Washington, D.C.—Oct. 24
No one paying attention to the hunter divisions would be surprised to hear that Scott Stewart picked up his seventh career leading hunter rider title at this year’s Washington International Horse Show. But the honor wasn’t lost on Stewart, as he still remembers the first time he came to the show, around 1986, when he was a young pro working for Ox Ridge.
“Back then I was hoping to get a jog,” he recalled.
Needless to say, Stewart’s come a long way in the last 16 years. This time around, his haul included three division championships, including the grand championship on first year mount Enjoy, who does double duty with owner Cloe Hymowitz in the small junior division. That horse traded top placings with Gramercy Park and Tom Brennan, who settled for reserve twice behind Stewart, once in the first years and again in the green conformation behind Fashion Farm’s Beholden.
It’s no small feat for a first year horse to put in the most consistent performance at the Verizon Center, which is better equipped for hockey or basketball players than equestrians. A tight warm-up area means it’s tough for a horse that needs more than a few quick fences to school before a class, and there are limited chances to get into the well-decorated ring before showing. Throw in stabling set on F Street complete with gawking passersby, and it’s not the ideal environment to get a young horse relaxed.
But according to Stewart, Enjoy’s ability to go with the flow is exactly what makes him an extraordinary 6-year-old.
“He usually doesn’t worry about the environment at all. Today he was a little bit spooky in a good way, because he kept his jump pretty sharp,” said Stewart.
Stewart’s seasoned high performance partner Garfield, whom he described as “a blast,” earned his second consecutive title in that ring. But reserve champion Rosalynn will have her name inscribed on the Protocol Trophy, awarded to the high performance horse that has accrued the most points at Pennsylvania National, Washington and Devon (Pa.), and it’s her second time winning that award.
Peter Pletcher cut into Stewart’s stranglehold on the champion ribbons, edging him out in the regular conformation and second year green divisions aboard Becky Gochman rides.
In both cases, it came down to the under saddle. Stewart’s ride Showman, owned by Krista and Alexa Weisman, stood at the front of the line after the performance section of the green conformation under saddle, but judges Ralph Caristo, Jimmy Clapperton and Scott Williamson moved Sambalino up to the front of the line from second.
“I figured, finally, the model could come into play, which it did. This was the end for us for the year, and it was a good way to go out,” said Pletcher, Magnolia, Texas.
Pletcher topped the second year division aboard Empire after winning both classes yesterday, and 2011 Chronicle of the Horse Show Hunter Horse of the Year Dedication won both today’s classes to take reserve.
Still on a high from winning the grand low amateur-owner title at the Pennsylvania National Daryl Portela was positively unbeatable in the District, riding Winner to the top of all three of her low amateur-owner hunter, 36 and over, classes to earn the division and grand low amateur-owner titles. It’s her first trip to Washington in nearly a decade, and Winner’s first trip ever.
University of Pennsylvania senior Amanda Hone took a few days away from studying to ride Instantaneous to the low amateur-owner, 18-35, title. Hone started that horse in the pre-green hunters herself three years ago, and this was his first trip to indoors.
Wesley Newlands was more excited about winning a box full of cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake than the coolers and ribbons that accompanied her grand amateur-owner and amateur-owner, 18-35, awards. Newlands, 24, won aboard Pure Abundance, who topped today’s stakes.
Bronxville, N.Y., based Katie Robinson, saw her partner Rock Steady stay strong at his first indoors to top the amateur-owner, 36 and over, division.
Finding The Time
Nina Montross snuck away from boarding school at St. Andrews (Conn.) to win the WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship on Caprifol. Montross, 14, laid down the only clear round to take blue.
Ericka Caslin squeezes in her saddle time between a full time job, a 1-year-old baby and four hours of daily commuting. So she was ecstatic to win the WIHS Adult Amateur Jumper Championship on Rioletto. That horse’s former rider, Christine McCrea, was in the stands to watch her old speed horse win while she waited for her chance to ride Wannick WH in tonight’s open speed class.
To watch the show stream live, check out the official Washington International Horse Show website.
They have full results, too.