Sunday, Apr. 14, 2024

Finding Courage And Strength: Meet Our 2020 COTH Lose The Leathers Challenge Winners



Brought to you by Kickapoo Ponies and Strides Equestrian

We are delighted to congratulate 158 finishers in our 2020 COTH Lose The Leathers Challenge in November.

It wasn’t just the task of completing 12 rides without stirrups that was challenging; it was the late nights in the cold and dark; balancing school, work and family; and injured horses and riders.

But through it all, riders across all ages and levels felt the support of everyone in the group.


Throughout November, we loved following along with their progress in our Facebook group, and enjoyed meeting a few participants and asking the experts to share their tips.

Below are photos of some of the finishers. Congratulations to all! We hope the challenge inspired you and allowed you to spend more time at the barn with the horses you love, especially during these difficult times.

Sarah Willits

Sarah Willits and Twisted Sister, a 22-year-old Quarter Pony. Photo Courtesy Of Sarah Willits

Sherry Hopkins rode her 19-year-old Arabian Roscoe sitrrupless on the trails. “Roscoe and I have been together since 2011, and he’s our trail boss,” she said. “Roscoe was diagnosed with cancer in his jaw in October of 2020, and I’m really hoping he’ll be around so we can take the challenge for 2021!” Photo Courtesy Of Sherry Hopkins

Kaysenn Dunn

Kaysenn Dunn, 7, and Chincoteague’s Pixie Dust finished 16 rides. Photo Courtesy Of Kristen Dunn

Rilynn Dunn

Rilynn Dunn, 11, and Love Song completed 16 rides. Photo Courtesy Of Kristen Dunn

Abigail Anderson

Abigail Anderson and Black Gold. Photo Courtesy Of Rebecca Anderson

Fiore Christi Hughes

Christi Hughes rode two horses in her first year doing the challenge. This is Just Sayin’, a 19-year-old Hanoverian she shows locally in the hunters. Photo Courtesy Of Christi Hughes

Marvin Christi Hughes

Christi Hughes on Consider This, a 17-year-old OTTB who she shows in the local hunters. Photo Courtesy Of Christi Hughes


Rebecca Tyson completed her rides on River Song. “She was rescued from a feed lot by a local rehab rescue group in my area. I adopted her, and we have been trail riding since,” said Tyson. Photo Courtesy Of Rebecca Tyson

Rae Lombino

Rae Lombino completed her rides on She’s Like Gold Dust. Photo Courtesy Of Rae Lombino

Ellesar Petros

Ellesar Petros completed his rides with Happy Hour. Photo Courtesy Of Kara Pittman

Andrea Mena

“This was our first year doing the Lose the Leathers Challenge. We loved it!” said Andrea Mena. “Delta and I enjoyed that we had a goal in mind and loved the super supportive Facebook group! Delta is an OTTB rescue and is super forward all the time. I found courage and strength by participating in this challenge and have incorporated no stirrup work in our daily hacks. We will be so ready for the 2021 challenge!” Photo Courtesy Of Andrea Mena

Tonya Fisher

Tonya Fisher completed her second year of the challenge with The Pretty Escape. Photo Courtesy Of Tonya Fisher

Sharon Hirsch

Sharon Hirsch, 72, completed her rides on Searah’s Sweet Caroline, a 7-year-old Connemara. This was their second year participating in the challenge. Photo Courtesy Of Sharon Hirsch


“Miss Priss, 36, was pulled out of her 6-year retirement to help me meet this challenge!” said Sarah Craig. “I broke my left ankle twice within a six-month time period in 2020 (in nonrelated events, the second break having nothing to do with the first). I wanted to complete this challenge safely, so she was my no-brainer choice out of my six horses! She is completely blind (both eyes have been enucleated), but I still wouldn’t trade her for the world!” Photo Courtesy Of Sarah Craig

Christine Eck

Christine Eck completed the challenge with Dreamer, a Paint gelding. “Dreamer and I ride mostly without stirrups (and usually bareback) all winter long, and we are thrilled to complete this year’s challenge and have something to show for our hard work,” said Eck. “He and I have been partners since 2003 and have learned so much from one another in the 18 years we have been together, and look forward to learning much more!” Photo Courtesy Of Christine Eck


Catherine Cary and Arendelle. Photo Courtesy Of Jennifer Parker Cary


Zoey Thomas rode several horses to complete the challenge, including an 8-year-old OTTB named Glitter. Photo Courtesy Of Zoey Thomas


Stephanie Cantrell rode Sweet Terra Diem, her homebred Tennessee Walker. Photo Courtesy Of Stephanie Cantrell


Lily Hicks rode Charleston for her rides. Photo Courtesy Of Lily Hicks


Becky Lynch rode Ozon for the challenge. Photo Courtesy Of Becky Lynch


Danielle Meenan Heaney rode Town to complete the challenge. Photo Courtesy Of Danielle Meenan Heaney


Kelly Simonsen rode Gettin Frosted. “She stepped in and participated with me as my hunt seat mare was recovering from colic surgery,” she said. “I thought work without stirrups would be easier in the western saddle, but I was WRONG! However, by the end of November I could drop my stirrups for my entire 45-50 minute ride (including some posting trot and flying changes, thank you very much!).” Photo Courtesy Of Kelly Simonsen


Piper Tierney completed the challenge on her horse Top Hat. Photo Courtesy Of Catherine Rahilly Tierney


Chloe McElveen completed the challenge on Goldwyn. Photo Courtesy Of Sondra Makowski


Doris Beem Shapiro completed the challenge on Louie. Photo Courtesy Of Doris Beem Shapiro

2020 COTH Lose the Leathers Finishers:
A. Haley Meehan, A. K. Burrus, Abby Hill, Abigail Anderson, Abigail Bullock, Ainsley Russell, Alexis Jennings, Aliana Pegelow, Alice Eanes, Allie Wilson, Amanda White, Amber Ritenour, Andrea Mena, Ava Zielinski, Becki Tyson, Becky Lynch, Beth Dray, Breanna Manning, Briana Weathersbee, Bug Ellessar Petros, Caitlin Podskalan, Caitlin Spicola, Carolyn Briggs, Catherine Cary, Cathryn Pratt, Charlee Talomie, Chelsea Karche, Cheryl Giulino, Chloe McElveen, Christi Hughes, Christine Eck, Clara Wegner, Claudia Salzer, Danielle Heaney, Danielle Skaar, Debbie Koppelman, Dina Wolyniec, Doris Shapiro, Elisa Nicolini, Eliza Herman , Emily Hamby, Emily Kraker, Emma Adams, Emma Chew, Erica Rozek, Felicia Crabb, Finleigh Schmidt, Franci Martin, G. Llewellyn, Gabriella DiPaolo, Gail Prunier, Gale E. Wolfe, Gina Finelli, Giuliana Junghans, Gretchen Fields, Gwendolyn Romiza, Hanna Hemming, Hannah Smith, Hazel Dehn, Isabella Heydman, Jaimie Westrum, Jennifer Edgell, Jennifer Marek, Jennifer Moore, Jess Selelrs, Jessica Leonard, Jill Ekis, Jo Maloney Kaitlyn Lancelle Bates, Kaleb Alden, Karalie Andrews, Karissa Karau, Kate Bennett, Katherine Hines Hawks, Katie McDaniel, Kaysenn Dunn, Keira Lancelle Bates, Kelley Simonsen, Kerri Davis Kiersten Banas, Kim Walters, Kristie Clark, Kristin Martiniello, Kya Kydd, Laura Minieri, Laurel Hawkins, Leigh Higby, Leslie Kennedy, Lexi Poteat, Lilli Seto, Lillian Hicks, Lindsay Weinberg Lindsey Garber, Lisa Goodwin, Lisa Monday, Liz Quinlan, Logan Maloney, Luci Davis, Lucinda Goyne, Lynn Tetenbaum, Madelyn Winfield, Madilynn Schooley, Maggie Hitron, Makayla Guzzo, Mallory Fields, Maya Tyson, Meg McTiver, Megan Atkinson, Megan Coppage, Megan Mondschein, Megan Novellano, Melissa Iozzo, Merrilyn Ratliff, Meryl Evangelisti, Mitsy Good, Monica Gokey, Morgan Winfield, Noel Vanderbilt, Olivia Karr, Paige Blenker, Paige Mathison, Paisley Kohler, Patty Renwick, Pip Tierney, Rachael W., Rachel Gackstetter, Rae Lombino, Rebecca Boorstein, Riley Liberatore, Rilynn Dunn, Rona Marie Garm, Rose Finelli, Rylee Eilerman, Sam Dobbins, Samantha Brown, Samantha Crosier, Samantha Starek, Sarah Craig, Sarah Harper, Sarah Johnson, Sarah McDaniel, Sarah Willits, Savannah Smith, Scarlett Haynes, Shannon Ryan-Dinmore, Sharon Hirsch, Sherry Hopkins, Stephanie Cantrell, Stephanie Hayes, Stephanie Jenson, Susan Elliott, Taylor Schrand,
Terry Emmitt Centofante, Tonya Fisher, Tori Stanley, Vickie Heydman, Violet L Ligman, Zoey Thomas

Check out the Chronicle’s Nov. 23 – Dec. 7 Equitation Issue to read about a #COTHLoseTheLeathers challenge participant, a feature article on Val Renihan and much, much more.

You can subscribe and get online access to a digital version and then enjoy a year of The Chronicle of the Horse and our lifestyle publication, Untacked. Or you can purchase a single issue or subscribe on a mobile device through our app The Chronicle of the Horse LLC.



Follow us on


Copyright © 2024 The Chronicle of the Horse