Upper Marlboro, Md.—Oct. 8
How do you create a partnership with a young horse in a short time? You spend time in the barn getting to know her inside and out, and that’s exactly what Henry Healy did when he got Best of Me in April.
“Henry is one of the hardest working kids on the grounds,” said trainer Patty Rogers. “He rides every day; he tacks his own horses at home; he takes care of them. He’s a really, really hard working kid.”
That hard work paid off when Healy, 12, rode Best Of Me, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Carambole—Jody Van Zas) to the top of the WCHR Children’s Challenge topping a class of 26 on a score of 89.
“It feels really nice,” Healy said of his win. “ ‘Mimi’s’ a really good girl, and we haven’t had her for too long. She’s really young, and I’m just really proud of her.
“It’s means a lot because it means that I put a lot of hard work into it,” said Healy. “And it means that I have to trust my horses and trust their ability, so it feels really good.”
Since purchasing Mimi, Healy’s seen great success in the children’s hunters, picking up top ribbons in good company. Mimi’s excelling in the professional divisions too. Another one of Healy’s trainers, Jeff Gogul showed Mimi in the 3′ green hunters this season. She picked up a fourth-place ribbon in the second round of the Platinum Performance/USHJA Green Hunter Incentive Championship (Ky.) this August.
“It was an amazing day and truthfully for such a young horse with such little mileage she always tries to win,” said Goguel. “Your job as the rider is to just stay out of her way. I’ve ridden a lot of nice horses, but she wants to win every class.”
Wasserman and Boss Take Charge
Stella Wasserman and Boss have only been partners for a month, but they claimed the WCHR Low Junior Challenge championship and rose to the top of the WCHR junior rankings. Wasserman, 12, won her Capital Challenge debut last year by topping the WCHR Pony Challenge on Trillville.
This year was her first time competing on a horse, and her first time coming in as national leader.
“I was super nervous because I was champion,” Wasserman said. “I felt like all the pressure was on me. My trainer, [Archie Cox] kept telling me there was no pressure—that helped a lot.”
Boss (Samba Hit II—Vulana D) helped calm his young rider’s nerves too. The 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood has competed with John French and Hunter Siebel and has confidence and experience to spare.
“This is the best I’ve ever done at Capital Challenge,” Wasserman said. “I’m just thankful for Boss. He’s the best. He’s just how I like to ride; he’s forward and finds the distances. He’s a really good boy, and he knows his job.”
Wasserman said she was excited to be two-for-two at Capital Challenge, but was focusing on doing well and staying confident for the Washington International Horse Show [D.C.], where she’ll ride in at 3’6″ height.
As Wasserman walked off, declaring that Boss wanted to go back to the barn, her mother Laura said, “It’s fun for all of us to watch her. She’s grown up so fast; we forget she’s only 12.”
Another Year, Another Challenge Title
Small Affair’s name has become synonymous with championships across the country, and he’s left his mark on the Capital Challenge history books time and time again. He won three WCHR Pro Challenge classes with John French in 2010, ’11 and ’13, and this year he’s added one more accolade to his tricolor-heavy résumé.
Augusta Iwasaki piloted the 14-year-old Selle Francais (Elf D’Or—Eva De Fontenay) to the top of the WCHR Junior Challenge with a score of 90.33.
“It was a really nice course,” said Iwasaki. “I had a lot of fun doing it. It just felt like he knew it was something important, and he was really on it.”
This isn’t Iwasaki’s first time leading the victory gallop in a WCHR Challenge. The13-year-old rider from Calabasas, Calif., is quickly adding her name to the sport’s top trophies. She won the WCHR Low Junior Challenge back in 2015 with Illusion, another veteran partner.
Iwasaki started riding Small Affair or “Poker” at the beginning of last year. She said it was intimidating to ride the famous gelding at first, but she quickly realized that it was a treat to get to show him.
“He is incredible to ride—so much fun,” said Iwasaki. “He just always jumps the best he can. He’s just very smooth around the ring.”
It’s been a win-filled week for Iwasaki who topped the Taylor Harris Insurance Services Children’s National Medal last weekend, and she took home the grand junior championship and the large junior hunter, 15 and under, championship with Poker.
She’ll head to Harrisburg, Pa., next to contest the Pennsylvania National, and in the meantime, Poker will be getting lots of love.
“He loves treats,” said Iwasaki. “He always gets treats all the time. I just can’t say no to him. He does get a little bit grumpy, but it’s cool.”
For more in-depth coverage from the Capital Challenge Horse Show check out the October 23 & 30 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.