Edited Press Release
The 2023 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), presented by MARS Equestrian™ continued on Wednesday, October 25, at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, where the day concluded with the $12,500 WIHS Children’s Jumper and $12,500 WIHS Adult Jumper Championships, both sponsored by MARS Equestrian™. Hailey Guidry and Colina SN were victorious in the children’s championship, while Kristan Lassiter on Elsa claimed the win in the adult class.
For their achievements, Guidry was awarded the H. Fenwick Kollock Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Friends of Fen, and Lassiter was presented with the Dorothy Foote “Goodie” Taylor Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ashton Hill and Miss Linden Joan Hill.
The children’s championship was the first title up for grabs, and it was Hailey Guidry, 13, of Wellington, FL, who saved the best for last, galloping into the top spot with Colina SN in 29.094 seconds.
Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR) and assistant Nick Granat (USA) were the masterminds behind the course, which saw 15 combinations jump a fault-free first round to advance to the jump-off. Colin Sweetnam, 13, of Wellington, FL, was the first to race around The Show Place Arena and set the time to beat at 31.460 seconds. He left the rest of the field chasing his time with no one able to duplicate the effort. As the first-place point earner from the WIHS qualifying season, Guidry was last to go and the final challenger to Sweetnam’s time. She and Colina SN gave it all they had, and when the clock stopped at 29.094 seconds, cheers erupted from her support team.
Guidry showed Colina SN at Capital Challenge Horse Show but didn’t quite have the result they wanted when ‘Lina’ ticked a rail out of a one-stride in the first round. With that fresh in her mind, Guidry was determined to not make the same mistake.
“I was mainly thinking about the seven-stride bending line to the one-stride on the far side of the arena,” she explained of her plan for the first round. “That line was challenging because Lina can drift right sometimes. I really tried to keep her left.”
No rails fell for Guidry today, so when she returned for the jump-off, she was ready to lay it all on the line.
“I honestly wasn’t counting strides,” admitted Guidry, who trains with Abby Blankenship of Three Ships LLC. “I was just trying to go for it. I was really debating on doing the inside turn at the end of the course, and I ended up just doing it. It turned out exactly how I wanted it to turn out.”
It was a bittersweet moment for Guidry, who was emotional after the class as it marked her final competition with Lina.
“I’m very proud, and I just love her so much,” expressed Guidry of her mount of two years. “She’s one of the horses I can trust the most. I knew I could go in and have a good round, stick it out, and end up winning, and I’m very happy with how it ended up. This morning I really thought about it hard. I really just love her with all my heart. She’s the sweetest thing ever. I was really going to be happy either way, but she really made me proud. She’s everything anyone could ever want.”
Fittingly, Lina’s groom, Alberto Gomez Martinez, had her all decked out for the occasion in perfect braids with pink plaiting bands, and Guidry had her favorite treats ready to go.
“Her favorite is Snaks 5th Avenchew,” shared Guidry of the 13-year-old Warmblood mare owned by Taylor Landstrom. “She loves any treat, but she really loves the fancy treats.”
Sweetnam ended up finishing in second with Just Noble, a 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare by Character 1243 owned by Sweet Oak Farm. Caroline Hoover, 18, of Bethesda, MD, rode Elinea VDL, Redfield Farm’s 14-year-old Warmblood mare by Marlon, to third place in a time of 31.672.
After the children’s championship, it was time for the adults to step into the spotlight, and it was Kristan Lassiter of New York, NY, with Elsa who let it go all the way to the win with the stop clock frozen at the final time of 33.880 seconds.
From the 25 starters, just five made it to the short course with Lassiter and Elsa last to go. Once again, it ended up being the final competitor to come away victoriously.
“This whole finals season I have been close to the last to go in the first round, and then this is my second time being last to go in the jump-off,” related Lassiter, who trains with Sarah Redman and Nicki Simpson. “This is like a dream come true. Last would not be my chosen spot, but then again, I don’t want to go first either.”
Despite some nerves, Lassiter had confidence in her partner of one year and was ready to ride into the unknown.
“Honestly, my horse is a completely overqualified grand prix horse, and I knew that she could do it, because I knew that she had my back and that I could count on her,” enthused Lassiter of her 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Wizzerd WV. “I actually was thrilled that we had the triple combination and that we had the liverpool because it was challenging but I knew my horse would know exactly how to handle that. For myself, I wanted to be careful not to pressure her out of the triple because she has such a huge stride and she jumped in well, so I knew it was going to get tight for her. She was right with me. I think you can tell she literally does whatever I ask her to do.”
The big grey mare was the star of the evening, living up to her in-barn reputation as the resident ice princess.
“She’s the queen without question,” stated Lassiter. “She definitely has told animal communicators that she is the barn favorite, and that is because she is very specific. She does not like other horses. She does not like humans walking by her stall. She doesn’t like other dogs or anything. She has her whole set up where she has her isolation spot. Her best friend is her hay net, which is kept full at all times, and we always greet her with a treat. We do everything in our power to let her be the superstar she obviously is.
Part of the recipe for success with Elsa is that Lassiter and her team try to keep everything the same for her. Lassiter has a stretching routine with her, always ended with peppermint stretches to both sides, and they try to keep the same protocol in the schooling area so Elsa is never surprised. All of the special care and attention certainly paid off with Lassiter’s biggest Indoors achievement yet.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Lassiter. “It’s not even sinking in, because I just wanted to go double clear. I’m so grateful to my trainers and grooms and all my friends. The outpouring of support all day from my team was nonstop, and of course, I have to thank my husband who is the most patient man on the earth.”
Caroline Lloyd of Wellington, FL, rode Fallciana, a 10-year-old Holsteiner mare by Casall owned by Carolex Stables LLC, to second place in a time of 34.550 seconds. Wynter Johnson of Cornelius, NC, and Cessna, her 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare by Cardento, finished in third in a time of 35.862 seconds.