Upper Marlboro, Md.—Oct. 28
The Washington International has always been a special horse show for Maddie Tosh. Two years ago Tosh won the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals, and earlier this week she rode Twain to a junior hunter title. She finished up this year’s edition of the horse show in style, winning the WIHS Equitation Final.
She jumped to third in the hunter phase, and moved up to the lead in the jumper phase. For WIHS Equitation Final work-off the top 10 riders swap horses then repeat the jumper phase aboard an unfamiliar mount. Tosh put in a stylish round on her borrowed horse to clinch the victory over Eleanor Rudnicki and this year’s Dover Saddlery USEF Medal Final winner Carlee McCutcheon.
Tosh, 17, tacked up Daktari, an 8-year-old Hanoverian (Diacontinus—Escarla) owned by Betsee Parker, to win the title.
“He’s still pretty green, and he’s still pretty young,” she said. “So I feel like every final so far and every class he’s gone in he’s gotten better and better. And coming in here we know each other really well. I felt pretty confident with him and I pretty much just try to stay out of his way.
“My horse, he has a massive stride, and he’s so, so brave,” she continued. “I could point him at fire and he would have no problem jumping it, so I think that’s definitely an advantage for me and I know him very well. To be able to go in and count on him—he came to play today for sure.”
Tosh went into the horse swap 4 points up, and swapped onto Eleanor Rudnicki’s mount, Kosher, for the final phase to earn high marks from judges Michael Morrissey, Daniel Geitner, Charlie Jayne and Rick Fancher.
“She jelled with her trade horse in the work-off really well,” said Morrissey. “She was a bit ahead going into the [final] round, our judges’ panel gave her a 93, I think the top score was a 94, but I think it was really close.”
Tosh trains with her father, Hunt Tosh, as well as the team at North Run.
“I feel like we were really prepared coming into this, with all the lessons at home and all the different Washington classes we were doing,” said Maddie, Milton, Georgia. “I think with the team I had behind me it was an option to win this class this year and I’m really glad I was able to pull that out for everybody.”
With North Run lead trainers Missy Clark and John Brennan in Spain to help student Zayna Rizvi as she made her senior Nations Cup debut—helping the U.S. team into bronze medal position at the Vejer de la Frontera CSIO3*—Maggie Gampfer stepped into the spotlight to coach Maddie.
“The swap was great because most of my kids swapped with other,” said Gampfer, who brought six riders to Washington, all of whom finished in the top 11. “They were back at the barn explaining how to ride each one or some of them had ridden them before. There’s that camaraderie: we’re all competitive but we all want each other to win. If it’s not our day you want it to be your barnmate’s day. I think that picks everyone up and you feel like they’re on your side.”
Rudnicki is one of those barnmates, and she also trains with Berry Porter.
“It feels great [to finish as the reserve champion],” she said. “I’ve been looking to win some top equitation final ribbons the past couple years. So it feels great to have this.”
All three riders credited their experience catch riding for helping them excel in the final phase of competition. McCutcheon had an extra advantage as she swapped onto a horse she’d ridden at the Platinum Performance Talent Search Finals—East (New Jersey).
“It’s great that we’re in Wellington or Ocala for a long period of time,” she said. “So we’re able to get catch rides there and throughout the year, and I think that makes us more confident and more ready going into today.”
All three riders will head to the National Horse Show in Lexington, Kentucky, next to compete in the ASPCA Maclay Final.