Payton Potter Claims 2020 Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic-West, presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College

Payton Potter rode to a victory in the 2020 Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic - West on Khaled. Photo: Grand Pix Photography

Petaluma, Calif.—Jul. 20, 2020—The USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic – West, presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College, brought 38 riders to vie for the equitation title at the Sonoma Horse Park in Petaluma, California, on Friday, July 17. Through two challenging rounds and a work-off of the top four riders, Payton Potter and Khaled topped the Classic, rising from fourth after Round 1 with a total score of 246. Sophia Sanders came in second on Cipriani, while Stella Wasserman was third on Cohiba VDL, and Taylor Griffiths-Madden rounded out the final four riding Caracas 89.

With trademark sunny California weather on tap, the Classic was held in the Grand Prix ring, featuring courses designed by Scott Starnes of Bend, Oregon, with Fran Dotoli of Chepachet, Rhode Island, and Maggie Jayne of Wellington, Florida, in the judges booth.

Topping the first round, the Classic Phase, was Griffiths-Madden with a score of 87. The top 20 riders then returned in reverse order of score for the second round, the Handy Phase, and Wasserman took the lead on an impressive combined score of 172. Notably, all top ten riders scored 80 or above in both the classic and handy rounds.

The top four after the second round—Wasserman, Potter, Griffiths-Madden and Sanders—returned for the work-off, where they were asked to switch horses and jump a shortened course without help from their trainers and with only a two minute warm-up to get a feel for their new mount. Aboard Griffiths-Madden’s mount, Caracas 89, Sanders was the first to work-off. Griffiths-Madden then rode Sanders’ horse Cipriani. The next to contest the final course was Potter, aboard Wasserman’s mount, Cohiba VDL. Last to navigate the shortened course was Wasserman aboard Potter’s horse, Khaled. In the end, it was Potter who rose from an eight-point deficit to take the win.

For her win, Potter earned prizes from USHJA sponsors Parlanti, Charles Owen, Essex Classics, Straight Arrow and FITS Breeches, in addition to other awards, including a keeper trophy. Photo: Grand Pix Photography

“I made sure to talk to Stella Wasserman a bit before I got on about her horse, and I told her a few things about my horse. They have some things in common, so I really enjoyed riding her horse—he’s very comfortable and smooth,” said Potter, regarding her preparation for the work-off. Consistency paid off for the 17-year-old, as her scores of 83, 81 and 82 in the three rounds earned her the title of champion in the 2020 USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic West.

Potter not only achieved, but exceeded, her goal of placing in the top four in the Gladstone Cup, in which she has competed and finished in the top 20 twice before. For the remainder of her junior career, she has her sights set on taking home a ribbon at indoors and competing in an International Hunter Derby.

Potter and her trainer, Leslie Steele, used the USEF-mandated break from competition productively, taking the time to go back to basics. “I did mostly flatwork until the last month or so when we started doing more courses,” Potter said. “Leslie added some equitation clinics into our calendar, and she’s done a fabulous job getting clinicians to come in, so that really helped me get back into the championship mindset.”

Sophia Sanders and Cipriani took reserve. Photo: Grand Pix Photography

The top two finishers were recognized with prizes from the Classic’s generous sponsors, and riders were pinned through tenth place. As champion, Potter received a Charles Owen helmet, a pair of Parlanti tall boots, an Essex Classics riding shirt, a gift basket from Straight Arrow, a certificate for FITS Breeches, a cooler and a keeper trophy. The reserve champion, Sanders, earned an Essex Classics riding shirt and a certificate for FITS Breeches. All top 10 riders sported colorful sashes and ribbons.

Cohiba VDL, ridden by Stella Wasserman, was named Best Equitation Horse by the judges, winning a CWD Halter.

Named in honor of the United States Equestrian Team headquarters at Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, New Jersey, the USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic, presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry College, is a three round class that combines the precision of equitation and the handiness of hunters over a course set at 3’6”.

The USHJA congratulates all participants and wishes to thank Sonoma Horse Park, Ashley Herman and her team for hosting this equitation event. A special thank you to all of USHJA’s Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic sponsors: Intermont Equestrian at Emory & Henry CollegeEssex ClassicsFITSCWDStraight Arrow and Parlanti.

Cohiba VDL named Best Equitation Horse. Photo: Grand Pix Photography

Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic – West Results
Placing – Name – Horse – Final Score – Trainer

Champion – Payton Potter – Khaled – 246 – Leslie Steele
Reserve – Sophia Sanders – Cipriani – 243 – Patty Ball
3rd – Stella Wasserman – Cohiba VDL – 237 – Caitlin Steimle and Olivia Brown
4th – Taylor Griffiths-Madden – Caracas 89 – 230 – James Hagman
5th – Clara McDanniel – Charm – 159 – Corene Smith
6th – Juliette Joseph – Casiro – 158 – Robyn Stiegler
7th – Cameron Brown – KT Lansini – 157.75 – Kendall Bourgeois
8th – Sydnie Young – Couer de Lion – 157.5 – Jill Humprey
9th – Zoe Brown – Habesi – 157 – Harley and Olivia Brown
10th – Mia Burlington – One O’Wonder – 155.5 – Alexis Taylor

About the US Hunter Jumper Association

The United States Hunter Jumper Association, as the official hunter/jumper affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation, is a competition-based sport organization that serves our members through educational programs, awards and recognition, communication and rules. We provide a wide array of programs for all hunter/jumper levels, and we are mindful of the well-being of our equine partners. Additionally, we are committed to preserving the history of our sport and through our Foundation we support charitable and benevolent services. Learn more at