Upper Marlboro Md.—Oct. 4
When Sophie Gochman walked out of the ring aboard Truly Noble after their round in the WCHR Pony Challenge at Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, Md., this afternoon, she beamed with pride.
She had already won the medium pony hunter class early in the day, and put in another impressive round to claim victory against small, medium and large ponies alike in the challenge class.
This was Gochman’s first ever win in the class, and she made herself known to her fellow competitors by riding “Noble” to her highest score so far.
“I think it’s a really good accomplishment and it’s probably one of the biggest wins that I’ve had,” said Gochman. “It’s actually my highest score!”
Gochman, 11, and the 16-year-old Welsh gelding impressed the judges with their trip around Ken Krome’s flowing and beautifully decorated course. The pair was awarded scores of 91, 90 and 90 for an average total of 90.33.
Caroline Passerelli had previously ridden Betsee Parker’s small pony Bit Of Love to an 87.33, which held as the top score until Gochman tipped the scale in her favor. Passerelli finished the class in second place.
“[Noble and I] had kind of been on it this whole day, so I was like, ‘We can get this!’ ” said Gochman. “[Passerelli] had this high score, so I wasn’t coming in knowing that I would actually win, I just kind of had this good feeling.”
Gochman focused on that feeling of confidence as she headed into the ring for her round, trying not to into let nerves get in her way.
“I just tried to lay down the best round that I could, and I told myself it’s just another round,” said Gochman. “I’ve had a good day, but I just kind of relaxed, and I think that’s how I did it.
“I like that [this class is] at the end of the day and you kind of have to bring yourself down if you had a good day,” she continued. “You can’t get your hopes up or anything, you have to keep yourself calm.”
The Gochman family, who is based out of Baxter Hill Farm in Wellington, Fla., has leased Noble from Pegasus Show Stable, Inc. since April 2013, and the quirky pony has proved himself easy-going and willing in the medium pony hunter ring for both Sophie and her sister Mimi. Sophie trains with Scott Stewart, Ken Berkley and Amanda Derbyshire, and has had the ride on Noble for the past two years.
“He’s very consistent and he doesn’t really mind about his environment, so he doesn’t really mind if he’s in the grass or inside or outside, he always feels the same,” said Sophie.
But Noble is gets into his share of pony antics on the ground and around the barn.
“He’s a little bit funny; he’s kind of a clown!” said Sophie. “He sticks his tongue out for pictures and he flops his lip around and tries to be funny a lot.”
Coming off of their Capital Challenge victories, Sophie and Noble will move on to Harrisburg, Pa., for the next leg of the indoor circuit, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
To read more about the winners at the Capital Challenge Horse Show, check out the October 20 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse print magazine.