Morgan Geller Tops North American Flat Equitation Championships on Opening Day at Capital Challenge
Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media
Sun Oct 02, 2011
The 2011 Capital Challenge Horse Show began competition this morning at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD. The Show Place Arena hosted competitors for opening day of The North American Equitation Championship Weekend, presented by BigEq.com, with many exciting wins for the country’s top young riders. Competition continues through October 9 with a full schedule of hunter, jumper and equitation classes.
The highlight of today’s competition was the North American Flat Equitation Championship, in which 16-year-old Morgan Geller, of Manhattan Beach, CA, rode Fabricio to an exciting win. Reserve champion was Katie Tyler, of North Kingstown, RI, riding her horse Galliard. In addition to their finishes in the flat championship, both riders earned top honors in their respective age divisions earlier in the day. Geller and Fabricio earned the tri-color in the 16-Year-Old Equitation, while Tyler was champion in the 17-Year-Old Equitation with Galliard. Following Geller and Tyler in the North American Flat Equitation Championships were Hayley Barnhill, Lauren Fabiano, Bailey Hughes, and Meredith Darst.
Morgan Geller trains with Jim Hagman and Katie Gardner at Elvenstar in California, and this is her second year traveling east to compete at Capital Challenge. Geller’s horse Fabricio is a ten-year-old Czech Warmblood that she bought last November. Fabricio was originally Geller’s top hunter mount, and the gelding has been better than ever since he transitioned into the equitation divisions.
“He is really smooth and very brave. He really tries hard and I love him,” Geller smiled. “I do the hunters too, so he has that way of going where you can soften to a jump and he will always make a nice jump out of it. You don’t have to hold onto him and direct him every stride. He knows how to do a lot on his own, so it is nice to be able to just let go sometimes.”
Reserve champion Katie Tyler rides with trainer Shachine Belle and showed her ten-year-old Holsteiner gelding Galliard today. This was Tyler’s first time competing at Capital Challenge, and she was very happy with her successful day.
Geller made her trip worthwhile with her biggest equitation win to date. She has worked hard to get to this point and explained, “This is definitely one of the biggest classes I have won. I was so tired, but when I got down to the end I just wanted to keep going strong and not give up. I am very happy.”
“I just got Galliard before Christmas last year,” Tyler stated. “He is my first real, perfect horse, and he just always takes care of me. Everybody always says that we are the same character; that we have the same personality. The first time I got on him we just clicked, and it was perfect.”
The 16-Year-Old and 17-Year-Old Equitation divisions were both sponsored by Frank Madden Show Stables. Finishing behind Geller, Savannah Jenkins rode Tibantos, owned by C&M Partnership LLC, to the 16-Year-Old Equitation reserve championship. Following Tyler, Allison Fithian rode Blu Hills Johnny Cash, owned by Erin Duffy, to the reserve championship in the 17-Year-Old division.
The 15-Year-Old Equitation was also held this morning with championship honors going to Geoffrey Hesslink riding Adonis, owned by Natalie Nicodema. The reserve championship was presented to Anna Cardelfe riding Logan, owned by Chelsea Moss. Division winner Geoffrey Hesslink is from Shelburne, VT, and rides with Don Stewart and Bibby Farmer Hill. Hesslink has been riding for five years and this is his third year showing at Capital Challenge.
"I have shown here three times, but this is my first time winning here, so it is very exciting,” Hesslink smiled. “Adonis is awesome. He was a jumper until this winter and we bought him to do the equitation, and he has just been so great. He has really helped me progress to where I am today.” Up next, the 13 & 14-Year-Old Equitation championship, sponsored by Tammy Provost Inc., was awarded to Kristen Mohr riding Mahala Rummell’s Papillon 136. Meredith Darst rode Copyright, owned by Jeanette Collins, to the reserve championship.
Fourteen-year-old Kristen Mohr is from Hackettstown, NJ, and trains with Stacia Madden. Even at such a young age, Mohr is no stranger to winning at Capital Challenge. The rider earned the 12 & Under Equitation championship when she was eleven years old and also won the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals in 2008. Mohr feels blessed to be able to ride such a successful and experienced horse such as Papillon 136.
“I just started showing him in Old Salem this year, and I am so grateful that Mahala has given me the opportunity to ride him,” Mohr stated. “I have worked with a lot of green horses and it is the most amazing feeling to be on a horse like that, where you know that he is always going to be there for you. Just as long as you do your part he will never let you down.”
Continuing on with the day’s championships, the 12 & Under Equitation showed in the afternoon. Young rider T.J. O’Mara, of Rumson, NJ, earned the division championship riding World Cup Van Het Lindehof, owned by Kestrel Farms. The reserve championship was awarded to Delaney Hamill riding Nelson, owned by Monty Kelly. Hamill also collected the championship in the Taylor Harris Insurance Services warm-up division giving her a good start to the weekend heading into the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals on Sunday afternoon.
The 2011 Capital Challenge Horse Show will host a full day of events tomorrow as the North American Equitation Championship Weekend, sponsored by BigEq.com, continues. Beginning at 8:00 a.m., the Show Place Arena will feature the North American Equitation Championships, Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children’s Medal Finals and North American Amateur Equitation Championships.
In its 18th 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 is taking place October 1-9.
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.