Amy Zettler and Glad Rags placed first in the $10,000 WIHS Adult Amateur Hunter Championship at the Washington International Horse Show.
Washington, D.C. – October 23, 2012 – The Washington International Horse Show was filled with hunter excitement as horses descended on the nation’s capital. The show commenced this morning in Downtown Washington, D.C. at the Verizon Center with a full schedule of professional hunter divisions and continued well into the night as Madison Goetzmann and Sirius Black garnered the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship, competing against 29 of the nation’s top children riders. Amy Zettler piloted Glad Rags to the $10,000 Adult Amateur Hunter Championship to the top of the leader board, concluding the first day of the show with the championship tricolor presentation center ring.
J.P. Godard of Aiken, South Carolina, designed the courses tonight. Goddard used natural fences and bright floral arrangements to create a course that was both challenging and traditional of a hunt course. The course consisted of an opening vertical, a bending vertical-oxer line, a vertical leading to the vertical-oxer one stride, a standalone oxer and a final bending vertical-oxer line. Ralph Caristo, Jimmy Clapperton and Scott Williamson carefully scrutinized each horse and rider combination, acting as tonight’s hunter judges.
The $10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship welcomed the evening as the top children riders from across the country gathered to compete in the two-round championship event. After the qualifying round was tabulated, the top 12 riders returned to the ring in reverse order, lowest to highest score, to vie for the best-combined score.
It was Madison Goetzmann who returned the top competitor from the first round aboard Balisto with a score of 84; however, she stole the show with Sirius Black, finishing with the combined high score of 158 points for her consistent rounds. The pair earned a solid 72 during the first round, and left nothing to chance with an 82-point total for their efforts throughout the second round.
Madison Goetzmann and Sirius Black
“This is my last show with Black [Sirius Black], and I made it count,” Goetzmann smiled. “I started riding him in April, and he is great. We won the NAL/WIHS Championship last weekend at Harrisburg, and I have had a lot of success with Black.”
Goetzmann continued, “He is pretty easy. He was my first horse that I’ve gotten, so he was a great starter horse. He needs a forward ride, and he can be really lazy—we need big spurs. He lit up in this ring a little bit, actually both of my horses did, so I didn’t need as much leg as I usually do.”
Catherine Rodda and Weekend Affair rode to the second place finish with their two-round score of 155 points. Son of a Sailor with Emma Fass ranked third, finishing with a total of 154.5 points. Mary Claire Medeiros and Olivia captured the fourth place position, while Kathryn Maginnis and Fargo finished in fifth. Kristen Bowman and Noble Blue wrapped up the top six with their final score of 150 points.
Catherine Rodda and Weekend Affair
Emma Fass and Son of a Sailor
“I like this show because it is different. Obviously you would wish for a bigger schooling area and a bigger ring, but that makes it special,” Goetzmann described. “It was a great last show for Black and me, and I am preparing to start doing the juniors with Balisto during Florida. It was a lot of fun out there.”
The adult hunter riders concluded the night with a tremendous display of talent. It was Amy Zettler and Glad Rags who secured the top finish with an overall score of 161 points in the $10,000 Adult Amateur Hunter Championship. It was their two consistent rounds that earned the judges’ nod and the championship with scores of 79 and 82.
“Oh my gosh, I'm just so thrilled,” Zettler exclaimed. “We had a little bit of a challenge at Harrisburg, so to come back and be this great, I'm so proud of him. Here he was so relaxed and so confident. It makes me thrilled.”
Amy Zettler and Glad Rags
“Normally he's just so relaxed and I get in a little half seat and flop the reins at him and go. But I think because of being indoors, he's a little more nervous. I have to sit more and ride him up into my hand a little bit, which is a very difficult ride for me to do. Today he wasn't quite like that, he was a little more like himself,” Zettler explained.
The nine-year-old thoroughbred entered the ring with ears forward, a strong stride, and a determination that gave them the edge. It was this same confidence that earned them the first place finish in the $250,000 HITS Hunter Prix a couple of months ago.
“I think he's a winner,” Zettler concluded. “He goes in there wanting to win. He wants to be good. I think that is his personality, and it makes him stand out. I think our big goal next year will be WCHR Champion, we didn’t have a chance to do that this year.”
Kathryn Clapp and Donnerkind rode to the red ribbon with a 77 and 75 for a total of 152 points. Laguna, navigated by Laurie Barna, nabbed the third place award for their final score of 151.5 points. Katie Caruthers and What’d I Say rode to the fourth place position, with M. Stuart Landin and Kipling capturing fifth. Phoebe Wesley and Bay of Gold finished sixth with a final score of 148 points.
Kathryn Clapp and Donnerkind
Laurie Barna and Laguna
“I think if you have never been here before and aren't a horse person, you would think this was crazy,” Zettler explained. “There are stalls underneath here and everything. But what an opportunity, who gets to say they get to ride at Verizon Center? You get to watch hockey here, but to go in here and ride? It's amazing, and a great opportunity.”
Earlier in the day, the professional hunter divisions got underway. Scott Stewart had a very successful first day aboard several of his mounts, including Showman, Beholden and Tristan. Stewart modeled Showman to the second place finish in the Regular Conformation Hunters, as well as the first place finish over fences and the second place in the handy hunter class. Stewart also showed Beholden and Tristan to the first place ribbons in the Green Conformation Hunters.
Scott Stewart and Showman
Stewart’s success continued in the First Year Green Working Hunters with Enjoy. The pair took the first and second place finishes. Peter Pletcher dominated the Second Year Green Working Hunters with a clean sweep of the first day aboard Empire. The dyad proved triumphant with top scores over fences including an 86 and 85 to take the first-day lead.
Peter Pletcher and Empire
During the High Performance Hunters, it was Jennifer Alfano aboard Miss Lucy and Jersey Boy who stole the limelight. Although Stewart captured the first place ribbon with Garfield for their efforts over fences in the first round, Miss Lucy put her best foot forward during the handy to take the blue with a score of 85 points. Alfano also guided her to the third place finish during the first round over fences, taking a first-day lead over the other contenders. Alfano and Jersey Boy also took the fourth and second place ribbons in the High Performance Hunters.
Jennifer Alfano and Miss Lucy
“Both of them were great today,” Alfano remarked. “When I got here, I realized how long it had actually been since we had shown—Jersey Boy since Chicago, and Lucy since Buffalo.”
Alfano continued, “Lucy was unbelievable, she has never been here before, and I thought she might be a little nervous, but she was just phenomenal. I was thrilled with her. It is so fun to come here with two horses like that, we are excited to be back and showing after such a long break, it’s good to be back.”
The hunter action will continue tomorrow with the conclusion of the professional and amateur-owner hunter riders vying for the championship prizes in their respective divisions, as well as the Grand Champion Hunter titles. Tomorrow evening will welcome the jumper classes to begin, featuring the $10,000 WIHS Children’s and Adult Jumper Championships, as well as the $10,000 International Open Jumper Time First Round class. For more information about the Washington International Horse Show, please visit www.wihs.org
Photos By: Kendall Bierer and Shawn McMillen Photography