Heather Williams isn’t a familiar face in the hunter show ring, day in and day out. But it’s her work put in behind the scenes that helps many of the top hunter, jumper, and equitation riders and horses win at the biggest shows in the nation. As a rider and trainer at Beacon Hill Show Stables with Stacia Madden, Williams is an integral part of the team, having worked there since she turned professional at the age of 18. Now 33, she still rides in her old hunt coat and had to purchase a shadbelly on Wednesday morning to compete in the Challenge class.
“A lot of times I’m not here during this week because it’s also the USEF Talent Search Finals,” said Williams. “The stars just sort of aligned that I was able to be here, and I had the opportunity from the Sorokens to ride this great horse so I said I was going to take advantage and do it while I can.
“The majority of my professional career is really spent training,” she continued. “I don’t do a lot of competitive riding for myself; I do a lot of schooling jumpers and preparing horses. I would say that’s primarily what my riding entails, but I knew I was going to be here this week and it’s a rare occasion.”
Williams piloted DiCaprio 3, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Contender owned by Lillian Soroken, to victory after they scored 85.66 and 88.66 for a total of 174.32. Jared Depermentier and Brad Wolf’s Sebastian were second with scores of 85 and 87.66 for a 172.66 total. Vivian Yowan and Sazerac, owned by IMB of Jupiter LLC, finished third after they scored 86.41 and 86.16 for a 172.57 total.
Williams sat in third place after the first round, but their highest second-round score propelled them up the standings.
“Coming into the second round, I took a peek at the scores before I got on and I saw that the top riders were all really within one point of each other,” she said. “I knew if I had a good trip, I would have a real chance at moving up. I tried to stick to my plan. I know my horse really well, and I had a road map of how I wanted to ride the course and luckily it panned out exactly how I’d hoped.”
It was a sweet victory for Williams, who was the first person to ride DiCaprio 3 when he arrived in the barn two years ago.
“We brought him home to the barn from Capital Challenge actually, and I took one lap around the indoor ring, and I said, ‘Stacia, this horse has to stay!’” she recalled. “It’s full circle that I rode him the very first day he came to the barn and loved him so much. Now it’s two years later and I feel like I helped him stay in the barn and he helped me win this class. To win a class like this is always special, but to do it on a horse I have such a relationship with makes it even more special.”
She added, “I’m very grateful to Stacia Madden for giving me the opportunity to do this class and Max Amaya for always being such a supporter of my riding and myself since I was a young professional. I’m good friends with Patricia Griffith, so she was nice enough to help me today. Lydia Ulrich and T.J. O’Mara were also here so between the three of them, I was really lucky to have a great crew help me.”
For her victory, Williams was presented with the Bittersweet Trophy, presented by Rachel B. Kennedy.
Final Results: $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge, presented by John R. Ingram Fund
Round 1/Round 2/Final
1 DICAPRIO 3 HEATHER WILLIAMS
85.66 88.66 174.32
2 SEBASTIAN JARED DEPERMENTIER
85.00 87.66 172.66
3 SAZERAC VIVIAN YOWAN
86.41 86.16 172.57
4 EMILIO ASHLEY FOSTER
84.58 86.66 171.24
5 SHE’S ALL THAT JEF LAUWERS
84.91 86.33 171.24
6 TRUE ENOUGH MEGHAN KAUPP
84.16 86.33 170.49
7 FOR FUN MITCHELL ENDICOTT
84.91 85.50 170.41
8 MTM FASHION JENNIFER RITUCCI
85.83 82.83 168.66
9 LEMIEUX TAYLOR SHEARIN
83.58 83.66 167.24
10 LAYLA NADA WISE
85.08 80.91 165.99
11 BLUE MOON HALIE ROBINSON
83.91 80.33 164.24
12 BETTINA ELEANOR KUNSMAN
84.33 45.00 129.33
Competition will continue on Thursday at the 2021 Capital Challenge Horse Show with the Amateur-Owner Hunter and Adult Hunter divisions, as well as the NAL Children’s Jumper Finals and the NAL Adult Jumper Finals.
October 6, 2021 – Upper Marlboro, MD – John French of Wellington, Florida, piloted Babylon to the victory in the $25,000 World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Challenge, sponsored by The Gochman Family, at the 2021 Capital Challenge Horse Show on Wednesday, October 6, held at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Heather Williams rode DiCaprio 3 to the top prize in the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge, sponsored by John R. Ingram Fund. In the $25,000 KASK North American Green Hunter 3’ and 3’3” Championship, sponsored by The Wheeler Family, Scott Stewart and Ackergill Castle took home the blue ribbon. The three classes marked a highlight day of competition at Capital Challenge, which runs through Sunday, October 10.
Riders qualified for the $25,000 WCHR Professional Challenge by finishing in the top four in professional hunter classes at the show or ranking in the top 10 nationally. The class consisted of a first round for all 28 competitors and a second round for the top 12 horse-and-rider combinations.
French piloted Babylon, owned by Marnell Sport Horses, to an impressive first round score of 95 to put the duo at the top of the leaderboard by five points. The pair held their lead in the second round with a score of 89.33 and a total score of 184.33.
French has been partnered with Babylon since the gelding arrived in the United States after being purchased by Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington. The pair had a very successful start and earned the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival Circuit Champion in the Pre-Green Hunter 3 & 4 Year Olds. Due to COVID-19, French only showed Babylon in the Green Hunter 3’ division twice before moving up to the Green Hunter 3’6” division.
“For him to come here at six years old and show against those horses and win tonight is pretty special,” said French of the Oldenburg gelding by Crumbie. “I never dreamed that he would win this. I just thought this would be a good class to go in for experience and see how he did, and he ended up winning the whole thing. Having started him from the beginning makes it more special.”
In the first round, said French, “It felt like one of those rounds, like when I rode Rumba the first round in [USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals], that everything seemed to go really well. He felt like he jumped well, and all three sets of judges thought the same thing.”
French and Babylon were no strangers to the winner’s circle on Wednesday at Capital Challenge. The pair earned a tricolor in the Green Hunter 3’6” Section A, as well as the EMO Best Professional Trip of the Show with a score of 92, and the Leading Hunter Rider. French has also been successful in the WCHR Professional Challenge in previous years, having won it in 2010, 2011, and 2013.
“I’ve always had good luck at this horse show; it’s always been a good show for me,” commented French. “I think this is the best show there is for the hunters with all the special classes and awards they give that showcase the owners, the horses, and the riders. Sometimes the owners and riders don’t get all the recognition. It’s nice coming here where we get a lot of recognition for all the hard work that we have done.”
Second place in $25,000 WCHR Professional Challenge went to Scott Stewart and Gochman Sport Horses LLC’s Catch Me. The pair received a score of 87.75 in the first round and the highest second-round score of 93.66, for a total of 181.41. Victoria Colvin and JT Farm’s Gabriel earned a third place ribbon with scores of 89.66 and 88.08 for a total score of 177.74.
The overall Grand Hunter Championship title, sponsored by RBS Farms, Inc., Rob Bielefeld, and Chrystal Knight, went to John French and Babylon, owned by Marnell Sport Horses. French received the Janet Polk Read and Margaret Hough Sabbatini Memorial Trophy, donated by The Goguen Family. The Leading Hunter Rider Award, sponsored by the Gibson Family and Shadyside Farm was also awarded to French. Holliday Ryals was awarded the Professional American Style of Riding Award, while Jared Depermentier won the Developing Professional American Style of Riding Award, both sponsored by Bill Rube.
Grand Champion Green Hunter 3’6”, sponsored by Memorial Park Hunters, was received by John French and Babylon. French and Babylon were also awarded the Grand Green Hunter Champion, sponsored by Carleton and Traci Brooks of Balmoral. Scott Stewart and Dr. Betsee Parker’s For Always earned the Grand Champion Conformation Hunter, sponsored by BJ Meeks, Pablo Perez, and Kenny Wheeler. French piloted Babylon to a score of 92 in the Green Hunter 3’6” division to earn the Best EMO Professional Trip of the Show. The Tribute Award, sponsored by Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley of Rivers Edge was also received by French.
French is one of six riders qualified for Friday night's WCHR Pro Finals, presented by The Rein Family, along with Scott Stewart, Victoria Colvin, Amanda Steege, Jimmy Torano, and Geoffrey Hesslink.
Final Results: $25,000 WCHR Pro Challenge, presented by The Gochman Family
Round 1/Round 2/Final
1 BABYLON JOHN FRENCH
95.00 89.33 184.33
2 CATCH ME SCOTT STEWART
87.75 93.66 181.41
3 GABRIEL VICTORIA COLVIN
89.66 88.08 177.74
4 LASKANO JIMMY TORANO
88.16 89.00 177.16
5 PRIVATE I MICHAEL BRITT- LEON
87.08 88.50 175.58
6 MTM LE CADEAU HOLLIDAY RYALS
86.33 86.66 172.99
7 CARISTO SAMANTHA SCHAEFER
85.83 86.16 171.99
8 FERRARI ELIZABETH BOYD
84.41 86.33 170.74
9 NECOFINO CAROLINE WILLARD BRILES
85.91 84.83 170.74
10 BOND GEOFFREY HESSLINK
85.95 83.33 169.28
11 TRADITION PATRICIA GRIFFITH
83.66 85.33 168.99
12 M MONROE JULIA ROSE ROSSOW
85.75 82.16 167.91
October 5, 2021 – Upper Marlboro, MD – Kathryn Kranking of New Market, Maryland, and Mahalo were crowned the winners of the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Adult Hunter Finals on Tuesday, October 5, at the 2021 Capital Challenge Horse Show, held at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Riders qualified for this year-end final by accumulating points in the NAL Adult Hunter competitions throughout the year. In the first round, Kranking and Mahalo led the pack of 28 horse-and-rider combinations with a high score of 87. They followed up in the second round with an 84 for a total of 171 for the win.
Second place went to Traci Baldwin and her own Verdi. They scored 81.5 in round one and had the high score of 86 in round two for a total of 167.50. With a total of 165 from scores of 80 and 85, Heather Bamford and Wyatt, owned by Kirsten Pollin, finished third.
While Mahalo, a 21-year-old Warmblood gelding, is a hunter ring veteran with major wins, including victory in the $500,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix with Samantha Schaefer in 2011, Kranking has only been riding him for a year. The win was extra special for Kranking, as Mahalo is the first horse she has ever had to herself.
“He is my first horse that I’ve ever had in my life,” confirmed the 29-year-old Kranking. “I’ve been riding my whole life. I’ve been with Rolling Acres for the past 10 or 11 years, and I’ve basically been catch riding for them for 10 years. I’ve just ridden whatever I can, so it was really special to have a horse for a whole year and have that relationship with him because I’ve never really had that before. It shows that consistency really builds a great relationship. I’m extremely lucky to have him; he’s incredible. I’d never thought I’d ever get here!”
As the leader coming into the second round, Kranking was nervous and wanted to avoid major mistakes.
“My goal was to go in and ride like I did the first round and have fun,” she said. “Mahalo does his job, so if I rode like I have all year, I knew we would be fine.”
In the first round, said Kranking, “I did get some pace because sometimes we can be a little slow. Mahalo walks in there like he’s done this a million times, which he has, so he really just carried me around. My goal was to use my corners, use my turns, ride up the lines, and find the jumps.”
While Mahalo has “been there, done that,” he still is able to throw a curveball occasionally. “He can definitely have some spice every once in a while,” laughed Kranking.
Competition on Tuesday at Capital Challenge also included championships for 10 professional hunter divisions.
High Performance Conformation Hunter
Sponsored by New Vintage Farm & RPW Show Horses LLC
Champion: For Always, ridden by Scott Stewart and owned by Dr. Betsee Parker Reserve Champion: Gabriel, ridden by Victoria Colvin and owned by JT Farm
Green Conformation Hunter
Champion: Gratitude, ridden by Christopher Payne and owned by Still Water Farm LLC
Reserve Champion: Caristo, ridden by Samantha Schaefer and owned by R & R Hunter Horses LLC
High Performance Hunter
Sponsored by Michael Britt-León & Windsor Stables and Kelly Sims
Champion: Lafitte De Muze, ridden by Amanda Steege and owned by Cheryl Olsten Reserve Champion: S & L Exxon Hedonist, ridden by Patricia Griffith and owned by S & L Farms
Green Hunter 3’9”
Sponsored by Lannie Lipson
Champion: Cabrio, ridden by Scott Stewart and owned by Bikoff Equestrian LLC Reserve Champion: Autograph, ridden by Hunt Tosh and owned by Ceil Wheeler
Green Hunter 3’6” Section A
Sponsored by Peter Pletcher & PJP Farm
Champion: Babylon, ridden by John French and owned by Marnell Sport Horses
Reserve Champion: Laskano, ridden by Jimmy Torano and owned by Isalou, Inc.
Green Hunter 3’6” Section B
Sponsored by Lee Sadrian & the Kellogg Family
Champion: Reign, ridden by Christopher Payne and owned by Still Water Farm LLC
Reserve Champion: Blink, ridden by Jennifer Bauersachs and owned by Lee Kellogg Sadrian
Green Hunter Colts & Geldings
Sponsored by Boggs Hill/Mr. and Mrs. Tim Goguen
Champion: Varsity, ridden by Jennifer Hannan and owned by Jane Olson Fisher Reserve Champion: Good Vibes, ridden by Havens Schatt and owned by Leanne McMenamin
Green Hunter 3’ 7 & Over
Sponsored by David Belford and Christopher Payne, New Hope LLC
Champion: Gilded, ridden by Daniel Geitner and owned by Sandra Bierman
Reserve Champion: MTM Last Word, ridden by Tracy Fenney and owned by MTM Farm
Green Hunter 3’ 6 & Under
Sponsored by Roger and Jennifer Smith
Champion: So Cool, ridden by Scott Stewart and owned by Dr. Betsee Parker
Reserve Champion: Axel, ridden by Christopher Payne and owned by New Hope LLC
Green Hunter Mares 3’ & 3’3”
Sponsored by Penelope Ayers
Champion: Waverly, ridden by Holly Orlando and owned by R&R Hunter Horses LLC
Reserve Champion: Arosa B, ridden by Amanda Steege and owned by Samantha Kramig
Green Hunter 3’3” Section A
Sponsored by Hunt Tosh, Inc.
Champion: Doctor’s Orders, ridden by Victoria Colvin and owned by Brad Wolf
Reserve Champion: Augustine, ridden by Jennifer Bauersachs and owned by Lee Kellogg Sadrian
Green Hunter 3’3” Section B
Sponsored by Hunt Tosh, Inc.
Champion: Corragio, ridden by Cassandra Kahle and owned by Redfield Farm
Reserve Champion: Dialouet, ridden by Scott Stewart and owned by Rivers Edge
Click here for full results of the NAL Adult Hunter Finals.
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, Adult Hunter, Children’s Jumper, presented by EquiFit; Adult Jumper, presented by SmartPak; and Low Junior/Amateur Jumper, presented by HorseFlight. The NAL series concludes with year-end finals for those who accumulated the most points in their divisions over the course of the season.
Competition will continue at the 2021 Capital Challenge Horse Show on Wednesday with the conclusion of the Performance Hunter 3’6” in both the Show Place Arena and Outdoor Ring at 7:30 a.m., followed by competition for Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’6” and 3’3” divisions. The highlight classes of the day include the World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Challenge and WCHR Developing Pro Challenge.
October 4, 2021 – Upper Marlboro, MD – Ava Berman, of Baltimore, Maryland, piloted her own Kingsbury to the blue ribbon in the $10,000 North American League (NAL) Children’s Hunter Finals on Monday, October 4, at the 2021 Capital Challenge Horse Show, taking place at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Riders qualified for this year-end final by accumulating points in the NAL Children’s Hunter competitions throughout the year. Berman, 13, bested a field of 28 horse-and-rider combinations after earning a score of 86 in the first round and an 84 in the second round, for a combined score of 170.
The second-place honor was awarded to Samantha Yagoda, of Washington, D.C., aboard her own Cortado. This pair earned a first round score of 82, which was combined with their second-round score of 86 for a total 168 points. Ellie Sadrian of Summit, New Jersey, rode Signorino Family Farm LLC’s Denmark to a third-place finish with scores of 81, 83, and a total score of 164.
“I thought [the first round] was probably one of my best rounds I’ve ever had on him,” said Berman, who trains with Samantha Schaefer and Kate Conover. “He was relaxed and having a good time in here. I think he was just happy.”
Berman returned to the second round sitting in second place and knew she was going to have to impress the judges to take over the lead.
“I was kind of nervous,” continued Berman regarding the second round. “I just wanted to have fun because this is one of my last rounds with him. I wanted to be relaxed and have a good time. I’m probably happiest about the four [stride] to two [stride line]. That was the easiest one both rounds, and I think it rode really well.”
Berman has been paired with Kingsbury, a 15-year-old Warmblood gelding, for more than four years. This week may be one Berman’s last horse shows with Kingsbury, and the rider was happy to end their partnership on a high note.
“He was the first horse I ever had,” explained Berman. “He was my first Children’s Hunter horse. Someone is trying him soon, and it’s probably one of my last shows with him.”
Click here for full results of the NAL Children’s Hunter Final.
Competition at the Capital Challenge Horse Show on Monday also featured the start of the professional hunter divisions.
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, Adult Hunter, Children’s Jumper, presented by EquiFit; Adult Jumper, presented by SmartPak; and Low Junior/Amateur Jumper, presented by HorseFlight. The NAL series conclude with year-end finals for those who accumulated the most points in their divisions over the course of the season.
Competition will continue at the 2021 Capital Challenge Horse Show on Tuesday with the professional hunter divisions starting at 7:30 a.m in the Show Place Arena and 7 a.m. in the outdoor ring. Tuesday competition also features the $10,000 NAL Adult Hunter Finals.
Abigail Gordon Clinches the Win in the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children's Medal Finals
Abigail Gordon of Statesville, NC, topped a total of 39 juniors that qualified from across the country to win Sunday’s Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Children’s Medal Final at Capital Challenge. The top 10 from the first round then returned for a second round.
Gordon, 14, sat in second place with a score of 87.66 following the first round, and she moved into the lead with a score of 87.41 in the second round for combined first and second-round score of 175.07.
After the second round, because Olivia Sweetnam of Wellington, FL, sat within two points of Gordon, and Catherine Kramer of Carmel, IN, was just a fraction of a point behind Sweetnam, the three competitors were brought back for a final test that included a counter canter, trot fence, and hand gallop. In the end, Gordon prevailed with a third-round score of 83.66 putting her at the top with a score of 258.73 overall.
Finishing in second place with scores of 87.83, 85.58, and 83.33 for a 256.74 total was Catherine Kramer aboard Cristallo’s Carlchen P, owned by Alivia Kohus. Third place was awarded to Olivia Sweetnam on Sweet Oak Farm’s Coppertone who earned scores of 86.70, 87.16, and 69 for a 242.86 total.
“I got more confidence out of this,” Gordon said of her win, “but it’s not only about winning; it’s about doing my best. I gave it my all and when you do, it pays off. I’ve worked pretty hard these past couple years since [I started] training with Ashland Farms, and I’ve been trusting the process ever since. This [medal final] was my goal all year and it paid off, so I was really, really happy about it.”
Gordon talked about putting in the hard work, and also mentioned the importance of maintaining a positive mindset. “I always look at the bright side. Even if I won or not, I look at what went well,” she shared. “That will always guide you to bigger and better things.”
Because she says she’s an overthinker, Gordon credits a unique tactic for overcoming the challenge it creates in the ring. “It’s all Pinterest; I read those quotes!” Gordon laughed. “I do those affirmations [that I find on Pinterest] before I go into the ring. I’m [say things] like, ‘I’m attracting positive, healthy vibrations into my body!’ and then it works. I’m telling you, download [the affirmations]!”
Gordon was aboard Mary Jane King’s Heartbeat Z, a horse that was first her older sister’s (Libbie Gordon) equitation mount before going out on lease and then returning to the Gordon family because they adored him. “He is so sweet, and he would never hurt a fly,” she said of the horse known as ‘Happy’ in the barn. “He always tries his best. If he knows that his rider trusts him, he will trust his rider. He is very, very brave, and he also gives pretty good snuggles!”
“He is pretty spoiled in the barn,” she continued of Happy. “Right now, I’m giving him pumpkin-spiced treats and [it’s been his favorite treat so far] so I guess he’s a pumpkin spice man! I might need to buy him a latte at Starbucks. He needs the reward [following our win] so he will get a lot of kisses and hugs after this.”
While Sunday marked the conclusion of Equitation Weekend, presented by Bigeq.com, competition at the 2021 Capital Challenge Horse Show continues on Monday, October 4, with the professional hunter divisions beginning at 7:30 a.m.
Note: In Sunday’s Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children’s Medal Final, there was a change to the previously announced standings for the top 10 that would return for the second round. After the first round was complete, and upon further review by the six judges and the stewarding team of Capital Challenge Horse Show, it was found that three riders that scored in the top 10 crossed the dotted line in their closing circles. On the course map, the dotted line at the beginning and end of the course is clearly marked, and in the arena, they are lined by plants.
The three riders who crossed the dotted line were eliminated from the class per the regulations set out by the horse show prize list and federation rules. The next three riders in the standings who did not cross the dotted line in their first-round course were moved into the top 10 and returned for the second-round test.
THIS National Children’s Medal Finals Results
Place / Rider / Horse / Overall
1/Abigail Gordon / Heartbeat Z / 258.73
2/Catherine Kramer / Cristallo’s Carlchen P / 256.74
3/Olivia Sweetnam / Coppertone / 242.86
4/Paige Walkenbach / Constantinos / 171.74
5/Peyton Addington / Semi-Automatic C / 170.66
6/Rylynn Conway / Crossbow / 170.24
7/Shiloh Roseboom / Venice / 168.24
8/Emma Arnhols / Spiros Z / 165.49
9/Caroline Muth / Photoshop / 156.66
10/Abigail Roberts / Temptation / 123.50
Grace Debney Holds the Lead to Win the Palm Beach International Academy North American Junior Equitation Championships
Following the opening round of the PBIA North American Junior Equitation Championship, a field of 133 junior riders was narrowed to the top 20 competitors, who returned in reverse order of their standings for a second round.
With the first round high score of 92, Debney was the final rider to return for the second course, where she held the lead, earning a score of 94.66 for an overall winning score of 186.66.
Second place with an overall score of 183 went to Riley Hogan of Warrenton, VA, riding Wengen, owned by Don Stewart. Audrey Schulze of Ridgewood, NJ, rounded out the top three with a score of 178.24 on Castellan W, owned by Riverbrook Sport Horses LLC.
“I definitely felt a lot of pressure going in because Riley [Hogan] laid it down. She had a beautiful round, so I definitely had to go in there and do my best,” said Debney of heading into the second round in the top spot. “I have so much confidence in the horse, so I knew after the first jump that I could take a breath.”
Though Debney took a breath, she remained poised to take on an unexpected challenge in the second round and held onto her lead in more ways than one. “[Quimby] landed [on the left lead] instead of the right [lead] after the second jump, so I had to hold the counter lead [in a bending line to fence three],” she explained. “I was happy with how I handled that. I thought he settled in, and it was good he didn’t get nervous because sometimes he can.”
Debney is no stranger when it comes to victory gallops and is glad to have started the equitation finals season on a high note with this championship.
“I thought the course was really, really well designed today,” said Debney of the course designed by Ken Krome. “The first round was hard enough, and this class really prepares everyone for [Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunt Seat] Medal Finals, [ASPCA Maclay Championship], and [Washington International Horse Show Equitation Finals], so I thought it was great.”
Though Debney is a serious competitor, she credits her partner of three years, Quimby, owned by Debney’s Temple Equestrian LLC, for enjoying the experience no matter the result. “I’m definitely having a lot of fun out there with him,” she shared. “It’s great because I think he is so much fun and he is always looking to do his best. Even if we don’t have the greatest round, I know that we at least both had a good time!”
For the victory, Debney was presented with the Best Equitation Rider Award, sponsored by Karen Healey. Debney’s trainers, Samantha Schaefer and Kate Conover, received the Leading Equitation Trainer Award, sponsored by Leslie Steele & Acres West, and Quimby’s groom, Luis Diaz, was presented with the North American Equitation Champion Groom’s Award, sponsored by Holly Hill Farm.
The EMO Equitation Trip of the Show, sponsored by EMO Insurance and presented to the rider with the highest scoring equitation round in the age group equitation division, went to Dominic Gibbs of Colorado Springs, CO, who earned a score of 93 in the 17-Year-Old Equitation.
The Glena Wirtenan Sportsmanship Trophy was also awarded on Sunday to McKenzie Fitch of Collegeville, PA. This inaugural honor is given to a junior Equitation Weekend competitor, selected by the stewards and schooling supervisors, that exemplifies qualities of a true horseperson, sportsmanship, horsemanship, and turnout of both horse and rider.
PBIA North American Junior Equitation Championships Results
Place / Rider / Horse / Overall
1/Grace Debney / Quimby / 186.66
2/ Riley Hogan / Wengen / 183.00
3/Audrey Schulze / Castellan W / 178.24
4/Alexandra Ryden / Vagrant Z / 178.08
5/Hensley Humphries / Imaginator / 177.03
6/Alexa Leong / Showcase / 175.33
7/Alissa Brandt / Caracas 89 / 174.26
8/Elena Haas / Cornell 22 / 173.03
9/Augusta Iwasaki / Attendu De Lannois Z / 172.16
10/Libbie Gordon / Ucatoni / 170.77
Riley Hogan Stays Consistent in EMO Insurance/USHJA 3'3" Jumping Seat Medal Final - East at Capital Challenge
Upper Marlboro, MD – Eleven new equitation champions were crowned on Saturday, October 2, during Equitation Weekend, presented by Bigeq.com at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, MD.
Prominent among Saturday’s champions at Prince George’s Equestrian Center was Riley Hogan of Warrenton, VA, the winner of the fifth-annual EMO Insurance/United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East.
Riding Wengen, Hogan topped a large field of 153 entries over three phases of competition, including flat and gymnastics phases held on Friday and a final jumping phase held on Saturday.
Hogan finished the flat phase in 18th place, but her score of 89 in the gymnastics phase catapulted her to second place in the round and also put her in second overall on a score of 218.50 going into Saturday’s third phase. A brilliant final round and subsequent score of 93, multiplied by a coefficient of two and combined with her score from Friday, gave Hogan an overall score of 404.50, a 14.50-point lead over second place.
Lauren Jorgensen of Albuquerque, NM, finished with reserve champion honors after all three rounds on a score of 390 riding her own Adolesco. Third place went to Addison Keyworth of Whitefield, ME, riding her own horse Liam.
Hogan, who was also the champion in the 17-year-old equitation division on Saturday, has been competing in this final at Capital Challenge for three years and notes that doing well in the class is something she’s worked toward, but it will also serve as a foundation from which to build for the remainder of the equitation finals season. “I was ecstatic; I mean it was unreal,” she shared of her win. “[This class] was a pretty big goal, and it definitely gives me a boost of confidence going into the [Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunt Seat] Medal Finals, [ASPCA Maclay Championship] and [Washington International Horse Show Equitation Finals].
“I think this class really helps you feel the pressure of the [big equitation] finals at a lower height,” she continued, “which can make for a better experience especially if it’s your first or second year and you haven’t done many equitation finals.”
Staying cool under pressure is something Hogan was prepared for, especially on the heels of her recent reserve champion honors at the ASPCA Maclay Region 5 Championship. Heading into the final phase in second place, she made a concerted effort to keep a level mindset. “I took a deep breath when I walked in and tried to keep myself calm. [Wengen] was right where I needed him to be so I didn’t have to worry and could focus about keeping myself in the right head space.”
Though the win was exciting in itself, the experience of doing well at this show in particular made the win even more special. “I grew up showing at this venue with my pony so it’s nice to have a big recognized show close to home,” she concluded. “It’s really very fun.”
For her victory, Hogan received a trophy, cooler, and rider sash as well as Parlanti and Essex Classics gift certificates, a saddle pad, and a Straight Arrow gift bag.
Hogan’s mount, Wengen, owned by Donald Stewart, was named Best Equitation Horse, and received a CWD gift certificate, a silver keeper trophy, and a bridle ribbon.
For her second-placed finish, Jorgensen received a picture frame and rider sash as well as a saddle pad and Straight Arrow Gift bag.
The top 12 riders received saddle pads embroidered with the EMO Insurance logo, rider sashes, and Straight Arrow gift bags.
On hand to help present the awards to the top finishers was Sue Bopp from EMO Insurance, and USHJA President Mary Knowlton. This year marks EMO Insurance Agency’s second year sponsoring the 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final classes, first introduced in 2017, but the equine insurance agency has been an integral part of Capital Challenge since the show’s inception.
Earlier in the day, the North American Junior Flat Equitation Championship title was awarded to Dominic Gibbs, 17, of Colorado Springs, CO, for the third-consecutive year and nine age group equitation division winners were named as follows:
Equitation weekend, presented by Bigeq.com at the Capital Challenge Horse Show concludes on Sunday, October 3, with the Palm Beach International Academy North American Junior Equitation Championships beginning at 7:15 a.m. and immediately followed by the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children’s Medal Finals. The Capital Challenge Horse Show continues with more hunter, jumper, and equitation competition on October 5-10.
EMO Insurance/USHJA 3'3" Jumping Seat Medal Final - East Result
Place / Rider / Horse / Overall
1/Riley Hogan / Wengen / 404.500
2/Lauren Jorgensen / Adolesco / 390.00
3/Addison Keyworth / Liam / 388.600
4/Eve Westfall / Bon Amour / 388.125
5/Kaitlyn Roman / Pacific Heights / 382.40
6/Isabel Rudaz / Diasandro / 381.200
7/Kate Hagerty / Spotlight / 379.475
8/Kaitlyn Kiely / Cool De Reve / 379.325
9/Lucas Mejia Fanjul / Lucky Quid / 377.750
10/Ariana Marnell / Coltino / 377.125
11/Paige Walkenbach / Quadro D’Ag / 376.550
12/Elianna Kirson / Ilyana / 375.275
Addison Keyworth Leads the Way in the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final - East
The first day of competition at the Capital Challenge Horse Show also featured the flat and gymnastics phases of the fifth-annual EMO Insurance Agency/United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final - East. Following the first two phases, Addison Keyworth of Whitefield, Maine, leads the 153-rider field.
Keyworth and her own Liam topped the flat phase with a high score of 91 and then earned a score of 88 to finish third in the gymnastics phase. With all gymnastics phase scores multiplied by a coefficient of 1.5 before being added to each riders’ flat phase score, Keyworth currently sits at the top of the class with an overall score of 223.
“It feels like a lot of hard work paid off,” explained Keyworth. “I’ve had Liam for four years. He’s my absolute best friend and it feels so nice to have done this with him. He’s really my everything; he is such an amazing horse.”
Paige Walkenbach, of Paradise Valley, Arizona, piloted Theresa Boucher’s Quadro D’Ag to a score of 90 and the blue ribbon in the gymnastics phase.
“My horse and I have worked really hard this year so it feels great,” said Walkenbach, who trains with Elvenstar Farm. “I got him in March this year, so I haven’t had him very long. I live in Arizona and he lives in California, so we have been getting to know each other at the shows. He is such a good boy.”
Walkenbach gives a nod to her trainers for helping her prepare before she steps in the ring with Quadro D’Ag. “I like to make sure that I have a good mindset before I go in the ring, so I talk with my trainers a lot throughout the course walk,” continued Walkenbach. “My trainer Jim [Hagman] always tells me to have patience during the course walk so I can have more time to look over the track.”
The Capital Challenge Horse Show continues on Saturday with the age group equitation divisions starting at 7 a.m. followed by the final phase and culmination of the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final - East.
Claire Stevenson Leads Start to Finish to Win the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Championship at Capital Challenge
Upper Marlboro, MD – The first major championship title of the 2021 Capital Challenge Horse Show went to Claire Stevenson on Friday, October 1, at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Riding Audi 2000 Z, Stevenson, of Southampton, New York, topped the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Championship to kick off Equitation Weekend, presented by BIGEQ.com.
From a field of 26 entries, a score of 87.66 over the Joseph Carnicom-designed first round course put Stevenson and Audi 2000 Z, owned by Missy Clark’s North Run and Robert Gierkink’s Kadley Farms, LLC, at the top of the leaderboard going into round two. The pair’s second-round score of 85.66 solidified the win with an overall score of 173.32.
Second place with scores of 84.16 and 85.66 for a 169.82 total went to Jaden Olson of Parker, Colorado, riding her own Conradical. Anna Koenig of Hollywood, Florida, and Constantin, owned by Ashland Farms, rounded out the top three with an overall score of 169.00.
“Today has been an amazing day!” said Stevenson. “I recently paired up with Audi 2000 Z through my trainers, Geoffrey Hesslink and Brendan Williams, and it’s been absolutely incredible. Missy Clark and Kadley Farms were so nice to let me have the ride on him for Equitation Weekend and [the upcoming] Ariat [National Adult Medal] Finals. He’s only seven, so we wanted to give him a great experience before going into the indoor later next week. I was so impressed with him today. He felt like a real veteran, and I felt like I was riding the winner.”
Growing up, Stevenson was a successful competitor on ponies and horses, but hadn’t clinched a win of this magnitude until now.
“Going into the second round [in the top spot], obviously I had a lot of nerves,” Stevenson continued. “I’ve never been in this position before, and this is only my second year showing at Capital Challenge. So, to not only make the second round but to lead going into it, I just wanted to hold myself together, keep composure, and give the horse the ride and the ribbon that I thought he deserved today.”
The win was that much sweeter for Stevenson who was a self-proclaimed equitation nut and Missy Clark fan from an early age. “I recently found a school journal from when I was 10 years old where I had written about Missy being the best trainer and about all the people she’s trained,” she laughed. “It’s so funny that when Geoffrey [Hesslink] presented me with the opportunity to ride Audi, Missy was one of the owners.”
Stevenson is quick to acknowledge a true team effort that helped her achieve the win, including her trainers, the horse’s owners, and the horse’s groom, Armando Potillo.
“I’ve ridden Audi about three times, so Geoffrey and Brendan [Williams] have done such a great job getting to know him quickly,” she shared. “I was just trying to do my homework at home so when he showed up ready, fingers crossed, I was, too.
“I’ve been so fortunate to have some amazing owners let me ride their horses to gain experience for myself and, oftentimes, to help horses gain experience as well,” she concluded. “To have a chance to do it and have some success like this is sort of mind boggling—it’ll take a while to process it.”
Upper Marlboro, MD – September 24, 2021 – All of the sponsors at Capital Challenge Horse Show (CCHS) are family, and two of them that help bring horses to the show every year are Johnson Horse Transportation and Horseflight. Without the sponsors’ support, Capital Challenge Horse Show couldn’t happen, and this year management is pleased to welcome these important partners back to Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, on October 1-10, 2021.
Johnson Horse Transportation, led by founder DJ Johnson, has been a sponsor at CCHS for more than 20 years, and the draw of competitors from across the country is what brought Johnson in to sponsor.
“There are a lot of people from California and the Midwest that come to Capital Challenge, so it was good exposure to people who may not have known us at the time,” said Johnson. “We are well established now, but every year we always seem to get a new customer from Capital Challenge. It’s a special horse show, and we are grateful for that.”
He added, “While we do have many long-term customers, the business is ever changing. There are a lot of new faces and new trainers. Even though we have been around for more than 30 years, we never quit looking for customers and good horse shows to go to. Capital Challenge provides both of those for us.”
Capital Challenge News
There are a few ways to find the latest news from the Capital Challenge Horse Show.