Oct. 8—Upper Marlboro, Md.
If you ask trainer Leslie Emerson why Shawn Casady rides her charge Stars Go Blue so well, she can’t tell you.
“He rides so much through feel that I don’t even think he knows how he does it,” she said. “They are an incredible combination—nobody rides him like he does. They are made for each other.”
So when Emerson realized Casady was qualified for today’s WCHR Handy Hunter Challenge at Capital Challenge, she convinced him to ride Stars Go Blue in the class.
That decision paid off when Casady topped the class on a mark of 87.66. He beat out 17 other competitors in the single-round class, which pits the best junior, amateur and professional handy rounds against one another. Hope Glynn rode Roccoco to second and Meredith “Maddy” Darst tacked up equitation partner Copyright to take third.
Michael Reinheimer built today’s track, which included plenty of opportunities for riders to show off their most efficient riding over rollbacks and broken lines. The course included a trot fence, hand gallop jump and a small obstacle at the end of the ring that riders had to walk over.
“I wasn’t sure about it,” admitted Casady, 17. “I let him step over it, then I picked up a canter and into the hand gallop.”
Casady, Midtown, Tenn., has been riding the horse on and off most of the year for owner Marigot Bay Farm LLC in the junior hunter ring, winning plenty of championships and USHJA National Hunter Classics.
“He’s just a blast,” said Casady. “He goes in the ring, and I believe he’s having fun with it. He listens to my body really well—he’s always listening to me. If we’re slipping inside or turning back he’s always one step ahead in a good way. You know like rolling back and inside turns he always tries to give me his all, over every jump.”
Emerson recruited Casady to ride the horse to help get the Selle Français by Riverman in the ring for owner Kelly Arani. According to her their success is thanks to their special relationship.
“She had so much fun watching him go and do that,” said Emerson. “He’s a horseman, and he has a complete relationship with the horse that I don’t even think he can explain. When I see him hanging around the horse show he’s out petting horses in the paddocks.”