Pony Hunters take center stage at Washington International Horse Show Local Weekend


Jenny Ross for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

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Photo Credit: Woodlands Me First and Hannah Speigler. Photo by: Al Cook Productions. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.


Pony Hunters Take Center Stage at Washington International Horse Show’s Local Weekend


Upper Marlboro, MD – October 21, 2006 – The Small, Medium, and Large Pony divisions were held today at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD. Based upon overall points, the top six finishers in each division qualified to compete at the Washington International Horse Show in the Local Pony Hunter Finals. The Local Hunter finals will be held at the Verizon Center on Sunday, October 29, 2006.  


Small Ponies kicked off hunter action in the Show Place Arena this morning, and Stormy Knight came away with top honors and the division tricolor. Stormy Knight, owned by Gabby Steinhardt, was piloted by Catherine DiPietro. “I was riding Stormy for Gabby because she’s not ready to jump him over a course yet,” explained twelve year old DiPietro. “So, she let me ride her pony. He was a little fresh, but he was good,” she laughed. “He wasn’t as nervous as before. I was really nervous because I’ve only been riding him for about a week and a half. I sort of calmed down after I won the jumping class because I was so excited. I felt a little more confident after that,” she said with a grin.


DiPietro will compete at the Washington International Horse Show for the first time this year with Stormy Knight. Both DiPietro and Steinhardt train with Cindy Bacon and attend the Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, MD. The reserve championship was presented to Bright Lights and Sophia Rutti of Upperville, VA.


In the Medium Pony division, twelve year old Parker Van de Water of Warrenton, VA, rode Coco Chanel to the championship. “My pony is the sweetest pony in the world, if you ask me,” reported Van de Water with a smile. “She lives at my house, so every morning and night I get to go out and feed her. We have a little barn. It was a garage, but we turned it into a barn,” she clarified. “I’ve been riding her for about a year and a half. I had been riding Coco at my trainer’s a lot, and my parents blindfolded me and put me on her and told me to take off my blindfold. She had a big, pink bow around her neck and it said, ‘Happy Every Holiday.’”


She continued, “This is a big improvement because, last year, we didn’t get over a single jump. Outdoors we did ok, but indoors- nope- we crashed through the very first jump. So this year’s much better!” Later this week, the young rider will compete at the Washington International Horse Show for the first time. “I’m very nervous already, and I just got out of this show!” she exclaimed. Reserve champion in the Medium Pony division went to Short Notice, owned by Essex Equestrian of West Orange, NJ, and rider Dani DiPietro.


The Large Pony Hunters were divided into two sections. Woodlands Me First, owned by Don Stewart, and Hannah Spiegler took home one championship, while King of Hearts, owned by Ron Esposito, and Katie Mulberger earned the other tricolor.


“I don’t know much about him because I just got him,” revealed Spiegler about her new pony. “I started riding him about a month ago. He was really good indoors today. I think he kind of had an advantage because he was here for Capital Challenge [Horse Show], so it helped him a lot.”


Mulberger commented, “I just got my pony this winter in Florida, and he’s been awesome for me. I was a little nervous today, but he was really good and brave. I think it’s really fun to ride indoors because the space is a lot smaller, so you have to be more accurate.” Mulberger will compete at the Washington International Horse Show in the Local Pony Hunter Finals for the second time. She participated in the show in 2004 in the same division.


Reserve championships went to Boomerang, ridden by Courtney Millian, and Isabella Norton and her pony Haley’s Comet.


Yesterday, the championship for the Children’s Working Hunter 14 and Under division was awarded to Caviar and Rachel DeMuro. Reserve champion went to As You Wish and Anna Lowery. In the Children’s 15-17 Working Hunters, the division was divided into two sections. Do I Dare with Lily Morris and Flashy Biscuit with Fallon Segarra came way with championship honors. Reserve championships were presented to Right On Time and Corey Reeves and Movado with Katie Stewart in the irons.


In the Adult Amateur Working Hunter 18-35 division, Lynley Reilly captured the championship with her mount Kate Spade, owned by Randall Johnson. Reserve champion was pinned on the bridle of Witch Doctor, owned and ridden by Jayme Derbyshire. Crown Affair and Diana Bowling topped the charts for the championship in the Adult Amateur Working Hunter 36 and Over division, and reserve champion went to Lariat and Patricia Schindler. In the Novice Equitation, Caroline Wensel earned the championship, and the reserve was presented to Shannon Stepp. Mary Eliz Cordia took home the championship in the Short Stirrup Equitation and Lindsay Myerberg was awarded the reserve championship tricolor.


Local Weekend concludes tomorrow with the USEF Zone 3 Finals. These finals include the following divisions: Adult Amateur Hunter 18-35, Adult Amateur Hunter 36 & Over, Children’s Hunter 14 & Under, Children’s Hunter 15-17, and Children’s Hunter Small/Medium and Large Pony. WIHS Local Weekend is proudly sponsored by The Tack Box, Inc. from Middleburg, VA.


For driving directions and more information on the WIHS Local Weekend and Zone 3 Finals, please visit their website at https://www.wihs.org/competitor/local.cfm.


For more information on the Washington International Horse Show, please visit www.wihs.org.


Photo Credit: Woodlands Me First and Hannah Speigler. Photo by: Al Cook Productions. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.



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WIHS is an official USEF Heritage Competition, and holds the highest rating,  CSI5*-W, awarded by the Fédération Equestre Internationale, as well as a US Equestrian 6* Jumpers and  Premier Hunters. It is recognized by the US Hunter Jumper Association, Maryland Horse Show Association, and Virginia Horse Show Association. WIHS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization.