Tag Archives: equitation

Winter Equestrian Festival Celebrates 2020 Circuit Champions

Wellington, FL – March 23, 2020 – Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP) is proud to congratulate the Circuit Champions for the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Featuring 10 weeks of world-class jumper, hunter, and equitation competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL, this year’s circuit was a great success despite its early finale due to coronavirus (COVID-19). The 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival Circuit Champion Awards go to the top finishers in every division, based on prize money or points won.

ESP would like to congratulate all riders, trainers, grooms, and owners on a fantastic 2020 circuit, and wish them a safe and healthy year. Circuit Champion Award winners are encouraged to pick up their prizes from the horse show office.

Click here for a full list of Circuit Champion Award Winners. For more information, please visit www.pbiec.com.

WIHS Temporarily Suspends Equitation and Championship Qualifying Classes

Washington, D.C. – Following the guidance of USEF, effective March 16, 2020, the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) will suspend the sanctioning of WIHS Equitation and Championship qualifying classes (WIHS Equitation East and West, WIHS Pony Equitation, WIHS Children’s Hunter, WIHS Children’s Jumper, WIHS Adult Hunter, and WIHS Adult Jumper) for 30 days.

We request any competitions held during this time period not offer or hold any WIHS Equitation and Championship qualifying classes. Members are advised that points will not be awarded to riders competing in any WIHS Equitation and Championship qualifying classes offered at horse shows held during this time period.

This is a challenging time for us all and we are optimistic that safe competition will return. In the meantime, we will keep you informed and communicate any policy updates.

From the USEF press release dated March 13, 2020:

“Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, all USEF owned events, selection trials, training camps, clinics, and activities will be suspended for the next 30 days. Additionally, USEF strongly recommends that competition organizers suspend all USEF licensed competitions across the country for the next 30 days. For those competitions that do run, there will be no accumulation of points, scores, money won, qualifications, or rankings toward any USEF awards programs, USEF owned event, or selection to a US team during this 30-day time period. This includes USEF National Championships.”

For Coronavirvus Disease Resources, please visit the USEF Resource Center page.

If you have any questions regarding this policy, please contact info@wihs.org.

For more information, please visit www.wihs.org.

Darragh Kenny Out with a Bang in $137,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3*

Darragh Kenny and Scarlett du Sart Z. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – March 14, 2020 – Ireland’s Darragh Kenny scored a victory in the $137,000 Horseware Ireland Grand Prix CSI3* on Saturday, March 14, to conclude a banner season at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.

Canadian course designer Michel Vaillancourt built a track for 45 starters with 12 advancing to the tie-breaking jump-off. Returning near the end of the jump-off round, Kenny and Scarlett du Sart Z, owned by Vlock Show Stables LLC, broke the timers in 33.54 seconds to claim the lead and bump Israel’s Sydney Shulman into the runner-up position. Shulman and J-Boston S.E, a horse she owns together with her mother Jill, posted a time of 33.96 seconds.

“I’ve been very lucky – I had a good winter and all the horses went very well,” said Kenny of his season at WEF. “I had a great feeling coming into this winter because I have an incredible group of horses, and I’m very lucky that I have those horses.”

Kenny got the ride on Scarlett du Sart Z, a 10-year-old Zangersheide mare (Stakkato de hann x First Bride), during the horse’s seven-year-old year. He has high hopes for the mare’s future, saying, “This is a mare that Teddy Vlock and his owner bought for me, and we’ve been slowly producing her. She’s really starting to turn a corner, and I think she’s an incredibly talented horse that will end up jumping at the highest level.”

Sofia Maskowitz and Samantha Takacs Ride to Top Honors in THIS Children’s Medal 14 and Under

Equitation riders took on Ring 6 on Saturday morning to compete for the blue ribbon in the THIS Children’s Medal 14 and Under class. Due to the large number of entries, the medal was held in a California Split format with Sofia Maskowitz and Samantha Takacs riding to the top of the class. Maskowitz rode Quantum Chanel to a first-round high score of 84 and remained in the lead during the test. Takacs and her mount Cooper moved up one spot during the test, after a first-round score of 82.

Maskowitz, of Freehold, NH, has been partnered with her equitation mount, Quantum Chanel, for only a couple months. The pair, trained by Laura Bowery, stayed on top of the class through the first round of 44 entries and the test. Maskowitz described that she is still working on figuring out the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Quality, so she was extremely pleased with her first round.

Takacs, of Oldwick, NJ, and her horse Cooper also put in two consistent rounds in the medal to earn the blue ribbon in their section. The duo has been working together since last spring, with the help of New Hope, LLC as well as Findlay’s Ridge, LLC. Takacs loves the eight-year-old KWPN gelding’s big stride and sweet personality.

For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

McLain Ward Pilots HH Azur Back to the Top in Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5*

McLain Ward and HH Azur. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – February 22, 2020 – Two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward won his third CSI5* in two weeks by taking top call in the $401,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSI5*, riding his 2016 Olympic mount, HH Azur, during “Saturday Night Lights” on February 22, at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL.

Santiago Varela (ESP), who has been tapped to set the tracks at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, was the course designer for the Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix, which welcomed six contenders from three different countries to a tie-breaking jump-off.

Continuing a banner month that included the birth of his second daughter, Madison, Ward is riding a wave of success and a little bit of luck.

“It’s been a pretty incredible few weeks. My team is doing an amazing job,” said Ward, who also won the Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI5* during WEF five riding Noche de Ronda. “I’m lucky to have phenomenal horses and owners, to be able to have multiple horses that can win at this level. If we’re really honest with ourselves, sometimes you can do nothing right, and sometimes you can do nothing wrong. We’re in one of those streaks, and we’re going to enjoy it and try to keep doing our best.”

Claire Stevenson Rides Prem’ Dollar Boy to Win Ariat National Adult Medal

The Ariat National Adult Medal took place on Saturday in Ring 7 with Claire Stevenson piloting Prem’ Dollar Boy to top honors. The pair received a 77 in the first round. The top four horses returned to the ring for a test, where Stevenson and Prem’ Dollar Boy were able to rise to the top of the class.

Stevenson, of Southampton, NY, and her horse Prem’ Dollar Boy have just begun their equitation career together. The 17-year-old Selle Français gelding (Dollars Boy x De Va Hurie) was originally a grand prix horse and only started competing in the equitation during week three of the 2020 WEF. Stevenson describes Prem’ Dollar Boy as her “forever horse” and also one of the sweetest horses she knows.

“We take care of him ourselves, so whether it’s doing the stall in the morning or night check, he’s like a lap dog,” Stevenson described. “He’s also so fun to ride; regardless of what I’m doing with him, I have a blast. To get to have some success as well is a lot of fun.”

For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

McLain Ward Scores Brilliant Victory in Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI5*

McLain Ward and Noche de Ronda. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – February 8, 2020 – Two-time U.S. Olympic team gold medalist McLain Ward charged to a win in the $401,000 Fidelity Investments® Grand Prix CSI5* in front of a packed International Arena riding Noche de Ronda during “Saturday Night Lights” at the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival on February 8 in Wellington, FL.

Forty of the world’s best crossed the start timers to Anthony D’Ambrosio’s and Andy Christiansen’s (USA) first-round track with 12 posting perfect rounds to advance to a jump-off. U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington and Gazelle sat in the leading position on a time of 39.51 seconds when Ward entered the ring. To the roar of a home-country crowd, Ward and Noche de Ronda broke the timers double-clear and the ones to beat in 37.47 seconds.

“That’s about all Ronda and I had to give,” said Ward. “I think for any of us, at that level, when you get to go after the one that sets the time, you have a bit of an advantage. Normally, you come out by winning or crashing, one or the other. It all came off very nice and the horse really performed spectacular.”

Sterling Malnik and Charlie Are Victorious in the THIS Children’s Medal 14 and Under

Equitation competition began Saturday morning at the South Ring with Sterling Malnik of Ocean Ridge, FL riding to the win in the THIS Children’s Medal for riders 14 and Under. Malnik rode her mount, Charlie, to a score of an 84 in the jumping phase and then rose to the top in the test.

Charlie is a fairly new ride for Malnik, who has been working with the horse for three weeks. The pair, trained by Bill Schaub, have only shown in the THIS Medal twice and are already proving to be ones to watch.

Going into the test, Malnik knew that she could count on her 12-year-old gelding. “I was really nervous because I’ve never tested inside the ring before,” Malnik explained. “Thankfully I didn’t have to go first! Charlie is also very experienced and knows what he has to do, so he helped me out.”

For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Fuqua Wows at WEF 1

Fuqua and Cornell 22 (Photo by Elegant Equus Photography)

Pony Champion, Big Eq, Juniors, and a Newly Arrived ‘Dream Girl’

Wellington, FL (January 14, 2020) – Starting off Winter Equestrian Festival Week 1 with a bang is the goal of every rider who descends on the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center show grounds. Tri-colored ribbons in the first week set the tone for a season of success, and Kat Fuqua jumped at every opportunity to ride into the spotlight. From the Juniors to the equitation, ponies to dressage, Fuqua is primely positioned for a banner year at WEF 2020.

Bringing her skills in the pony ring back to Palm Beach, Fuqua claimed Large and Medium Pony Championships, including the highest score she’s ever received. In the Larges Fuqua rode Upside, a pony owned by Rivers Edge and trained by Scott Stewart, to victory in 3 over fences classes and a tri-color in the Large Pony Classic. Under the tutelage of her trainer, Jimmy Torano of JET Show Stables, Fuqua and Upside were awarded a 90 and an 86 for a total of 176 in the Classic. While she was once before awarded a 90 aboard her own highly decorated Large Pony Prince, repeating such an impressive score was one of the week’s highlights.

In the Mediums, Fuqua rode another Champion catch ride for Nashville’s Alexa Karet, taking her pony mare Galianna to two firsts Over Fences and first Under Saddle. Galianna is trained by Tom Wright and Mitchell Robinson.

Fuqua changed rein from Ponies to Junior Hunters and Equitation, again riding for a prestigious name in the hunter ring. Riding I Love Lucy, a mare owned by John & Stephanie Ingram and trained by Tom Wright, she finished 3rd in the 3’3″ Under 15 Juniors. With her own Cornell 22, Fuqua began her official 2020 career in the Big Equitation with top finishes under the guidance of trainer Jimmy Torano.

Fuqua and Dream Girl (Photo by Sara Hellner)

While the Ponies, Hunters, and Equitation have been Fuqua’s forte for most of her life, her roots stem from a decidedly dressage family. Her home base of Collecting Gaits Farm recently welcomed a new FEI level dressage mare to their barn, the aptly named Dream Girl. A bay mare shown through the Intermediaire I in Holland, Dream Girl arrived in Miami in the first few days of 2020. Under the guidance of dressage trainer (and Dream Girl’s scout) Jason Canton, Fuqua has already ridden the bay a few times in quarantine with the goal of competing and qualifying in the Junior/Young Rider divisions down the road.

“This was an amazing WEF 1 and I’m really excited for everything happening this year,” said Fuqua. “Riding Upside to a 90 was definitely a highlight, as that is the highest score I’ve ever received at WEF in a pony class. I also was really lucky to be able to ride Tori [Colvin’s] International Hunter Derby horse I Love Lucy in the 3’3″ Juniors to an 84 and third in the class. Dream Girl is a whole different style of riding, but one I’ve grown up around and am excited to develop a relationship with her.”

Kat Fuqua’s passion for horses is reflected not only in her highly decorated Pony Hunter, Equitation, and Junior Hunter rider results, but also in the joy and dedication she shows each time she swings into the saddle. Based out of Atlanta, Georgia and under the guidance of trainer Jimmy Torano, every aspect of Fuqua’s riding, training, and show career reflects a unique ardor for equines and horse sport. She balances her equestrian lifestyle with attendance as a full time 6th grade student at Holy Innocence Episcopal School and takes pride in developing alongside her horses. In addition to riding, Kat enjoys spending time with her school friends and her favorite subject is French.

For more information, visit www.KatFuqua.com.

IHSA Members Lead Nation at USHJA Emerging Athletes Program and Horsemanship Challenge Finals

Julianna Empie aboard Woody. Photo by Rachel Sowinski/USHJA.

Fairfield, Conn. – Nov. 16, 2019 – Members of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) from across the country participated in the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund/USHJA Emerging Athletes Program (EAP) National Training Session and Horsemanship Quiz Challenge held at the University of Findlay in Findlay, Ohio Nov. 7-10.

Out of the 252 riders that applied for the EAP this year, 192 participated in a Regional Training Session. Sixteen riders and three stable managers were invited to the finals, six of whom are IHSA members.

The 2019 Horsemanship Quiz Challenge had 426 registrants. Of the entrants, 309 completed the Level One quiz and 106 of those made it to the Level Two quiz. Only 24 were invited to participate in the HQC Finals. Three IHSA members made the shortlist of finalists.

The EAP was created in 2009 to provide opportunities for young riders to advance their horsemanship and riding skills. EAP winners and participants have gone on to win numerous championships in the hunter, jumper, and equitation arenas including the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals, ASPCA Maclay Finals, USEF Prix des States, and at IHSA Nationals.

Finalists are evaluated on their riding skills, stable management, combined with their score on a written test. Throughout the four-day event, riders train with Olympic Gold Medalist and IHSA Cacchione Cup winner Peter Wylde. Each finalist trained and cared for a horse generously provided by the University of Findlay, Lake Erie College, and Henry Pfeiffer.

Julianna Empie, a 19-year-old Penn State Equestrian Team member, bested the field of 15 nationally-qualified riders after a rigorous four days of evaluation and a Nations-Cup Style competition. Empie has ridden at regional training sessions since 2016 with clinicians Kip Rosenthal, Anne Kursinski, Joe Fargis, and Karen Healey.

“I was excited to just be at EAP National Finals,” Empie said. “It was amazing because I’ve looked up to other riders and past winners, and now to be a winner of this program is just crazy.”

Empie spent the first few days of the EAP Finals figuring out her mount Woody, provided by Henry Pfeiffer. She said that he was a different ride than she is used to but her consistency in the saddle helped her secure the win.

“Riding multiple horses through the IHSA has given me the skill to feel my horse out in those first few moments and put it all together for a smooth ride,” Empie said.

Wylde complimented Empie as a natural rider with a big future. He commented on her effortless and consistent her rounds aboard Woody in the Nations Cup-style competition. Four riders were called back for a ride-off on different mounts after two rounds of competition on Sunday. Empie’s ride-off round was aboard Clark, owned by the University of Findlay, and won the EAP Outstanding Horse Award. The judges gave Empie the nod and the national finals honor.

As this year’s winner, Empie received a spot in the 2020 USHJA Gold Star Clinic in the 1.10/1.15m section. “I’m so excited for the Gold Star Clinic,” Empie said. “The opportunity to ride in Florida and learn from other professionals in stable management is huge.”

The IHSA members that took part in the EAP National Training Session are:

  • Julianna Empie, 19, Chester Springs, Pennsylvania – Penn State University
  • Joelle Hylton, 19, Manteca, California – Cal Poly
  • Rose Kauffman-Skloff, 19, Los Angeles, California – Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Evelyn Smith, 18, Morristown, New Jersey – Delaware Valley University
  • Alicia Weismann, 19, Southampton, New Jersey – Rider University
  • Mara Picciochi, 20, Morristown, New Jersey – Centenary University

Also held at the University of Findlay was the Horsemanship Quiz Challenge (HQC) Finals. The HQC consists of two levels of online horsemanship quizzes comprised of multiple choice and true/false questions that cover horsemanship, anatomy, nutrition, riding theory, and welfare. To be eligible for finals, participants must score an 80 or higher on Level One and a 90 or higher on Level Two. The HQC Finals includes the written test and a hands-on practicum that puts the finalists to the ultimate test.

Keedysville, Maryland native Chloe Bellerive topped the field of HQC finalists to stand atop the podium as winner of the overall competition.

“The IHSA has helped a lot participating over the years,” said Bellerive, a 20-year-old University of Kentucky senior. “The horsemanship you learn from being able to figure out your horse while riding and what it needs from bits and tack to barn management.”

Bellerive is no stranger to HQC competition. She has participated since its inaugural year in 2012. “It was truly very rewarding to take my years of experience after competing for so many years to rise above and win,” she said.

Part of her winner’s package includes a two-month paid internship at Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, Kentucky during the summer of 2020. Bellerive said that she is excited to experience all aspects of the top-notch Warmblood breeding and training facility.

On her way to the overall win, Bellerive scored third on the written exam, first on the horsemanship/identification exam and second on the practicum.

When asked what advice she’d give to those looking to ride in the IHSA, Bellerive said, “Ride as many horses as you can and take every opportunity to keep learning because you can truly never learn enough.”

Two other IHSA members competed in the HQC Finals. University of Michigan student Rebecca Hopkins (Northville, Michigan) scored second on the written exam and fourth on the horsemanship/identification exam. Lauren Obermeyer from Hamilton, Ohio, who rides at the University of Findlay, scored third on the horsemanship/identification exam and fourth on the practicum exam.

For more information, go to IHSAinc.com or contact media@IHSAinc.com.

Ava Stearns Wins ASPCA Maclay National Championship at National Horse Show

Ava Stearns on Acer K.

Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 3, 2019 – On the final day of its 136th anniversary, the National Horse Show welcomed junior equitation riders to the Alltech Arena for the ASPCA Maclay National Championship, presented by Chansonette Farm, the last of the four major equitation finals held each fall season. The National Horse Show has come to be known as one of America’s premier indoor equestrian events thanks to its rich history and classical traditions, one of which is the prestigious championship that is regarded as one of the most coveted equitation distinctions in the sport. Since 1933, an elite junior rider’s name has been etched into history as the annual champion, and this year the deserving victor was 18-year-old Ava Stearns, who topped the scorecard during her final junior year ahead of 175 athletes to capture the tricolor honors as the 2019 ASPCA Maclay National Champion and winner of the esteemed ASPCA Horsemanship Trophy.

Throughout the majority of the day, entries contested designer Bobby Murphy’s course one-by-one in attempts to showcase their abilities over the expertly created 14-effort pattern. The efficient course featured a diverse collection of fence types ranging from sturdy to airy, with the majority of the jumps not implementing standards, and was a nod to popular obstacles of the past as Murphy incorporated a series of fences that were reminiscent of those seen in previous generations. Exhibitors were offered fair opportunities to shine or fall short, with a forward 5-stride line, a collected 6-stride line, two in-and-outs, and an obstacle jumped twice both directions all integrated into the course.

Faced with the task of whittling down the initial start list of 176 pairs to only the top 25 performers, judges Jimmy Torano and Tamara Provost ranked the collection of participants who had earned a callback into the next rounds of competition. As the 92nd to ride in the original order-of-go, Stearns, riding Acer K, proved to answer Murphy’s questions the best as they exemplified the pinnacle of equitation, completing a textbook trip to jump to the head of the standby list following the first phase of competition. Headed into the under saddle and second over fences portions of riding, Stearns, Isabelle Song, Breanna Bunevacz, Emma Fletcher, Alexa Aureliano, Juliette Joseph, Catalina Peralta, Jordan Toering, and Savannah Hemby were pegged as the frontrunners, all riding head-to-head in the same flat section.

During the under saddle phase, riders’ balance and strength, as well as their horses’ adjustability, were put to the test through a series of directives from the judges, which included lengthening of stride, flying changes, and changes of gait, most of which was done without stirrups. Thanks to impeccable showings, both Bunevacz and Fletcher managed to usurp the early leader to claim the first and second positions, respectively, ahead of the final over fences phase. Hemby, Casas, Pielet, and Griffiths also performed well and leapfrogged up the ranks to inch that much closer to the top spot.

Returning in reverse order of the standings for their last chance to display their skills, all of the top 25 contenders navigated the Alltech Arena once more in an effort to either win the competition or force a work-off. With the points too close to make a championship decision yet following the second jumping phase, the judges requested a final test for six riders, which included highest-placed Stearns, Fletcher, Casas, Hannah Hoch, Sophie Gochman, and Elli Yeager. Originally outside of the top six, Hoch, Gochman, and Yeager were each able to maneuver their way up the leaderboard to keep them in contention.

For their final ride-off, competitors were asked to canter directly to fence one, counter-canter fence 11, canter fences 12a and 12b, canter to fence 13 in six strides, halt, canter fence eight, hand gallop fence five, and exit at the walk. The first five partnerships each turned in solid performances with no major errors, keeping the competition tight as the final entry walked through the arch for the last over fences trip of more than 200 throughout the day. As the ultimate challenger to ride, and with the lead to lose, Stearns jockeyed Acer K to an exemplary and seemingly effortless round, concluding the day’s activities on a high note with her precision, correct form, and aid effectiveness. After waiting through the nerve-wracking announcement of results, Stearns was rewarded for her superior efforts with Acer K as the 2019 ASPCA Maclay National Champion.

As the 2019 victor, Stearns’ name now sits amongst some of the sport’s greatest athletes and icons, including past winners such as Bill Steinkraus, Frank Chapot, Lillie Keenan, Victoria Colvin, and 2018 winner Sam Walker. Even more impressive is the fact that the junior rider claimed the championship aboard 8-year-old Acer K, North Run’s gelding who has just completed his first indoor season competing in the equitation finals. Though their partnership is relatively new, Stearns and Acer K have already achieved an incredible amount of success together, earning the reserve champion honors in both the 2019 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East as well as 2019 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Equitation Final, in addition to topping the inaugural Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival during the summer. As the trainers of the winning rider, Missy Clark and John Brennan of North Run were also awarded a one-year lease of an Audi, courtesy of Audi of Lexington.

Hot off third place honors in Saturday’s Hollow Brook Wealth Management $25,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur-Owner/Junior Jumper Grand Prix CSI4*, 18-year-old Casas continued her successful weekend with the reserve champion honors. The 2018 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Equitation Final winner, 17-year-old Yeager added to her equitation reputation by earning the overall third place status. The 2019 Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final winner just weeks ago, Fletcher clinched fourth place, while Gochman earned fifth place and Hoch rounded out the top six.

Sunday’s competition concluded the 2019 National Horse Show, but the equestrian event will return in 2020 to once again host the ASPCA Maclay National Championship.

To learn more about the National Horse Show, click here.

Eleanor Rudnicki Victorious in Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship

Eleanor Rudnicki on Quinten F.

Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 27, 2019 – The final day of the 2019 National Horse Show’s Opening Weekend, which showcased equitation classes for all ages, offered two final championship opportunities for exhibitors. Up against a lofty field of 161 athletes in the start list, Eleanor Rudnicki proved her prowess in the equitation ring riding Quinten F throughout multiple rounds of competition to emerge victorious as the 2019 winner of the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship, the class which featured the most entries all weekend. In the Boggs Hill National Horse Show KHJA Equitation Championship, Emily White topped the scorecard aboard Scandeek thanks to two strong showings over fences and on the flat.

Designed by Bobby Murphy, the 12-effort track presented exhibitors with a number of opportunities to highlight their abilities in front of the judges’ panel, which was comprised of Emil Spadone and Mary Lisa Leffler. Following the first round of riding, 161 hopeful entries were whittled down to only 24 of the top performers, each of whom were invited back to the Alltech Arena to battle it out with their peers at least twice more, once under saddle and another time over fences, plus additional testing if required. Turning in the strongest showings during the first two rounds, Rudnicki, Ainsley Wade, Lilly Goldstein, Jordan Gibbs, and Vanessa McCaughley led the standings headed into the final jumping phase.

Once again, Murphy’s track provided a handful of route options in order for exhibitors to distinguish themselves from their peers, and many competitors took advantage of the opportunities with a series of inside turns. Sitting as the frontrunner after the first over fences and under saddle portions of the contest, Rudnicki had the advantage of jumping Murphy’s second pattern last since the qualified individuals returned in reverse order of the standings.

At the conclusion of the second jumping portion, only two riders, 14-year-old Rudnicki and 16-year-old Wade, were asked back for a final work-off in order for the judges to determine who would receive the 2019 class honors. Coincidentally, Rudnicki and Wade rode back-to-back in the initial order of go, with Rudnicki riding 45th in the start list aboard Jessie Rechs’ Quinten F and Wade as the 46th of the day with the reins on her own Cumano Boy Z. Returning for one final test, the two ladies switched horses for a competitive flat work-off. After a nail-biting ride-off, the results were in: Rudnicki had captured the championship after leading from start to finish in the 2019 Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship. Wade was awarded the reserve honors, and Lola Head moved up from eighth place to capture the final podium spot.

Impressively, Sunday’s victory came during Rudnicki’s first year competing in the equitation ranks as well as her first indoors season. Adding another level of prestige to her win is the fact that she only rode Quinten F for the first time one week ago, but the young rider quickly learned to adapt to the horse and rode as if on a familiar mount. Rudnicki is coming off an already successful week at the National Horse Show, having earned the championship tricolor in the Cindi Perez and Anne Bennett Under 14 Equitation, presented by Palm Beach International Academy, on Saturday. Moving forward, Rudnicki will continue to ride in the junior hunters and equitation, with her sights set on the major medal classes next year.

Commencing the day’s activities earlier in the morning, the Boggs Hill National Horse Show KHJA Equitation Championship brought a contingent of talented horses and riders to the forefront to compete for the tricolors over two rounds of riding. Athletes had the opportunity to jump at either the 2’6” height or the 3’ height, with the pack splitting in half to tackle their preferred fences. Up first, the 2’6” exhibitors took their turns around the Bobby Murphy-designed track, followed by the 3’ challengers, who ultimately proved to shine the brightest as the top three finishers each opted for the higher obstacles.

Headed into the flat phase, White, Melodie Robitaille, and Lilli Power each had garnered top scores to keep them in contention for the title with their respective mounts, but White’s faultless performance under saddle pushed her to the top of the scorecard, clinching the top spot on the podium as the 2019 Boggs Hill National Horse Show KHJA Equitation champion. Power and her own Wingman ultimately earned second position overall, followed by Robitaille and Coveted, owned by S&R Investment Group LLC.

A veteran equitation competitor and previously a coach, White took advantage of the opportunity provided by the National Horse Show to continue competing as an adult, which helped to allow her to remain partners with her own Scandeek, who she began riding in the equitation as a junior. Thanks to their longtime relationship, White and Scandeek have continued to accrue accolades in the adult classes, and earlier this year won the Ariat National Adult Medal during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show.

To learn more about the National Horse Show, click here.

Samantha Takacs and Brighton Take Top Pony Hunter Honors at WIHS

Samantha Takacs and Brighton. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

The final winners of the 61st annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) were named on Sunday, October 27, at Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, D.C., marking the conclusion of the six-day horse show.

Among those claiming victories on Sunday was Samantha Takacs, who rode Brighton to the Grand Pony Hunter Championship title, and claimed The Miles River Moonglow Perpetual Trophy, donated by Scott Novick and Rustic Woods. Hallie Moss topped the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals aboard Birtley’s Crowned Jewel to take home The Jane Marshall Dillon Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by the Friends and Students of Mrs. Jane Marshall Dillon.

Takacs, 14, of Oldwick, NJ, and Brighton, owned by Ellie Sadrian, won the under saddle and earned a first and second over fences in the Large Pony Hunter division to clinch the division championship and the Pegasus Stable Perpetual Trophy, donated by Ms. Fenwick Kollock, on their way to the grand championship title.

“It feels so good!” said Takacs of her major victory. “I can’t even describe how happy I am feeling right now. It’s such an honor at this amazing horse show.”

Takacs topped the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals last year riding Storyteller, and this year, she got the ride on Brighton from her good friend and fellow rider, Sadrian.

Hallie Moss Wins WIHS Pony Equitation Finals on Her First Try

Hallie Moss watched Sam Walker win the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund WIHS Equitation Finals on Saturday evening at WIHS and carried her inspiration from that into her performance in the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals to take the blue.

Moss, 11, scored an 84.5 in the over fences phase of the class to stand in third before the flat phase, after which the judges, Sue Ashe and Timmy Kees, put her on top as the winner with Birtley’s Crowned Jewel. It was Moss’s first time showing in the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals, though she showed in the pony hunter divisions last year.

“It’s my last show on ‘Teddy,’ so it’s pretty incredible,” Moss said. “I wasn’t slow, which I’ve been working on, and I was able to find the jumps out of stride.” Teddy is a 12-year-old Welsh Pony by Eyarth Tayma and owned by Three Ships LLC.

For more information and results, please visit www.wihs.org.