Upper Marlboro, Md.—Oct. 6
Juliette Joseph doesn’t get much time to ride San Marco—if really any time at all. This week at Capital Challenge she only got to sit on him the morning before her first class in the small junior, 16-17, division. But that doesn’t really bother the 17-year-old one bit. She’s used to the catch-riding grind.
“I’ve ridden him throughout the year. I started in Thermal [California] actually. The first big show was at Devon [Pennsylvania], and he was reserve there. Junior Hunter Finals [California] and then here. So really everywhere he’s been, he’s been really good,” said the San Diego resident. “I only ride him at the shows. This week I didn’t ride him until the day I showed him. It kind of depends on the week and what he’s doing. But sometimes I ride him a couple days before [or I] just hop on and show.
“I don’t own my own horse, and I’m a working student for Robyn [Stiegler],” she continued. “It’s been since I’ve been on ponies, people have asked me [to catch ride their horses], and [it] just kind of progressed. And these last two years, have been big for me in that, and I’ve gotten more rides.”
Joseph and the 8-year-old Selle Francais gelding of unrecorded breeding, owned by Ann Russo, started Capital Challenge with a bang. After the gelding earned championship honors with John French in the 3’6” greens, the pair won their first junior hunter class. But the next in the divisions didn’t go as pristinely.
“The second round was really good, but I landed off the first jump, and he kind of shied off of the little planter tree,” said Joseph. “And he did the same thing in the handy, which was unfortunate because it’s very unlike him. But he came in with a much better attitude.”
But they redeemed themselves in the World Champion Hunter Rider Junior Challenge, earning an average score of 89.66 to win the class above Stella Wasserman and Boss.
“I definitely walked in trying to improve from my last couple rounds,” said Joseph. “I walked in wanting to win, but this is definitely a big goal that I feel like was kind of out of reach, and I wasn’t completely thinking about [it]. But it was really nice to be able to actually achieve it.”
The Winning Hand-Me-Down
Mae Mannis may have only showed Cloney’s Pleasure a handful of times starting this summer—but she’s had a lot of time to study. Mae spent much of last year watching her older sister Mia Mannis campaign the 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Cloney—Farah) in the equitation divisions.
“He is amazing. He did the equitation here with my sister last year,” said the 13-year-old. “He actually won the [16-year-old equitation championship] and the North American Junior [Equitation] Flat , and he went to Harrisburg [Pennsylvania] in the top 25. I just started riding him two months ago, doing the junior hunters with him.
“[Mia] helps with me a lot with riding him,” she contiuned. “He’s just really really fun. It’s definitely easier because I got to see how my sister Mia rode him. I kind of got to know his personality, and I’ve been with him a lot.”
After Mia earned reserve champion in the 3’3” large junior, 16-17, division on the gelding at the 2019 USEF Junior Hunter National Champion—East Coast (Pennsylvania), she officially handed over the reins to her little sister. And the pairing proved to be worthwhile as they took home the top honors in the WCHR 3’3” Junior Challenge.
“This is the biggest accomplishment I think I’ve ever had,” said Mae, of Woodberry, Connecticut. “I’ve always watched these classes and seen the people win them, and I was always hoping one day I could do that, and I’m really happy!”
First Horse, First Capital Challenge Win For Seltzer
Making the transition from showing ponies to horses requires a little bit of courage and willingness to try new things. Like many tweens, Peyten Seltzer, of Rancho Santa Fe, California, was excited to move up to the bigger divisions when she started riding Que Creme, an 11-year-old warmblood gelding (Creme Van’t Steentje–Que Maestro) about a year ago.
And trying new things seems to suit the pair just fine. At their first Capital Challenge, they topped 24 entries to win the WCHR Children’s Challenge.
“I’m really excited! I’ve never won anything this big before,” said Seltzer, who recently turned 13. “He’s my first horse; I’ve only ridden ponies before him.”
Trained by Philip Cillis, Seltzer and Que Creme are also a versatile combination. They’ll head back to California to contest the Onondarka Medal Finals at Del Mar later this week.
“This is my first time at Capital Challenge, so it was a good first week!” Seltzer said, before adding praise for her tall gray partner. “He’s super fun; he has such a nice pace. As I went around it just seemed to get better.”