Faith Schuttemeyer and Blackjack Ace the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children’s Medal Finals
Equitation Weekend, presented by BIGEQ.com, during the 30th anniversary of the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, MD, continued on Saturday, September 30, where nine more championships were awarded. Faith Schuttemeyer, 14, of Boynton Beach, FL, led the victory gallop in The Show Place Arena at Prince George’s Equestrian Center after winning the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Children’s Medal Finals with a final score of 256.15. Hailey Guidry, 13, of Wellington, FL, piloted Cornet’s Sunshine to the reserve championship honors, and Brooke Hagerty, 15, of Terrebonne, OR, rounded out the top three aboard Mascotte vd Withoeve.
Riders spend the year earning points towards qualification of the finals with only the top 41 invited to compete at Capital Challenge. Three panels each composed of two judges oversaw the class, where riders contested the Ken Krome-designed course in reverse order of qualification. Mark Jungherr and Chris Wynne made up the first panel, while Virginia Edwards and Michael Tokaruk sat on the second panel, and Mark Bone and Sissy Wickes represented the third panel. Each panel provided one score, and the average of the three resulted in the rider’s overall mark. The top 10 then returned for a second round in reverse order of their first-round scores, with Schuttemeyer last to come back on her first-round score of 87.66.
“I thought everything walked pretty straight forward,” said Schuttemeyer, who trains with Michael DelFiandra of Grafton Ridge in South Salem, NY, along with her mom, Kristin. “In the first course, I wanted to make sure I got up the first line, and then the rest was pretty smooth. For the second course, it was the same thing. I just wanted to make sure I got up the first line.”
Schuttemeyer was able to duplicate her stellar first-round effort in the second round, scoring an 87.83, yielding a two-round total of 175.49. Guidry improved upon her first-round score of 85.50 to earn an 88.33, totaling 173.83. Because the two riders were only separated by 1.66 points, judges called them back for a test, which featured a counter canter and hand gallop. In the end, it was Schuttemeyer’s work-off score of 80.66 that propelled her to victory on an overall score of 256.15.
“It’s pretty nerve-wracking when you’re waiting to test,” reflected Schuttemeyer. “My trainer says to trust my eye and take a deep breath. I was focusing on the counter canter because the angle to the first jump was a little challenging. After that, I was trying to be careful not to swap leads in front of the second jump, and then I was focused on doing the inside turn after the hand gallop to the last two jumps.”
Schuttemeyer’s mount for the class, Blackjack, was paired with Schuttemeyer’s mom in the jumper ring 10 years ago. He then reconnected with the family four years ago, becoming a formidable partner for Schuttemeyer as she began her foray into the equitation classes.
“He’s really sweet,” shared Schuttemeyer. “He’s pretty easy and very fun to ride. He’s always going for the next jump. He is so special.”
Their win in the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals marks a triumphant sendoff for the 24-year-young Hanoverian gelding, owned by Gabriella Salazar, who will now celebrate his retirement with lots of apples.
In the outdoor arena, Taylor Cawley, 14, of Wellington, FL, bested a field of 23 for the title of North American Junior Flat Equitation Champion.
Cawley, who trains with Beacon Hill Show Stables in Colts Neck, NJ, rode Oki d’Eclipse, owned by Sea Horse Investments. The duo began their partnership earlier in the year at the Devon Horse Show.
“This is his first year doing the equitation,” explained Cawley of the nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Catoki. “I was very proud of him. He’s always been good in flat classes. I mostly tried to focus on keeping him straight. We have been working on extensions and collections a lot, so I was happy with how he was out there. He has a very big stride. I knew as long as I kept the extensions, I could really show it off. He was really, really good.”
Judges excused riders as they whittled down the competition.
“I was mainly trying to stay calm, keep my position relaxed, and not get too stiff,” continued Cawley. “I was really happy when I was in the top 10, then the top three, and then on top. I was hoping to finish in the top 10. I was second in the flat in my age division, so I didn’t necessarily think that I was going to win but I’m glad I did. I was very happy.”
Earlier in the day, six Section B age group equitation division champions and reserve champions were named as follows:
And Just Like That Lakshmi Jeyanandarajan and Ratatat Win the $10,000 North American League Children’s Hunter Finals
Day three of the 2023 Capital Challenge Horse Show concluded with all eyes on The Show Place Arena as Lakshmi Jeyanandarajan, 17, of Irvine, CA, guided Ratatat over two beautiful rounds for the top overall score of 169.00 in the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Children’s Hunter Finals, presented by Charles Ancona. Taylor Abraham, 16, of Aiken, SC, rode Leanna Lazzari’s UFO de Nisi to the reserve championship honors with a total score of 163.25, while Campbell Cauthen, 13, of Lexington, KY, completed the top three with a score of 162.25 aboard Qoriolis Effect SCF, owned by DCTM LLC.
Twenty-nine riders qualified for this year-end final by accumulating points in the NAL Children’s Hunter competitions throughout the year. After the first round, the top 12 returned in reverse order of merit, where Jeyanandarajan came back last, carrying the high first-round score of 85.75 from judges Virginia Edwards and Mark Jungherr.
“There was definitely pressure going into the second round with the high score and coming back last,” said Jeyanandarajan. “In your mind, you know you can do it, but you want to make sure to have a good ride and put up a score that’s good enough to stay on top. So, there was pressure, but I just wanted to go in there and ride my best and wherever we ended up, we ended up.”
Once again, Jeyanandarajan guided Ratatat to the best score of round two, this time earning an 83.25 to seal the deal for the overall win.
“My trainer wanted me to relax and breathe and not be nervous,” shared Jeyanandarajan, who rides with Mitch Endicott and the team at Bridgeport Farms in San Juan Capistrano, CA. “I think he knew that if I put in a good ride, especially with the score we had in the first round, we could be up there in the placings. I just tried to take that advice, take a breath, and make sure to stay on the rhythm.”
Ratatat has been with Jeyanandarajan for almost two years, having been passed down from another student at Bridgeport Farms. The 16-year-old Hanoverian-cross gelding has given Jeyanandarajan experience from the Short Stirrup division through the Children’s Hunters, with this year’s Capital Challenge Horse Show their biggest competition to date.
“He’s really such a sweetheart,” commented Jeyanandarajan of her mount. “He’s never been here, and I’ve never been here. It’s our first time showing at night, and he is just such a good boy.
“This is definitely my top win and all-time top achievement on this horse,” she continued. “Capital Challenge is such a prestigious show. It’s even better than I expected. You can really feel the atmosphere, so to come here and do that well, I’m very proud of my horse. I never thought I could win like that, especially coming into it not quite sure of how we would do against the best of the best. To do that well at a show like this is very special.”
The North American League Finals are the culmination of the NAL’s year-long Series that includes classes at hundreds of horse shows across the United States and Canada. The NAL offers year-long series in five divisions: Children’s Hunter, presented by Charles Ancona; Adult Hunter, presented by LAURACEA; Children’s Jumper, presented by EquiFit; Adult Jumper, presented by SmartPak; Low Junior/Amateur Jumper, presented by R & R Hunter Horses; and Medium Junior/Amateur Jumper, presented by Parlanti. The NAL series conclude with year-end finals for those who accumulated the most points in their divisions over the course of the season.
The 2023 Capital Challenge Horse Show proceeds on Sunday, October 1, with the Palm Beach International Academy North American Junior Equitation Championships and the $10,000 NAL Adult Hunter Finals. Competition continues through October 9.
Grace Shipman Sailed to Victory in the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3'3" Jumping Seat Medal Final –East
Six new champions were crowned on the second day of Equitation Weekend, presented by BIGEQ.com, on Friday, September 29, during the 30th anniversary of the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, MD. Competition in the Show Place Arena at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center culminated with the final phase of the seventh-annual EMO Insurance Agency/United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East, where Grace Shipman, 17, of Ridgefield, CT, piloted Calamanzo to the high score of 89 to secure the overall lead and don the winning ribbon sash.
During Thursday’s competition, Shipman earned a score of 86.72 in the flat phase to sit in 37th out of the field of 169 riders. She then returned for the gymnastics phase, delivering the second-highest score of the day, an 88. With scores in the gymnastics phase multiplied by a coefficient of 1.5, her two-round total of 218.72 shot her up to third place overall.
“I love that there are three phases because I think it gives everyone a chance to try their best in each phase and find some success somewhere,” shared Shipman. “My favorite is the gymnastics phase. We practice that a lot at home – all the technical tests. The flat on my particular horse has been the more challenging part, but we’ve worked really hard this past year so I’m really proud of how we did.”
Riders contested the final jumping phase in reverse order of their overall placings. While the course walk took place at 1:30 p.m., Shipman entered The Show Place Arena at 8:00 p.m. Her stylish trip over the Ken Krome-designed track scored an 89 from judges Virginia Edwards and Mark Jungherr. When multiplied by the jumping phase’s coefficient of 2, Shipman’s final total score across the three rounds was 396.72.
“I felt pressure, for sure, but I knew that if I had a consistent round I would get a top ribbon, and that was the goal,” said Shipman. “Honestly, I was so excited. I was just ready to go and do it.
“The course asked a lot of different questions,” she continued of the jumping phase. “Starting with a forward line was a test in itself. We all had to get enough pace and catch a good distance going in. My horse has a big stride, so I was really focusing on staying on the outside track for some of those lines like the five-stride to the triple combination, which definitely walked a little short. There were a few lines like that.”
Grace Shipman in her winning presentation for the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3'3" Jumping Seat Medal Final – East with Juan Pablo LR, Randi Byrd, Maddie Tosh, Chris Strucker, Val Renihan, Sue Bopp of EMO Insurance Agency, Mary Knowlton of USHJA, and Jennifer Hinman. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Shipman’s trainer, Val Renihan at Findlay’s Ridge in North Salem, New York, had confidence in her student’s ability to navigate the challenging course, but knew the 75-second time allowed would be a contributing factor to the results. Shipman crossed the finishing timers in 74.993 seconds.
“I thought she would be fine because she’s so consistent with him and they are like a match made in heaven,” reflected Renihan of Shipman and Calamanzo. “I really wasn’t all that nervous. I thought she’d bring it. I was just a little worried about that time allowed. I usually cheer sooner after the last jump, but she was right in front of me so I was like, ‘Go!’ because I knew she was barely under the time allowed. I was just trying to get her through the timers.”
Shipman has been partnered with the 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding for just over a year. The EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East at the 2022 Capital Challenge Horse Show was one of their first outings together. At the time, they had not yet figured each other out, but now their hard work has paid off.
“He’s just the best horse ever,” expressed Shipman. “I love him. I feel like we have gotten so consistent together, and it means so much to me to win this with him. I’ve been doing the equitation for a long time, and this has always been a dream of mine, as it is for everybody, so it really is amazing. Capital Challenge is my favorite horse show. Hands down.”
The reserve championship title went to Sally Ives, 16, of Durham, NC, aboard her own Jinter van het Hagehof with a final score of 392.065. Logan Thomas, 16, of Millburn, NJ, earned a third-place finish with an overall score of 390.755 riding Reverie Sport Horses LLC’s Chacom Ask.
Earlier in the day, five Section A age group equitation division champions and reserve champions were named as follows:
Equitation Weekend, presented by BIGEQ.com, continues Saturday, September 30, with the Section B age group equitation divisions followed by the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals and the North American League (NAL) Children’s Hunter Finals, presented by Charles Ancona. The Capital Challenge Horse Show features top hunter, jumper, and equitation competition through October 8.
On the first day of Equitation Weekend, presented by BIGEQ.com, during the 30th anniversary of the Capital Challenge Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Brendan Weiss rode to victory in the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Finals.
From a field of 37 entries, Weiss, of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, earned a first-round score of 87.50 from judges Jeff Ayers and Michael Tokaruk to sit atop the leaderboard. The top 10 then returned in reverse order of merit, with Weiss last to tackle the second-round track. His smoothness and consistency were once again rewarded, scoring 86.75 for a total of 174.25. While Weiss’s overall score still led the pack, just 1.63 points separated him from Annalise Manoog, resulting in a work-off where the top two riders returned for a test on the flat without stirrups.
“I thought the courses were great, and everything rode nicely based off of the track,” commented Weiss, who trains with Kim Buzby at Windfall Farm. “We really had a plan going in and just stuck with it. When they asked us to test without stirrups, it definitely added an extra layer of effort that we needed to put in. The judges made us work for it, but that just adds to the prestige of the horse show, and at a horse show like this, it’s important that that level of competition is there.”
While they looked like a seasoned pair, Weiss only recently partnered with his mount Hello Houston Z a day prior to competing. The nine-year-old Zangersheide gelding was borrowed from Morgan Rosenberg’s Topline Imports LLC and owner Elizabeth Cohen, and the quick match paid off.
“He couldn’t have been better,” expressed Weiss in appreciation. “I’m very happy with how he was, and I’m lucky it worked out today.”
The win marked a triumphant return to the Capital Challenge Horse Show for Weiss who competed at the event just once before when he was 16 years old.
“It feels great to be back,” stated Weiss. “It took a lot and there was a lot coming into it, but I’m really happy. Capital Challenge was a big goal on our list this year. Throughout the year there is the pressure to get here, but once you’re here it’s just the icing on the cake.”
After the work-off, Manoog, of Centerville, Massachusetts, finished in second place with a two-round jumping score of 172.62. Erin Brody, of Rockville Centre, New York, completed the top three with a 169.50 total.
Ella Cate Duke Dominates the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3’ Jumping Seat Medal Final – East
Competition in The Show Place Arena on Thursday of Equitation Weekend featured the flat and gymnastics phases of the seventh-annual EMO Insurance Agency/United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East. At the of the day, Ella Cate Duke of Lake Oswego, Oregon, leads the 169-rider field.
It was a full day of action, which got underway at 7:30 a.m., where riders were divided into 14 flat groups. Duke rode in the third group and earned a score of 87.65 from judges Virginia Edwards and Mark Jungherr to sit in 23rd overall. Riders then walked the Ken Krome-designed course for the gymnastics phase at 10:45 a.m. and returned to jump in reverse order of their flat phase placing. Going late in the order around 5:00 p.m., Duke piloted her mount Understudy to the high score of 89. Because scores in the gymnastics phase are multiplied by a coefficient of 1.5, Duke’s winning score of 89 gave her a total of 221.15, jumping up the rankings into pole position.
“I definitely sat and watched a lot, but I made sure to make my own plan and stay focused on what I wanted to do and what was best for me and my horse,” explained Duke who trains with Shelley Campf and the team at Oz Incorporated in Canby, Oregon.
Duke and “Balou” have been partnered together for four years and have had a lot of success both in the hunter ring and the equitation ring.
“He is just such a special horse, and I love him so much,” said Duke of the eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding. “He has been such an amazing crossover horse, and he really can do everything.”
Riding for the first time at the Capital Challenge Horse Show, Duke is heading into the final jumping phase with a cool head, relying on her strong bond with her horse.
“I’m definitely going to give him a lot of treats tonight,” shared Duke of her preparation. “I think the key is to stay confident in what my trainer and I decide to do. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the course looks like and what tomorrow brings.
“It’s such an amazing venue,” she continued. “It’s really beautiful, and I think my horse really likes it too.”
The Capital Challenge Horse Show continues on Friday, September 29, with the age group equitation divisions starting at 7:30 a.m. followed by the final jumping phase and culmination of the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final - East.
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