Madeline Schaefer and Armani Awarded Grand Pony Hunter Championship at Capital Challenge

Armani and Madeline Schaefer. Photos copyright Shawn McMillen Photography.

Patton and Twisther Clear for Victory in North American Junior/Amateur Jumper Challenge; Foster, Sommers, Farish, and Pilla Win Tricolors

Upper Marlboro, MD – October 5, 2013 – Saturday of Capital Challenge Horse Show highlights the country’s young rider talent with championships for pony, junior and children’s pony hunters. The Grand Pony Hunter Championship was awarded to Madeline Schaefer on Armani. Ashley Foster on Sin City and Samantha Sommers riding Small Affair picked up the top tricolors in the Small and Large 16-17 Hunters, respectively, while Sienna Pilla was the Children’s Hunter Pony division champion. In the evening session, Reid Patton took the top prize in the $10,000 North American Junior/Amateur Jumper Challenge Final Round sponsored by ARIAT on Twisther. The Capital Challenge Horse Show, held at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center, concludes on Sunday, October 6.

“I’ve always had terrible luck at this show. I couldn’t get myself together here,” said Madeline Schaefer of Westminster, MD. At the young age of 12 she has been able to change her bad luck at Capital Challenge in a big way. The talented rider rode Armani to the lion’s share of awards today on two ponies.

Piloting Armani, her nine-year-old Welsh Pony gelding by Bronheulog Roya, she won the Small Pony Hunter Championship, sponsored by Spring Mill Farm/Jenny Yandell. They placed first, first, and second over fences and were sixth under saddle. The reserve champion was Love Me Tender, ridden by Mimi Gochman for David Gochman. They won an over fences class and were second under saddle.

The Harper Taskier Wright Memorial Trophy, given in memory of Harper by her loving parents Michael and Alexandra Borissoff Wright, friends, and family whose lives she touched, was given to Schaefer for winning the Small Pony Hunter championship.

Armani and Schaefer won the Grand Pony Hunter Championship, sponsored by Lochmoor Stables/Mindy and Greg Darst, and were awarded the VanderMoore Designs Trophy, donated by VanderMoore Designs. Schaefer was named the Best Pony Rider, an award sponsored by Archibald Cox and Brookway Stables. They were presented with the Kitty Borisoff Memorial Trophy donated by her many friends.

The EMO Trip of the Show for Pony Hunters went to Mimi Gochman on Love Me Tender for their score of 90.

Schaefer believes that her luck changed this year due to the hard work she has put in here. “I had a lot of rides this year – four rides – so I got a lot of practice. I got the miles in the saddle in the ring,” she remarked.

Her partner Armani, she said, has “an amazing rhythm.” She added, “He likes to play a little, but we’ll put up with it if he goes like that every day. I showed him here last year when he was a green, and he’s improved a lot. The way you ride him now is a lot easier. He’s a lot more adjustable.”

In addition to the Small championship, Schaefer won the Medium Pony Hunter championship, sponsored by Flagship & Jeff & Kelley Gogul, with Sports Cast, an eight-year-old German Riding Pony gelding by Munser II owned by Gary Schaefer. They won two over fences classes. Mimi Gochman picked up her second reserve championship with True Love. They were first and second over fences.

Schaefer started riding Sports Cast just over a year ago and said that his ride was more like a bigger horse than a pony. “He has a big stride and his canter is similar to some of my sister’s horses,” she explained.

The Large Pony Hunter championship went to 12-year-old Daisy Farish of Versailles, KY, on Beau Rivage, a 17-year-old Holsteiner/Welsh gelding by Magical. They won two over fences classes and placed second and third in the remaining jumping classes. Barbara Ann Merryman rode Storyteller for Samantha Kasowitz to the reserve championship after they placed first, first, and second over fences.

Farish has been paired with Beau Rivage for two years, and they competed at Capital Challenge last year. “He’s really fun because he has a great rhythm and when you get to the jump in the right spot, he just fires over it,” she said.

Farish is a Capital Challenge veteran already. “I was either six or seven when I showed in the children’s ponies. It is one of my favorite shows because it isn’t all spread out. You can see everyone go and everyone comes here. It’s really competitive because at indoors there are only a certain amount who can be there. Here there are a lot more, so there is a lot more competition.”

Farish was awarded the Stewart Warner Cup for pony riders, given in memory of Laurie Gilbert Stewart & Mary Warner Brown by Donald E. Stewart, Jr. and Louise W. Serio. It is awarded to up-and-coming junior riders, who, in the opinion of the panel of judges, exhibit the best hunter style and show potential as a young hunter rider.

The Children’s Hunter Pony championship went to Beaucatcher, ridden by eight-year-old Sienna Pilla of Ridgefield, CT. Pilla and Beaucatcher, a 17-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding owned by Abigail Blankenship, won an over fences class and the under saddle. Alyx Goldstein and Summerland were the reserve champions after they placed first and fourth over fences and were fifth under saddle.

Pilla has ridden Beaucatcher since January and started out in the Short Stirrup division, but when a show they attended didn’t have the division, they moved up to the Children’s Hunter Pony classes. With a Grand Champion Hunter title secured there, they never looked back. Advice from her trainer, Lainie Wimberly, has helped get her to this point. She recalled, “I try to keep my hands up and go forward. It helps me get a good distance at the jump – not too tight and not too big.”

Pilla said that she has attended Capital Challenge before to watch her older sister Sophia compete, but this was her first time showing. When she returns to school on Monday, she said, “I’ll tell everyone that I got champion, and I’m really excited about it.”

Wimberly noted, “I think she’s really talented and once she got past the fear of going forward her natural talent and abilities have come out. She has a natural eye and good feel. I was really impressed with the way she rode. I have high hopes for her. She comes from a really great riding family. She’s following in her sister’s footsteps.”

Twisther and Reid Patton
Twisther and Reid Patton

Patton’s Only Clear Round Wins

The course itself was the biggest obstacle in the $10,000 North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Challenge Cup Final Round. There were 30 entries in tonight’s final round, which was held in jump-off format. There was only one clear round over the course designed by Steve Stephens. It featured wide oxers and challenging distances; 18-year-old Reid Patton was the only rider to find the key to a clear on Twisther, a 13-year-old KWPN stallion by Farmer. Vivian Yowan and Stone Hill Farm’s Vornado van den Hoendrik were just over the time allowed to finish with one time fault for second place. Madeline Thatcher’s fast four-fault round on Pony Lane Farm’s Licapo put her in third place.

Patton, of Nashville, TN, started riding Twisther this summer, but she had never ridden him indoors before yesterday. “I was a little nervous because he’s so big and has a giant stride. I was a little nervous for this course, but sometimes I rise to the occasion. I knew I had to be aggressive.”

Thinking the course was “set for a very scopey horse,” Patton felt that it suited Twisther, who previously jumped at the grand prix level with Jonathan McCrea. “He’s a little over-qualified. He’s just really good at scoping over oxers, so I can really leg him over and he won’t run into the front rail. I think that’s what set him apart – his ability to cross these oxers.”

Despite being a stallion, Patton said that Twisther is very calm. “I’ve never ridden a horse like him. When you’re riding him, it feels like he thinks he’s on a trail ride. He just lopes around. He has a really good eye himself, so I never really get nervous if I’m a little off. I try and do my part, but I can’t be perfect all the time.”

About her win, she said, “I’m still kind of shocked. It hasn’t really sunk in. It feels amazing. I’m so thankful to Cara and Donald (Cheska). (They) couldn’t be here since Cara’s grandmother died right before the show. Tom Wright and Hayley Barnhill kind of came in (they are my hunter and equitation trainers) and trained me. I have a great team.”

For their win in the final round, Patton was presented with the Remy Martin Perpetual Trophy, donated by Rolling Acres and Melanie Wright. With her win in yesterday’s first round and seventh place finish in today’s round, Victoria Colvin was the overall winner of the North American Junior/Amateur Jumper Challenge on Monsieur du Reverdy and was awarded the Ariat Congressional Cup. The Best Junior Jumper Rider Award, sponsored by Back Country Farm, was given to Victoria Colvin, while Kelsey Thatcher won the Best Amateur Jumper Rider Award sponsored by Lyman T. Whitehead and Eight Fences, LLC.

Older Junior Hunters Awarded

Small Affair and Samantha Sommers
Small Affair and Samantha Sommers

Traveling from California is never an easy proposition with horses, but Samantha Sommers of Malibu made the trip worth it when she won the Large Junior 16-17 Hunter championship, sponsored by Beacon Hill Show Stables, with Iwasaki & Reilly’s Small Affair. The 18-year-old rode the 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding by Elf d’Or to two firsts and a second over fences. Erin McGuire and Casallo were reserve champions after they won and placed third in two classes and were sixth under saddle.

Sommers started riding Small Affair in January and felt “a lot of pressure” initially due to her horse’s great success with previous rider Olivia Esse and with professional John French. She needn’t have worried since she was the Overall Champion at the U.S. Junior Hunter National Championships – West among other success. “I ended on the West Coast with a bang, and now I got to do it here too. It’s so hard to compete against the East Coast people with jet lag and the horses have to ship out here across the country. It’s nice when you can represent the West Coast well!” she mentioned.

Sommers said that it take some getting used to Small Affair’s great style. “He has a spectacular jump and an amazing canter. Finding the jumps is nice and easy,” she said. “If you just take your time it’ll just work out.”

In her last junior year, winning at Capital Challenge was a goal. “I’ve never been champion at Capital Challenge before so I was so excited. It’s a really good feeling. It’s fun to be champion anywhere, but to do it at one of the top shows in the country is great. I’d like to thank Elizabeth Reilly, Chris Iwasaki, John French and my parents for all they’ve done for me,” she said.

Ashley Foster of Brookeville, MD, won a junior hunter championship last year, and this year she repeated that feat. This time it was in the Small Junior 16-17 Hunters, sponsored by Heritage Farm, on Sin City, an 11-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Annie Friedman. The pair won two over fences class, were second in the remaining jumping class, and won the under saddle. The reserve champion was Illusion, ridden by Destry Spielberg and owned by Oscany, Inc. They placed first, second and fifth over fences and were second in the under saddle. In addition to Foster’s division championship, Sin City was named the High Point Junior Hunter 16-17, sponsored by The Clothes Horse.

Foster, who is in her final junior year, started riding Sin City this past winter and picked up the ride again at the Maryland Horse and Pony Show. She described, “He’s a blast to ride. He’s so smooth you don’t even know you’re cantering. He’s got the biggest stride possible. You can definitely feel his jump. He’s really fun,” she said.

Capital Challenge is like a hometown show for Foster, and winning here is “so exciting.” She said, “I just love riding and winning is great but riding other people’s horses is really great.”

The winner of the $5,000 WCHR Handy Hunter Challenge, sponsored by Johnson Horse Transportation Inc., was Nick Haness on Winfield, owned by Lexie Looker. In yesterday’s $2,500 WCHR Adult Amateur Challenge, Polly Sweeney rode to victory on Karen Long Dwight’s Pimm’s Cup.

The Capital Challenge Horse Show concludes tomorrow with championships for the 15 & Under sections of the junior hunters, both sections of the Children’s Hunter Horses, the WCHR Pony Challenge, WCHR Junior Challenge, WCHR Children’s Hunter Finals, and the World Champion Hunter Under Saddle Junior class.

For full results, more information, or to watch the SmartPak live webcast, please visit

About Capital Challenge
In its 20th 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 28 – October 6.

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 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.

For more information, please visit or visit the Capital Challenge Horse Show page on Facebook!

Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations

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