Faith Schuttemeyer and Blackjack Ace the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Children’s Medal Finals

Faith Schuttemeyer and Blackjack. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

Edited Press Release

Equitation Weekend, presented by, during the 30th anniversary of the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, MD, continued on Saturday, September 30, where nine more championships were awarded. Faith Schuttemeyer, 14, of Boynton Beach, FL, led the victory gallop in The Show Place Arena at Prince George’s Equestrian Center after winning the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Children’s Medal Finals with a final score of 256.15. Hailey Guidry, 13, of Wellington, FL, piloted Cornet’s Sunshine to the reserve championship honors, and Brooke Hagerty, 15, of Terrebonne, OR, rounded out the top three aboard Mascotte vd Withoeve.

Riders spend the year earning points towards qualification of the finals with only the top 41 invited to compete at Capital Challenge. Three panels each composed of two judges oversaw the class, where riders contested the Ken Krome-designed course in reverse order of qualification. Mark Jungherr and Chris Wynne made up the first panel, while Virginia Edwards and Michael Tokaruk sat on the second panel, and Mark Bone and Sissy Wickes represented the third panel. Each panel provided one score, and the average of the three resulted in the rider’s overall mark. The top 10 then returned for a second round in reverse order of their first-round scores, with Schuttemeyer last to come back on her first-round score of 87.66.

“I thought everything walked pretty straight forward,” said Schuttemeyer, who trains with Michael DelFiandra of Grafton Ridge in South Salem, NY, along with her mom, Kristin. “In the first course, I wanted to make sure I got up the first line, and then the rest was pretty smooth. For the second course, it was the same thing. I just wanted to make sure I got up the first line.”

Schuttemeyer was able to duplicate her stellar first-round effort in the second round, scoring an 87.83, yielding a two-round total of 175.49. Guidry improved upon her first-round score of 85.50 to earn an 88.33, totaling 173.83. Because the two riders were only separated by 1.66 points, judges called them back for a test, which featured a counter canter and hand gallop. In the end, it was Schuttemeyer’s work-off score of 80.66 that propelled her to victory on an overall score of 256.15.

Faith Schuttemeyer was joined in her winning presentation of the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals by Lily Epstein, Mandy Hulver, Michael Taylor, Luke Taylor, Kristin Schuttemeyer, Michael DelFiandra, Christina Finn, and Jennifer Hinman. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

“It’s pretty nerve-wracking when you’re waiting to test,” reflected Schuttemeyer. “My trainer says to trust my eye and take a deep breath. I was focusing on the counter canter because the angle to the first jump was a little challenging. After that, I was trying to be careful not to swap leads in front of the second jump, and then I was focused on doing the inside turn after the hand gallop to the last two jumps.”

Schuttemeyer’s mount for the class, Blackjack, was paired with Schuttemeyer’s mom in the jumper ring 10 years ago. He then reconnected with the family four years ago, becoming a formidable partner for Schuttemeyer as she began her foray into the equitation classes.

Faith Schuttemeyer and Blackjack. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

“He’s really sweet,” shared Schuttemeyer. “He’s pretty easy and very fun to ride. He’s always going for the next jump. He is so special.”

Their win in the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals marks a triumphant sendoff for the 24-year-young Hanoverian gelding, owned by Gabriella Salazar, who will now celebrate his retirement with lots of apples.

In the outdoor arena, Taylor Cawley, 14, of Wellington, FL, bested a field of 23 for the title of North American Junior Flat Equitation Champion.

Cawley, who trains with Beacon Hill Show Stables in Colts Neck, NJ, rode Oki d’Eclipse, owned by Sea Horse Investments. The duo began their partnership earlier in the year at the Devon Horse Show.

Taylor Cawley of Wellington, FL. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

“This is his first year doing the equitation,” explained Cawley of the nine-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Catoki. “I was very proud of him. He’s always been good in flat classes. I mostly tried to focus on keeping him straight. We have been working on extensions and collections a lot, so I was happy with how he was out there. He has a very big stride. I knew as long as I kept the extensions, I could really show it off. He was really, really good.”

Judges excused riders as they whittled down the competition.

“I was mainly trying to stay calm, keep my position relaxed, and not get too stiff,” continued Cawley. “I was really happy when I was in the top 10, then the top three, and then on top. I was hoping to finish in the top 10. I was second in the flat in my age division, so I didn’t necessarily think that I was going to win but I’m glad I did. I was very happy.”

Earlier in the day, six Section B age group equitation division champions and reserve champions were named as follows:

Champion JJ Torano of Wellington, FL, and Reserve Champion Katherine Mercer of Wellington, FL, in the 12 & Under Equitation. Photo Shawn McMillen Photography
Champion Taylor Cawley of Wellington, FL, and Reserve Champion Olivia Sweetnam of Wellington, FL, in the 13- & 14-Year-Old Equitation. Photo Shawn McMillen Photography
Champion Shiloh Roseboom of Brentwood, TN, and Reserve Champion Adriana Forte of Water Mill, NY, in the 15-Year-Old Equitation. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Co-Champion Kaitlyn Kiely of Rumson, NJ, and Co-Champion Ariana Marnell of Las Vegas, NV, in the 16-Year-Old Equitation. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Champion Carlee McCutcheon of Aubrey, TX, and Reserve Champion Tessa Downey of Houston, TX, in the 17-Year-Old Equitation. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography