Penn State University is holding a place in its freshman class next year for Peggy Gehman, but chances are she will not show up.
Gehman has ambitions for a future in the equestrian world. And today she took another step toward achieving her goals, when she won the Grand Junior Hunter Championship on Free Wheelin, owned by Karen Sue Orr, at the Warrenton Horse Show.
"I'm taking a year off from school to see if I like riding full-time and to see if an opportunity to ride comes up," said Gehman, 18, a 1981 graduate of Parkland High School in Orefield, Pa.
Her trainer, Walter J. Lee, said, "She's had to work to afford this sport and appreciates everything."
Gehman won the Grand Junior Hunter Champion after gathering 13 points in the small Junior Hunter Division, giving her mount the most points overall between the two sections of competition limited to riders 18 years and under.
She also won the championship in the large Junior Hunter classes on Cara Fortsman's First Light, which had accumulated nine points following the first of five days of competition at Warrenton, known as "the hunter show of America."
"I took up riding when I was about 2 years old," Gehman said, as she was waiting to receive the Charlotte Noland Memorial Trophy. "My parents both rode and we had a horse business in my back yard."
Gehman divides her riding time between instructors Lee of Keswick, Va., who trained both of today's winners, and George Morris of Hunterdon, N.J.
"With Jimmy (Lee), I have learned to adapt myself to each horse," Gehman said. "With George (Morris), everything is a system and each course must fit into a mold."
Her strategy with Free Wheelin, a 10-year-old brown gelding, was to "only jump two or three fences before going into the ring. He likes to stand before going into the ring," Gehman said. "If he runs right in after practicing he gets worried."