Julia McNerney closed out the competition in The Show Place Arena on Sunday, October 1, during the 30thanniversary of the Capital Challenge Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, with a win in the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Adult Hunter Finals, presented by LAURACEA, after two rounds aboard her own Cascartini.
Riders qualified for this year-end final by accumulating points in the NAL Adult Hunter competitions throughout the year. Of the 27 horse-and-rider combinations, McNerney sat in second after the first round with a score of 86.50 from judges Mary Eufemia and Sissy Wickes.
“It’s the first time we have shown indoors together,” noted McNerney. “He’s a big horse and I’m really tall, so the two of us contracting can be hard. I was really happy with the way the distances came up and his balance through all the turns.”
The top 12 returned for round two, where McNerney and “Marty” were the penultimate duo. Their consistency paid off with a score of 83.87 for a total of 170.37.
“In the second round I really tried to go for it with the single jumps,” explained McNerney. “I was trying to carry pace and have a nice mini hand gallop to be able to show off Marty’s jump, because he’s a spectacular jumper. I wanted to make sure to highlight that at all the single fences.”
McNerney, who lives nearby in Washington D.C. and works for a cancer screening diagnostic company in the city, trains with Havens Schatt of Milestone Farm in Lexington, KY. Marty was previously Schatt’s international derby horse, and McNerney took over the ride just recently.
“I got to know Marty really well for a few years by watching Havens, but in riding him I discovered just how great he feels,” said McNerney. “He really gives the rider a lot of confidence. Until I sat on him myself, I was not able to really appreciate what Havens was feeling when she was galloping down to a four-foot oxer, which I’m not doing. This is a new job for him. We are going to wrap up this year with the Adult Amateurs, and then I think the plan is to try to move up to the 3’3” next year, but we are just going to take it show by show.
“He has a big personality,” she continued of the flashy chestnut Holsteiner gelding. “He’s definitely a little bit of a mooch around the barn. If I don’t come with treats, I just shouldn’t come at all. I think in that way we get along very well. We are a bunch of big personalities at Milestone.”
For McNerney, it was an especially sweet victory having attended Capital Challenge since she was 11 years old.
“I have a long history with Capital Challenge, and it’s one of my favorite horse shows,” she stated. “I was really excited to be able to participate this year. I can’t thank the Milestone team enough for doing such a wonderful job of preparing Marty and helping me do this.”
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.
World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) competition continues Tuesday, October 3, with the crowning of the profession hunter division champions. The 2023 Capital Challenge Horse Show continues through October 9 with more exciting equitation, hunter, and jumper competition.
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