Three consistent rounds put Katherine Newman on top in the equitation final.
At the beginning of the year, 18-year-old Katherine Newman set a goal for herself: to win a national equitation final. On Oct. 25, at the Washington International Horse Show in Washington, D.C., she accomplished that goal, when she won the Washington International Equitation Classic Final by staying consistent throughout all three rounds of the class.
Samantha Schaefer galloped up the standings to take second, and Matthew Metell claimed third.
Newman, Upperville, Va., won the class aboard Bar X Ranch’s Class Action, whom Karen Healey leant to Newman after watching her have a tough ride at the Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals during the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
This was Newman’s first time competing in the WIEC Final and her first time showing at Washington since she was in the small pony division. She met the 9-year-old Class Action just three days prior to the class and had limited time to get to know him.
Newman started off strongly, though. She placed eighth in the hunter phase on Friday morning, then stepped up to win the jumper phase with an average score of 92.67, which slid her into third position heading into the final round.
For the final phase, the top 10 riders switch horses and repeat their jumper course, something that can be tricky when the riders are only allowed four warm-up jumps on their new mounts.
But Newman put in yet another stunning course on Jessica Springsteen’s seasoned partner, Papillion 136, and
boosted herself to the top position.
“Even though I’d seen [Papillion] go before, there was still a little bit of concern since I’d never ridden him before,” said Newman.
“Katherine was amazing when she got switched onto Jessica’s horse,” said Rob Bielefeld, who was one of six judges for the class. “I don’t think it’s a very easy horse to ride. It tends to swap off in front of the jumps, and she got it to hold its leads everywhere.
“She was good in all the rounds, really stepped up to the plate each time,” added Bielefeld.
Newman said she thought that the jumper course was a nice test for the riders. “It was definitely a technical course,” she said. “There was one especially tricky line. Because of the types of jumps and the way it was set you really had to think about it.”
“This class really stands out because of the switching of the horses,” said Bielefeld. “It’s interesting to see some of the horses go with different riders on them. It’s a spectacular class that really questions every aspect of the rider’s ability.”
The Best For Last
Kimberly McCormack, who placed fourth in the WIEC Final, made her last junior year at the Washington International, Oct. 21-26, a memorable one when she picked up the junior jumper championship aboard Sheila Burke’s Jamison.
She and “Floyd” paired up at the beginning of the year when Burke offered the horse to McCormack, and the two
have been competing in the junior jumpers ever since.
The 16-year-old Floyd had competed internationally on the grand prix circuit with Burke before McCormack took over the ride, so he has a lot of experience, which McCormack said benefits her greatly. Even so, the pair still works on improving each day.
“He’s a small horse, so we need a lot of energy. We work on keeping his blood up and making sure I don’t drop him before the fences, which I tend to do sometimes,” she admitted.
McCormack pointed out that although the horses were tired by their third consecutive day of competing, Floyd still put in a full effort for her in the final class.
“He was super all week. At [the Pennsylvania National] he pulled a shoe in one class, and it was his first time indoors in a few years, so it didn’t go as well as it did here. Here he was just perfect,” she said.
McCormack, Clermont, N.J., is taking a year off from school before going to college and is spending the time participating in a variety of activities. “I’m actually doing a marine conservation program in the Indian Ocean in January,” said McCormick. “We do a lot of diving and then research the coral.”
|From The Field To Fantastic
Less than a week before the Washington International, the medium pony All About Me was living up to his name. The chestnut was barefoot and furry, hanging out in a field, thinking solely about uncovering that next blade of tender grass.
But as the October days passed by, his connections, including owner Megan Davis and trainer Mindy Darst, started to reminisce about last year’s Washington International when Darst’s daughter, Meredith, and All About Me earned the show championship.
So, on a whim, they pulled the gelding out of the field, gave him a beauty treatment and some new shoes, and sent him to Washington to reunite with his 10-year-old rider. The duo picked up right where they left off and secured the medium pony and grand pony hunter titles.
“She hasn’t shown him since Devon [Pa.] in May, so we came with absolutely no expectations,” said Mindy. “He qualified for being champion last year. It was beyond our wildest expectations to win. He and ‘Maddy’ have been a match from day No. 1, and it’s been a great success story. There’s just a very special bond that those two have.”
The Darst family, of Lochmoor Stables, Lebanon, Ohio, has always enjoyed Washington—where Meredith has now earned a pony hunter championship three consecutive years—and were initially disappointed in skipping the show.
“This is my absolute favorite horse show of the year,” said Mindy. “When we thought we couldn’t come this year, it was almost like missing Christmas for us, so this has just been a huge bonus.”
She said that her sister Kristy, who helps train McCormack along with Missy Clark and John Brennan, had participated in a similar program during her year off before school and encouraged McCormack to pursue something she enjoyed.
After her program is completed, she’ll head to Wellington, Fla., for the Winter Equestrian Festival circuit to continue riding, and she’ll attend college next fall. “I’m pretty sure I want to come back to the [equestrian] sport in some manner,” said McCormack, “but I definitely want to go to school first.”
After Meg O’Mara watched the first few horses jump off in the WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship, she realized she’d need to work hard if she wanted a piece of the prize money.
When the first two horses posted quick times with an inside turn she’d initially dismissed as too tight, O’Mara decided to change her plan and go for broke. The change of heart earned her the blue ribbon when she and Raya De La Cour jumped clean and came home almost a full second faster than runner-up Zoe Glassman and Nobilis.
“I usually get really nervous, and I start pulling a lot,” said O’Mara, Rumson, N.J. “But I just told myself, ‘You know what, I’m just going to ride well and get over the jumps,’ And that’s what I did.”
O’Mara, 14, has followed in the footsteps of her three older sisters, who all compete in the jumper ring.
She and “Raya” paired up a year ago, after Yvonne Bryant called O’Mara’s trainer Mary Babbick to describe what she thought would be a perfect partner for O’Mara.
“We weren’t even looking at the time,” said O’Mara. “But we tried her, and it was a perfect match.”
The pair moved from the low to the high children’s division after a few shows, winning big classes all season. O’Mara is most proud of qualifying for the FEI Children’s International Jumping Finals while at the American Gold Cup (Ohio). She hasn’t decided if she’ll make the trip to the championship, held in Bogotá, Colombia, this December.
“It’s such an honor to train all the O’Maras,” said Babbick. “We’ve done a lot together. Meg has come up with me from short stirrup, and she’s such a great learner.”
Babbick also noted that the Washington International holds a special place in her heart: “This is my hometown show, because I grew up in D.C., so to have someone win here is a very big deal for me.”
When Jessica Springsteen arrived at the show on Friday morning she had doubts about earning a tricolor in the large junior, 15 and under, division. Although she and Stone Hill Farm’s Tiziano had won an over fences class the day before and pinned fourth in the other, Samantha Schaefer and Perfectionist were close on her heels in points.
With only one over fences class and the under saddle remaining, she knew she’d need to earn high ribbons. Springsteen did just that and won the stakes class and was third in the under saddle, which clinched the division championship and grand junior hunter title.
“Tiziano usually doesn’t do that well in the under saddle classes, so getting third [in that class] definitely helped with points,” said Springsteen.
Springsteen, Colts Neck, N.J., said that although this is only Tiziano’s second season competing on the fall indoor circuit, he’s mature. “He’s just so confident,” said the 16-year old. “I never have to worry about him looking at anything or being nervous.”
Springsteen purchased Tiziano while she was in Europe searching for a junior jumper. After trying what seemed like dozens of horses, she rode Tiziano and fell in love with the sweet-natured chestnut gelding.
“We originally bought him as an equitation horse,” said Springsteen. “But after he did so well in the hunters, we changed our plan. We never even made it to the equitation ring.”
Springsteen has been training with Stacia Madden of Beacon Hill Stables since she was 6 years old and lives directly across from the barn. “Sometimes I walk to the barn. But we have a really long driveway, so sometimes I don’t,” she joked.
Shawn Casady made his debut in the Washington International Pony Equitation Finals a winning one, edging 27 other competitors to take the blue over Jessica Donatelli.
To prepare for his first ride in the finals, Casady took a lesson with Joe Fargis and rode in a clinic with George Morris. “He works really hard and puts a lot of time into riding,” said trainer Bill Schaub. “He rides 10 or so horses and ponies a day, which makes a difference.”
Schaub said that they’ve been working on making sure Casady has a solid rhythm before he begins his course. “He used to start out a little slow, so we’ve been working on starting out with a good pace and keeping it through the whole course,” he said.
“Yeah, I really tried to do that today,” said the 13-year-old Casady, who has been training with Schaub for two years. He and his family relocated to Florida so he could be closer to Schaub’s Over The Hill Farm and ride more often.
Casady rode Betsee Parker’s Liseter Clever Star to the win. “The pony likes a soft ride, and Shawn is a soft rider,” said Schaub. “They’re a great match.”