Upper Marlboro, Md.–Oct. 2
Cassandra Kahle has only shown Monday Balous three times, but she made their trip to Capital Challenge a memorable one. On Monday, the pair topped the high performance hunters and qualified for the $30,000 World Championship Hunter Rider Pro Challenge Class, which they won Wednesday night. That victory earned them a wild card entry for the WCHR Pro Finals this Friday.
“It’s surreal,” said Kahle, who rides for Emil Spadone’s Redfield Farm, and Spadone co-owns the gelding with Don Stewart. “I guess that kind of helped me not have super high expectations. Everyone here has been here [many times before; they’re] amazing riders. I think that maybe even took the pressure off a little bit, just to go and have a good time and enjoy being in this caliber of class.”
Monday Balous, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Balou Du Rouet—Moriana) started as a jumper, and his athleticism drew in Stewart, Spadone and Kahle when they saw him competing in a hunter derby two years ago. “His jump is spectacular to watch, so it definitely caught our eye,” Kahle said. “And actually Emil loves Balou Du Rouet; he thinks he’s a great sire. He’s sired many great hunters, so that also caught his eye.
“We ran up to the trainer, Gavin Moylan, after the class, and he set up a trial to try the horse the next day,” Kahle continued. “Emil and Don do a lot of work together, so they bought the horse together to produce him as a derby horse.”
After the team acquired the gelding, Kahle didn’t see him much for over a year.
“Don ended up taking him home, and we never saw him after that, understandably!” said Kahle. “He’s amazing; he’s had him in the junior hunters, and Jimmy [Torano] did him at derby finals this year.”
Eventually, though, Kahle got the ride, and she quickly made the most of their time together. “Don was very kind to lend him to us,” she said, “and I got to show at Saugerties [(New York) in September], and again here and try and qualify for this class. We don’t do very many [WCHR] classes during the year, so it put a little pressure on us to qualify!”
Ultimately, the pressure just to qualify at the same show as the Pro Challenge made the actual class less stressful. “I was just relieved to make it into the class,” Kahle said, “so really going into the first round I didn’t have huge expectations. I’m very thrilled that it worked out like this!”
Noah Lifts Taylor To Her Dreams
When the white picket gate opened for Sara Taylor to enter for the second round in the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge, she didn’t even have to remind herself to take deep breaths and channel a calm feeling—she already was there. Sure, this was a class she’s marked on the calendar for years as a goal to win—and this was her third attempt to make it happen. And sure, she was returning on top after the first round, and she had to follow Jennifer Ritucci and MTM Fashion’s pristine trip. But none of that pressure mattered because Noah was underneath her.
“Noah makes it feel so even. It’s easy for him, so it makes the rider feel like it’s also easy. I just felt like he was there for me every step,” said Taylor. “In the second round sometimes you can get nervous when you’re coming in on top, and I didn’t feel that at all. I was on Noah. He’s just my partner, and I know he’s going to give me his all.”
They were first introduced three years ago when Ingrid Avera purchased the now 9-year-old warmblood gelding from Spadone. And from the first 3’ green classes to the 3’6” level, Taylor’s seen Noah through it all. But this year proved to be something special.
In August, Noah and Taylor rose to the top of the Platinum Performance USHJA 3’6″/3’9″ Green Hunter Incentive Championship in Lexington, Kentucky. Then on an abnormally hot October night in Maryland, they did it again.
“The biggest wins I’ve ever had were on him, so I owe a lot to him,” said Taylor. “I’ve been wanting it. This is one of my favorite horse shows and to qualify for the WCHR Developing Pro and then come in here and be able to hold on and do your best and it all comes together—my mom’s going to be crying.
“I’m reaching my goals. It’s hard in this industry,” she continued. “[This class is] a stepping stone. You’re a developing pro until you win this. I’ve been trying to turn into a real pro ever since, and this class has been what’s helping me get there. I’m glad I finally reached it.”
See full results from Capital Challenge here.