. By the time the night arrives we are exhausted, stretched too thin and overwhelmed by the anticipation of the evening ahead of us. But, then the people begin to arrive, the horses walk the course, the dinner is served and the night begins. The crowd gets excited, the horses perform beautifully, and Kenny does his magic from the Tower. It is then that I take a moment to see the results of our hard work, when I look around and see the crowd of people actually watching, understanding and cheering for 26 show hunters, it makes it worth every sleepless night," comments Executive Director Michele Perla.

Since the year it began the Hunter Classic continues to prove that hunters can offer something special to an audience if presented properly. And so annually the AHJF Hunter Classic proves to be a winner!

For information about purchasing tables for the fundraising dinner call the Winter Equestrian Festival Special Event Office at 561-753-3389. For information about the Hunter Classic contact the AHJF at 335 Lancaster Street, West Boylston, MA 01583-0369, call 508-835-8813, fax 508-835-6124 or email For point standings:

(Each week the Winter Equestrian Festival runs Wednesday through Sunday beginning at 8:00 AM)

Bayer Gold Coast Classic - January 29 - February 2
Wellington Dressage – January 30 – February 2
Kilkenny/ICH Internationale – February 5 – 9
Florida Classic/WCHR Spectacular – February 12 – 16
Florida Dressage Classic –February 13 - 16
Zada Enterprises, LLC Wellington Masters – February 19 – 23
Tommy Bahama Palm Beach Open – February 26 – March 2
Cosequin Wellington Finale – March 5 – 9
Zada Enterprises, LLC WEF Dressage Classic – March 13 – 16

Tickets to the Winter Equestrian Festival are available by phone at 793-JUMP or at the gate. Admission is free on Wednesdays. Children 12 & under are free all days. Senior admission is $5 every day. Adult admission is $5 on Thursday and Friday, $10 on Saturday, and $15 on Sunday. Parking is free.


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