The 60th anniversary Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) concluded on Sunday, October 28, at Capital One Arena in downtown D.C. with the naming of the 2018 Grand Pony Hunter Champion, as well as WIHS Pony Equitation Finals and WIHS Regional Hunter Finals winners.
Taking the weeklong show’s top pony hunter honor was Tessa Downey of Houston, TX, riding her own Anisette.
Downey, 13, and the 12-year-old black Welsh Pony Cross mare topped two of the Medium Pony Hunter over fences classes and finished second in the handy to earn the Medium Pony Hunter Championship, for which they were presented the Shenandoah Sundowner Perpetual Trophy, donated by Evan Coluccio and Ashmont Farms, Lt.
The pair’s consistent rounds proved to be enough to then clinch the Miles River Moonglow Perpetual Trophy, donated by Scott Novick & Rustic Woods, as the Grand Pony Hunter Champions. Downey and Anisette also received the Potomac Trophy for the High Score Junior Hunter Rider on a Pony, and Downey was named the Best Child Rider on a Pony, sponsored by Gotham North. For the Best Child Rider award, Downey received the Captain V.S. Littauer Perpetual Trophy.
“I grew up watching Maddie Schaefer and everyone who is now in the big eq win this trophy, and I’m just super excited,” said Downey, who was competing at WIHS for the third time. “We came here just with our goal being to jog in every class. That was our goal at Harrisburg too; we just wanted to be consistent. Then we go and this happens, and we’re over the moon!”
Downey started riding Anisette this past year, after purchasing the mare from the Hoch family, and she has seen great success with her since, including winning the Medium Pony Hunter Championship at the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) Pony Finals in August.
“She’s spunky. She wants to be the best. You don’t have to tell her. She wants to be,” said Downey.
Finishing as the reserve champions in the Medium Pony Hunters were Alexa Lignelli of New York, NY, and Fox Creeks Curious George, owned by the Lignelli Family.
In the Small Pony Hunters, the championship honor was presented to Maddie Tosh of Milton, GA, riding Bit of Love for owner Dr. Betsee Parker. Tosh and the 12-year-old Welsh Pony Cross finished first, second, and third over fences for the win. The Small Pony Hunter reserve championship went to Clara Propp of New York, NY, riding Benlea Mizzou, owned by Aquitaine Equine.
The Large Pony Hunter Championship went to Kat Fuqua of Atlanta, GA, and her own Brighton, who finished first and second over fences and fifth under saddle for the tricolor victory. The reserve championship was awarded to Caleche, owned and ridden by Lola Head.
Samantha Takacs Rides to Redemption in WIHS Pony Equitation Finals
Samantha Takacs of Oldwick, NJ, scored an 88 in the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals to take home top honors riding Storyteller. The win was a redeeming effort for Takacs after going off course from the first in the order in the very same class during the 2017 WIHS.
“Last year was my first time at WIHS and this year I was really hoping I did the course correctly,” said Takacs, who trains with Dave Belford and Chris Payne of New Hope Farm based out of Batavia, OH. “I was a little bit nervous because I hadn’t shown in the hunters at this show this year because I didn’t have a horse to ride so today was my first trip.”
Thirteen-year-old Takacs borrowed the ride on Storyteller, owned by Temple Equestrian, LLC and leaded by Caroline Signorino. Despite qualifying for the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals, Takacs didn’t have a mount available to compete and jumped her first fence with Storyteller the morning of the final.
“I am so thankful that my friend Caroline and Temple Equestrian were both kind enough to let me borrow him,” said Takacs of the 15-year-old German Sport Pony gelding. “I rode him this morning and I felt like he was such a good boy and we were a good match. Then in the schooling area, I got a little self-conscious and wasn’t sure how it was going to. But, once I got in the ring I knew he would do it for me.”
After the jumping phase of the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals, the top ten riders were tested on the flat. Takacs pocketed the top score to best second-place finisher Kat Fuqua, who finished one point off the lead with an 87. Tessa Downey finished third with a score of 85, while Mae Mannis of Woodbury, CT, posted an 83 for fourth. Claire Campbell of Cochranville, PA, rounded out the top five on an 81.
“It was really nerve-wracking [to wait for my score to be announced],” said Takacs. “I didn’t know if it was going to be me, Kat or anyone in the top. They were all really good.”
The final events of the 2018 WIHS were the Regional Hunter Finals, which kicked off last week at the WIHS Regional Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.
With a win in the WIHS Regional Pony Hunter Finals McKenna Gregorio of Ashland, VA, was named grand champion of the division riding her own Autumn Frost. Reserve went to Maddy Wilson of Bryantown, MD, aboard Shenandoah Jasmine for owner Molly McLaughlin.
Brittani Director of Potomac, MD, topped the WIHS Regional Hunter Finals in the horse section riding her own Rococo. For the division title, Jessica Van Brocklin Smith of Alexandria, VA, was named grand champion and accepted The Black, Starr & Frost Perpetual Trophy, donated by Black, Starr & Frost. She rode her own Romulus. Director and Rococo claimed the reserve champion title.
The Washington International Horse Show wrapped its 60th anniversary celebration, year-end championships, and horse show-inspired entertainment on Sunday, and will return to Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, D.C. for a 61st season from October 22 through 27, 2019. For more information on WIHS, please visit www.wihs.org
WIHS Pony Equitation Finals Results
1. SAMANTHA TAKACS OLDWICK, NJ STORYTELLER 88
2. KAT FUQUA ATLANTA, GA BBRIGHTON 87
3. TESSA DOWNEY HOUSTON, TX HALLELUJAH 85
4. MAE MANNIS WOODBURY, CT DAYS OF OUT LIVES 83
5. CLAIRE CAMPBELL COCHRANVILLE, PA LEON 81
6. KATIE TRIANTOS MCLEAN, VA ROYAL FLUSH 79
7. STERLING MALNIK OCEAN RIDGE, FL SILVER STAR DYNAMO 80
8. EMILY CLEE BETHAL, CT CLOVERMEADE BUNNY SIDE UP 79.5
9. CALDER TROTZ MEMPHIS, TN NOT SO SEVRET 78
10. JOSEPHINE ROSE SPRINGBORO, OH HIS WAY 77