Upper Marlboro, Md.—Oct. 1
After she’d been awarded a boatload of prizes as the winner of the WCHR Amateur-Owner Challenge and the grand amateur-owner championship with Classified at Capital Challenge, Samantha Schaefer wanted one thing.
A picture with all of her ribbons.
So she piled the ribbons and neck sashes back onto the Hanoverian gelding and exclaimed, “I’m an amateur now, so I have to do this.”
Schaefer is a veteran of the WCHR program—she won the both the pony and the junior classes, and now she’s added the amateur-owner title to her accolades, an accomplishment she said felt amazing. But as a senior studying communications at Baylor University (Texas), she’s seen less time in the saddle than she’s used to, and she’s felt the effect on her riding.
“After I’ve been in school and to be out of practice it’s hard. It’s not that I don’t know where I am; it’s just not the same feeling. You don’t feel as comfortable walking into the ring—definitely feeling like an amateur,” she said.
“I went back to school, [after Saugerties (N.Y.)], and I guess I had three weeks off and rode last Wednesday and last Friday, and I got on and I jumped three or four courses total. I hopped on one after a lesson and just got some jumps in to get my eye back, and I guess it paid off.
“I was talking to longtime friend Bill Ellis, and his line was, ‘Just don’t forget, your mom won at [the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden] without a warm-up jump.’ So I was like, ‘I won’t ever forget that.’ ”
After a pair of thirds and a first yesterday, Schaefer said things started coming together this morning as the amateur-owner hunters, 18-35, wrapped up, and by the time of the WCHR class began she was feeling strong.
She and Classified were the first pair on course, and their 87.50 score couldn’t be touched. Krista Wiesman came the closest with Reality, finishing on a 87.00, and Elizabeth Faraci rode Chamonix to third (85.66).
Capital Challenge was Schaefer’s first show with Classified after they purchased him last year and they contested the WCHR Low Amateur-Owner Challenge, so she felt like she came full circle with the gelding.
It also left her feeling content with her end of the season. She’ll be skipping the rest of indoors to focus on finishing her degree, which she’ll complete in December.
A Blossoming Partnership
You know Stephanie Danhakl’s horses Golden Rule and Enough Said—she’s piloted both to several wins, each horse making a name for himself in the hunter ring. However when Danhakl topped this year’s WCHR Low Amateur-Owner Challenge, it was Quest’s day to stand out.
“He’s an amazing horse,” said Danhakl. “Every time he goes in the ring he gives his all, and he’s a really sweet, sweet horse. This is his time to shine, because he’s such an amazing horse, and he hasn’t gotten the name he deserves.”
Danhakl has owned the warmblood gelding for two years but has only gotten the opportunity to show him six or seven times during the course of their partnership. A foot condition sidelined Quest for almost a year, but tonight’s win showed Danhakl he was back to 100 percent.
“He’s a beautiful jumper; he has a great rhythm,” said Danhakl. “I’m really happy to have him back.”
Danhakl was second in the 3’6″ version of this class last year with her horse Golden Rule, but she’s never won a WCHR Challenge.
It’s been a chaotic summer for Danhakl, as she navigates a move to Boston for a new job, but she plans to fit the rest of the indoor season around her work schedule.
“I start in a few weeks, so I’ll be able to do most of indoors,” explained Danhakl. “I already worked out with them that I would kind of start out in October, working around indoors, and then be more permanent starting in November. So it really worked out perfectly.”
Want more from Capital Challenge? The Chronicle is here in Upper Marlboro, Md., covering all the action from the WCHR Challenges and the equitation. To read in-depth coverage pick up the October 19th issue.
See full results here.