Washington, D.C. – Oct. 28, 2017 – Ten of the country’s top junior riders returned to the Capital One Arena for the final work-off during the 2017 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Equitation Final. All of the athletes had three fences to warm-up over before taking to the ring with a new mount and riding the course from the jumper phase that was completed earlier in the day.
For Taylor St. Jacques, stepping into the irons on a different mount is nothing new, having recently participated in the final four work-off during the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East earlier in the month. Aboard Annabel Rever’s mount Contigo, St. Jacques showcased why she has consistently been at the top of the equitation standings in 2017, laying down a flawless trip. Her scores of 94 and 92 from the judges helped her jump up from the sixth place position after the hunter and jumper phases to claim the championship honors.
The victory marked St. Jacques’ second major equitation title of the year, having just won the 2017 Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final. This week was different for St. Jacques though, who was aboard her own horse Di Samorano for the first two phases, choosing to leave her veteran mount Charisma at home for the week.
McKayla Langmeier captured the second place award, returning for the final work-off with Haley Redifer’s Vondel DH Z and moving up from fourth in the standings. Canada’s Sam Walker rounded out the top three, returning on Ava Stearns’ Eclipse for the final test. Stearns had led the hunter and jumper phases with Eclipse, but a bobble in the first line with Walker’s mount, Waldo, moved her down to sixth in the final standings.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Taylor St. Jacques – 2017 WIHS Equitation Final champion
On Di Samorano’s rounds:
“I thought the first round my horse went in, and he opened his eyes a little bit, which is understandable because this is his first final. He really held himself together. I know it wasn’t my absolute best round, but I thought I put in a good round and came back in a good spot. I thought my round today was really, really nice. In the second round, my horse performed incredibly. He did his job. He jumped amazing. He did everything that I asked. For the final round, I just wanted to give it my all and go for it. It worked out, and I’m over the moon.”
On riding her own horse:
“It’s honestly a feeling that I can’t describe to win on my own horse. I’ve never cried before, and I honestly cried. He does the derbies as well. Everything that I’ve wanted to do, he’s jumped right in and come out with a top performance. Here, I really wanted to show my own horse at a final. That’s kind of what we got him for. Last minute last year I got Charisma, and I’m obviously very thankful for that, he’s an incredible, incredible horse. But this is my last year, and Charisma had two very, very hard weeks. If there was a final that I was going to do my horse at, it would be this one. We figured he’d do well with the hunter phase because he did the hunters and he really shines at whatever you ask him to do, it’s a really special feeling. He’s a family horse. He’s not just a horse that you bring out to show.”
Andre Dignelli – Taylor St. Jaques’ trainer from Heritage Farm
On coming from behind:
“I think we let our guard down a hair; Di Samorano was a little too fresh in the hunter phase. So it put us in a position of kind of coming from behind. The judges kept the scores very, very tight so even though we were far down, mathematically, we were not that far out of it. I thought her round in the last round was stunning. I thought McKayla’s round was stunning as well.”
On Di Samorano:
“This was a very big moment for us because I wasn’t sure if we were going to win. We don’t know the math. I thought the rounds were stunning so it was very, very exciting. I thought it was really awesome for Taylor to win on a horse that she owns. Samo has been sort of the un-sung hero of 2017, he’s done all of the work and Charisma has gotten all of the glory. I think it’s really awesome for them to have the win with the horse that they bought, and they own, and that they trailer around in their horse trailer. This is a fairy tale I think for them — and for us.”
Chris Wynne – Judge
On the riders:
“What we say about these top three is that they’re horsemen. It wasn’t a class; I think it’s probably a career sitting up here. I don’t know that. I don’t know any of the children very well, but it looks like three future Olympians, hall of famers and great professionals. Ten to 15 years from now, they’re going to be the ones winning all of the ribbons or sooner. I think that was the difference that we loved about these kids. They were equitation riders tonight but they looked like horsemen going around the ring. Being in the horse business, you can see the talent in each of these kids. It wasn’t just a good equitation horse with a good equitation rider. It was very talented kids doing equitation tonight or tomorrow doing jumpers or whatever they do the next day and they’ll do that equally as well I’m sure.”