UPPER MARLBORO, Md., Oct. 30, 2022 – The 2022 Washington International Horse Show, presented by MARS Equestrian closed out the final day of competition on Sunday, October 30, with the smallest competitors of the show. Vivian Golden of Wyomissing, PA, rode Brixton, owned by Betsee Parker, to the Grand Pony Hunter Championship, presented by the Maryland Horse Industry Board. Ava Barnes added her name to the trophy for the win riding Prestige in the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals, presented by Huntland.
Barnes and Brixton, a 12-year-old German Riding Pony gelding by Charivari, competed in the Large Pony Hunters where they won all three of their jumping classes and placed second in the under saddle. Golden was also reserve champion with Royalist, also owned by Betsee Parker.
Golden noted that Brixton had an especially amazing day, which included scoring 93 in the stake class. “I like it when people get a big, higher score because I know I can go in and beat them,” said Golden. “I know I can ride just as well. I like to be nervous and take a couple of deep breaths. I go in and find my rhythm.
“He was very light and looking at the jumps,” she continued. “He wasn’t too quiet and wasn’t too fast. He was just so nice to ride today.”
Golden knew that she could rely on Brixton, a pony she has ridden since January.
“Any time you have a little pressure, he is always going to be there and he’s always going to try his hardest,” she described. “I love to ride soft and leave them alone, and he likes that too, so we’re a good match.”
Taking home the Medium Pony Hunter championship was Paris Charm, ridden by JJ Torano for Megan D’Amico, while the reserve champion was On Your Mark, ridden by Collin Sweetnam for Sweet Oak Farm. Reagan Jarrett and her own Dream Big won the Small Pony Hunter championship. The reserve champion were Elle Boyd and Baby Blue, owned by Finally Farm, Inc.
The Potomac Trophy, awarded for the high score junior owner/rider on a pony, went to Sweetnam and On Your Mark as well as Reagan Jarrett on Dream Big.
Olivia Sweetnam was named the Best Child Rider on a Pony, while JJ Torano received the Gochman Style of Riding Award.
In the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals, 13-year-old Ava Barnes of Liberty Township, OH, captured the win, adding her name to the trophy that includes such names as Samantha Schaefer, Jessica Springsteen, and Lucy Deslauriers.
This was Barnes’s second time competing in the Finals, and she placed fourth last year. She and Prestige, her 11-year-old Belgian Riding Pony gelding, have been paired together for two years. Barnes admitted that nerves struck as she entered the ring for her over fences round and increased as they continued knowing it was going well.
“When I walked in, I was a little bit nervous because I wanted to do well,” she recalled. “I was really nervous going to the last jump because I knew I had a good round. I just didn’t want to pop chip, or have a swap, or hit a rail or anything. When I left the ring, my trainer [David Belford] gave me a high five and said it was really good.”
Barnes sat in second place with a score of 89 following the jumping phase and moved up to first place after a solid flat phase. For her win, Barnes was presented with the Jane Marshall Dillon Memorial Perpetual Trophy.
“The flat phases are my favorite parts of horse shows,” said Barnes. “I feel really confident going into them, knowing I have a good pony.
“I was so surprised and happy at the same time,” said Golden of her win. “It means a lot. I like the cupcakes; they’re my favorite part of the horse show. I haven’t won a class yet, so I was really excited to win this and get some cupcakes!”
Second place in the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals went to JJ Torano riding Paris Charm, while Kaitlyn Linck placed third with Celebrity.
The 2022 WIHS has come to a close after a hugely successful return to the Washington area and in its first year as a CSI5* event. Save the date for the 2023 Washington International Horse Show on October 23-29.