Mill Spring, N.C.—Oct. 29
After that history making, jaw dropping, the-elusive-100-percent round with Scott Stewart and Catch Me, Becky Gochman had an idea. Why not have one of her daughters saddle up the famous gray? Mimi Gochman had started re-dabbling in the junior hunter divisions with some catch rides supplied by Scott Stewart and Ken Berkeley, and her hunter skills were all tuned up after having more of a focus on jumpers and equitation. So, during week 4 of the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida), the gelding made his way for the first time to the junior hunter ring with Mimi in the irons.
“When I first started riding him, I think I was more nervous just because he just got a 100 and Scott always had a huge win on him,” said the 17-year-old from New York. “My mom won every single indoor and circuit champion at WEF countless times. My mom has won everything on him. Scott has won everything on him. So, it was going to be interesting to see if I could keep up with it, and I think after I got a few rounds under my belt I was more comfortable.”
In that first outing, the pair took home the tricolor in the large junior, 16-17, division.
“It’s been a growing relationship ever since,” she said. “He’s awesome obviously. He’s got his own reputation for himself, but he’s such a dream to ride. He jumps high and lofty, and he’s a great mover, and he always tries his best.”
Last week at the Pennsylvania National, Mimi and “Snoopy” had a blunder. But the pair redeemed themselves at the Washington International, with Mimi adding her own WIHS red cooler to the gelding’s prior three, above Libbie Gordon and Montauk.
Mimi also earned another cooler with Ella Bikoff’s Commentary following their other tricolor performance in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, last week. With a clean sweep in the small junior, 16-17, division, she and Commentary earned another tricolor, above E Di Luca and Reynolds Cole, in addition to grand junior hunter honors.
“That’s my first clean sweep actually,” said Mimi. “I was really excited.”
Unlike Snoopy, Commentary is a true catch-ride. But with the help of Bikoff, Stewart and Berkeley, she’s been able to adjust quickly and successfully to the gelding’s way of going.
“You have to keep an open mind because horses are always going to be a little bit different,” said Mimi. “I mean, he’s definitely different than any other horse I’ve ever ridden, and I think just keeping an open mind and remembering the basics like ‘Move up the line and get up early so that you can be slowing down’ or ‘Sit in the turns so that you can find a good open distance and just keeping your body back.’ I think it’s really just about remembering what you learned when you were a child and not much of specific for a horse.”
With such a pile of loot to haul back to the barn, Mimi earned Best Child Rider on a Horse distinction—something she shockingly has never earned before.
“At some shows they do like first, second, third, fourth, so I’ve been in the running for Best Child Rider,” said Mimi. “It’s always such an honor to be Best Child Rider, so I’m super excited.
“It makes me feel good about myself because if I’m able to top the classes at such a high level then it makes me feel like I can keep going and that I can continue to do well,” she said of winning at Washington. “That I’ve worked hard to get to the top and it feels good.
New “Indoors,” New Championship For Fuqua
No one can argue that this indoor season hasn’t belonged to Kat Fuqua. At the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, she tied for the grand junior hunter honors with her small junior Consent. But down south in North Carolina, she flexed her muscles more, this time with her other trusted partner Grand Remo. The pair collected three blues and a red to walk center ring with a tricolor in the large junior, 15 and under, division, above Raina Swani and Small Occasion.
“He’s been super consistent,” she added. “My favorite thing about him is his personality. He’s kind of a little bit arrogant. He knows he’s beautiful. He always poses for the camera, so he’s been really great.”
But did she feel any pressure to live up to those highs of last week? Pfff, no—it fueled the fire.
“I was confident coming in because I was champion at Harrisburg last week, and ‘Remo’ was reserve champion, so I was excited to come,” said the 14-year-old. “And Tryon is one of my favorite shows, so always excited to come back and show here.”
In between shows, Fuqua keeps her horses at her Collecting Gaits Farm. And with Remo, such a close connection helps her understand him and make him shine.
“You have to get him relaxed in his area,” she said. “So, if you try to do something too quick with him he gets a little anxious, so you just have to do everything relaxing with him, not too abrupt.
“I feel like I really get to bond with them, and I think it helps in the show ring because I really know them,” Fuqua added. “I take care of them at home, so I really know them like the back of my hands.”
Coronation Crowned Champion
The search for a small junior hunter started off as just a casual affair for Sterling Malnik—that is until they found Coronation. Owned then by Sloan Lindemann-Barnett, the gelding had spent time collecting a strong record in the 3’3” amateur-owner divisions and in the junior ranks with Sloan’s daughter Violet Lindemann-Barnett and Augusta Iwasaki. And the second Malnik sat on him, she knew he was a match.
“We were just looking for small junior hunters, everything casual,” said the 15-year-old from Ocean Ridge, Florida. “We found him, and we were like we’re not going to rush anything so then we tried him and then about 20 minutes after we were like let’s try him again. So then we went back to the farm that he was at, and we tried him at the farm—and this was at like 7 o’clock at night—and the that night we vetted him, and we bought him the morning of. It was very quick thing.”
The pair started off in the 3’3” junior hunters last year, earning the grand 3’3” junior hunter championship at Capital Challenge (Maryland) and reserve championship at the National Horse Show (Kentucky). And following such success, they moved up to the small junior, 15 and under, division last November.
And that magical feeling Malnik felt that first time continued this indoor season at the bigger heights as they donned the championship and the reserve championship tricolors at Capital Challenge and Pennsylvania National respectively. Coronation took home another first-time tricolor for Malnik, this time with the red WIHS cooler, above Maddie Tosh and Lucador.
“He’s the best boy I could ever ask for,” said Malnik. “He does so much for me. He tries so hard, and with indoors this year not being [inside at] Washington [District of Columbia] and coming to an outdoor ring after being indoors for Capital Challenge and Harrisburg, he just proved me right. He just shined so well, and I couldn’t be any happier with him.”
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