Washington, D.C.—Oct. 27
It was a good day at the Washington International Horse Show for David Belford and Chris Payne, the duo behind New Hope LLC. Their morning started with Agatha Lignelli, 9, winning the small pony hunter championship aboard the family’s beloved Rollingwoods Knee Deep (JD Cops And Robbers—Rollingwoods Lorna Doone) in her first ever Washington outing.
“I was really excited to show here,” said Lignelli, New York City. “I love everything about [Rollingwoods Knee Deep]. He helped me a lot, but I think our handy round was our best because he’s really good at it.”
Rollingwoods Knee Deep, a 17-year-old Welsh Pony gelding, is a veteran who competed with Alexa Lignelli for years. Agatha, Alexa’s younger sister, started showing “Henry” in early 2019, shortly before she started training with New Hope.
“We’ve been working together since April of this year,” said Belford. “Her confidence has skyrocketed. Knee Deep has really lent himself to letting her be forward and confident in her ride. She just wants to trust something.”
Not to be outdone, Alexa topped the medium pony hunter championship aboard her USEF Pony Finals mount, EMC Entourage (Jet Blue—Pendley Miss Perfection). Alexa has been riding the 10-year-old warmblood gelding for a year and a half.
“He was a breeding stallion before we got him, so we brought him from the bottom to the top and it’s been a really fun journey bringing him this far,” said Alexa, 12. “He’s just so bold. This horse show is so hard and we’re all so proud of him. Yesterday he was pretty petrified, so for him to come back and try so hard is amazing.”
This is the first year the Lignelli sisters are riding on the indoor circuit together, but Alexa said it’s only made their relationship stronger, especially with Agatha riding Henry.
“It’s sisterly love, and it’s so nice to see Henry do well,” Alexa said. “I know a lot about Henry and I have a really close bond with him so I give her a little advice but it’s not huge stuff.”
New Hope LLC closed out the day by cheering Samantha Takacs and Brighton on to the large pony hunter championship, overall grand pony hunter championship, and best child rider on a pony award.
“It feels so good, I can’t even describe how happy I am,” said Takacs, 12, Oldwick, New Jersey. She’s been showing Ellie Sadrian’s 9-year-old German Riding Pony gelding since the Devon Horse Show (Pennsylvania) in May.
“He loves big venues like this, they’re his favorite, but I get a little nervous,” said Takacs. “There was definitely a little extra pressure [because of Alexa and Agatha winning], and [Brighton] was grand last year too. I just tried my best and tried to be consistent.”
Three Ships LLC, run by Abby Blankenship and Kristin Moss, were also pleasantly surprised to find three of their riders in the top five of the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals. Kristin’s daughter, Hallie Moss, 11, took the championship on Birtley’s Crowned Jewel, while barnmates Addison Stoughton and Taylor Landstrom claimed second and fourth respectively.
“It’s my last show on ‘Teddy.’ He’s the most magical thing ever,” said Hallie, Fishers, Indiana, of the 12-year-old Welsh Pony gelding (Eyarth Tayma—Birtley Daydream). She’s been leasing Teddy for a year, but doesn’t own a pony. Instead, she rides whatever Blankenship will put her on.
“She’s a hard worker, she’s always working on her position and there’s not much to remind her about,” said Blankenship. “She is one that is not afraid to try new things. She’s essentially a working student so she’s been put on a lot of different animals and we try to get her thinking about what her horse is doing in that moment and what she can do to adapt.
“Everyone comes to indoors hoping to do well,” she continued. “For me as a trainer I’m like, ‘Wow, maybe I should go buy a lottery ticket!’ [The kids are] a great team, they always help each other and love each other.”
Full results here
Catch up with all The Chronicle’s WIHS coverage here.
The Chronicle was on site at Washington International all week. Keep up with all the Chronicle’s online coverage, and follow the Chronicle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Chronofhorse. We will have full analysis of the competition in the Nov. 18 issue of the magazine. Subscribe today!