Monday, May. 27, 2024

Declaration Makes A Statement In The Nation’s Capital

Scott Stewart didn’t get to follow his usual routine prepping for this year’s Washington International Horse Show in downtown D.C.

Like last year, Stewart opted to skip the Pennsylvania National in order to give his horses a break during the grueling indoor season. But their planned week turnout and light work at Stewart’s River’s Edge Farm in Flemington, N.J., disappeared when Mother Nature didn’t co-operate.



Scott Stewart didn’t get to follow his usual routine prepping for this year’s Washington International Horse Show in downtown D.C.

Like last year, Stewart opted to skip the Pennsylvania National in order to give his horses a break during the grueling indoor season. But their planned week turnout and light work at Stewart’s River’s Edge Farm in Flemington, N.J., disappeared when Mother Nature didn’t co-operate.

“It was pouring rain, and we don’t have an indoor ring,” said Stewart. “They got out a little bit each day, but not much. I really only jumped them a little bit on Saturday. “

But the change in schedule didn’t affect Stewart’s mounts. His ride in the green conformation division, Declaration, topped the model and all three over fences classes to claim the grand hunter and green conformation championships on Wednesday. He also rode his Way Cool to the first year tricolor, helping to clinch his fifth Washington International Horse Show leading rider title.

“He’s been great all year,” said Stewart, who showed Fashion Farm’s Declaration in the green conformation and the regular conformation divisions at Washington. “He did the green conformations mainly in Florida, and he does the four-foot so easily that I did it sporadically just to get him an idea of it. It really helped him in the [green conformation division.]”

Stewart felt especially proud of Way Cool, who he felt really stepped up at Washington.

“He’s never been champion in the [first year green division] at a big show,” he said. “He’s still pretty green, he didn’t show at all this year. He’s a really fun horse to ride.”

Scott Stewart scored another big win Saturday when he took first and second in the $15,000 WIHS Hunter Classic Derby with Way Cool and Declaration.

Even though Stewart has amassed quite a collection of leading hunter rider sashes from big shows, the thrill of a new one isn’t lost on him. “It’s a nice finish, and you like to win enough to get that award, for sure,” he said. “Plus I’m getting a little old and want to keep doing it, the younger guys are coming up!”

Hat Trick For Hunt Tosh

Stewart was probably thinking of Hunt Tosh as one of those “young guys coming up.” The Cummings, Ga., rider continued his winning streak in the professional divisions, riding Lone Star to his third consecutive working hunter title. He also picked up the tricolor in the second year ring with Rosalynn for Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Oare.

Lone Star won two jumping classes to clinch the title. After the first, Tosh had a feeling he might earn another tricolor for Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Wheeler.

“When he wins that first class I know he’s on,” he said. “I try not to change anything coming here, even though it’s tough.  We try to stick with what works. He’s an easy horse to get ready and get to the ring, and we try to follow that same program here.”

The Oares couldn’t have been happier for their mare’s performance in the second year ring with Tosh.

“He’s the man of the hour!” said Betty Oare. “The two of them were just beautiful together.”

The only tricolor that escaped Tosh and Stewart went to another repeat winner when Maggie Jayne and Francesca picked up the regular conformation title for Pony Lane Farm.

The mare, technically a first year horse, moved from second to first ahead of Pony Lane Fam’s Milous de Fontaine in the stakes and took blue under saddle to grab the tricolor. “She’s been awesome this year,” said Jayne. “It’s her first year at Indoors but she feels totally ready to go.”

Finding Confidence On Confidential

Erin Stewart didn’t feel terribly sure of herself the first time she walked into the Verizon Center Arena aboard Confidential. Erin wasn’t sure how the gelding would handle the surplus atmosphere at the Washington International Horse Show.

But as it turned out, there was no need to worry. Confidential never twitched an ear on his way to picking up the amateur-owner, 35 and under, division, tying for the grand amateur-owner championship with Pavorotti and Terri Kessler. He showed equal aplomb later in the week when he won the grand junior championship with Hasbrouck Donovan.

“Yesterday I rode him like he was going to be nervous, and I didn’t let him get anything,” said Erin, 25. “I was just sitting there, waiting for him to pick up, and he didn’t. Today he was amazing.”

Erin’s father Don, Ocala, Fla., bought the gelding from Caroline Cramer about a year ago, who showed him in the hunter and equitation ring, campaigning him at Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals.


“He wants to do everything right,” Erin said. “He’s a worrier about not doing things correctly. If he thinks he’s made a mistake he gets upset. He doesn’t do anything bad, but his heart beats faster. He’s just really fun. I feel like I could show in the amateur jumpers tonight. He’s very athletic and not at all spooky.”

Confidential nearly broke records when he took the grand junior championship with his other rider, Donovan, in the large junior, 15 and under division. It was only the second time in Washington history that a horse has swept two grand hunter titles.

Don felt especially pleased since he also owned the only other horse to equal Confidential’s feat, Hilton, who won grand junior and grand open championships in 2001.

Donovan, Gainsville, Fla., said the chestnut was perfect for her in all the classes, and it showed as he took home three firsts and a second in the division.

“You know you’re going to go in there, and he’s going to jump all the jumps so I feel very comfortable on him,” Donovan said. “He’s really fun and a really smooth ride.”

Don chose Donovan, named best child rider on a horse at this show, to ride Confidential because she has a style similar to his daughter’s.

“She’s very accurate and very passive,” Don said. She’s a soft rider with nice feel and wonderful timing.”

In the small junior, 16-17 division, Stephanie Keen’s Lyle and Abby O’Mara continued on their Harrisburg hot streak with another championship.

Another winning Harrisburg team, Vida Blue, owned by Elm Rock Farm LLC and Blantyre Farm LLC, and Jennifer Waxman, swept a Washington championship. The bay mare won the large junior, 16-17 division.

Samantha Schaefer took over riding duties for Marianna Wade Bishop’s Bishonen and proved it was a successful pairing as they took the large junior, 15 and under, tricolor.

Madeline Keck And Tango Dance To First In Washington Pony Equitation Classic Final

For Madeline Keck, winning the Washington Pony Equitation Classic Final over 25 over riders was both exciting and a little bittersweet.

“I had a lot of friends in there, so I wanted everyone to do well,” Keck said.

Keck, who rides with Beacon Hill Farm, sealed the win with Porter Allen’s Tango when she took both inside turn options. Her confidence in Tango helped her decide to take the more difficult paths. She was called back for the flat work-off in first place and never looked back.

“I knew he would be good because he always is,” Keck said. He’s very comfortable and easy. He’s not the fanciest pony, but we always tell him he is so he feels good about himself.”

Allison Toffolon took second with her own Neverland.

Kesslers Meet Their Goals

Despite having won the amateur-owner, 36 and over, title at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show last week, Kessler wasn’t satisfied. She came to the nation’s capital with just one goal: To ride to the best of her horse’s ability.

“In Harrisburg Pavarotti really outperformed me,” she said. “I had a couple moments out there I wasn’t happy about, that I wanted to improve on here.”

She accomplished her goal and more, clinching the amateur-owner, 36 and over, title in Washington with a stellar handy round that earned an 89 and helped her tie for the grand amateur-owner title.

“I’m walking on air,” Kessler said. “I’m really excited, and I think the world of my horse, but right now I’m a little bit in awe of him. This week and last week he just wanted to jump so well, I didn’t even have to think about how to help him jump well or make him jump well. He just was trying his hardest. It seemed he wanted to jump well just for fun.”

Kessler, Armonk, N.Y., and the dark bay gelding, co-owned by Kessler’s husband Murray, spent a few days resting at home between big horse shows. Kessler said he required very little preparation before stepping into the ring at Washington.


“A lot people say, ‘Oh, my horse is so easy. We never jump him; we never practice.’ This is really that horse,” said Kessler. 

Reed Kessler followed in her mother’s footsteps with a junior jumper championship on her own Flight. Reed picked up a first, second and fourth over the three days of jumping to finish with 18 points over Samantha Harrison on Santika after Saturday’s finale class.

Flight is so versatile that Reed, 15, used him last year at the Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals when her regular equitation horse couldn’t compete. She also rode him at the Platinum Performance/USEF Talent Search Medal Finals—East (N.J.), scoring a 92 over fences.

“He’s so soft and intelligent,” Reed said. “He responds to the slightest shift in your balance, and he’s always right there for you.”

Markies Makes It Two In Children’s Jumper Championship           

Markies must have felt a sense of déjà vu as he completed his victory gallop with Spencer Smith after winning the children’s jumper championship. The 24-year-old chestnut gelding won the same class two years ago with Paulena Johnson aboard.

For Smith, however, it was a first. Though the 12-year-old said he’s won a few big jumper classes before, none of them compared to this victory. 

“It was really fun,” Smith said. “I liked it a lot.”

Smith, Wellington, Fla., beat out 12 other jump-off riders with a clean second-round time of 25.93 seconds, nearly 2 seconds faster than Elliot 92 and Rachel Brodsky.

When Brodsky laid down a speedy jump-off round, Smith knew he’d have to go fast, and the voice of his father and trainer Ken Smith echoed the voice in his head.

“I just told him to ride forward and let the horse take care of the rest,” Ken said.

According to Spencer, Markies’ extensive time in the jumper ring gave him the edge when it came time for him to climb aboard.  The gelding competed through grand prix level before becoming a first mount for countless young jumper riders.

“He taught me how to ride,” Spencer said. “He’s my first jumper, before him I just did pony hunters.”

Grisset Grabs Blue

Alissa Kinsey and Grisset are a close team. She owns the mare, rides her, grooms her, trailers her and trains her herself. That closeness helped them clinch the $10,000 WIHS adult jumper class.

Kinsey admitted she was a bit worried about the class because Grisset pulled a rail at Harrisburg, something extremely unusual for her.

“I was extra, extra careful because of that rail,” Kinsey said. “But the jump-off course was perfect for her. She’s good turning, but she’s even better running. This course had two long gallops for her.”

Fellow amateur Lillian Hahn took home a big ribbon back to Tryon, N.C., when she and her Lucky One claimed the amateur-owner jumper.

Hahn, 23, trains with Vic Russell and splits her time between the hunter and the jumper rings.

Looking Ahead

Tonight the equitation riders will have their final work-off. Samantha Schaefer is currently maintains a narrow lead over Molly Braswell. The $100,000 Presidents Cup CSI-W Grand Prix will finish off the evening.

The show wraps up tomorrow with pony hunters wrapping up tomorrow moning and local hunters taking a turn around the Verizon Center arena.




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