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New Hope-Solebury High Schooler & Her Horse Win Prestigious Horse Of The Year Title

Caroline Ives, a senior at New Hope-Solebury High School, alongside her horse JohnBug, triumphed.

Caroline Ives and her horse, JohnBug.
Credit: Submitted

A local teen and her horse recently won a national competition.

Caroline Ives, a senior at New Hope-Solebury High School, and her horse, JohnBug, have clinched the prestigious Horse of the Year title at the USHJA Zone 2 Competition within the ages of 15 to 17 Hunter Horse 3’ Division.

The competition, held at the Princeton Show Jumping Facility earlier this fall, brought together 25 of the most skilled young riders aged 15 to 17 from New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. These riders qualified for the event through a year-long series of shows, with Ives participating in fifteen to secure her spot.

In a division where precision and showmanship reign over speed, competitors are tasked with executing eight three-foot jumps across three rounds.

During the competition, the emphasis is on the horse’s performance, scrutinized more than the rider’s.

Ives, demonstrating exceptional skill and a deep connection with JohnBug, excelled in these criteria, according to information from the New Hope-Solebury School District.

Reflecting on her journey, Ives spoke about embracing the unpredictable elements of competition.

“I told my dad that morning I had a good feeling about it,” said Ives. “My horse JohnBug was perfect. It was like he knew what was going on.”

Ives’ equestrian journey began at six years old when she first rode a horse while visiting her aunt in Doylestown. Since then, her love for horses and riding has only deepened.

However, the path to the recent victory wasn’t without challenges.

A tough relationship with a former coach led Ives to switch barns, requiring her to self-train and coordinate her horse’s showings with the support of her parents.

The emotional payoff for her efforts was immense, she said.

“It took a lot of self-motivation, but I learned how to recognize and accept when a change is needed,” said Ives. “I admit that knowing how much work I put into this, winning was an awesome feeling. I cried happy tears when I won.”

Looking ahead, Ives is focused on rehabilitating her other horse, JuneBug, who sustained an injury two years ago. She hopes to bring JuneBug into future competitions.

Additionally, she is exploring opportunities to continue her equestrian pursuits at the collegiate level, promising a bright future in her riding career.

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