Story by Tricia Booker for the USHJA Photo by Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
When Liza Boyd heard about the new format for the $5,000 WCHR Professional Finals, she had a premonition that this might be her year. The six top riders in the WCHR Professional National standings qualified to compete over two rounds on unfamiliar horses and then rode their own horses for the third and final handy round.
“I brought Quatrain here specifically for this class and the Pro Challenge,” she said of the 9-year-old Westphalian gelding she owns with her parents and Janet Peterson. “I am so fortunate to have him, and I know him so well and trust him.”
That familiarity turned out to make all the difference in the Handy Round, as Boyd earned the night’s highest scores of 95, 95 and 95 to clinch the victory with an overall score of 274.66. Her solid performances aboard the borrowed horses Crack On and Corduroy in Rounds 1 and 2 had put her third going into the Handy Round, just within striking distance.
“So, Quatrain won this class for me, for sure,” said Boyd. “He’s amazing, and I’m so proud of him. He’s really coming into his own, and I kind of knew early on in the week. He got an 88 and won the handy in the High Performance section, it was pretty much a no brainer that I should for sure do him.”
Boyd’s trip to the winner’s circle had a few nail-biting moments, though. She had to place eighth in the WCHR Professional Challenge on Wednesday to qualify for the Professional Finals, but after a rider error in the first round she just squeaked into the second round in 12th.
“I’ve never worked so hard for an eighth-placed ribbon,” she said with a laugh. “I called my mom before the second round and tried to get pumped up. I always ride better under pressure, and I really needed to get up for the class.
“I think it’s actually because of Peter [Pletcher] that I’m sitting here. I thought I was going to be ninth, and I was like, ‘OK, I tried and it didn’t work out.’ But then Peter had a rail and I ended up eighth. It’s funny how things happen,” said Boyd smiling.
Scott Stewart took the lead in the first round aboard the borrowed mount Contelido and maintained that position with a second solid round aboard All The Right Moves.
He returned for the Handy Round with Fashion Farm’s Declaration, but a slip on the turn from fences 1 and 2, and a few bobbles later in the course, earned a score of 76 in the round and a 257.66 overall.
“I chose Declaration, who I’ve had for a really long time,” said Stewart. “He’s usually really, really good in the handy rounds—until tonight. I don’t know what set him off. He’s usually perfect. He’s done really well in a lot of derbies so far. I’ll have to try again.”
Amanda Steege, of Far Hills, NJ, was the sole rookie in the field of veteran professionals, and she moved up in t he Handy Round from fourth to second overall with a stellar performance aboard Zidane.
“This is the first year that I’ve shown him,” said Steege. “I show him in the High Performance, and I did my first [USHJA International Hunter] Derby Finals on him this year. [Owner] and Susan Darragh shows him in the Modified Adults. He’s totally dependable, and I knew he would help me out when I needed it.”
Peter Pletcher, of Magnolia, TX, returned to the Handy Round in sixth place, but an impressive performance with Eva Bisso’s Aura vaulted him to third place overall with a score of 87.33 and an overall total of 262.49.
The 2013 WCHR National Professional Champion Kelley Farmer, of Keswick, VA, finished fourth overall with 261.16. She was the only rider who negotiated a tight inside turn from the trot fence at 4 to a rollback to fence 5.
“I was in a position where if I tried it and it worked, great. If it didn’t, well, then I was low enough that in order to move up I was going to have to do something,” said Famer, whose score of 84.83 and 261.16 overall with CH Farm’s On Q resulted in fourth.
John French, of Woodside, CA, dropped down in the standings to fifth during the Handy Round (257.83) after Lily Blavin’s Sander stepped off his lead.
With just 6.5 points separating the six riders going into the Handy Round, those third-round performances shuffled the standings tremendously.
“I think we’re all pretty much used to being in a pressure situation or knowing we’re close,” said Farmer. “So even if we’re not totally aware of the exact point or exact number, we’re pretty used to knowing if we’re on top or have to do something extra to move up.”
This year’s horses were generously donated by: East Coast Sport Horses (All The Right Moves); Georgy Maskrey-Segesman (Contelido); King’s Wood Farm, LLC (Corduroy); Old Willow Farm & Emma Heise (Crack On); Katherine Boettcher (Lamont); and Alexis Graves (Copperfield 39).
Contelido, the horse donated by Maskrey-Segesman, earned this year’s Far West Farms Perpetual Trophy awarded to the high-score horse of the competition. Contelido, trained by Karen Healey, achieved an average of 90.83 with rides by Stewart and Farmer.
With this victory, Boyd, of Camden, SC, will have her name engraved on the All The Way Perpetual Trophy. She also won prizes from USHJA/WCHR sponsors Blue Ribbon Blankets, the Official Cooler Sponsor of WCHR and Charles Owen, the Official Helmet of the USHJA.
Photos and Story by Tricia Booker for the USHJA
“My horse is here, and I rode her in the 51 and over yesterday, too,” said Sweeney.
“It’s just that she’s got a bigger stride, and I found myself all of the sudden not as perfect on her. So, I got prizes, but not top prizes. I’ve been champion on her at every show in California, but the competition here is much different.”
Sweeney, a professional musician and the manager of the Pasadena Symphony and co-manager of the Santa Barbara Symphony, said that she felt an immediate bond with the 10-year-old KWPN (Silverstar—Pimarilla). She compared their instant rapport with the feeling she experiences when all of the members of a symphony are in perfect harmony.
any drug! Maybe Champagne, which is coming next.”
Sweeney wasn’t sure she was going to bring her own horse to Maryland from California, so she called Dwight to find out if she might have an extra horse. Dwight, who earned top ribbons on her Havana in the same section, offered Pimm’s Cup.
“And so she said, ‘Oh please, he’ll be here anyway. Please enjoy him,’ ” said Sweeney. “I’ve been riding all my life, and I’ve ridden all sorts of different horses. This is a very special horse that Karen has. I feel really fortunate that she was so generous.”
I screw up I just don’t even care. I love him so much.”
The WCHR victory is a highlight so far in Wasserman’s three-year career with Back In The Game, a 15-year-old warmblood by Robin II Z. She fell in love with the elegant bay after seeing him compete on the West Coast with trainer Dick Carvin and owner Paris Sellon.
“I thought he was just the most beautiful horse, and I would die to ever have him,” she recalled. “And then we were back East three years ago, and he was at indoors. I was looking for a horse, and Archie said, ‘There’s the horse you’re in love with.’ I’m like, ‘Can we try him?’
Wasserman knew after jumping one fence that Back In The Game was going back to her barn. “He was awesome. He’s been kind of a fairytale for me ever since. I just love him,” she said, adding that she wouldn't be living the dream without the support of her husband and two children.
This is Wasserman’s second trip to the Capital Challenge, and she’ll also compete at the Washington International during this coast-to-coast journey. “It’s fun for us to do something different and come back East with the really great riders,” said Wasserman. “And it’s fun to be indoors, and it’s really exciting. It raises the stakes. I love it.”
WCHR AMATEUR OWNER 3'6 CHALLENGE
Pl Number Horse Rider Nat J1 J2 J3 Round Final
1 289 BACK IN THE GAME LAURA WASSERMAN 88.00 86.00 82.00 85.33
2 480 CASTLEWALK NANCY HOOKER 84.00 84.00 85.00 84.33
3 508 REALITY KRISTA WEISMAN 85.00 83.50 83.50 84.00
4 953 O.C. KAITLIN PORATH 83.00 85.00 83.00 83.66
5 563 COSTAR JOHN INGRAM 79.00 83.00 84.00 82.00
6 753 INVINCIBLE ELLEN TOON 82.00 82.00 81.00 81.66
7 193 SIENNA LEXI MAOUNIS 78.50 82.50 82.50 81.16
8 511 CHAMONIX ELIZABETH FARACI 81.00 81.00 79.00 80.33
9 822 SCOOP THERESE PECK 78.00 79.00 80.00 79.00
10 741 DRUMLINE NICOLE LYVERE 80.00 78.00 78.00 78.66
“Then, when I rode him I thought, ‘Oh, this works.’ From the first two or three jumps you knew he was special,” she recalled.
Amarillo had two starts in the 3’ Pre-Green section on the HITS Ocala circuit in Florida before moving up to the 3’3” Amateur-Owners with Gaston. “That [section] works in my schedule better even though it’s a little harder for a horse that green, but he’s been great,” she said. “He’s been an honest horse and a smart horse—it’s like he got the playbook, read it and went, ‘I got it!’ ”
Gaston had the WCHR and the Capital Challenge on her radar throughout the year, and this is her second victory in a WCHR Challenge after claiming the 3’6” Amateur-Owner Challenge aboard Lumiere in 2010.
“I love the WCHR. I really think of all the things you can win, it’s the best,” said Gaston. “It’s exciting, and what I like is in the end it’s a head-to-head competition. I knew I probably couldn’t catch Daryl [Portela, who won the WCHR National Amateur-Owner title], but I’ll keep on hammering. It’s exciting.”
Amarillo lives at home with Gaston in The Plains, VA, and has already established himself as a trustworthy trail horse, even crossing water confidently. “He’s really easy and pretty straightforward,” she said. “I couldn’t be happier with him.”
“It means everything to win this class,” she added. “It’s hard work. It’s been a hard year. I was down there with the horse in Florida, taking care of him myself. I haven’t been able to meet up with [trainer] Hunt Tosh as much as I would like, but we’re reunited. He got us right back where we needed to be and on track. It’s been a very satisfying year. It’s all worth it.”
WCHR AMATEUR OWNER 3'3 CHALLENGE
Pl Number Horse Rider J1 J2 J3 Round Final
1 1104AMARILLO JANE GASTON 88.00 89.00 90.00 89.00
2 879 MTM INSIDE SCOOP DIDI MACKENZIE 84.00 86.00 82.00 84.00
3 131 QUITE SIMPLY ELIZABETH DE GOLI 81.50 83.50 85.00 83.33
4 294 WINFIELD TONIA COOK-LOOKER 81.00 85.00 84.00 83.33
5 158 VALENTINE JAIME AULETTO 80.00 87.00 83.00 83.33
6 650 BALIN AINSLEY SADLO 82.50 82.00 81.00 81.83
7 1174WINNER DARYL PORTELA 83.00 84.00 78.00 81.66
8 1022COLUMBUS KATHRYN HAEFNER 79.50 82.50 82.50 81.50
9 235 ENCORE MISSY LUCZAK SMIT 82.00 81.00 80.00 81.00
10 547 CATAMOUNT SANDRA EPSTEIN 79.00 83.00 77.00 79.66
“Honestly, he’s still a little green in the hunters even though he’s 10,” Crolick added. “But each day gets better and better. He was imported in October of last year and was doing the jumpers. He was imported to be a jumper here, but you could tell by watching him he’s not a jumper.”
Crolick returned for the second round of the WCHR Developing Pro Challenge as the class leader, and he didn’t let the pressure affect his performance, scoring a two-round total of 176 points for the win. Jamie Taylor finished second with Cipriani (175.66), and Taylor Ann Adams guided Taken to third with 174.99 points.
“My thought process tonight was to try and stay relaxed,” said Crolick. “Again, it was my first time doing the class and his first nighttime class. You didn’t know what to expect, so I tried to stay relaxed and keep the focus. I have a tendency to get aggressive when I’m in there, like a handy derby. So in this type of classical hunter round you needed to be a little quieter and be a little more subdued, like the classic hunter style.”
The outcome of the class also determined the WCHR Developing Pro National Champion, with Adams clinching the title over Tayor by 14 points.
“This year it was weird to be qualified as a Developing Professional because I’m 41 and have been doing this a while,” continued Crolick. “But I met all of the qualifications, and, hopefully, next year I’ll be in the Professional Challenge.”
Crolick’s fall indoor season will also be memorable for a more personal reason: He and his wife Jessica are expecting their second child on Oct. 20. “And, of course, the baby will come right on time, and then it will be on to the National Horse Show,” he said with laugh.
Final Results: $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge
1 GREY STREET GREG CROLICK 87.50 88.00 88.50 88.00
89.00 87.50 87.50 88.00 176.00
2 CIPRIANI JAMIE TAYLOR 85.50 86.50 89.00 87.00
90.00 88.00 88.00 88.66 175.66
3 TAKEN TAYLOR ADAMS 88.00 87.00 88.00 87.66
88.00 87.00 87.00 87.33 174.99
4 POKER FACE JENNIFER BLISS 86.25 84.50 85.75 85.50
87.00 86.00 86.00 86.33 171.83
5 TRENTINO MEGAN YOUNG 87.00 86.50 86.00 86.50
84.00 84.00 84.00 84.00 170.50
6 HUNDRED ACRE KEIRSTIN JOHNSEN 86.00 86.00 85.00 85.66
82.00 82.00 83.00 82.33 167.99
7 LIMBO COLLEEN ACOSTA 86.50 86.25 86.00 86.25
83.00 80.00 82.00 81.66 167.91
8 SAMBA SHAWN CASADY 84.00 80.50 84.50 83.00
85.00 83.00 85.00 84.33 167.33
9 ALLURA LAENA ROMOND 85.00 81.00 81.00 82.33
80.00 81.00 80.00 80.33 162.66
10 MAXIMUS CASSANDRA KAHLE 85.75 83.50 85.50 84.91
77.00 77.00 79.00 77.66 162.57
11 TUNDRA HILLARY JOHNSON 83.00 85.00 84.00 84.00
78.00 78.00 78.00 78.00 162.00
12 MALDINI KATIE GARDNER 85.25 79.75 82.50 82.50
45.00 45.00 45.00 45.00 127.50
“I know him so well, and I’ve been riding him since his first year in 2009,” said French. “His first round was exceptionally great. He just jumped high, and it was super smooth. I think I had enough of a lead coming into the second round. I'm not sure where I ended up in the second round, not the top, maybe third or fourth. But when you add the two scores together, it was enough to win.”
Indeed, French’s two-round total of 178.41 points earned him the Little Brook Farm Perpetual Trophy, and his name will now be engraved as the winner for 2013, as well as in 2010 and 2011. WCHR Professional National Champion Kelley Farmer guided Mythical to second place with 177.83 points, and Hayley Barnhill rode Fonteyn to third place with 175.66 points.
“That was good having that cushion coming in,” said French, who edged Farmer by just .58 points. “He had a rub in the second round, but otherwise he was great. He showed here during the week in 3'6” Performance Hunters and was reserve champion as well.”
While French was on the sidelines healing, Small Affair led many victory gallops over the year with junior rider Samantha Sommers, including grand championship honors in the West Coast U.S. Junior Hunter Finals.
“He tries really hard,” said French of Small Affair. “When he first started out, he was very cautious and a little bit spooky because he's so careful. He always wants to jump a really good jump. I think there are some horses that you just have a partnership with. I wouldn't have wanted to ride any other horse in the class tonight because I know him so well. He always gives 100 percent and tries to jump a beautiful jump every time.”
Final Results: $25,000 WCHR Professional Challenge
1 SMALL AFFAIR JOHN FRENCH 91.00 90.00 90.00 90.33
88.25 87.50 88.50 88.08 178.41
2 MYTHICAL KELLEY FARMER 89.00 87.50 89.00 88.50
87.50 89.50 91.00 89.33 177.83
3 FONTEYN HAYLEY BARNHILL 87.00 88.00 87.00 87.33
88.50 88.50 88.00 88.33 175.66
4 AVIGNION JENNIFER BAUERSACHS 83.75 84.50 86.50 84.91
89.00 89.00 89.00 89.00 173.91
5 BACARDI HAVENS SCHATT 82.50 82.00 84.50 83.00
91.00 91.00 84.00 88.66 171.66
6 PADDINGTON NICK HANESS 86.00 84.00 86.00 85.33
87.00 87.00 85.00 86.33 171.66
7 BAY LANE JAMIE TAYLOR 87.50 87.00 85.00 86.50
85.00 83.00 82.00 83.33 169.83
8 QUATRAIN ELIZABETH BOYD 83.50 81.00 83.00 82.50
86.00 88.00 87.00 87.00 169.50
9 EVERLY SCOTT STEWART 84.00 83.00 81.00 82.66
88.00 84.00 86.00 86.00 168.66
10 UNDENIABLE JENNY KARAZISSIS 88.00 85.00 88.00 87.00
83.00 82.00 80.00 81.66 168.66
11 INVINCIBLE AMANDA STEEGE 82.00 86.00 84.00 84.00
84.00 86.00 83.00 84.33 168.33
12 ROMANCE PETER PLETCHER 87.75 85.50 86.75 86.66
50.00 45.00 45.00 46.66 133.32