Washington, D.C.—Oct. 26
Claire Campbell has only ridden Armani for about two months, and the pair went into this year’s indoor season with little competition experience together. But Campbell came to know Armani pretty well over that short time, and with each show leading up to the Washington International Horse Show, the pair constantly improved their standings on the leaderboard.
Campbell and Armani, a 10-year-old Welsh gelding (Bronheulog Royal—NEFYDD Antoinette), owned by Pretty Penny Farm, quickly rose to the top of the small pony hunter division, and earned the title of pony hunter grand champion at Washington International this weekend.
“It was amazing to win because I’ve only been riding Armani a couple of months, and it’s good to be able to get the hang of riding him in that time,” said Campbell, of Cochester, Penn. “This was amazing, a big surprise.”
Campbell, 11, had a good first day of competition and while the pair only placed eighth in the handy class this afternoon, Campbell knew they could still put in a great final round to claim the championship.
“The [handy round] today didn’t go very well,” said Campbell. “I was close to some of the jumps, so we sort of had a rough start today. I wanted to put more effort into the second round; I wanted to do my best and I wanted to win!”
A Clean Sweep Indoors
Sophie Gochman and Truly Noble proved tough to beat this fall in the medium pony hunters.
The pair, who already topped the division at Capital Challenge (Md.), and Pennsylvania National, added another medium pony hunter championship title to their list this weekend at Washington International.
“It feels really amazing because I barely thought that I’d be able to get champion at one of them, so to get champion at all three of them really means a lot,” said Gochman.
But their success in the past months hasn’t come easy; it’s taken some patience and teamwork to get to where they are.
“I got him about a year and a half ago and we’ve had our ups and downs together,” said Gochman. “Some horse shows—like this one—we click together, and others we’re not really on the same page.”
Gochman trains with Scott Stewart, Ken Berkley and Amanda Derbyshire to work on staying connected with “Noble,” a 17-year-old Welsh pony (Campari—Turhorst Melodie), owned by Pegasus Show Stable, LLC., and will continue competing him in the Florida winter circuit out of the Gochman’s Baxter Hill Farm in Wellington.
Sophie’s sister, Mimi Gochman earned the reserve title in the medium pony hunter championship aboard True Love, and earlier in the week, their mother Becky, rode to the grand amateur-owner hunter championship.
The Learning Curve
When Kirklen Peterson trotted All My Love into the ring in the Verizon Center for the first of four classes in the large pony hunter division at Washington International, she wasn’t sure how he would react to the small, crowded arena.
The 8-year-old Welsh-cross gelding (Dienhard B—Aratessa), owned by Betsee Parker, has only competed indoors a handful of times, and he was a little green on starting out this season.
“He was a little spooky at Harrisburg [for the Pennsylvania National Horse Show],” said Peterson. “But even though he was spooky, I think it was a good experience for him. He just got to go around and figure it out a little bit.”
All My Love was unfazed by the stadium atmosphere this time around, and he and Peterson jumped to the Washington International large pony hunter championship title.
“I’m really proud of him,” said Peterson. “He grew up a lot in just a week. He jumped really well and the loved it here.”
Emma Kurtz and Storyteller were awarded the large pony hunter reserve championship title.
Passaralli Passes The Test
Caroline Passarelli was determined to win at Washington International this year more than ever.
The 13-year-old rider ages out of the small pony hunter division next year, and this show served as her farewell tour with her first ever hunter pony, Little Black Pearl.
So when she was edged out for the tricolor in the small pony hunters, Passarrelli knew she had to put on a solid effort in the WIHS pony equitation final to achieve her winning goal with the special pony.
And after laying down a tidy round over fences, Passarrelli felt confident that she could bring home her last blue ribbon aboard “Pearl.”
“I definitely wanted to go out on a good note,” said Passarelli, who has owned the mare for about four years, and plans to lease her out soon. “The [small pony hunter] division went well, but I just wanted to do that much better. I realized that I had to do my best, and it was amazing.”
It all came down to the riders’ performance in the flat test, and Passarelli beat out Taylor St. Jacques (Happy Feet) and Ellie Ferrigno (Ante Up) for a meaningful win.
Passarelli, a resident of New York, is sad to relinquish the reins on Pearl, a 21-year-old Dutch-bred pony of unrecorded breeding, especially in the equitation ring, where the mare really knows to let her rider shine.
“She wants a soft ride,” said Passarelli. “She doesn’t like when you try to get your way and tell her what to do; she just wants to be your teacher. She will never do anything bad. She just likes when you can leave her alone and let her do the job.”
You can find all of the Chronicle’s coverage of the Washington International Horse Show here. Full results from the competition are available here.
For a full report from the Washington International Horse Show, check out the Nov. 10 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.