Isabel Gregory and Rock Star. Photos by Susan J. Stickle.
Houston, Texas – (Oct. 28, 2016) – If regional dressage championships are successful when amateurs, kids and pros shine in their Training Level to Grand Prix rides, then the Region 9 Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation Dressage Championships and Southwest Dressage Championships and HDS Autumn Classic was a huge success. Hosted by the Houston Dressage Society (HDS), the Great American Insurance Group (GAIG)/USDF Region 9 Championships and Southwest Dressage Championships (SWDC) were held at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Katy, Texas, Oct. 6-9.
Isabel Gregory, a high school senior from Lake Highlands, Texas, rocked it when she not only placed first in every Junior/Young Rider class in which she rode 16-year-old Oldenburg mare Rock Star (Rubinstein I-Lorance), she often bested the scores of the professionals and adult amateurs (AA) in the same class. On Oct. 6, she and Rock Star claimed the blue ribbon in the FEI Prix St. Georges (PSG) with a 65.00 percent, topping the scores of the Open and AA PSG classes by more than five and a half percentage points. On Oct. 7, she upped the ante by scoring a 69.386 percent in the PSG in the SDWDC class, and on Oct. 8, she again notched a first place win with a 66.316 percent in the GAIG PSG. On Oct. 9, they finished with an amazing trifecta of an 85 percent in the USDF Dressage Equitation 14-18 Semi-Final Medal class, a 67.944 percent in the SWDC Fourth Level Test 3 class and a 73.167 percent in GAIG Fourth Level Test 3 class.
“Isabel has been riding with me for five to six years,” said her trainer Yvonne Kusserow of Rocking M Stables in Dallas, Texas. “She has a very good base. She is very fair to the horse and she listens to what I am saying. She is a good student in that, even if she is very frustrated, I wouldn’t know. You can really work with someone like that.”
Kusserow is a licensed “Pferdewirtschaftsmeisterin,” one of the few Federation Equestrian National certified trainers in Germany and America. While at the show, she was presented the eighth annual USDF Region 9 Teaching Excellence Award from The Dressage Foundation in which she will receive a $5,000 grant. The grant is for demonstrating adherence to sound dressage principles and the ability to communicate these principles so that students develop themselves and their horses in a logical, progressive and humane way up through the levels.
“I am thrilled,” she said. “We are trying to figure out now what the whole region can do to benefit from the money – maybe a clinic. We don’t know yet.”
Another product of the active HDS youth program is Andrew Phillips, now the head trainer at Shoofly Farm in Cypress, Texas. He came up through the ranks in the HDS shows and rode in his first recognized show as a 12-year-old.
“I grew up in Houston and went to my first recognized show at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center,” he said, adding that his experience with the HDS has come full-circle. “Now, I’m in my first year as head trainer at Shoofly and doing well. The show was a great way to cap off my year. It couldn’t have gone better.”
In fact, Phillips had a great show. On Oct. 6, he and Kimberly Rathmann’s Valentino, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding (OO Seven-Nilzefonda), earned a 70.526 percent for the blue ribbon in the SWDC Intermediaire I Open and on Oct. 8, the pair earned another first place in the GAIG FEI Prix St. Georges Open with a 70.132 percent. On Oct. 9, they again claimed the blue with a 68.816 percent in the GAIG Intermediaire I Open. Phillips also notched a first place finish on Youke of High Meadow Farm, Rathmann’s 9-year-old Friesian gelding (Anton 343-Geartsje Fan’t Feidfjild), in the Prix St. George-Open, and two first place finishes in Third Level Test 3 on Empire, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Jazz-Kadette) also owned by Rathmann.
Another professional, Christy Raisbeck, had an outstanding show on Herslev Mark’s Mister B, also known as “Bodi,” a 13-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Michellino-Herslev Mark’s Candy) owned by her client, Gon Stevens. Raisbeck’s Freestyle Farm is just 20 min away from the Great Southwest Equestrian Center in Fulshear, Texas. Bodi is the third horse she has brought up to Grand Prix.
“We bought him four years ago from Sharon McCusker for Gon to ride,” she said. “Two years ago, Gon gave me the ride on him to focus on training him to Grand Prix. We showed I-2 last year and qualified for [the U.S. Dressage Finals in] Kentucky, and did the same this year at Grand Prix.”
Raisbeck and Bodi rode in four Grand Prix tests over the four days of the show, which she said sounds like a lot, but he settled more with each ride now that he understands that the show ground is an OK place to be. In fact, as the competition continued, their Grand Prix scores rose steadily from a 60.10 percent to a 62.50 percent and a 64.10 percent, and then a final score of 62.5650 percent to net two Grand Prix blue ribbons in the Open classes in the HDS Autumn Classic, one Reserve Championship in the GAIG/USDF Region 9 Grand Prix, and one fourth place in the Southwest Dressage Championships.
“Bodi has a super talent for piaffe and passage,” she said. “He has big expressive changes and nice pirouettes, which are only hindered by me getting ahead of myself in the test. My hopes for the future are for Bodi to get stronger and more confident, and for me to settle down to ride the test more methodically at the show like I do at home!”
Raisbeck had nothing but praise for the show and the Houston Dressage Society. The event not only featured four full days of competition, but a Saturday night gala with a fun “Duck Toss” to raise money for the youth riders, a barn basket silent auction, a scavenger hunt and the camaraderie of friends.
“HDS does an amazing job organizing the shows,” Raisbeck said. “Leslie Rohrer is the HDS president and show chair, and she and her super army of volunteers works tirelessly to pull off great shows all year, culminating in the championships. Judge Sandy Hotz told me that the judges love to come to the shows here, and think Great Southwest is a top-notch facility.”
Scott Stewart and Catch Me. Photos by Shawn McMillen Photography.
Shaw Johnson Price and Custom Made, Virginia Fout and Carma Win Amateur-Owner Grand Championships
October 26, 2016 – Washington, D.C. – The 2016 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) continued with its second day of competition featuring the presentation of championship honors in the professional and amateur-owner hunter divisions on Wednesday at Verizon Center in downtown Washington D.C. For the ninth time, Scott Stewart of Wellington, FL earned the WIHS Leading Hunter Rider title after winning both the WIHS Grand Hunter Championship and WIHS Grand Green Working Hunter Championship aboard David Gochman’s Catch Me.
Stewart guided Catch Me to the division championship in the Second Year Green Working Hunters on their way to top honors on Wednesday. The pair won the under saddle and finished first, second, and second over fences. John French and Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Gesture earned reserve honors with two wins over fences, as well as a third place under saddle.
For the Grand Green Working Hunter Championship, Stewart and Catch Me were awarded the Claire Lang Miller Challenge Trophy. For the overall WIHS Grand Hunter Championship, they accepted the Rave Review Challenge Trophy, donated by Stoney Hill. Catch Me’s owner, David Gochman, was also presented with an award as the Leading Hunter Owner.
Catch Me is a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding (sired by Casiro) that Stewart began riding in 2015. The pair started off the year strong with a win in the $100,000 WCHR Peter Wetherill Palm Beach Hunter Spectacular in Florida, but Catch Me then spent several months off due to illness, and just started back in competition at the end of the summer. The gelding returned to the show ring without missing a beat, however, and Stewart explained that he has matured a lot in 2016 and has been winning ever since. The pair recently won the Grand Hunter Championship at the Capital Challenge Horse Show and the Grand Green Hunter Championship at Pennsylvania National Horse Show, as well as taking a major win in the $25,000 WCHR Pro Challenge at Capital Challenge.
Describing the beautiful gray gelding, Stewart detailed, “He used to be really spooky, and this year we have been able to do more. I don’t think he showed that much as a Pre-Green horse and we got him as a First Year. He hasn’t shown a lot, but he shows enough now that we just know how to get him ready and he is in the groove. He has been so consistent this year. He has won every big class I have gone in, and he is just really on right now. I think we both know each other 100% now, so it just clicks.”
Speaking of his rounds with Catch Me this week, Stewart added, “He was awesome in every round. He didn’t touch a jump. He went perfect. He got beat twice, but I’m not sure how. I don’t think he could go any better. He has just been so great.”
Stewart also earned the division championship in the Green Conformation Hunters, sponsored by The Ingram Family. He rode David Gochman’s Fun to two wins over fences and a third place under saddle to earn the Valiant Hawk Memorial Challenge Trophy, donated by Mrs. Stephen J. Clark. Fifi Schmidt and Elizabeth Phillips’ No Doubt took the reserve championship with three second-place ribbons and one third place.
“Fun was awesome,” Stewart noted. “He got a little green today, but I didn’t expect him to be this good in these environments yet because he is only six years old. I am thrilled with him. I didn’t think he would be this consistent.”
Stewart continued, “I’m fortunate that all of my horses are pretty quiet, and my staff does an amazing job preparing them. They do everything. I don’t even ride in the ring in the morning. I get here before the class and show. It just works out for me better mentally, but these horses are not very difficult fortunately.”
Stewart also took reserve honors in both the High Performance and Regular Conformation divisions to secure the Leading Rider title. He earned a $5,000 bonus for the Leading Hunter Rider Award, sponsored by Dr. Betsee Parker. It was fittingly renamed this year as The Scott Stewart Leading Hunter Rider Award, for Stewart who has earned the title nine times now in his great career.
Also showing on Wednesday, John French and Laura Wasserman’s Boss earned the Mary Farren Perpetual Trophy for the Regular Conformation Hunter championship with first and second place ribbons over fences and a win under saddle. The pair earned an impressive high score of 94 in the stake class. Stewart and Dr. Betsee Parker’s Lucador finished in reserve with a win under saddle, as well as second and third place ribbons over fences.
John Bragg and Ann Thornton’s Early August took home two championship tricolors this week. In the High Performance Working Hunter division, sponsored by Jacqueline B. Mars, the pair placed first, first, and fifth over fences, and second under saddle to earn the “NOT ALWAYS” Challenge Trophy, donated by Miss Peggy Steinman. Stewart earned those reserve honors aboard Dr. Betsee Parker’s Cameo with a win and sixth place ribbon over fences, as well as a win under saddle.
Stewart and Cameo were then presented the special Protocol Trophy, sponsored by Platinum Performance. The trophy is awarded to the overall High Point High Performance Working Hunter from the Devon Horse Show, Pennsylvania National Horse Show, and Washington International Horse Show.
Stewart will continue on to the National Horse Show in Kentucky and then give his horses a break in Florida before the start of the winter season. Commenting on his years of success at WIHS, the rider acknowledged, “This is one of my favorite shows. I love D.C. and I love being here. It is a really special show.”
Concluding the professional divisions, John Bragg and Early August earned their second championship of the day in the First Year Green Working Hunter division to top off a fantastic two days at WIHS. They earned second, second, and fifth place ribbons over fences and won the under saddle. Nick Haness finished in reserve with Lindsay Maxwell’s Technicolor after earning first and second place ribbons over fences. Hillary Johnson and Copper Fox LLC’s Voyager were awarded the Windy Acres Challenge Trophy for the best Green Working Hunter stake round. They earned a high score of 90 in the First Year division.
Shaw Johnson Price and Custom Made, Virginia Fout and Carma Win Amateur-Owner Grand Championships
The Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions concluded their second day of competition at WIHS on Wednesday and awarded championship honors as well.
The Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’6” championship and the Frank Counselman Memorial Perpetual Trophy were awarded to Shaw Johnson Price, of Chestertown, MD, and her own Custom Made, an 11-year-old Mecklenburg gelding (sired by Chambertin). The pair earned the championship in the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’6” Over 35 division, sponsored by Cembell Industries, with a win under saddle and second, second, and fourth place ribbons over fences. Virginia Fout and her own Cristiano finished in reserve with first, third, and sixth place ribbons over fences.
Price was then presented the Leading Amateur-Owner Hunter Rider Award for the 3’6” level. The rider was joined at WIHS by her trainer, Havens Schatt, who also showed Custom Made in professional classes this week. Price started showing the gelding at the beginning of 2015 and had great results at the 3’3” level, including a championship win at the 2015 Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg. This year, they moved up to the 3’6” height and have continued to excel. They recently earned champion and grand champion honors at Harrisburg, and decided that the gelding was ready to face the impressive atmosphere at Verizon Center for the first time.
“We were not quite sure he was ready for the atmosphere here last year, but now he really knows his job,” Price stated. “He is sweet, and I think he really likes going in the ring. He seems to know when it’s a big deal. He is always pleasant and happy and looks for the jumps. His ears are forward, and he is very consistent.”
The partnership with Custom Made took a little while to develop, as Price explained, but with the help of Schatt and her team, the horse has come a long way.
“We thought we would get on him and go right into the 3’6”, but he turned out to be a bit more of a project,” Price detailed. “Havens worked with him, and he has just slowly progressed and gotten better and better. I have a wonderful horse and a great trainer. Wayne Robinson is our groom, and he is fantastic. We have a really good team right now, so it has been great.”
Price earned grand hunter and leading rider titles at WIHS once before, but took some time off from showing and was back for the first time in many years. She has two teenage daughters that keep her busy and also loves to sail with her husband. Price competes next at the National Horse Show in Kentucky. Custom Made will return home to Schatt’s Milestone Farm in Lexington before heading to Florida for the winter.
In the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’6” 18-35 division, the championship was awarded to Samantha Schaefer aboard her own Classified. The pair earned first, third, and fourth place ribbons over fences and a third place under saddle. Kelly Tropin and Libertas Farm LLC’s Chablis finished in reserve with three second-place ribbons and one fourth-place finish. Schaefer and Classified also earned the award for best 3’6” stake round with their high score of 91. Sponsored by Lynn Ellen Rice, the award presents the Shari Hollis Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by the Late Col. J. B. Hollis and Ms. Jeannie Hollis.
Continuing the day, the Amateur-Owner Working Hunter 3’3” 18-35 division presented both championship and reserve championship honors to Margot Peroni of Califon, NJ. Peroni rode her own Encore B to the championship with a win under saddle and second and fifth place ribbons over fences. She also rode her own Orlon to first, second, and sixth place ribbons over fences.
At the conclusion of the afternoon, Virginia Fout of Los Angeles, CA rode her 12-year-old Warmblood gelding Carma (sired by Rhodium) to the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’3” Over 35 division championship. The pair won two classes over fences, as well as the under saddle. Daryl Portela and Isalou, Inc.’s Argentus finished as reserve champions with first and second place finishes over fences. They also earned a special award for the Best Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’3” Stake Round with a score of 87.
For their consistency, Carma and Fout were named Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’3” Champions, sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Earnest M. Oare, and Fout earned the Leading Amateur-Owner Hunter Rider title for the 3’3” division overall.
Fout is originally from Middleburg, VA and moved to California 20 years ago. She grew up in a family of equestrians and lived on the family farm where her father was a racehorse trainer and her mother fox hunted. Fout’s sister became a three-day eventer, and her brother is a jockey. For Fout, it has always been horses. She went to college in California, got married and had a baby, but she continued to ride while also juggling a busy career. She owns her own event production company that does major events such as Elton John’s famous Oscar party.
Traveling across the country to compete while she also has an event going on in California this week was demanding, but for Fout, it paid off.
“Days like this make it all worth it,” she smiled. “It’s funny; the only time I have ever won a blue ribbon at Washington was in 1984 at Hunt Night with my mom and my sister at the old US Air Arena. So this is pretty big and pretty amazing.”
Speaking of Carma, Fout detailed, “He is magic. I’m so fortunate. He is a horse I got from one of my stable mates, Montana Coady. He came back from a long injury a couple years prior. I was lucky enough to get to buy him last fall and we have formed a great partnership. He’s tricky, but when he’s good, he’s magic. I just love him, and he’s so special, and I’m so lucky. It is sort of a dream come true with him. We call him a movie star because that is what he feels like.
“He likes a very quiet ride,” Fout continued. “If you’re quiet, he’s quiet. If you’re not quiet, hold on. I have learned how to ride him. He is sensitive, but I have learned to stay quiet. In the first class today, he had a rail down at the first jump and then it was a disaster after that. But when he’s good, he is phenomenal.”
Fout had Jenny Ross helping her at WIHS this week. She will go to her family’s farm in The Plains, VA until the end of the week before flying back to California to spend Halloween with her daughter. She then heads up to Kentucky for her final horse show of the year.
Hunter competition at the 2016 Washington International Horse Show continues on Thursday with the beginning of Junior Hunter competition in the morning. In the jumpers, Low and High Junior/Amateur-Owner competition will be featured in the afternoon, along with a $35,000 International Jumper Welcome Stake. The evening session will welcome local horse lovers, riders, trainers, and their families for Barn Night, presented by Dover Saddlery with the generous support of The Peterson Family Foundation and National Harbor, beginning at 6 p.m. The $35,000 International Jumper Accumulator costume class will be the highlight competition of the evening. For full results, visit www.wihs.org.
Andrew Kocher and Uppie de Lis. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.
Sarah Boston and Dean Dignelli Victorious in WIHS Children’s and Adult Jumper Championships
October 26, 2016 – Washington, D.C. – The 2016 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) hosted its first day of jumper competition at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday with a win for Andrew Kocher (USA) aboard Uppie des Lis in the feature $10,000 International Jumper speed class. The $10,000 WIHS Children’s and Adult Jumper Championships were also highlighted with a win for Sarah Boston and Herminas in the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship, presented by The Klein Family & Lance Williamson Stables, and victory for Dean Dignelli riding Redefin in the $10,000 WIHS Adult Amateur Jumper Championship, presented by The Treacy Family.
Ireland’s Alan Wade is the course designer for jumper competition at WIHS this week. He opened the week with 45 starters in the $10,000 international speed class and 21 clear rounds. Kocher and Uppie des Lis, a 15-year-old NRPS gelding (Andiamo x Landsieger) owned by BTS Entertainment and Sales, clocked the winning round in 50.20 seconds. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Main Road, owned by Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook LLC, finished second in 50.26 seconds. Catherine Tyree (USA) and Mary and Joseph Tyree’s Enjoy Louis finished third in 51.30 seconds.
Wednesday’s class marked Kocher’s first win at WIHS. He has shown at the competition in the junior jumpers and hunters, as well as jumping in the Puissance class twice, but explained that he never did the bigger open classes. This week he came to WIHS to jump Saturday’s $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington, presented by Events DC, as he hopes to qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup Finals in March with Uppie de Lis.
“He is my most consistent horse, and I came to do the World Cup class, so I’m excited,” Kocher detailed. “I have been resting him for three or four weeks now just to have him fresh for this, and then we’ll go to Kentucky. He jumped really nice in Omaha in the spring, which is a ring like this. He is actually good in every ring. He is a very solid horse.
“He has a little bit of a choppy stride, so he is good at adding one in here or there,” Kocher continued. “I’m better off to add a stride and make a short turn than leave one out and gallop around. Today, my plan was just to go as fast as I can and not knock anything down. I used to just try to win every class on him, and then I just tried to aim him for bigger classes and he jumped less clear rounds that way, so I’m just going to try to win every class on him again no matter what the table (format) is.”
In addition to Uppie de Lis, Kocher has a young mare named Ciana that will jump in the speed class on Saturday, as well as a mare named C’Havinia that will jump Friday night’s Puissance. She recently tied for first place in the $50,000 Puissance at the Central Park Horse Show, so Kocher hopes that the experience will help their attempt at the wall this week. Uppie de Lis will jump again Thursday and then rest for Saturday night’s big event.
Sarah Boston and Herminas Top $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship
Jumper competition got underway early Wednesday evening with a win for 16-year-old Sarah Boston of Owings Mills, MD riding Herminas in the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship, presented by The Klein Family & Lance Williamson Stables. The competition saw 31 entries, with 17 advancing to the jump-off and four double clear rounds. With the fastest second round in 30.51 seconds, Boston and the 13-year-old Trakehner gelding (by Viskis) earned the H. Fenwick Kollock Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Friends of Fen.
Emma Seving and Easy Money finished second with a time of 31.54 seconds. Ava Ellis and Diederique van der Knapp’s Clive placed third in 31.55 seconds, and Caroline Ellis guided Starlight Farms’ Catalyst to fourth place honors in 34.98 seconds.
Boston leased Herminas from trainer Don Stewart in February this year and has had a great season with the gelding leading up to her qualification to compete at WIHS.
“It is really awesome just to know that all of the hard work paid off finally,” Boston said of her win. “My horse was really good. He’s perfect. He is just willing to do anything.
“He is pretty go with the flow,” Boston detailed of the ride on Herminas. “He is sassy sometimes, but he will literally do whatever I ask him. He has the heart of a mare, which is nice. He really wants to win, and he really likes his job. He cares about me, and he always tries his best.”
Boston has shown at WIHS before in the ponies, but this was her first time in a few years and a different experience doing the jumpers on a horse.
“It is one of my favorite shows,” Boston stated. “I just love being in the city. I think it is really cool because it is different from all of them, but this is definitely different from doing the little ponies in the ring.”
Speaking of her jump-off, the rider detailed, “The plan was to not go too fast because there were only three or four clear ahead of me. But I still had to just continue and be smooth and try to be clear, but still a little bit forward.”
Boston heads back to school in Baltimore Thursday. Along with training with Stewart in the winter and summer, she also rides on the varsity equestrian team at McDonogh School training with Streett and Amy Moore. She plans to move up to the Low Junior Jumpers this winter.
Dean Dignelli Wins $10,000 WIHS Adult Jumper Championship
The $10,000 WIHS Adult Amateur Jumper Championship, presented by The Treacy Family, was held in the evening session with a win for Dean Dignelli of Katonah, NY riding Heritage Farm Inc.’s Redefin. Thirty-nine entries started over the first round course, with a five-horse jump-off and two double clear rounds. Dignelli and Redefin, an 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (by Larino), were the winners in 25.85 seconds. Elizabeth Porath and Redfield Farm’s Tequila Girl placed second in 27.76 seconds. Whitney Lind and Whish LLC’s Wanant placed third with four faults in 27.96 seconds.
Dignelli began riding three and a half years ago and showed at WIHS for the first time in 2015, finishing a close second in the same class with Redefin. This year, he was determined to get his win. He earned the top prize and will have his name added to the Dorothy Foote “Goodie” Taylor Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Mr. & Mrs. Robert Ashton Hill and Miss Linden Joan Hill.
“Last year I was second. I lost my stirrups after the second jump and completed the whole course,” Dignelli laughed. “I think I was a crowd favorite, and unfortunately I got bumped into second after that, but it was really good.”
Speaking of Redefin, Dignelli detailed, “He is an unbelievable horse. He was Ian Millar’s grand prix horse, and I have created a great bond with him. He really takes care of me, and he wants to win just as bad as I do. As long as I stay out of his way, he shows me the way usually.”
Dignelli (27) is part of a well-known equestrian family, but only recently started riding and joined the family business at Heritage Farm. His uncle, Andre, is one of the top trainers in the country and his father, Michael, is a business partner and important part of the Heritage team. Dignelli chose to pursue his interest in baseball at a younger age, but he eventually came around to equestrian sport and now has his sights set on a grand prix career.
Dignelli has moved up quickly from his first lesson on a lunge line with good friend Matt Metell, to showing at some of the nation’s top competitions in the Adult Jumpers. He has won at the Winter Equestrian Festival, Spruce Meadows, and the Hampton Classic Horse Show, among others. Last week he also won at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg.
“It has really been a journey. A lot of hard work has been put into it, but I think that what you put in is what you get,” Dignelli said of his motivation. “For how athletic and driven and competitive I am, I really just wanted to prove that I could do this. My whole purpose from that first lesson until now was just to show that I am a Dignelli; it is in my blood, and I can do it. I have tried to get as many lessons as possible. You could come into the indoor in the winter and there would be five ponies and then me and Redefin in a flat lesson with no stirrups. I just really wanted it. My goal was to go up a class every year. That has been sidetracked a little bit, but my goal is to be in the grand prix by 30.”
Though some people might have trouble training with family members, Dignelli appreciates his uncle’s great knowledge and tries to learn as much as he can from the world-class equestrian.
“I think that from playing baseball at a high level, I know what it is like to be coachable,” Dignelli noted. “At first it was a little difficult when Andre was training me, not because he is family, but because he was speaking to me as if I knew what he was talking about! He needed to slow it down for me a little bit, but now it’s good. It was so special to win Harrisburg with Andre there and to win this one with him. He is unbelievable, and his program is unbelievable. I always say that he is like the Derek Jeter of the equestrian world. He is the captain; he is always cool, calm, and collected. He is the man, so I try to be him.”
Along with his riding, Dignelli works for the farm doing logistics and transportation. He started a shipping company called Iron Horse Transport and has a golf cart company for sales and rentals called Dean’s Iron Horses. After his win on Wednesday night, he immediately left to drive a truck of horses back to New York. Dignelli is getting to know a new horse and will keep working to move up the ranks.
Jumper competition at the 2016 Washington International Horse Show continues on Thursday with Low and High Junior/Amateur-Owner classes featured in the afternoon, along with a $35,000 International Jumper Welcome Stake. The evening session will welcome local horse lovers, riders, trainers, and their families for Barn Night, presented by Dover Saddlery with the generous support of The Peterson Family Foundation and National Harbor, beginning at 6 p.m. The $35,000 International Jumper Accumulator costume class will be the highlight competition of the evening. For full results, visit www.wihs.org.
Kathryn Crenshaw and Chapman. Photos copyright Shawn McMillen Photography.
Washington, D.C. – The 2016 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) began on Tuesday, October 25, with hunter competition at Verizon Center in downtown Washington, D.C. The day featured professional and amateur hunters competing in the first classes of their divisions, as well as year-end championships for child and adult hunter competitors. WIHS features six days of competition through Sunday, October 30, showcasing the best of the hunter, jumper, and equitation disciplines. The entire competition at WIHS is live streamed, so don’t miss a minute – go to www.wihs.org to watch!
Tuesday’s highlights included the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship. Thirty-one entries showed over a first-round course set by Allen Rheinheimer of Zionsville, IN and the top 12 returned for a second round to determine final results. Kathryn Crenshaw and her own Chapman took the win with scores of 86 and 87 for a 173-point total. Cece Siegfried and her own Finally Found earned scores of 87 and 84 to finish second with a total of 171. Trinity Hammerschmidt and ES Equine Broker LLC’s Spirit scored 170 with a pair of 85-point rounds to finish third. Nicole Dorwart and Lori Dorwart’s Rittani earned the high score of 88 in round one and scored an 81 in round two to finish fourth on 169 points overall.
For the win, Crenshaw and Chapman were presented the H. Fenwick Kollock Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Friends of Fen. Crenshaw, a 17-year-old high school senior from York, PA, trains with Chris Gemmill at Woodberry Farm. Her mount is a six-year-old Warmblood gelding (by Contenaro) that she purchased in June 2015.
“This is my first year on Chapman. He is six years old, so he is a baby,” Crenshaw noted. “Winning this is amazing; I can’t even express it. This was my goal for the year. I really wanted to go to this horse show, and just getting here was an honor, much less winning.”
Starting a five-year-old was a big challenge to take on for a young rider, but with the help of her trainer, along with Woodberry Farm’s professional rider Jennifer Marshall, Crenshaw has developed a great young horse.
“I tried a few horses before him, and when I got on, I knew immediately that he was the one,” she stated. “He has grown up so much since he has been in a program. I lesson twice a week with my trainer and he gets a professional ride once a week. The whole journey has been amazing. He walked in here today never even being in that ring before, and he was perfect. I could not ask for anything else.”
Describing Chapman, Crenshaw detailed, “I think he loves this job. He always goes around with his ears up and he is very sweet. He is smooth, point and shoot, but he is also very young. I have to be very direct and set him up for his lead changes. He is really fun to ride; I love him so much. He has been a once in a lifetime horse and I would not take anything for granted.”
Crenshaw and Chapman showed at Zone 2 Hunter Finals last week and competed in the NAL Children’s Hunter Finals at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show for an eighth place finish the week before. After a wonderful year together, Crenshaw will give Chapman a break before heading into her last year showing as a junior. She plans to head off to college next fall and is not sure what the future holds for her young mount, but hopes that they can continue to compete together.
Third Time Is the Charm for Contina and Jacquelyn Maggiore
The $10,000 WIHS Adult Amateur Hunter Championship concluded day one at the 2016 WIHS with 31 entries showing over the first-round course and the top 12 returning. The win went to Jacquelyn Maggiore of Boston, MA riding her own Contina. Maggiore and the 13-year-old Westphalian mare (by Contini) earned scores of 84 and 82 for the win with a 166-point total. Kendall Meijer and Copper Fox LLC’s Moonwalk finished second with a two-round total of 157.50 (76.5 and 81). Taylor Martinz placed third with scores of 80 and 77 riding Freedom’s Clover, and Dana Nifosi earned scores of 74 and 79 to finish fourth aboard her own Knob Creek.
Maggiore has ridden the winning mare, Contina, for six years and made her third trip into the arena at Verizon Center this year for their first victory at WIHS. They finished second their first year in the championship, placed third last year, and Maggiore was determined to come back and get the win in 2016. She trains with Greg Prince and Cookie DeSimone of Woodbridge Farm in Sherborn, MA and also works full-time in her family’s real estate development business.
Speaking of Contina, Maggiore stated, “There is just no horse like her. She is my soul mate. I have never been successful on another horse and I have ridden my whole life. She is just a super amazing horse and we have a great bond.
“This is our first final we have ever won, so it is very exciting,” Maggiore continued. “It is the most exciting horse show. I love the entire environment and she thrives in this type of environment because she doesn’t need to go in the ring before. We didn’t bring her over until an hour before the class. She is a very special horse and I am a lucky girl.”
Maggiore worked all day and flew into Washington, D.C. from Boston just hours before the competition.
“I took a flight tonight from Boston, landed here at 6 o’clock, grabbed an Uber from the airport and hopped on the horse right before the class,” she laughed. “It was a little bit of a chaotic day, but it paid off.”
WIHS concluded Maggiore and Contina’s 2016 show season. The mare will have a rest until they travel to Ocala, FL to compete for the winter.
Also showing on Tuesday, the professional hunter divisions completed their first day of competition at Verizon Center. The Robotyping Challenge Trophy was presented to Scott Stewart and David Gochman’s Catch Me for their high score of 90 as the best Green Working Hunter round of the day in the Second Year division. The Fairfax Hunt Race Association Challenge Trophy for the best Green Working Hunter handy round was presented to Nick Haness and Lindsay Maxwell’s Technicolor for their high score of 92 in their First Year class.
The 58th annual Washington International Horse Show continues on Wednesday with championships for the professional and amateur-owner hunter divisions, as well as the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship, presented by The Klein Family & Lance Williamson Stables, during the day. The evening session, which begins at 7 p.m., will feature the $10,000 Adult Jumper Championship, presented by The Treacy Family, as well as the $10,000 International Jumper speed class. For full results, please visit www.wihs.org.
Ingrid Klimke and Weisse Duene. (Dirk Caremans/FEI)
Selle Francais Studbook claims overall title
Le Lion d’Angers (FRA), 24 October 2015 – Rio 2016 Olympic Games team bronze medallist Christopher Burton from Australia topped the 6-year-old division with the KWPN Fire Fly while team silver medallist Ingrid Klimke from Germany steered the Holsteiner mare Weisse Duene to victory in the 7-year-old category at the FEI World Breeding Federation Eventing Championships for Young Horses 2016 at Le Lion d’Angers, France.
This was the 31st edition of these Championships which have been staged annually since 1992, and spectators flocked into the lovely venue at the Haras National at l‘Isle de Briand throughout the weekend, with a massive crowd of almost 35,000 spectators for Saturday’s cross-country phase.
Exciting new talent was highlighted in both age categories, with a total of 99 horses representing a range of studbooks. The Selle Francais claimed the overall Studbook title with a score of 154.6 points, but finished only a single point ahead of the KWPN in second on 154.7 while last year’s winners, the Irish Sport Horse Studbook, lined up third this time around with their final tally standing at 168.2 when the results of both age categories were analysed.
The Ground Jury for the 6-year-olds consisted of Germany’s Ernst Topp, Ireland’s David Lee and Bulgaria’s Yuri Dinev Valev and, from the field of 40 starters, they placed Germany’s Kai-Steffen Meier and the Trakehner stallion Painter’s Maxim (Philox/Painter’s Moon/Painter’s Row) in pole position after dressage on a score of 40.03.
Belgium’s Lara de Liedekerke-Mei and the Hannoverian gelding Ducati D’Arville (Diarado/Pricilla/Perpignon) filled second spot on 42.3 while Britain’s Izzy Taylor and the KWPN chestnut mare Jockey Club Fleurelle (Vivaldi/Zarelle/Sydney) slotted into third on 43.4. Burton was never far away, however, holding fourth with Fire Fly on a score of 44.2 while Switzerland’s Felix Vogg and Mathurin V/D Vogelzan was sitting in fifth place on 45.3 going into the cross-country phase.
Pierre Michelet’s fantastic cross-country track jumped really well, with just one retirement and three eliminations around the course, and the time-allowed of 8’ 53” proved well within the grasp of most, only nine collecting time penalties on the day. All of the top six held their spots, so it came down to the final jumping round to decide the medal placings.
Vogg and Burton each posted a brilliant clear to finish on their dressage scores, so when all those ahead of them faltered they soared up the leaderboard. Taylor’s single mistake cost her the win, but when double-errors dropped Meier to fourth and Liedekerke-Mei to sixth place, then the British rider claimed bronze behind Vogg in silver and Burton in gold medal position.
There was nothing boastful about Burton in the aftermath, however, the 34-year-old double-Olympian acknowledging that fortune favoured him in the closing stages.
“I am happy,” he said. “There were so many good six year old horses with good riders; I really needed all the luck for this win and I had exactly that in the jumping because my horse touched several poles that didn’t fall! There were others who were not so lucky. My horse performed exactly how I could have wished, and it’s great to finish this season so well.”
It was a case of “déjà vu” for Ingrid Klimke when the German star found herself heading the 7-year-old leaderboard after dressage with the grey mare Weisse Duene (Clarimo/Esprit V/Romino), because that was where the pair placed after the same phase in last year’s 6-year-old competition before a stop and time penalties on the cross-country course put paid to their chances.
This time around the Ground Jury of Austria’s Christian Steiner, Sweden’s Anne Persson and Eric Lieby from France awarded them a dressage mark of 36.9 for a clear lead over Britain’s Pippa Funnell and the AES gelding Billy Walk On (Billy Mexico/Shannon Line/Golden Bash) on a score of 39.0, while Austria’s Charlotte Dobretsberger slotted into third with the Hannoverian mare Vally K when posting 45.2.
British riders were dominant in the early stages in this division, with Kitty King in fourth with the Selle Francais Vendredi Biats (Winningmood van de Arenberg/Liane Normandie/Camelia de Ruelles) on a mark of 45.4 and Gemma Tattersall in sixth with the SHBGB mare Chillis Gem (Chilli Morning/Kings Gem/Rock King) on a score of 45.9. Lying fifth going into cross-country day was the 29-year-old Frenchman Maxime Livio who was the sensational winner of the first leg of the FEI Classics™ 2016/2017 at Pau (FRA) a week ago. Riding the Selle Francais gelding Vroum D’Auzay he slotted in between the two British riders with his score of 45.7.
From a starting field of 59 there were five eliminations and one retirement on the cross-country course, with 19 getting home within the time of 9’11” while 17 collected fence penalties on their tour of the track. Both third-placed Dobretsberger and fourth-placed King dropped out of contention with single refusals, and this saw Livio moving up to third spot behind Funnell and Klimke who retained the top two placings when foot-perfect all the way.
The final jumping phase saw the leaderboard shaken up once again, however, Livio’s 16 faults sending him plummeting right down to 23rd place while some of the biggest names in the sport began to emerge at the top of the scoreboard. Britain’s Tattersall dropped from fourth to seventh with just a single mistake, allowing Germany’s Andreas Dibowski and the Hannoverian FRH Corrida (Contendro/Expo/Esprit) to move into sixth when adding nothing to their dressage mark of 49.9. And when Rio 2016 Olympic Games team gold and individual silver medallist Astier Nicolas, fellow Frenchman Thomas Carlile, and New Zealand’s Jonelle Price did likewise they moved into fifth, fourth and third in the final analysis.
Price’s KWPN gelding Cooley Showtime (Chin Chin/Limone/Julio Mariner) posted the same final score as Carlile’s AA gelding Vassily de Lassos (Jaguar Mail/Illusion Perdue/Jalenny), but the Kiwi rider’s spot-on cross-country timing gave her the edge for the place on the podium.
It was a sweet gold-medal-winning success for Klimke whose horse demonstrated the very essence of what these Championships are all about. Things didn’t turn out so well for the pair 12 months ago, but it all came together for them this time around.
“My mare should be the one credited with this win,” said the 48-year-old rider. “Last year her inexperience on the cross country cost us, but this year she was brilliant in the three tests and confirmed exactly what I think of her! She is definitely a mare for the future and she certainly has the potential to go to the Olympics in Tokyo in four years’ time!”
Steve Wilson takes his lap of honor (Picsofyou.com)
Goshen, Ky. – The Hermitage Classic CDE played host to the 2016 USEF Pair Horse Driving National Championship on October 21-23. The picturesque Hermitage Farm provided the backdrop for Steve Wilson to claim his second consecutive championship title.
Wilson (Louisville, Ky.) began the competition with a great dressage test, earning a score of 49.79 from the Ground Jury of Martha Hanks-Nicoll (USA), Danute Bright (USA), Barry Capstick (IRE), Joaquin Medina (SPA), and Jiri Kunat (CZE) to take the early lead.
“I’ve got a new young pair of Dutch Warmbloods that I found in Hungary. One of them is hotter than the other. I really had one of the best dressage tests I’ve ever had, regardless of the score; I felt really good about it,” Wilson explained. “I was able to keep the impulsion up and they have got beautiful extension. I pushed them a little too far and we broke to a canter in the last [extended trot movement], but that was my fault.”
He and his own mixed KWPN and Lippizanner pair put forth a determined effort over the tough marathon course designed by Barry Hunter (GBR), winning the phase with a total of 95.67 penalties and having the fastest times in four of the seven obstacles.
“In the marathon, I put in a different horse, a Lippizzaner I have had for quite some time and a real powerhouse, taking the youngest and most sensitive horse out. I had a really good marathon; I had one bobble in obstacle six, but I felt really good about my time and how well they responded.”
Wilson clinched the 2016 title following Sunday’s cones phase. His lead going into the final phase came in handy as he had three balls down for nine penalties and 6.13 time penalties over the challenging track. Wilson won back-to-back titles with a final score of 160.59.
“Today in cones, I put the two Dutch Warmbloods back together, and Dario was really hot and really wanted to go. If I could’ve had just a bit more control I think I could have kept from hitting a couple balls. I had a nice lead and I knew I could afford three [balls].”
U.S. Driving Coach Thorsten Zarembowicz pointed out that Wilson had three different horses from the last time he won the national title, making Wilson’s win quite impressive. “In one year he achieved the same goal with three different horses, which in my mind, is the toughest part to work out. Normally you change one horse out, get another one in, but Steve has come so far that he can drive a different pair just as well.”
As co-owner of Hermitage Farm with his wife Laura Lee Brown, Wilson felt the stress competing for the championship title on his home turf. “For me, the idea of losing the second time around here at home in front of my friends made me more intense on myself and feel the pressure. Being the host of an event and competing is really difficult, but my wife and I love hosting and it is getting better every year.”
Chet Halka (Millstone, N.J.) started off the weekend with a solid dressage test that received a score of 54.51. He and his own KWPN and Oldenburg pair had a strong marathon performance, collecting 101.66 penalties and having the fastest times in three obstacles. In the cones phase, Halka left all the balls up, but had 7.59 time penalties. His performance was good enough to win the cones phase and earn the Reserve Champion title with a final score of 163.76.
Joan Fernandez (Murrieta, Calif.) and her own Friesian pair had a respectable dressage test to receive a score of 67.55. They had a steady marathon round to tally 174.82 penalties. Fernandez and her pair finished out the competition with four balls down for 12 penalties and 20.8 time penalties in the cones phase, finishing third with a score of 275.15.
Photo courtesy of Don Stine Communications & Photography.
Nampa, ID (October 20, 2016) – Premier Equestrian, a leading supplier of high-grade footing, striking dressage arenas, and revolutionized horse jumps, recently recognized Beth Noteman for her exemplary horsemanship by presenting her with the Premier Equestrian Award at the 2016 Sport Horse National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show held in Nampa, Idaho. Premier Equestrian presents the award at shows across the United States to honor talented equestrians who demonstrate stellar horsemanship and sportsmanship, and promote positivity in and outside of the show ring.
Noteman stood out to the show committee as a well-rounded equestrian whose attention to the sport goes beyond her scores in the show ring. A talented rider and handler who has achieved remarkable success with her Arabians, particularly her renowned stallion HSA Haleys Comet++++//, Noteman has said that she is most proud of the fact that her horses lead happy and healthy lives. She strives to make every show a positive experience for her equine partners, and her close connection with her horses is anchored in genuine enjoyment of their company and a deep respect for their individual temperaments and capabilities. In addition to the sheer amount of patience and hard work that she has put in over the years, the show committee was impressed with Noteman’s flexible attitude in understanding and working with the core personality of each of her mounts.
Noteman, who believes that adaptability and a down-to-earth attitude is essential to achieving success as an equestrian, learned the importance of recognizing a horse’s potential when she purchased Arabian stallion HSA Haleys Comet++++// (Skamper x Ok Ellazella G) as a green four-year-old in 1999. “Comet” did not fit her vision of an ideal dressage mount, but Noteman was willing to compromise based on the recommendations of her trainers – and despite the unlikely pairing between an amateur rider and a green stallion, Comet turned out to be the horse of a lifetime. While working 12-hour days in order to fund her riding as an amateur, Noteman brought Comet up the ranks to win the most National Championships of any purebred Arabian Stallion in history. Her tenacity is an inspiration to amateur equestrians, proving that with a little luck and a lot of hard work, all riders can achieve the dream of Arabian horse ownership. Over the past few years, Noteman has expanded her horse family by purchasing Comet’s son, Comets Midnite Bandit (known as “Bandit”) and Bandit’s mother, Midnites Magic Genie (known as “Magic”). She competed on this Half-Arabian, Half-Friesian mother-and-son duo at the recent 2016 AHA Sport Horse National Championships, riding Bandit in First and Second Level dressage and Magic in Fourth Level and Prix St. Georges dressage.
In honor of being dubbed a “Premier Equestrian,” Noteman was presented with a tricolor ribbon and the Premier Equestrian engraved plaque.
Premier Equestrian is proud to reward talented riders like Noteman, who bring a positive attitude to equestrian sports and demonstrate true enjoyment of their horses both inside and outside of the show ring. The company offers an affordable choice for first-rate American-made products that enhance the equestrian performance of its customers. For more information about Premier Equestrian and its full line of products including footing, dressage arenas, and horse jumps, visit www.PremierEquestrian.com or call 1-800-611-6109.
Grace Pearson and Cambiaso. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.
Upper Marlboro, MD – Management at Capital Challenge Horse Show announces a change in results at the 2016 event, which was held October 1-9 at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.
The champion of the Junior Hunter 3’3” Section B division was incorrectly announced. The champion of the division was Cambiaso, ridden by Grace Pearson for Highland Horses LLC. The reserve championship was awarded to Elise Buhl and Chabliano Z.
Pearson and Cambiaso, a 13-year-old Warmblood gelding by Cassini I, were first and third over fences, fifth in the handy stake, and third in the under saddle to garner the top tricolor ribbon. They also went on to win the WCHR Junior 3’3” Challenge and the WCHR Junior 3’3″ National Championship.
Capital Challenge Horse Show apologizes for the error.
The 2017 Capital Challenge Horse Show will be held once again at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, on September 30 – October 8.
For additional information, full results, and live stream coverage from Capital Challenge, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org.
About the Capital Challenge Horse Show Now in its 23rd year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter and equitation competition. Held each autumn at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, the 2016 edition of the Capital Challenge Horse Show will take place October 1-9. The nine days of competition will include prestigious equitation events and the World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Finals with many of the country’s best horses and riders competing in junior, amateur, and professional hunter divisions.
Catherine Brown and Beon Alla Czar. (Photo courtesy of Bob Tarr Photography)
Nampa, ID (October 18, 2016) — At the fourteenth annual Sport Horse National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show, Catherine Brown and Beon Alla Czar claimed the High Score Award presented by The Horse of Course. A feature at many prominent dressage competitions throughout the United States, The Horse of Course High Score Award was given to the highest scoring horse and rider pair of the entire National Championship show.
The Horse of Course, a full-service dressage, hunter, and jumper tack shop that is popular throughout the United States, enjoys rewarding high performing pairs like Brown and Beon Alla Czar.
Beon Alla Czar, affectionately called Czar by his owner and breeder Jill Loskill, performed a beautiful Training Level test at the competition at the Ford Idaho Horse Park in Nampa, Idaho, scoring an impressive 76.023 percent. The eight-year-old Half-Arabian Czar is sired by Beon Eternety and out of Alla Petite. Loskill beamed with pride as she watched Brown and Czar compete. “I felt like I was watching the Valegro of Training Level,” said Loskill, referencing the great Olympic Champion. “My mission in life is to show what a program I have as far as breeding talented and capable horses for people to go out and enjoy.” Czar is certainly demonstrating the quality of her breeding program at Up the Hill Ranch in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Horse of Course is a frequent sponsor of premier competitions like the Sport Horse National Arabian & Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show. The Horse of Course is led by CEO Beth Haist and her husband, professional saddle fitter Marty Haist. To commemorate the accomplishments of Loskill, Brown, and Czar, The Horse of Course presented them with a beautiful tricolor ribbon, an embroidered High Score cooler, and a gift certificate for use at The Horse of Course tack shop or online store.
This summer, The Horse of Course sponsored several breed show National Championships including the International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association National Championship Show and the International Friesian Show Horse Association World and Grand National Championship. The Horse of Course’s full-service mobile unit will next head south to Florida for the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington for the 2017 winter competition season.
Founded over 20 years ago to connect equestrians with top-of-the-line products, The Horse of Course, Inc. is based in Claremore, Oklahoma and has two mobile units that travel to shows across the nation, serving dressage, hunter, and jumper riders. The full store in Claremore, Oklahoma offers a permanent place for riders to see all that The Horse of Course has to offer. Riders can also check out the online tack and apparel shop at www.thehorseofcourse.com.
The Horse of Course is the one-stop-shop for all riders, and includes an extensive line of products for male clientele. The Horse of Course supplies popular brands such as König, Pikeur, Vespucci, Cavallo, Passier, and Sommer. The shop’s knowledgeable staff is happy to help customers find exactly what they need quickly in between classes, so riders can spend less time shopping and more time in the saddle. For more information about The Horse of Course and the company’s complete travel schedule, visit www.TheHorseofCourse.com or call 1-800-494-6773.
Harrisburg, Pa. – The team from Zone 2 took home the Team Gold for the second consecutive year with the best possible score to win the Prix des States Team Championship of the Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Championships at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, presented by The Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund. Zone 4 won the Silver and the Bronze went to Zone 5.
The Zone 2 team consisted of Madison Goetzmann (Skaneateles, N.Y.) riding Wrigley, Katherine Strauss (Southampton, N.Y.) aboard All In, Lauren Fischer (Bedford Hills, N.Y.) on Tosca du Feugre, and Eliza Month (Scarsdale, N.Y.) with Calumpi. The formidable foursome captured the title with three out of the four going double-clear over the Steve Stephens-designed course to finish with a zero fault score.
Ralph Caristo served as the Zone 2 Chef d’Equipe and was especially pleased with the victory. Caristo has held the position for many years, but he was unable to make the trip in 2015.
“I had to judge last year so Krista Freundlich substituted for me and she did a fantastic job,” said Caristo. “This is what we strive for. The girls really rose to the occasion. I told them to just go in there and have fun. They had enough experience so they knew what to do, and they did it.”
In a modified Nations Cup format, the seven teams and individual riders jumped the same course twice with one drop score permitted from each round. Although the top six teams moved on to the second round, the battle for Gold was really between Zone 2 and Zone 4. At the conclusion of the first round, Zone 2 held a slight lead with a zero score and Zone 4 was second with four faults.
Brett Burlington (Coral Gables, Fla.) led the way for Zone 4 going double-clear on Bluf. Cooper Dean (Fayette, Ala.) on WEC Quidam-Quidam had a total score of four faults, Sophie Simpson (Jupiter, Fla.) ended up with a total score of 12 faults on Why Not, and Helen Graves (Franklin, Tenn.) was the drop score on Armani to give the team a final score of 16 faults.
Strauss and Fischer had already piloted double-clear rounds for Zone 2, but Month was eliminated in round two, so the team needed anchor rider Goetzmann to do well in order to use Month as the drop score. Goetzmann also rode to a double-clear, clinching the Gold for the team.
“I had so much confidence in my horse and Ralph Caristo gives all of us so much confidence, so I didn’t feel too much pressure,” said Goetzmann on riding last. “I felt like I had a great team behind me and my horse was absolutely amazing. I thought it was an excellent course. There was a tight time allowed and a few wide oxers coming out of short turns. You really had to understand how to ride the track and be able to ride efficiently and smooth in the indoor ring because we are used to riding in a big outdoor ring throughout the season.”
Goetzmann and Strauss were also members of the 2015 Gold-medal winning team, which Strauss believes may have helped them win the title.
“It’s a huge adjustment riding indoors,” said Strauss. “Things come up quicker; you have to adjust to the way the lines ride. Maddie and I have been in this class many times before on the same horses so we were expecting those turns and the way this ring rides. It felt great coming here with such a great team.”
It was the first time Fischer and her mare had competed in the Championship and she was thrilled with their inaugural run. “I am really proud of my mare. It was her first time doing anything like this. She really came out on top and gave me two nice clear rounds. I thought the course was challenging, the time allowed was definitely a factor. You really had to know your horse for this course.”
Month, who had a less successful night than her teammates, also thought the course was challenging. “The oxers were pretty wide,” said Month. “It was crucial for you to keep pace but keep a connection to your horse. I think it tested a lot of us. I feel so lucky to be part of such an awesome team.”
The team of Zone 5, with Caelinn Leahy (Maple Park, Ill.), Alexandra Pielet (Highland Park, Ill.), Giavanna Rinaldi (Wayne, Ill.), and Dana Wille (Dexter, Mich.), snagged the Bronze with a score of 37 faults.
The Championship culminated on Saturday with the top 60% from Phases I and II for the Neue Schule/USEF National Junior Jumper Individual Championship. In a nail biting fight to the finish, Strauss took top honors riding All In, owned by Katherine Strauss, LLC. The win was all the more special as she was competing in her final year as a junior rider.
“I couldn’t have been happier with the way my horse jumped this week, I am so proud of him. This is my third year competing with him here and it feels great to finally come back and have this finish,” said Strauss. “This has been a class that I have watched for many years and to represent Zone 2 and compete with riders that have worked so hard to get here all year is so special. I’m even more thrilled to have this win with my teammates and my barn mate. It’s a true testament to how strong the Zone 2 riders are.”
In the final phase of the Championship, scores are carried over from the previous two phases. The top three, Strauss, Goetzmann and Fischer, all entered the final phase of the competition without having knocked down a single rail. The margin between them was one and one half faults, meaning there was no room for error in order to capture Gold.
Riding in reverse order of merit, Fischer was the first of the three to ride. Fischer and her mare, Tosca du Feugre, were easily negotiating the Steve Stephens-designed course until the final fence, where they came in at an awkward distance and the mare made a herculean effort to leave the rails intact.
“I didn’t see anything,” said Fischer about the distance at the final fence. “I was like, it’s the last jump, I can’t have it down and I panicked, but I knew she had my back. I said, ‘Come on Tessa!’ And she cleared it. She’s a good girl. She had my back. In the beginning she really didn’t like me very much. It took me actually 12 months to figure out how to ride her so it makes this moment more special.”
Goetzmann followed Fischer riding on Wrigley. Fischer had already gone clear and Strauss was waiting in the wings, so the pressure was on. The young rider had no problem going clear and clinched silver.
“It’s such an amazing accomplishment,” said Goetzmann. “My horse, Wrigley and I continue to grow and grow. I’ve had her for about two years now and each show our partnership gets better and better. It’s an amazing feeling having both of my teammates finish well. No matter what the end result was, I was going to be happy.”
As the final rider of the 18 who competed in the final phase, Strauss had a long wait before entering the arena. Her teammates had already gone clear, so she and All In needed to be flawless to win gold.
“These two definitely put the pressure on, they are so hardworking, so talented and so accomplished,” said Strauss. “I was definitely nervous, but I had total confidence in my horse. He’s such a special horse.”
Strauss also won the William C. Steinkraus Style of Riding Award, sponsored by Karen Healey Stables. The award is presented to the Prix des States Junior Jumper Rider who best exemplifies the American style of equitation and the respectful, dignified, courteous and workmanlike manner of a true sportsman.