25 Years of Memorable Moments at the Capital Challenge Horse Show

In 2001, Mandy Tosh rode Whoville to the top of the WCHR Adult Amateur Challenge. Photo courtesy of Capital Challenge Horse Show.


For 25 years, the Capital Challenge Horse Show (CCHS) has been the home of truly outstanding hunter performances. The show has become a highlight of every hunter rider’s year as its Challenge classes, North American Green Hunter Championship and WCHR Pro Finals, along with the year-end awards and equitation finals, provide opportunities for horses and riders at all levels to shine. This year’s show runs from September 28 – October 7 at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.

As the Capital Challenge celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, we took a look back at some of the memorable moments of years before.

Dawn Fogel and her Osczar captured many blue ribbons at Capital Challenge, including in 2000. Photo by O’Neill’s.

Capital Challenge has been the scene of some remarkable moments in the sport, with horses like the legendary Rox Dene and Elizabeth Solter winning the WCHR Pro Challenge in 1996, and two rounds in the regular working hunters—Rick Fancher riding Osczar in 1997 and Shachine Belle on In Disguise in 2003—that scored a perfect 100.

In 2003, Shachine Belle and In Disguise earned a perfect score of 100 while competing in the Regular Working Hunter division. It earned them the Derbydown Perpetual Trophy for the highest-scoring hunter round, which they won again in 2004. Photo courtesy of Capital Challenge Horse Show.

“It’s hard to believe it’s already been 25 years since we first started Capital Challenge,” said Oliver Kennedy, the show manager and co-founder. “It’s really grown into something special, and we’re proud to now host so many year-end finals and championships along with what have become highly competitive hunter, jumper, and equitation divisions.”

The win in the Handy Hunter Challenge in 2011 went to Stars Go Blue and Shawn Casady. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

Riders compete all year to earn points at select WCHR shows in order to qualify for the Challenge classes at Capital Challenge, which are offered for professional, developing professional, amateur-owner, junior, adult amateur, children’s and pony riders. The WCHR Professional Finals provide a unique ride-off format for qualified pro riders, and the Developing Pro Challenge and North American Green Hunter Championship give future stars a moment in the spotlight.

Havens Schatt topped the WCHR Pro Finals in 1995, the second year the class was offered. Photo by O’Neill’s. Photo courtesy of Capital Challenge Horse Show.

This year, in a nod to the show’s 25th anniversary, Capital Challenge is adding $1,000 for each of the show’s 25 years to the prize money for the WCHR Pro Challenge class to bring the total from $25,000 to $50,000 thanks to the support of sponsors the Gochman Family and Radwanski Enterprises.

Caroline Moran rode Saint Nick to the blue in the WCHR Amateur-Owner Challenge in 2002. Photo courtesy of Capital Challenge Horse Show.

The BigEq.com Equitation Weekend begins on Friday, September 28, with the return of the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East, newly launched in 2017 and held for the second consecutive year at Capital Challenge, and continues with the Palm Beach International Academy North American Junior Equitation Championships, the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Championships, and the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Children’s Medal Finals.

In her first year as a professional rider, Melissa Feller won the WCHR Emerging Pro Challenge in 2012 riding Serafino. Photo by Jennifer Wood Media

Beginning on Monday, October 1, the Capital Challenge Horse Show will again host the nation’s best hunter horses and riders for hunter division competition and the WCHR Hunter Challenges for amateurs, adults, juniors, children, ponies, professionals, and developing professionals.

John French rode Small Affair to the blue in the WCHR Pro Challenge three times—in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Photo by Jennifer Wood Media.

This year’s $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge, sponsored by The John R. Ingram Fund, and the $50,000 WCHR Professional Challenge, sponsored by the Gochman Family, will be held on Wednesday, October 3. The top hunter riders in the country will also go head-to-head in the $10,000 WCHR Professional Finals on Friday, October 5, following the Ariat National Adult Medal Final that afternoon.

Tracey Weinberg (center) and San Siro won the WCHR Amateur-Owner Challenge in 2001. Fellow amateur rider Betty Oare (left) presented the trophy to Weinberg and her trainer, Tony Workman (right). Photo courtesy of Capital Challenge Horse Show.

The up-and-coming stars of hunter sport appear in the $25,000 3’ and 3’3” Green Hunter North American Championship, sponsored by the Wheeler Family, on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 3.

Peter Pletcher topped the WCHR Pro Challenge in 2012 riding Becky Gochman’s Sambalino. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

In the jumper divisions, featured classes include the $10,000 North American 1.30-1.35m Medium Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, the $10,000 1.20-1.25m Low Junior/Amateur-Jumper division the $10,000 1.10m Adult Amateur Jumper Classic, and the $10,000 1.10-m Children’s Jumper Classic.