Spencer Smith and Beau van het Keyershof. Photos © Shawn McMillen Photography.
Upper Marlboro, MD – September 27, 2014 – The Capital Challenge Horse Show started with junior riders competing on Equitation Weekend, presented by Bigeq.com. Championships for age divisions in equitation were presented today, leading up to tomorrow’s finals competition. The Capital Challenge Horse Show continues through Sunday, October 5.
The equitation age divisions had over fences classes in the outdoor and indoor rings, joined by a flat class indoors. There were five junior equitation age division champions awarded, along with classes for the Adult Amateur Equitation and THIS Children’s Medal Equitation Warm Up.
The 17 Year Old Equitation division championship, sponsored by Frank Madden Show Stables, went to Spencer Smith of Wellington, FL riding Beau van het Keyershof. The pair was second in all three classes. The reserve champion was Halie Robinson riding Barolo W, who placed first and third over fences.
Spencer has been riding Ashland Farms’ Beau van het Keyershof, an 11-year-old Warmblood gelding, for one year after the horse came from Canada, where he competed in the jumpers and equitation. “He’s turned out to be a really great eq horse, and he’s my main horse,” Smith said. This is their first time together indoors, but Smith believes that with his career in Canada, he has experience in indoor arenas. “He handled it really well; he’s a smart horse,” he said of today’s classes.
In his last junior year, Smith is aiming to win a major equitation final, and he enjoys competing at Capital Challenge to start the fall season. “It’s tricky (to win), but I think I have a good horse. (Capital Challenge) is nice to bring you into the indoors, and it’s nice to have the outdoor ring too. It merges instead of going right into a big medal final.”
Victoria Colvin of Loxahatchee, FL and her mount Clearway made a statement in the 16 Year Old division, sponsored by Frank Madden Show Stables, by sweeping blue ribbons in all three classes. Meredith Darst was reserve champion with a second place over fences on Soldier and a second on the flat with Great Expectations. Darst and Great Expectations were also victorious in the North American Junior Flat Equitation Championships.
Colvin first showed Clearway, a nine-year-old Warmblood gelding by Cheenook owned by Dr. Betsee Parker, at the Lake Placid Horse Show in late June when she started training with Andre Dignelli and Heritage Farm. This is only their third equitation show together.
She described of Clearway, “He’s very elegant. He’s so big, but he just canters across and is so smooth. He has a humongous stride. He’s a little bouncy at the sitting trot! But we make it work.”
She added with a smile, “He’s very sweet, and he loves bananas, peel and all.”
Melanie Selleck of Westlake, Village, CA, rode Zenden to the 15 Year Old championship. They placed first over fences and first on the flat. Katherine Strauss, riding Donald Stewart’s El Paso, was the reserve champion after they picked up first, third, and sixth place ribbons.
Selleck has ridden Zenden for just over a year; he changed jobs to the equitation ring after competing in Europe as a jumper. “I needed to have a consistent 3’6” horse,” Selleck explained. “He has his little quirks, but I figured that out in the first few months. There’s nothing too crazy hard about him.”
This is Selleck’s third year showing at Capital Challenge, and she names it as one of her favorite horse shows. Selleck travels from California, taking off two days of school to prepare to compete. To win a championship here means a lot to her. “It’s very prestigious, and it shows that I’ve worked hard all year. It’s one of the shows where you want to do as well as you can. This gives me a nice boost of confidence going into the (equitation) finals,” she noted.
Fourteen-year-old Coco Fath of Fairfield, CT piloted Chemie Ancar to the 13 & 14 Year Old Equitation Championship, sponsored by Suave Pony LLC. They won both over fences and placed fourth on the flat. Emma Kurtz and VIP Z won the reserve championship with second, second, and fifth placings.
Fath got the ride on Chemie Ancar, an eight-year-old Warmblood gelding, in March after the former jumper moved into the equitation ranks with Caitlyn Boyle. Fath trains at Heritage Farm, and while they showed regularly this summer, success came at last week’s ASPCA Maclay Regional, where they placed eighth.
“We’ve really clicked since then,” Fath said. Although she has won hunter championships before at Capital Challenge, this win was special for her. “It’s a big accomplishment, considering how many people are in it. It’s a lot different than the hunters. It means a lot to me. It’s the first time I’ve accomplished something big at an equitation show on this horse,” she said.
The champion in the 12 & Under Equitation was Maria Moore of Johnstown, OH, riding Prosseco 24, owned by Cavallo Farms, LLC. Moore won both over fences classes and was second on the flat. The reserve champions, Sophia Pilla and Pop Rocks, were second, second, and fourth.
Moore trains with her mother Angela as well as Ken and Emily Smith at Ashland Farms. “I could not be here without them,” she said. Moore originally started riding “Peter” in January on a weekend lease. When the pair won the USEF Medal class at the Winter Equestrian Festival in their first outing, everyone knew they were a pair that needed to stay together. “It was my first time ever winning a big eq class. They said it’s a match, so I got him and we’re still plugging along!” she remarked.
Moore describes Peter as “different all the time,” but that he “knows how to do it all. If I do my part, he’ll do his,” she pointed out. Moore had a triumphant return to Capital Challenge after falling off and breaking her arm here last year. “It was much better this year, and hopefully will be even better tomorrow!” she said. Moore will compete in the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals, one of three major finals on Sunday of Equitation Weekend at Capital Challenge.
Special Groom’s Awards were also presented to the grooms of the winning horses today, with prizes sponsored by Tammy Provost and Erin Duffy. The winners include:
Beau van het Keyershof – Madeline Kemp
Clearway – Benji Hernandez
Zenden – Alex Garcia
Chemie Ancar – Rene Ochoa
Prosseco 24 – Moises Yool
In the Adult Amateur Equitation division, Haleigh Landrigan took the championship ribbon riding Dragonfly. They won both over fences classes and were third on the flat. Laura Owens and L.Alta Vida were reserve champions after finishing third over fences and first on the flat.
The THIS National Children’s Medal Warm Up division hosted three classes as well, with wins for Jordan Allen with Show Boat (and a high score of 90) and Elizabeth Ekberg on Finnegan over fences and victory on the flat for Sophie Lenihan on Wayfarer. Allen finished as champion in the division, while Carly Hoft on Don La Rouge was reserve champion.
Tomorrow’s schedule concludes the Capital Challenge Equitation Championship weekend, presented by Bigeq.com. The day starts with the North American Equitation Championships of two rounds. Following that is the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children’s Medal Finals and the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Finals.
For full results, more information, or to watch the live webcast, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org. Like the Capital Challenge Horse Show page on Facebook and on Twitter @capchallenge and Instagram @capitalchallengehorseshow.
In its 21st year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter competition. Held each autumn at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, this year’s show will take place on September 27 – October 5.
Top competitions include the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals and the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals, along with the Capital Challenge Equitation Weekend, presented by Bigeq.com. In addition to these prestigious equitation events, the Capital Challenge Horse Show will once again host the World Champion Hunter Rider Finals and will assemble the country’s best horses and riders to compete in junior, amateur, and professional hunter classes.