With their distinctive styles, relaxed confidence and poise, Brianne Goutal and Jessica Springsteen impressed the judges throughout the Washington International Horse Show, held Oct. 26-31. Goutal won the Tad Coffin WIHS Equitation Classic Finals, and Springsteen topped the Manhattan Mortgage WIHS Pony Equitation Finals and earned the best child rider on a pony award.
“They have similar styles,” said judge Scott Hofstetter, who presided with hunter judges Julie Winkel and Ronnie Beard and equitation judges Fran Dotoli, Cynthia Hankins and Kip Rosenthal.
“They both ride in two-point, which we really enjoyed seeing, and even in the equitation they both get up out of the saddle instead of sitting on their horse’s backs. They really follow their horses in the air, which allows their horses to jump in great style.”
And their resulting performances in the hunter, jumper and equitation divisions kept Beacon Hill trainers Frank and Stacia Madden, Krista Freundlich and Max Amaya smiling at the in-gate at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C.
Springsteen, 13, Colts Neck, N.J., culminated Beacon Hill’s winning weekend on Sunday with victories in the pony divisions, including the reserve large pony championship with Liseter Clever Star and the WIHS blue ribbon with Newsworthy.
Springsteen topped the first round of the WIHS equitation class with an 88 for her smooth ride over a challenging course. “I thought it was really fun,” said Springsteen, who added that she was happy with how she rode the difficult first bending line in the initial round.
Four riders returned for further testing–canter to fence 2, trot fence 3, canter fence 9, halt, and sitting trot to the gate and exit at the walk. She was the only rider to nail the test. “It was a simple test, but you had to do it well,” Freundlich noted.
Hofstetter commended Springsteen’s consistency. “We liked her position, and she won the pony medal hands down,” he said. “She has a great feel and is very relaxed. I’m sure she was nervous in the test, but it didn’t show.”
“She saw her distances and released early and was always going forward. She knows her ponies, and they seem to really love her soft hands,” he added.
Washington was Springsteen’s swan song aboard ponies, so the moment was a bit bittersweet. “This is kind of sad,” said Freundlich. “But she won her last class on each of her three ponies. She won the medium pony stake on her medium [Silver Spring], the large pony stake on her large pony [Liseter Clever Star] and the WIHS class on Newsworthy.”
Springsteen added with a smile, “It’s a nice way to finish.”
Frank Madden was thrilled with his young rider’s progress this year. “It’s nice to have that consistency, to be best child rider last week at Harrisburg [Pa.] and then this week at Washington,” he said. “That’s not an accident. That’s what we’re proud of with Jessie’s riding.”
It’s no surprise that Springsteen looks up to stablemate Goutal, as the 16-year-old continued her outstanding fall season with yet another major equitation title to her credit.
“Brianne’s great with Jessie and the other kids,” said Frank. “She’s always rooting everyone on. She’s a great example.”
After winning the BET/USET Show Jumping Talent Search Finals-East (N.J.) and placing second in the Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals earlier in the month, Goutal topped the WIHS Equitation Classic with winning performances in the hunter (93.66) and jumper (92) phases and a beautiful work-off (87).
“In the hunter phase and jumper phase my horse, Logan, was amazing,” said Goutal. “He jumped around like nothing was a problem for him, and he was spectacular the whole time.”
Entering the work-off, in which the top 10 riders switch horses, Goutal drew Julie Welles’ horse, a lankier chestnut. Goutal’s ride was smooth and precise and only marred by a rail at 5A, which the judges deemed not the result of a riding error.
“Julie’s horse was different than anything I’ve ever ridden,” she said. “He’s very tall and long, and he was very soft at the same time. Normally long horses are very stiff. But he was really nice to ride. He’s careful and brave. I was lucky to get that nice of a horse in the draw.”
Welles, 16, West Simsbury, Conn., who stood fourth after the hunter and jumper phases, did such a superb job on Goutal’s Logan that she moved up to take second place overall. Goutal was impressed with Welles’ performance.
“People have sometimes struggled with [Logan] because he’s different,” she said. “He feels stiff, but when you ask him to, he comes back, and when you ask him to move forward with your leg, he’s right there. She rides really well, so it was cool to see someone else get on him and do so well.”
Goutal, New York, N.Y., had contested this final once before, placing sixth last year. She said she especially enjoys the format of the WIHS class, in which the riders are tested for their abilities to ride a hunter, a jumper and a catch-ride.
Charlie Jayne, 17, Elgin, Ill., also a master at all three phases, placed third. And, following his strong performances in the hunter and jumper divisions, he was named best child rider on a horse.
“Even though he wasn’t champion, he gave a great performance,” said Hofstetter. “He showed great sportsmanship. He was clapping for his sisters the whole week. He had bad luck in the [WIHS Finals], when his horse stepped off his lead. But he handled it with grace and got right back in the game. And even though maybe he wasn’t on the champion horse, he rode it like it was the champion.”
Charlie’s younger sister Haylie, 15, was on the champion horse, the grand junior champion to be exact. Haylie guided Clemintine to the large junior, 15 and under, tricolor with a sweep of the division, winning all four classes.
Adding to the sweetness of the week was the scrumptious cake that each champion received to share back at the barn with friends, family and support staff. “No other show gives you cake! It’s really fun and a new twist to it,” said Haylie. “The whole barn gets to share in the victory.”
The Jaynes purchased Clemintine four years ago for Haylie to ride, but the 4-year-old mare was too green, so older sister Maggie took over for two years. “My sister had a ton of success on her and was grand junior hunter champion here in 2002. My sister really trained her and made her into the horse that she is. And last year I started riding her and was reserve at Harrisburg. We had some small successes.”
Clemintine, now 8, and Haylie will share one more show together at the Metropolitan National (N.Y.), and then the warmblood (Cordana Z–Hauptstuborh Koenigskind) will relocate to California with her new owner, Nicoletta Von Heidegger.
“I’m sad, but I’m mostly thankful to have had two years of her life,” said Haylie with a smile. “That doesn’t happen much in our family because they usually get sold so quickly.”
Haylie said she’ll miss Clemintine for many reasons, but especially because she’s a fun horse to be around. “She’s a mare, so she has lots of attitude,” said Haylie, laughing. “And every single time you go in the ring you know you’re on the winner, which is an awesome feeling.”
But Haylie will always have a special place in her heart for Clemintine, who carried her to some incredible places and has helped her to follow in Maggie’s and Charlie’s footsteps. “It means so much [to be grand champion]. It’s a dream,” said Haylie. “When I was younger I’d watch them win and say, ‘I want to do that some day.’ [This year] I’ve gotten in the ring and have more experience. Clemintine’s been ready to win. It’s been me getting my act together–and this year it’s finally happened.”
Orlando, the large pony and co-grand pony champion, got his act together early in life. The 5-year-old Welsh-Thoroughbred cross (Bengad Rochea–Pie In The Sky) established himself as a top pony on the line with the 2002 Devon (Pa.) grand championship for breeder Paul Harvey.
Now, in his green year, “Tyson,” owned by Maggie McAlary and Beaver Brook Ponies, is showing beauty and performance can go hand-in-hand. He and rider Schaefer Raposa tied with medium pony champion Enchanted Forest and Audrey Coulter with 26 points for the grand title.
“He’s really fun. He’s just a little bit green,” said Raposa, the daughter of grand prix rider David Raposa and hunter rider Kara Hanly Raposa. “I trust him. This is my first time at indoors, so I was a little nervous at first. But once I got in the ring I was confident.”
Schaefer began riding Tyson in September after McAlary, 14, and a few catch riders had qualified the elegant bay for the fall indoor shows earlier in the year. When looking for a new rider for Tyson, Susan McAlary, Maggie’s mom, called Patricia Griffith at Heritage. Griffith immediately suggested Schaefer.
“She’s one of those kids that has that gift, that feel that you can’t really teach kids,” said Griffith. “She just gives it 110 percent on every pony, whether she knows it or not. It’s not often you see kids like that–and she appreciates every ride. Even though she has a lot on her plate, she’s very focused. She wants to work at it. She wants to be up in the morning riding and preparing them.”
Griffith has worked with Schaefer, 10, for 21