The blazes white, the knees tight, and many a Schaefer and chestnut in sight: The start of a poem or accurate reporting coming straight from the National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky? When Madeline Schaefer walked into the ring on Sutton Place for the amateur-owner, 18-35, stake class, it was like doing a double-take. Just a few classes before, her sister Samantha Schaefer guided Trademark around the Alltech Arena in the 3’6” green hunters, with a chromey white-legged, big-blazed chestnut snapping his way to the division championship and to grand hunter honors.
“We really took our time, and he has become what he is today,” said Samantha, who started the 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Balou Du Rouet—Gentille) in the baby green division in 2017 after purchasing him the year prior. “We got him when he was barely broke, and we have really seen him progress and grow. To see him come to this venue and perform like he did today was pretty exciting. He is kind of like my baby, so it was very rewarding to see all of our hard work, time and patience pay off.”
But the Schaefer day continued on, even after the leading hunter rider title and a championship in the high performance division with In The Know, as another shiny chestnut with a big blaze entered the ring. This time it was Samantha’s younger sister, Maddie, taking a spin around the Alltech on the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Valentino—Argepina). And after sweeping the amateur-owner divisions at Capital Challenge, Maddie matched her sister success for success, capturing the championship in her age group on the way to grand amateur-owner distinction.
“It is a lot of fun to do it as a family,” said Maddie. “It is awesome to have a horse like him and be able to go in knowing that if I don’t mess up and we clear the jumps, we can win.”
So in an “anything but ordinary” year, with Capital Challenge migrating over 450 miles west to Wilmington, Ohio, and with select features of the Washington International Horse Show held far from the country’s capital in Tryon, North Carolina, two things stayed the same: the National Horse Show and the Schaefer sisters’ talent.
“I feel like this year has been a little disappointing as far as not getting to go to Devon [Pennsylvania], [USHJA Green] Incentive Finals or [USHJA International Hunter] Derby Finals [Kentucky]. We had a lot of goals set for this year, so it was really rewarding to still be able to come and compete at this prestigious event. It was a great feeling just to be here, and to come out on top was even better,” said Samantha. “Seeing the orange everywhere and feeling the prestige of it all feels really special. This is definitely a show I look forward to all year, and I’m glad that 2020 didn’t ruin it for us.”