The 25th anniversary Capital Challenge Horse Show concluded on Sunday, October 7, with the awarding of the final Junior and Children’s Hunter championships at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.
The Overall Grand Junior Hunter Championship was presented to Emma Kurtz of Hudson, OH, riding A Million Reasons, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker.
Kurtz, 17, and the 13-year-old Holsteiner mare (by Coriano) swept every class of the
Small Junior 16-17 Hunter division on Saturday, making them the far and away frontrunners for the Grand Junior Hunter Championship title, sponsored by Shadow Ridge and presented on Sunday.
“It’s always good to do well here because you then kind of know how they’re going to be going in to the rest of indoors,” said Kurtz, who is no stranger to success at Capital Challenge, having won numerous classes and championships over the years. “It’s such a great horse show, so it feels amazing.”
Kurtz started showing A Million Reasons in early 2018, and, after quickly getting acclimated to the mare’s ride, has had great success since.
“She’s really cool to ride,” said Kurtz, who trains with Amanda Lyerly. “She’s kind of like a metronome; she just goes in her own pace. As long as I don’t screw her up, she’ll never do anything out of character or anything.
“But he’s different from what I’m used to; she’s hard for me because her stride is so big, and you have to go so slow. It’s hard for me to keep everything slow and in that rhythm; I’m not really used to that,” continued Kurtz, who is now in her final junior competition year and has started her freshman year at Auburn University. “I’m used to getting on and galloping around, but she’s absolutely amazing. It’s just a different ride for me.”
For her rides on A Million Reasons, Kurtz was also presented with the Best Junior Rider Award, sponsored by Karen Healey, and the pair received the Best EMO Junior Trip of the Show, sponsored by the EMO Agency, with a score of 89.50.
“You don’t have to worry when [Emma] walks in the ring because she’s always going to do what you tell her, and she’s always going to try her hardest,” said Lyerly. “It’s just a pleasure to teach her because she makes my job easy.”
In addition to the Overall Grand Junior Hunter Championship, four Junior Hunter division championships were presented on Sunday, with a Grand Junior 3’3” Hunter Champion and a Grand Junior 15 & Under Hunter Champion also named.
In the Small Junior 15 & Under Hunters, the championship, sponsored by New England Farm, went to O’Ryan, owned and ridden by Maggie Hill of Jackson, WY. The pair earned two wins and a second-place finish over fences and fourth in the under saddle to earn the championship. Taking the division’s reserve honor with a first and second place finish over fences were Brooke Morin of Calabasas, CA, and Akinda, owned by Hillside Farm, LLC.
The championship in the Large Junior 15 & Under Hunters went to last year’s Grand Junior Hunter Champions, Augusta Iwasaki of Calabasas, CA, and Small Affair, owned by Lyn Pedersen. With first, second, and third place finishes over fences, Iwasaki and Small Affair won the Grand Junior 15 & Under Hunter Champions. The Large Junior 15 & Under Hunter division reserve championship went to Isha Swani of New York, NY, and Park Place, owned by Shadowfax Equestrian, LLC.
The Grand Junior 3’3” Hunter Championship went to Jordan Allen of West Bloomfield, MI, riding Small Statement, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly. The pair claimed two seconds and a third over fences and a win in the under saddle to first take the Junior 3’3” 15-17 Hunter division championship.
“I’ve never been champion or even reserve at an indoor, so it’s so exciting; it’s a great way to start indoors,” said Allen, who is currently a working student for Ken and Emily Smith at Ashland Farms. “Ken and Emily and Leylan [Gleeson] and Chrissy [Kear] could not have helped my riding more. I love being a working student there more than anything. They always have horses for me to ride. They’ve taught me a lot – great lessons in and out of the saddle.”
In her role with Ashland, Allen has frequent experience catch riding horses, so riding her winning mount, Small Statement, for the first time only two days ago did not prove too difficult for the 17-year-old.
“I owe it to Liz [Reilly],” said Allen, referring to Small Statement’s owner. “She’s done so much in the last year to help me – to help my riding. She always has horses for me to ride, and she’s really great. They nice enough to let me do [Small Statement] in the 3’3”. She’s really an amazing horse; she’s so easy.
“She’s got all the talent. She’s really special,” continued Allen, who is currently taking a gap year before attending the University of South Carolina where she will ride on the school’s National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) team. “She has a huge stride and an explosive jump. It’s so much fun to ride her.”
Finishing as the reserve champions in the Junior 3’3” 15-17 Hunters behind Allen and Small Statement were Ainslee Gregg of Frisco, TX, and Valentine, owned by Bottom Line Equestrian, LLC. The pair finished in first, second, and third over fences and fourth in the under saddle to claim the reserve championship spot.
In the Junior 3’3” 14 and Under Hunters, the championship went to Gabrielle Sokolow of Westlake Village, CA, and Rockette, owned by Ramble On Farm. They finished first under saddle and second in their stakes class to take the tricolor. With two second place finishes over fences, the division’s reserve championship was awarded to Lauren Reid of Nazareth, PA, riding Oxford, owned by Capstone Farm, LLC.
The Best EMO Junior 3’3” Hunter Trip of the Show went to Claire Campbell and Captivate with a score of 88.
Earning wins in the day’s World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Junior Hunter Challenges were Sofia Roberts of Wilmington, OH, and Claire Campbell of Cochranville, PA. Roberts topped the $5,000 WCHR Junior 3’6” Hunter Challenge, sponsored by Nicole Lyvere, riding Double Oaked, owned by Roberts Stables, LLC, while Campbell bested the $2,500 WCHR Junior 3’3” Hunter Challenge, sponsored by Micaela Kennedy, aboard Captivate, owned by Maher Family, LLC.
Maddie Tosh and Gotham Capture Grand Children’s Hunter Championship
In her first year competing on horses, 12-year-old Maddie Tosh took home her biggest win to date with Dr. Betsee Parker’s Gotham. The pair won the Children’s Hunter 14 & Under division championship, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Gary Duffy and Little Brook Farm; the Grand Children’s Hunter Champion award, sponsored by Mary Jane King and for which they were presented the Laura Pickett Memorial Trophy; Best Children’s Hunter Rider, sponsored by Carlye Byron-Nelson & the Nelson children; and the Best EMO Children’s Hunter Trip of the Show, sponsored by Sue Bopp and EMO Agency, which they won with a score of 88.5.
“This was amazing,” said Tosh, who picked up her first ever championship at Capital Challenge. “I’ve never had a show like this before. I’m very excited and very proud of him.”
Tosh found the perfect horse in her father Hunt Tosh’s former mount. “My dad showed him for a long time as a green [horse] and in the First and Second Years, and then I started show to show him,” she explained. “Dr. Betsee Parker owns him, and I’m very grateful to be able to ride him for her. He’s so fun and perfect. He’s super easy. He has a great rhythm, which is my favorite part about him. He just stays on one gallop and stays on it throughout the whole course.”
Based in Alpharetta, GA, Tosh rides out of her parents’ farm, where they also keep Gotham. At home, the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding has “such a big personality,” said Tosh. “He’s so sweet, and he takes care of me every time. He always wants to play with you and cuddle and always wants food.”
The Children’s Hunter 14 & Under reserve championship with a second place over fences and a win under saddle went to Emily Giorgio of Davidsonville, MD, and Best Of, owned by Gabriella Conte.
In the $1,500 WCHR Children’s Challenge, sponsored by Stephanie Bulger & MeadowView, the victory went to Kierstin Antoniadis of Middletown, NY, riding Paragon, owned by Sand Dollar Farm, LLC.
The champion of the Children’s Hunter 15-17 division was Macallan, ridden by Abby Parker for owner Amber Ayyad. They placed first and fifth over fences and won the under saddle. Pura Vida and Lily Pollin were reserve champions after placing first and second over fences and fourth in the under saddle.
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