If you were to guess, without help of a cheat sheet, if Lindsey Tomeu and Bonapart had left any rock unturned, any victory still to be desired, you’d confidently say, “Pff no.” After all, in their six-year partnership, they’ve dominated the adult jumper division.
They won the NAL Adult Jumper Final at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show within the first year of their partnership—and did it again in 2015 and 2017. They earned the adult amateur jumper championship in 2017 at the Devon Horse Show (Pennsylvania) and captured the top prize in the 2018 NAL/WIHS Adult Amateur Jumper Classic. But one victory eluded them: the $10,000 WIHS Adult Jumper Championship.
“I have been coming to WIHS with Bonapart since 2015,” said the 26-year-old from Wellington, Florida. “Last year, I was out with a shoulder injury, and I was so sad to miss WIHS. This is my favorite horse show every year.”
Tomeu traveled to the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina, with two horses prepared for the championship: Bonapart, a 19-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Parco; and Gold Lux. When she dropped a rail in the jump off with the 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Lux Z—Kilnamac Amber), she had to channel the “last man standing” mentality as she swung her leg over Bonapart and waited until all the other competitors took their shot over the course.
“I’ve been in the position to go last a few times, and I’ve cracked sometimes and pulled through lots of other times, so I just have to have my mindset right,” she said. “The class tonight with my first horse I messed up in the inside turn, and my weakness with Bonapart is right inside turns. But I was able to set the turn up just right, and he was so great to land and run to the last jump.”
Crossing the buzzers at 33.675—almost 1.5 seconds faster than Molly Athey and SL Olada—she finally earned that missing championship ribbon for her wall.
“I don’t show Bonapart as often as I used to because he’s 19 now,” said Tomeu. “We took it day by day to get here. I have had him since 2014, and he has won everything there is to win. This was the last thing for him; everything is accomplished. He’s my heart horse, and I don’t know what I’m going to do without him when he retires.”
Nanda Keeps The Winning Streak Alive
Under the fluctuating pixel lights of the Jumbotron in the District of Columbia’s Capital One Arena, Leigh Nanda sat in the stands watching a friend at the Washington International Horse Show and formed a dream: One day she’d be in the ring instead of the spectator’s seats. Despite it being a year of canceled plans and changed locations, Nanda held onto that dream, especially when she partnered up with El Casper in June.
“I have had El Casper for four months now. As soon as I got him, we clicked. We took a couple weeks at home and went straight into the show ring,” said the 15-year-old from Wilmette, Illinois. “Qualifying this year with coronavirus was an unexpected experience. The virus cut qualifying short for everybody. I started in June, so we only have three to four months to qualify. We ended up being ranked No. 1 coming to WIHS.”
Though only paired for a short period, Nanda and the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Escudo I—Graefin Maritza) have already racked up a record of prestigious wins. They captured the NAL Children’s Jumper Final at Capital Challenge in Wilmington, Ohio, just a couple weeks prior to entering the ring for the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship. In a 12-horse jump-off, El Casper and Nanda continued their winning ways, with Camden Kitchens and Nemo coming in second.
“Going in last, my only thought was to stick to the plan. My trainer always gives me a plan, and I try to stick to it. I think that strategy is what won it for us,” said Nanda. “I got see my friend compete in D.C. last year, and since then I dreamed of being here. It’s really incredible that I was able to come ride amongst all these prestigious riders. It was really cool to win.”