Sept. 1—Bridgehampton, N.Y.
As Samantha Schaefer contemplated coming back to compete in the $10,000 Sam Edelman Equitation Championship at the Hampton Classic Horse Show, which she won last year, her theory was that if she was going to enter the class, she might as well win it again—because anything less would be a step down.
So that’s exactly what the 18-year-old, who rides with Andre Dignelli, did. She was the last rider to tackle a difficult first round, in which many horse-and-rider combinations were eliminated due to two refusals or a fall—the open water and the bank complex causing most of the problems. But Schaefer proved she wasn’t a neophyte to this class.
She and her winning partner from 2010, Heritage Farm’s Pioneer (Pionier—Lucky Girl), galloped gracefully (and faultlessly) around the Grand Prix field to top the board with a 92.00. The score launched her into first place, securing the final ride in the second phase, since riders returned in reverse order.
Schaefer, Westminster, Md., admitted a few advantages she had over the rest of the field. First, to ride last in the first round, she was able to observe the trouble spots.
“I definitely felt like after watching other people not have much success with [the bank], it was almost easier for me to ride it, because I knew I needed to be more aggressive. You have to remember this is more of a jumper round than a ‘styley’ equitation round,” she said.
Dignelli added, “I thought the course was hard, because I think for this group [of horses and riders] to have the water going away from the in-gate was difficult. And the bank, traditionally, has been a problem, and it continued to be one today.”
And even though the class was judged on equitation, Schaefer gave the credit her mount, the Dutch Warmblood gelding who has also helped other young riders, like fellow Heritage Farm students Matthew Metell and Catherine Pasmore, through the equitation ranks. She noted how she benefits by showing him regularly.
“A lot of people have to use a different horse for this particular class. It’s not their equitation horse—it’s a jumper maybe, so the style is a little different. [Pioneer] is my equitation horse—he just happens to do all the other things; the natural [obstacles], the bigger jumps. People are using their high or low junior jumpers,” she explained, pointing out that the second-placed finisher, Chase Boggio, rode a grand prix horse [HH Radco]. “I’m definitely very lucky to have all in one.”
Schaefer returned in the second phase and "sealed the deal," as Dignelli put it, marking a 98.00. Boggio was second, and Michael Hughes placed third.
The two-time victor said it’s unlikely she’ll be back next year to make a three-sweep of the class, due to the fact that she’ll being starting college in January at Baylor University (Texas), but she plans to make the most of the rest of her weekend at the 2011 Hampton Classic. She’ll be campaigning horses in the low and high junior jumpers and the small junior hunter, 16-17 division.
Full results can be found here.