Samantha Schaefer Dominates Amateur Division Taking WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’6” Challenge and Earns Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter Honors
Danhakl and Quest Win WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’3”Challenge, Maida and Moran Collect Grand Champion Honors, Reisman Finishes on Top in $10,000 Children’s/Adult Amateur Jumper Challenge
Upper Marlboro, MD – Amateur riders were the highlight on the sixth day of competition at the 2015 Capital Challenge Horse Show (CCHS) presented by Well Placed Smile, as a number of divisions crowned their champions and gifted prestigious awards. Local superstar and homegrown talent Samantha Schaefer of Westminster, MD, continued to add to her successful career at CCHS, amassing two more major championship wins as she earned Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter honors and topped the $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’6” Challenge aboard Classified. Competition at CCHS will continue through Sunday, October 4.
Caroline Moran of Wellington, FL, and Bacardi picked up the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’3” 36 and Over division and earned Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’3” presented by Will and Lindsay Roberts. Stephanie Danhakl of Pacific Palisades, CA, rode Quest, a former mount of Scott Stewart, to victory in the $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’3” Challenge presented by Milestone LLC and Havens Schatt. Alexis Maida, traveling from Danville, CA, piloted Tolstoy to the Grand Adult Amateur Hunter title presented by Steve Martines, while Micki Reisman dominated the $10,000 Children’s Adult/Amateur Jumper Challenge presented by Equis Boutique.
Schaefer, who earned Grand Champion Pony Hunter and Grand Champion Junior Hunter accolades early on in her storied junior career and has risen through the ranks of the WCHR program, felt the toll of taking time away from the saddle. A senior at Baylor University, she will complete her Communications degree this December, which put a hiatus of sorts on her competition schedule this year.
“I went to Saugerties in September and I don’t think I felt very in the groove or in practice, which for me, someone who is used to riding multiple horses every day, was hard,” Schaefer honestly revealed. “He’s absolutely amazing and can make about anything look great though. He’s an easy horse to come in on and have fun and that’s why we have him, you know, to have one nice one that we can always count on.”
Before capturing the $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’6” Challenge, Schaefer was also awarded with the CCHS Grand Champion Amateur-Owner 3’6” title presented by Troy Hendricks and Kimberview Stables, as well as the Dr. Harold M.S. Smith Trophy awarded by Dr. Suzanne Smith. The duo received top ribbons in each major class in the division including a win in the under saddle. Aboard 2005 Hanoverian gelding Classified (Lordanos x St. Pt. Hauptstutbuch) Schaefer capitalized on her consistency as the first combination to ride in The Show Place Arena for the WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’6” Challenge. Laying down a near perfect round, Schaefer remained unbeaten throughout the class as 21 entries attempted to catch her averaged score of 87.50.
“The first day I felt like he was doing really well but maybe not at our absolute best. We rubbed a rail twice which left us in third both times and then we won the hack, but in the Challenge today he was just incredible and we had a little bit of luck work in our favor,” she continued. “That was the round where it really felt like it all came together and that is what it’s supposed to feel like. It was smooth and I’m really happy with it. He’s done now till Florida and the winter season so he’ll get a really good rest."
In an effort to preserve her horses for the winter season ahead, Schaefer decided to forgo the heavy indoor season this fall and looked to have a solid outing this week before returning to school to enjoy her last semester of college, “I wanted to have a successful Capital Challenge and then let the horses be done for the year. Now that I’ll be in Florida consistently this winter, I think we’ll be asking a lot more of them than in the past and I want them to hit the ground running and still feel fresh.”
The duo has only been together for a year and Schaefer is excited to see what lies ahead, as Capital Challenge marked the year anniversary of his purchase, which she noted, has brought them truly full circle, as the duo competed in the Amateur-Owner 3’3” division a year ago. After only a single trial ride, Classified switched hands to Schaefer with the help of Kate Conover, who dotes upon the inquisitive chestnut gelding as much as Schaefer. Schaefer said with a smile, “I like to say that we have joint custody. Kate loves him as much as I do and he’s really like her baby.”
The gelding’s expression and consistency continue to earn him top marks from judging panels in the hunter ring and Schaefer will look to extend that success into the competitive winter season, as the gelding checks all of the right boxes in her eyes.
“I would say that one of the biggest things that I love about that horse is that he doesn’t ever look to lose. He’s never going to try to lose and I think that’s a really important quality,” continued Schaefer. “There are a lot of horses with talent but they don’t have that will to win. He always is trying his best and has a great attitude and is just a fun horse with a lot of character.”
Stephanie Danhakl captured reserve honors behind Schaefer in the division, piloting her own Golden Rule.
Krista Weisman of Sherborn, MA, and Reality finished just behind Schaefer, receiving an 87.00 to take second place honors in the Challenge class. Elizabeth Faraci of Annapolis, MD, rounded out the top three placings, receiving an 85.66 aboard Chamonix.
Schaefer also collected the honors for Best Amateur-Owner 3’6” Hunter Rider presented by Betty and Ernie Oare.
Becky Gochman and Last Call, owned by David Gochman, earned a tricolor in the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’6” 36 & Over presented by Betty and Ernie Oare, while Ellen Toon and Mirror Image followed in reserve.
The EMO Best Amateur-Owner 3’6” Trip of the Show was presented to Ellen Toon and Mirror Image for their score of 89.25, awarded by Sue Bopp and EMO Agency.Danhakl and Quest Win WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’3” Challenge
Stephanie Danhakl of Pacific Palisades, CA, and Quest captured the $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3’3” Challenge in fine fashion, as the duo received a total score of87.50 to nudge out Becky Gochman of New York, NY, and Touchdown for the top prize, as they followed in second with an 86.50 while Lisa Arena Davis of Penfield, NY, and Balou finished in third place with an 84.33.
The gelding’s swift and steady movement make him an ideal hunter for Danhakl, as she believes the gelding’s jump is a true highlight and ultimately sets him apart, “He tries so hard over every jump and its just a great feeling. He’s so round and he gets a ton of height. I think he excels at everything and he’s really easy to ride. He did everything perfectly.”
With a busy work schedule, Danhakl took a short break from competing this summer, as she prepares to move to Boston, MA, to work for the Museum of Fine Arts as a Graduate Research Associate and prepare for the journey to receive her PhD. Even with a strict agenda, Danhakl was excited to make it to Capital Challenge this year as she prepares to balance both of her passions. She will compete through the rest of the indoor series, while adjusting to life in a new city.
“To be with the horses I love and go around the ring and have the trips we did, it’s really just icing on the cake for me to win this class and overall I’m feeling really excited,” she remarked.
The pair also collected champion honors in the Amateur-Owner 3’3’ 18-35 division presented by Cindy Cruciotti, Serenity Farm and Endeavor Farm. Hannah Goodson-Cutt and Prime Time followed with reserve champion honors.
Maida Collects Grand Champion Adult Amateur Hunter
The Adult Amateur classes at Capital Challenge Horse Show draw a generous number of dedicated competitors each year. Hailing from the west coast, Alexis Maida and Tolstoy, owned by Ashley Weiman, dominated the Adult Amateur 18-35 division presented by Lainie Wimberly and Brigadoon Show Stables, Inc., capturing divisional champion honors before being named as the 2015 Grand Champion Adult Amateur Hunter presented by Steve Martines. Maida also was awarded with the Best Adult Amateur Hunter Rider sponsored by Phoebe Weseley and River Run Farm and the Best EMO Adult Amateur Trip of the Show presented by Sue Bopp and EMO Agency with a high score of 86.5. Her trainer Nicolas Haness received the Leading Adult Amateur Trainer award.
I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to ride him and I can’t thank Ashley enough for allowing me to compete him. He’s a great horse all around,” said Maida. “This means everything to me to be Grand Champion here. It’s a dream come true to be honest. I never thought that I would ever have the opportunity to ride a horse like him, let alone be champion or best adult rider.”With an equestrian-immersed childhood, Maida began riding at the age of 3 and worked with a number of trainers on the west coast, soon becoming a regular of the indoor series, competing in the Maclay and Medal Finals and WIHS Equitation Finals several times. After finishing her junior career in the big equitation divisions, Maida decided to focus on her career before returning to the sport a year ago.
“I’ve competed at Capital Challenge before, but this is the first time back in like ten years for me. Being on the East Coast to compete is on a whole new level. The competition here is unreal and to get a prize here let alone to win just feels amazing,” she smiled. Taylor Willever of Pen Argyl, PA, and Short Stop, owned by Troy Hendricks, earned reserve champion honors behind Maida.
“My horse just loves this horse show. He absolutely does. I think from when he did so well in the Future Hunters a few years ago right on through the First Years, he just loves this horse show, as do I,” commented Moran. “We love the footing and the jumps. He definitely lets you know when you get somewhere if he feels comfortable or not. Havens [Schatt] said when she got on him here that he just felt comfortable right off the get go.”
Blessed with an incredible jump and knack for leaving the judges wanting more, Bacardi continues to impress with scores now consistently reaching the upper 80s and low 90s. Moran, who was even surprised with their consistency this week, commented on the gelding’s skill for the hunter ring, “I’m thrilled but still surprised. When I went the first day outside I was overly critical of myself and then we got an amazing marker of a score, I said maybe I shouldn’t be so critical. He was definitely on his game. I can tell from the moment I pick up his trot if he is.”
The pair has grown together and their bond is obvious and Moran feels the pressure when she knows the 2006 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Casco x Varilla R) has brought his game face to the ring. Moran bought Bacardi as a five-year-old and has worked with Havens Schatt to continue molding his talent and consistency.
“He’s consistent when he wants to be, but if he doesn’t like something he’ll let you know. When he is on and good he’s really good,” she said. “There is a sense of pressure though because when you know you’re on a horse that can score in the 90s it falls more on you, but at this show I feel like I don’t even need to be here. He knows exactly what he’s doing and I’m just here to enjoy the ride.”
The duo captured divisional champion honors in the Amateur-Owner 3’3” 36 & Over division presented by Margaret O’Meara and Paige Tredennick, while Dawn Fogel of Louisville, KY, and Summer Catch earned reserve champion recognition.
Reisman Finishes on Top in $10,000 Children’s/Adult Amateur Jumper Challenge
At the young age of 16, Micki Reisman of Cleveland, OH, captured her first major jumper victory at CCHS, as she and the feisty chestnut mare Za Zou raced to victory, besting a class of more than 70 entries. The duo crossed the timers in 38.558 seconds in the jump-off to seal their win. Will Kennedy of Brookeville, MD, and Ontario finished in second with a time of 41.363 seconds, while Phoebe Alwine of Delray Beach, FL, and Zenith Dance rounded out the top three with a time of 41.381 seconds.
The immediate jump-off format proved nerve-wracking for competitors slated to compete in the middle of the order such as Reisman, who didn’t think her jump-off time would outlast the vast number of entries in the class.
“I went in the middle of the class, I think about 29th and tried to think to myself that I wanted to go double clear. I had a rail yesterday and I wasn’t planning on going that fast,” she explained. “When I went double clear and that fast I was just ecstatic. She’s a new mare for me, we only purchased her in August, so this is a huge win for us.”
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