Quality horses and outstanding riding distinguish 48th annual Washington International Horse Show


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48th Annual Washington International Horse Show Wrap Up from Washington, D.C. on October 24-29


Flying Dutchman Harrie Smolders Soars for Victory in $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix at Washington International Horse Show


The $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix Sponsored by Salamander Hospitality welcomed 25 top equestrians to the Verizon Center for an evening at one of the most prestigious and well-respected competitions of the year. As the highlight of the Washington International Horse Show, the class was held under FEI Article 238.1.2, Article. 655.2, World Cup Rules, Time First Jump Off. The course was designed by renowned horseman Steve Stephens.

The time allowed was first set at 70 seconds and after Callen Solem and her mount Allison went clear in 75.36 seconds, the jury adjusted the speed limit to 76. Solem entered the arena third in the order and was the first to leave all of the rails in place. Harrie Smolders and Exquis Oliver Q jumped fault free and within the time allowed, assuring the crowd of a jump off. Todd Minikus and Olinda, owned by Houlihan Lawrence, added their names to the good list as well, and Ken Berkley also came in clean with Carlos-Boy, owned by Krista Weisman. Eliza Shuford and Larentino followed in their footsteps with a clear go, and Laura Kraut and Miss Independent also jumped without penalty. Beezie Madden and Abigail Wexner’s Desilvio, Michael Whitaker and Insultech Portofino, and Lauren Hough with Casadora also qualified for the tie breaker.

Callen Solem was the first to return for the short course. She took a shot; however, Allison ticked an unfortunate rail at 10A. Solem and Quiet Winter Farm and BJ Maghan’s Allison clocked in at 34.22 seconds with four faults on the score board. Harrie Smolders entered the arena next. He and Exquis Oliver Q, owned by Axel Verlooy/Team Exquis, blazed across the ground, making tight turns and galloping across the Verizon Center Arena. A rapid turn after an oxer and a long, powerful gallop to the last fence left spectators in disbelief as the pair crossed the finish line in a smoking time of 30.55 seconds.

Todd Minikus and Olinda picked up their pace in the jump-off and lowered the height of two fences as they tried to beat Smolders’ time. Minikus came away with a final score of eight faults and 31.73 seconds. Ken Berkley and Carlos-Boy also accumulated eight faults and tripped the timers in 33.36 seconds, which would hold up for eighth place. Eliza Shuford tried her hand over the short course and, when her horse gave a huge effort over an oxer and pulled a rail, she lost her stirrups over the second obstacle. As the crowd gasped and cheered, Shuford galloped on and finished the jump-off without her irons. Larentino broke the beam in 33.97 seconds with just four faults.

Laura Kraut revisited the ring to take a chance at the lead. Miss Independent came away with eight faults after she pulled fences 10A and 5, and the pair stopped the clock in 31.77 seconds. Beezie Madden and Desilvio went for the win, but an unfortunate rail came down. Their time of 33.50 seconds ranked them temporarily in second with the fastest four fault score.

Michael Whitaker and Insultech Portofino added eight faults to their final score as they returned home in 33.91 seconds, and Lauren Hough and Casadora, who were the last to go in the order, took a conservative approach. The duo jumped neatly around the course, clearing the fences easily. They edged Madden into third and earned second place in the victory gallop with their clear time of 36.62 seconds. Smolders’ pace setter proved to be unbeatable, and the flying Dutchman took home the President’s Cup Trophy and a purse of $30,000.

“Since I was second to go in and had fast riders behind me, I really needed to put the pressure on them,” commented Smolders after his win. “So, I think I did the right thing. I didn’t know until the last horse went that my time would be the fastest,” he concluded.

Jumper Highlights- Thursday through Saturday

In the Junior Jumper Senator’s Cup, held under a Table II.2(a) Time First Jump Off format, six competitors qualified for the tie breaker. Heather Dobbs and Corlett were the first to return for the shortened course and jumped double clear in 25.412 seconds. Her sister, Hillary Dobbs, and VDL Lotus Excel entered the arena next and pulled two rails, clocking in at 25.933 seconds. Sloane Coles accumulated four faults with Louisiana in 25.590 seconds, and Lexy Reed and Ludwig came home with a clear round. Reed’s time of 26.280 seconds would leave Dobbs in the lead. Hillary Dobbs had another chance to take over the top spot with her second mount, Quincy B; however, their slower final time of 28.284 seconds would hold up for third. Maggie McAlary and Pedro, who won two classes this past week, finished with four faults and a time of 34.928 seconds. The Junior Jumper Champion was Pedro, ridden by Maggie McAlary and owned by Beaver Brook Ponies.


In the $10,000 Amateur-Owner Ambassador’s Cup, scored under a Table II 2(a) Time First Jump-Off format, only seven qualified for the tie breaker out of sixteen entries. Whitney Weeks and Subliem gave the other competitors a run for their money after they jumped fault free in the first round and were then the first horse and rider combination to come back for the short course. The pair blazed across the arena, making hair pin turns and galloping at full speed. Breaking the beam with a clear round in 31.610 seconds, Weeks’ impressive score claimed the top spot on the leader board and later leading the victory gallop.

In the $20,000 Open Jumper Hit n’ Hurry, competitors were allowed a fixed time of 45 seconds to jump over fences with assigned point values. When the fixed time was reached, the horn sounded, and competitors had to jump the next obstacle to stop the clock. Margie Engle and Hidden Creek’s Oscar acquired the greatest number of points, 20, in the fastest time of 51.09 seconds. Second place went to Insultech Quidame Des Heyettes and Michael Whitaker, who also earned 20 points. Engle went after Whitaker in the order, and they thrilled the crowd by finishing just one-hundredth of a point faster. Whitaker tripped the timers in 51.10 seconds. Up Chiqui and Kent Farrington captured third after accumulated 19 points in 50.28 seconds.


The $20,000 Open Jumper Accumulator’s Class added an element of excitement to the show, and horses and riders sped over a course of jumps with allotted points. Riders were given 60 seconds to jump over ten obstacles, with the first jump offering one point, the second offering two, the third awarding three, and the following jumps continuing the pattern up to the tenth fence. With an option at the end, the highest score possible was a 65. With seven riders jumping the Steve Stephens course clear and accumulating 65 points, the times on course were what determined the winner. Aaron Vale and Waldi, owned by Millstream Inc, had a late start after they let the 45 second countdown clock run out, and their time on course started to elapse. They made up for the lost time and blasted through the finish line in 44.86 seconds. Second place went to Norman Dello Joio and Enrique Garcia’s horse Marengo, who stopped the clock in 45.73 seconds, and third place was awarded to Harrie Smolders and Exqui Quebec. Smolders and his mount came home with a time of 45.79 seconds.


Twenty entries at Washington International Horse Show took on the challenge of the Gambler’s Choice competition. Lauren Hough and Ottaline entered the arena second to last in the order. After racking up a score of 770, Hough’s time of 50.45 flashed on the score board. The announcer informed spectators that, if she were to leave the Joker in place, her score and fast time would place her into first. Ottaline, owned by Peppercorn Ltd and Lake Hill Farm, ascended over the top rail of the Joker, landing gracefully and placing Hough’s name at the top of the leader board. Although Beezie Madden accumulated the same number of points, Hough’s time proved to be the deciding factor for tonight’s victory.

In the President’s Cup Qualifier class, scored as a Table A, Article 238.2.1 Time First Round competition, McLain Ward and Goldika 559 led the victory gallop for the fourth consecutive year in a row. Out of 33 entries, Ward and his bay mare surpassed Lauren Hough and Casadora’s leading time, 48.14 seconds, after excelling over the Steve Stephens designed course in 44.18 seconds. His beautifully controlled turns and smooth pace were precise, resulting in a perfectly executed performance. Goldika 559 is owned by McLain Ward, Inc. and Bluechip Bloodstock. Candice King and Louisburg Farm’s Coco Cabana competed last in the order and edged Hough into third place after crossing the finish line in 48.01 seconds. Hough’s horse Casadora is owned by Laura Mateo.

The $25,000 Open Jumpers President’s Cup Qualifying Class welcomed 30 top caliber grand prix riders to take on the challenge of Steve Stephens’ course. The qualifier was scored under a Table A, 238.2.2 Time First Jump Off format. Only nine riders successfully cleared the first course fault free and within the time allowed of 61 seconds.
Laura Kraut piloted Miss Independent to a fast, fault free finish in 32.24 seconds, jumping into the lead. Lisa Silverman and Obelix R trotted into the arena last in the order and gave it their all. Galloping through the finish timers in 32.66 seconds, Silverman just missed her chance at the win. Kraut and Miss Independent, owned by the Miss Independent Group, earned the O’Meara Trophy and a slot in the $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix.

EMO/Berkley Underwriting Partners Night at Washington International Horse Show took center stage, with the EMO/Berkley Underwriting Partners Puissance as the evening feature. Eight competitors partook in the annual tradition, and a record crowd estimated at 11,000 spectators cheered for each and every rider. The class was conducted under a FEI Article 262.2 format. McLain Ward and Optimum Pozitano, took a shot at jumping an epic height of 7’2 ½’’. In order to let the horse and rider focus, the announcer asked fans to stay silent until the pair had jumped the giant fence. The stands held their breath as Ward cantered down to the gargantuan obstacle. Optimum Pozitano nudged the boxes, but the puissance jump remained standing tall. Ward looked behind him to find that he and his mount had cleared 7’2 ½’’, and a standing ovation congratulated Ward as he received the Congressman’s Challenge Trophy.

“It was the first time I ever did him in the Puissance,” exclaimed Ward. “He’s done one before in Europe. Every round he felt great; he was very confidant, jumping it pretty easy. Nick [Skelton] really didn’t want to go again, but we really thought that they make such an effort to put on this class, and the crowd supports it, we should try to put on a little bit of a show.”

Hunter and Equitation Highlights- Tuesday through Sunday


The first evening session of the 48th Annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) began with the Children’s and Adult Hunter Championships. The 2006 WIHS Children’s and Adult Championship series gave invitations to the top 30 riders from each division to compete at the Verizon Center for the winner’s purse of $2,000. After 12 months of showing, the 2006 High Point Qualifiers took center stage in the $10,000 WIHS Children’s and Adult Championships.


Adult rider Laura McPherson on Tenerife and Children’s Hunter rider Abigail McArdle on Tonpilibee were the leaders of the WIHS Hunter Championship standings in their divisions entering the competition. Tonipilibee was a contender and scored a 72 and 82 with a total of 154 in the WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship, but did not score quite high enough to beat Just One Look, ridden by Adele Norton. The pair finished with a 73.5 in round one and 84 in round two totaling 157.5.

Thirteen year old Norton is from Falls Church, VA. It was her second year competing in the Children’s Hunter division on Just One Look, who is nicknamed Willie. “Willie is going to be 15 this year. He is the best horse ever,” Norton said with a smile. “When ever I make a mistake he saves me. He has taught me so much. It is really exciting to be at such a big show.” Norton showed at WIHS last year on Local Weekend and placed third in a Local Children’s Hunter class.

The WIHS Adult Hunter Championship was a close race between two very special women. Victoria Watters and Lissa Bachner finished first and second and are both legally blind. The tight quarters in the warm-up arena are difficult for both competitors, but the show ring looked like a breeze.

Bachner and Maddox had a first round score of 75, which put them in sixth after the first round. A solid second round score of 84 gave them a total of 159 for second place. Eye Remember Rio and Watters had identical scores of 88 in both rounds with a grand total of 176.

The pair has been second at numerous events over the past few years. “I do not buy photos with red ribbons,” Watters joked. “I have been called back on top at Washington three years in a row and made rider errors in the second round. I really wanted to win this year so badly,” she explained. “Now I can finally get the credit card out and buy a photo with a blue ribbon and a trophy.”

In the professional hunter classes, Scott Stewart took home the Leading Hunter Rider Award, Popeye K and Tommy Serio were the Grand Hunter Champions, and Bridget Hallman and Grey Slipper were the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champions.

Popeye K was the champion of the Regular Conformation Hunters by winning all six classes in the division. Clockwork, owned by Old Oak Farm and ridden by Jennifer Alfano, was reserve champion.  “It is always a thrill to win classes of this caliber,” Serio said. He has been riding the big bay stallion for four years, and the pair just won a championship at the Capital Challenge horse show a few weeks earlier.

The First Year Green Hunter Champion was Sterling, owned by Lee Kellogg and ridden by Jennifer Bauersachs. Fiyero was reserve champion, piloted by Pamela Polk and owned by Katherine Press. “What a nice thing that John and I are co-champions together,” Bauersachs said sincerely. “He has been a good friend of Rolf’s forever, and he has been stabling with us between shows.”

Sterling tied with Vida Blue, ridden by John French and owned by Leslie Bulechek, for Grand Green Working Hunter Champion. Reserve champion was Onassis, ridden by Elizabeth Towell and owned by Sarah Ward. French started riding Vida Blue in March of last year, and it did not take long for the pair to gel. “I was champion in the first show that I rode her in, and Leslie has also been very consistent on her,” French said. This was Vida Blue’s first year showing indoors, and French (a California resident) has not competed at WIHS for many years.

The Regular Working Hunter championship was won by Overseas, owned by Laura Wasserman and ridden to victory once again by French. The reserve champion was Grey Slipper, owned by Bridget Hallman with Louise Serio aboard. French sold Overseas to Archie Cox and Laura Wasserman only three weeks earlier. “Overseas had never done indoors before, and he was a little bit looky the first day, but everyday he has gotten better and better,” he remarked. “I think the round I rode today in the Stake Class was the best trip of my life, it was so incredible.”

The title of Green Conformation Hunter Champion went to Ashton, owned by Karen Long Dwight and ridden by Scott Stewart. Stephanie Riggio’s Compliment won the reserve championship with Sandy Ferrell. Stewart was named Leading Hunter Rider of WIHS 2006.


The Amateur-Owner Hunter 18-35 championship was won by Grey Slipper and Bridget Hallman, who were also the Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Champions. Burberry and Ashley Dennehy were the reserve champions. For her success, Hallman was also named the Leading Amateur-Owner Hunter Rider. In the Amateur-Owner Hunter Over 35 division, the championship went to Milan and Caroline Clark Morrison. Reserve went to Reese, shown by Shaw Johnson Price.


In the Large Junior Hunter 15 and Under Stake, Sara Green won aboard Wellington. The pair is trained by Bobby Braswell, and Green started showing Wellington for him and owner Sara Rutenberg in Ocala, FL, this past winter. The pair was first and second over fences and won the Stake, making them champion of the division and giving them the Grand Junior Hunter Champion honors. The reserve champion was Oniedan owned by Brian Walker and shown by Taylor Brown.

The Small Junior Hunter 15 and Under champion was Breckenridge, owned by Monarch International and piloted to the title by Nicoletta Heidegger. The reserve champion was Sublime owned by Stone Hill Farm and ridden by Jessica Springsteen. Breckenridge finished first and fourth in the over fences and won the under saddle. “We definitely did better than my expectations, and he was fantastic,” the 15 year old from Los Angeles, CA said. “I wasn’t worried about Breckenridge. I was worried about myself, and I knew if I could pull it all together that he would be there to support me. When you win the first class, it feels like it might be all down hill from there, but we did a good job after that, and I tried to hold it all together the best that I could,” she concluded.

The Large Junior Hunter 16 -17 champion was Miracle, owned by Christy Russo and shown to the title by Jack Hardin Towell Jr. The reserve champion was Socrates, ridden and owned by Addison Phillips. The Small Junior Hunter 16-17 Championship was won by Carita, owned by Reed Kessler and shown by Addison Philips. Reserve champion was Lyle, owned by Mrs. Randolph Rinehart and piloted to the win by Megan Massaro.

The Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) also featured the WIHS Equitation Classic Final and invited 30 of the top junior riders in the nation to compete for the National Championship title. Jack Hardin Towell Jr. was rewarded with a total score of 269.999. Towell had won the championship title after three solid performances.

“It was always a goal of mine to win a final,” Towell said proudly. “Missy always told me I would, and I only had two left. I was starting to doubt it, but Missy wouldn’t lie to me,” he smiled. “It was hard. He [Littlefoot] was great in the jumper phase, and Sloane’s horse was really good in the test, so it worked out right.”

Some of the top ponies in the world competed in the final day of competition at the 48th Annual Washington International Horse Show, as well as the top pony and horse hunters from the local area. Along with Small, Medium and Large Pony Hunter Championships, there was a Grand Champion Pony Hunter presentation, along with the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals and the Local Pony and Horse Hunter Finals. Two top ponies tied for the Grand Pony Hunter Championship. Mokoo Jumbee and Paige Dekko and Everwood and Naomi Wierens won in the respective divisions and will both take home the top honors. Wierens was also awarded with the Best Child Rider on a Pony title.


Eleven year old Hillcrest’s Blue Gemstone (Gem) was Small Pony Champion. “I have been riding him for two years but my mom (Mindy Darst – Lochmoor Stables) has had him a long time,” said pilot Meredith Darst. “This is my first time being champion at an indoor show,” she said. The Reserve Champion Small Pony Hunter was Prince Monticello, owned and ridden by Noel Fauntleroy.


The Medium Pony Champion was Everwood, better known as “Gus,” a nine year old gelding piloted by Naomi Weirens. “I have been riding him for two years,” Weirens said. “He is really fun to ride because he is so scopey, and he jumps really well.” The pair lives in Bronxville, NY, and it was her third time competing at WIHS. The Reserve Medium Pony Hunter Champion was Denmark, ridden by Katherine Galbraith for Manhattan Mortgage.


Large Pony Champion Mokoo Jumbee, ridden by Paige Dekko, were awarded Large and Grand Pony Hunter Championships. Right now Mokoo Jumbee is leading the country in the race for Large Pony of the Year. The Reserve Large Pony Hunter Champion was Winston, ridden and owned by Samantha Schaefer.


The WIHS Pony Equitation Classic victory went to Alise Oken of Charlotte, NC. The 14 year old rider piloted Land’s End Mad Hatter to the win. After a solid over fences round, Oken went into the flat phase in first place and retained her ranking. It was her first big win at an indoor show, and she is planning to move up to horses next year. “Bubba” will move onto a new rider, Oken’s little sister Lillian.


In the Local Pony Hunter Finals, the Grand Championship was awarded to Woodland’s Me First and Hannah Spiegler. Spiegler leases the 11 year old grey gelding from Don Stewart Jr. and rides with Pam Baker and Elizabeth Coughlin. Spiegler and “Woody” were champions at local weekend’s competition in Upper Marlboro, MD. The reserve championship went to Hallie’s Comet and Isabella Norton.


The Local Hunter Finals Grand Championship was the final class of the 2006 WIHS, and the prize went to Dark Star and Alison Wherley, who rode for Terri Wherley. A second place at Local Weekend qualified them for the finals in the Verizon Center, and it was their winning round today that garnered them the Grand Championship. The reserve championship went to LeGrand, ridden by Bari Friedman for Mackenzie Green.


Dressage – Thursday through Friday


Ashley Holzer of New York, New York, aboard Pop Art wowed the crowd and the judges with their Grand Prix Freestyle at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. to win the class with a score of 72.565%, which when added to her second place score of 67.813% in the Grand Prix, gave her a total overall mark of 70.189% and victory in the $25,000 Washington International Horse Show Invitational Dressage Championship. As winner of the event, Holzer takes home $10,000 in prize money. Pop Art is a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Holzer and Ian Nicoll, her father, who made his Grand Prix debut at this championship event. Nicoll attended the show and watched his horse win the Invitational Championship.

Tonight, Holzer rode a freestyle to Irish-inspired music track created by Karen Robinson of Applause Dressage, based on music from the theatrical show Riverdance. Though Pop Art started his test showing some tension, he relaxed as he performed the movements, especially his precision piaffe and passage, which he nailed dead on to the music. Holzer included movements that elicited applause from the crowd several times, such as a machine-like piaffe that burst into an energetic extended trot.

Courtney King, 28, of New Milford, Connecticut, riding Idocus owned by Christine McCarthy earned 70.00% in the freestyle competition to place third, and combined with her winning Grand Prix score of 68.854%, she finished in second place overall with a combined score of 69.427%.

Suzanne Dansby-Phelps of Atlanta, Georgia, with her own Cooper earned a score of 70.94% for their wonderful freestyle to Irish music and placed second. Combined with their third place finish of 66.250% in the Grand Prix, this duo finished third overall with a score 68.595%.

George Williams of Delaware, Ohio, aboard Marnix owned by Chuck and Joann Smith scored 68.50% for their freestyle to a medley of Cher classics to place fourth and added to their fourth place score of 64.063% in the Grand Prix, the duo finished fourth overall with a score of 66.282%. Officiating on both nights were two international judges. Tonight, USA judge Gary Rockwell of Wellington, Florida, officiated at C and Peru’s Marian Cunningham of Middleburg, Virginia, judged from E.









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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.