April 2013 | Celine Marlin Andrews Wins USEF Small Hunter National Championship
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Celine Marlin Andrews Wins USEF
Small Hunter National Championship
April 2013 - Marcella Peyre-Ferry

Celine and AuroraThough she was usually the youngest rider in her division, 17-year-old Celine Marlin Andrews topped the 2012 year-end standings with Diva SCF, a Dutch warmblood mare that she brought along herself. Photo Credit: The Book LLC

Seventeen-year-old Celine Marlin Andrews of Valley Forge, PA took on the adults and professionals and came out on top, winning the first US Equestrian Federation Small Hunter National Championship for 2012 on her Dutch Warmblood mare Diva SCF, known around her barn as Aurora.

The Small Hunter Division--for horses that stand over 14.2 hands but not above 15.2˝ hands--is not restricted by age or experience, so Marlin Andrews found herself usually riding against adults and professionals. “I was usually the youngest in my division. It was really scary at first,” she said. “It was definitely rough competing against all these horses that were professionally made with one I did myself. I really wanted to work with her pretty much on my own so when we did well I could say ‘that’s my work’.”

Because the Small Hunter division was a new USEF Championship this year, the showing opportunities were limited. “Since it’s a new division not many horse shows had it,” Marlin Andrews said.  The division became nationally recognized in 2012.

Marlin Andrews earned Small Hunter points at the Brandywine Valley Summer Series, and Monmouth County NJ Horse Show, where she won the tricolor at both, and the Middleburg (VA) Classic. Ribbons earned gave her both the zone and national championship titles with a total of 308.5 points in five competitions.

Clinched in Minnesota
Several of the shows that might have been opportunities for Marlin Andrews and Diva SCF did not fill the small hunter division. To wrap up her show year and give her a chance to put her points total firmly over the top, Marlin Andrew‘s mother drove the horse trailer to Minnesota for the Minnesota Harvest Hunter Jumper Show—a 27 hour trip--while she flew to the show.

At one point, the truck broke down and the horse spent two hours in the trailer on the side of the road before being able to go on. In spite of all the problems getting there, Marlin Andrews won the division championship. “It was definitely a crazy experience,” she said.

Marlin Andrews rides at Reinbows End Farm in Malvern, PA, with trainer John Muldoon. She has been riding since she was small, starting on lesson horses then showing her own pony until she outgrew him.

Sale Prospect
When Diva SCF came onto the farm three years ago as a sale prospect with just a few months of under saddle work, Marlin Andrews fell in love with her. “She is such a wonderful horse, one that I can really connect with,” she said. “She’s a typical mare. She can be moody, but so can I, so we kind of have little battles there, but when I ask her to do something for me she puts her whole heart in it and she’ll really do anything I ask. She is extremely trustworthy and loyal.”

Marlin Andrews showed her horse in beginner hunter, pre-children’s and children’s hunter, but when the small hunter division was initiated it was the perfect fit. Although the Small Hunter Division jumps 3-foot fences just as the Children’s Hunters the courses and distances are a better fit for the horses 14.3 to 15.2 hands.

Currently a senior at Villa Maria Academy, Marlin Andrews  also competes as a ski racer. She is planning on staying in the small hunter division for a while, but she is also considering moving up to the Juniors this year. For her future, Marlin Andrews has applied to several colleges, but has not made her final choice yet. She hopes to double major in biology and psychology. “I hope to ride in college and definitely continue to have horses in my life,” she said.