Three Grand Champion Awards Presented in Amateur and Adult Hunters at Capital Challenge

Jennifer Wood Media

October 4, 2012

Upper Marlboro, MD – The 2012 Capital Challenge Horse Show continued today with competition for the amateur and adult hunter riders, along with a evening session final for Children's/Adult Jumpers. Tracy Scheriff-Muser and Absolut captured the Grand Amateur-Owner 3'6” Hunter Championship, while Nancy Hooker and Castlewalk were named the Grand Amateur-Owner 3'3” Hunter Champions. Alexa Weisman rode Showman to the Grand Adult Hunter Championship. The winner of the $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Challenge sponsored by Peacock Ridge was Kaley Pratt, winning for the second year in a row, this time on Tjardin.

In the Amateur-Owner 3'6” Hunter 18-35 division, sponsored by The Hallman Family and MerryLegs South, Tracy Scheriff-Muser of Wellington, FL, swept the tricolor presentations. She and Absolut were named champions, while Macallan took the reserve champion ribbon. Absolut finished first and second over fences, second in the stake, and third in the under saddle. Macallan placed first and third over fences and was fifth in the under saddle.

For their top finish, Scheriff-Muser and Absolut won the Grand Amateur-Owner 3'6” Hunter Championship, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Will Roberts. They were presented with the Dr. Harold M.C. Smith Trophy, donated by Dr. Suzanne Smith and Dr. Peter Craig. Scheriff-Muser was named the Best Amateur-Owner Rider, which was sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest M. Oare. She was presented with The So Many Ways Challenge Trophy, donated by Karen Kramer.

To cap off their amazing day, Absolut and Scheriff-Muser won the $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3'6” Challenge, sponsored by John Turner and ThumbsUp Farm.

“This is one of my favorite horse shows,” Scheriff-Muser said with a smile. While she has been reserve champion before at Capital Challenge, this was her first championship.

Scheriff-Muser found Absolut, a 10-year-old KWPN gelding by Cassini, in 2007 when he had just been imported from Europe and had no show experience. Trainer Havens Schatt campaigned him in the Pre-Green Hunters before he became a solid show horse for Scheriff-Muser. “Havens did a phenomenal job with him. Now he’s all mine. He’s my go-to horse. I can always count on him. He’s always right there whenever I need him,” she said. “I love grey horses and I always wanted a grey. That’s kind of how I ended up with him. We never really thought he’d get this far. He has far exceeded all of our expectations. I love him so much, especially since my old horse retired. Absolut had to step up to the plate and he has. I’m very lucky to have him.”

Macallan is a newer partner for her, and they have been together for a year and a half. She described, “He’s a funny horse. He’s lazy. You have to wake him up before you go in the ring. Absolut, once you get him going he will carry you but Mac, you have to kick him the whole way around the ring. Macallan and I are still getting used to each other a little bit. A lot of times he’s second behind his brother.”

The Grand Amateur-Owner 3'3” Champion, sponsored by Augusta Pines, was Castlewalk, ridden by Nancy Hooker of Wellington, FL, and owned by Richard Prant. They were tops in the 36 & Over division, sponsored by Wood Run Farm/The Tredennick Family and Woodland Way, Inc. after they won two classes. Hooker also won the Best Amateur-Owner 3'3” Rider Award, sponsored by Team Rakowski, and she and Castlewalk won the EMO Trip of the Show for the 3'3” division with a score of 87.5. The reserve champion in the Amateur-Owner 3'3” Hunters was Winner, ridden by Daryl Portela. They were first, second, and fourth over fences and placed sixth in the under saddle.

Hooker got the ride on Castlewalk, formerly her daughter Heather's junior hunter, when Heather went to college this fall. “I went into her closet, stole some of her clothes, and got one of her horses! It was fun,” she laughed.

Castlewalk, an 11-year-old Wurttenberger gelding by Araconit, has been a part of their family for five years, and competed in his first show in the Future Hunters at Capital Challenge with Scott Stewart. Hooker said, “I've known him for years, and I've been his exercise rider. That's what made it fun today. We had a relationship when we got to the horse show.”

Hooker said she was “very nervous” coming into the show, but knew she could count on Castlewalk. “In a show like this, he's very keen and he's a show horse. He likes to go in the ring and look where he's going. He wants to win, which made it fun today.”

Hooker took satisfaction in the fact that she was able to win the handy class this year, the same feat Heather accomplished last year with Castlewalk. “I had a little pressure on me because Heather won. She's been texting me all morning from the middle of a lecture, saying, 'Remember, I won the handy last year.' I had to text her back in the middle of her class and say, 'I won it this year!' Turnaround was fair play,” she remarked.

Showman kept his winning streak going with his owner Alexa Weisman of Sherborn, MA, in the saddle after his successful outing earlier in the week with Scott Stewart in the Regular Conformation Hunters. They were division champions in the Adult Amateur 18-35 Hunters, sponsored by Lainie Wimberly and Brigadoon Show Stables, Inc. Weisman also picked up the reserve championship on Content, owned by Scott Stewart. They placed second in both over fences classes and were fourth in the under saddle.

Showman and Weisman's top finishes of first and third over fences plus a second under saddle gave them the Grand Adult Hunter Championship, which is sponsored by Steve Martines. They were presented with the Equus Entries Challenge Trophy, donated by Equus Entries and Sue and Ralph Caggiano. Weisman won the Best Adult Amateur Rider Award, sponsored by Phoebe Weseley and River Run Farm, LLC. Weisman's trainer, Scott Stewart, was presented with the Gail Knieriem Memorial Trophy, donated by Lynley Reilly and Randy Johnson.

Showman, a 10-year-old Westphalian gelding by Showstar, was imported by Stewart. He had no show experience, “had barely jumped and didn't have shoes on,” Weisman said. After some early professional rides, Weisman started showing him in the Adult Hunters and moved up to the 3'6”. However, now that she has a full-time job, Weisman has moved back down to the adult division.

“He's so wonderful. It's so nice to have one for long enough, to where I got here late last night and I got on him today. I know him well enough that it was easy to just hop on and go ride him,” she said. “He's always good. It's always dependent on me!”

Over the years, Weisman said that Showman has “gotten more mature and that he knows his job.” She added, “If he's at a horse show, he knows what he's doing and I feel like I can depend on him to know what to do. When he was just starting out, he would get a little nervous once in awhile. But he's always been so laid-back and so easy. Now we joke that when he's at the farm, he's Dylan, but once he gets to the horse show, he's Showman. I really think that stands true. Once the knots are in his mane, he is good to go.”

This was Weisman's first championship at Capital Challenge. “It feels great. I'm so excited. It almost doesn't seem like it's happened yet,” she expressed.

The Amateur-Owner 3'6” Hunter champion, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest M. Oare, was Rock Steady, ridden by Katie Robinson of Bronxville, NY, for KJ Robinson LLC. They placed first and second over fences and were first in the under saddle. The reserve champion was Sambalino, ridden by Becky Gochman. There were second and third over fences and second in the under saddle.

This is the second year that Robinson has ridden Rock Steady, a 12-year-old Warmblood gelding. The pair won the same championship at last year's Capital Challenge. “He's my steady guy for sure,” Robinson said. “I gave him two and a half months off, and this was really our first show back together. I was happy to see he felt good and remembered how to do it all. I was really proud of him.”

She said of his demeanor over the past two days, “He was really relaxed. His stride was huge and he just felt great. Everybody works so hard and my trainers – Andre Dignelli, Patricia Griffith, Brady Mitchell – they were really excited. I was happy to win for them.“

The Amateur-Owner 3'6” EMO High Point Trip of the Show was an 88.5 from Lisa Williams and San Morino.

In the Amateur-Owner 3'3” 18-35 Hunters, sponsored by Doug and Missy Smith, Castleton and Marianna Wade of Charlottesville, VA, won the handy hunter class and placed second in another class to capture the championship. The pair also won the $2,500 WCHR Amateur-Owner 3'3” Challenge sponsored by Milestone, LLC and Havens Schatt. The reserve champion in the division was One Shot, ridden by Sarah Sturges. They were first, fourth, and fifth over fences and fourth in the under saddle.

Although Wade has only been riding Castleton for a year, she has known the horse for more than six years. “We got him from one of the customers who had him for a junior hunter,” she said. “I never rode him though, before November.” After Wade sold her horse in March 2011 and took six months off riding to be with her family, she got the itch to ride and show again that December. “It was time to show and everybody was getting ready to start the new year,” she recalled. “I thought, 'Maybe I'm ready to ride again.' They said if I wanted to do it, Castle was all mine.”

Castleton, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Corismo, also shows in the derby classes with Wade's sister, Maria Shannon, a trainer at The Barracks. Wade said that her horse is a real “show horse” and loves the handy classes. She described, “He goes in the ring and puts his ears forward. You go to the jump, he knows his job. He's very handy; he could jump fire backwards.”

It's been 16 years since Wade last showed at Capital Challenge as a junior rider and she noted, “It was amazing to win here.”

The Adult Amateur 36-50 Hunter championship went to Surf's Up, ridden and owned by Missy Luczak Smith of Charlotte, NC. The pair were second over fences and won the under saddle. The reserve champion was Smith's best friend, Lindsey Evans Thomas, who rode Fitzwilliam, owned by Shane Mackey. They won an over fences class and clinched the reserve tricolor by winning a hack-off over Lynn Ellen Rice and Purple Heart. Lynn Ellen Rice and Purple Heart won the EMO Adult Hunter Trip of the Show after they scored a 90 in their division.

Smith has been riding Surf's Up, an eight-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Casall, for a year and a half and said they have “an interesting relationship.” She went on to say, “He has got all the personality in the world. He can be very naughty or he can be very, very good. He always steps it up for me when I need him though. The one moment when I call on him, he will step up, like he did today, and give me an 89. But, it's his way or the highway!”

Smith thanked barn manager Holly Kinsey, rider Hayley Barnhill, and trainer Tom Wright for her success. While her focus this week was on her other 3'3” horse, she knew she would have fun on Surf's Up.

“He's got the best jump and when he's good, it's so much fun. It's effortless. In a sport this competitive, showing against all these great horses and all these great riders, it means so much to me to win here,” she said. “You're with the best of the best.”

The Adult Hunter 51 & Over division championship went to Laura Lee Montross of Bedford, NY, on Wind Dancer. They won an over fences class and were fourth in the under saddle. The reserve champion was Say What, ridden by Debbie Kelly for Rodney Bross. They won an over fences class.

This is Montross's fourth year riding Wind Dancer, and they won a championship at Capital Challenge in 2010. Montross credited her trainer, Jimmy Torano, for her win due to her good relationship with him and he with her horse. “He has a lot to do with it because he prepares him,” she said.

She described of Wind Dancer, “He's like a pet and we just click. Every once in a while it works! He's wonderful to ride, very easy, smooth gait, pleasant personality. I just love the horse.”

She said of her win, “It feels absolutely wonderful, beyond. He likes Capital Challenge!”

Speed is the Name of the Game in Children's/Adult Jumpers

There were 55 entries in the $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Challenge, and Kaley Pratt of Gainesville, FL, was able to win her second Challenge in a row. Last year, Pratt was the fastest to win with her horse Shane. The pair went on to win the Adult Jumper Championship at the Washington International Horse Show as well. After that, Shane was sold, and Pratt didn't find a new horse until February of this year.

She and Tjardin, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Mahala Rummel, were able to beat out 22 other entries in the jump-off with a clear round in 30.532 seconds. Second place went to Alex Volta on Lover Boy, who finished in 31.971 seconds. Lili Hymowitz and Barbara were third with a time of 32.146. Hymowitz won the Best Children's Jumper Rider Award, sponsored by Memorial Park Hunters. Pratt won the Best Adult Amateur Jumper Rider Award, sponsored by Meadow Grove Farm and was presented with The Belfield Trophy, donated by Julie Karpan.

Pratt tried not to think about the size of the class and focused on the course and what she needed to accomplish. “That way it keeps me from getting too nervous,” she revealed.

On the jump-off, Pratt felt that she made up time and won the class on the rollback from the second to third jump, a tall vertical. “We caught it at just the right angle,” she said. “Then she actually tripped after the liverpool. Somehow I just kicked her back up and she helped me out to the last jump. I didn't know (if we won), but I knew it was really close, especially with the trip. I was just happy because we had a great round.”

When asked about her second win in a row, Pratt expressed, “It feels amazing because I just started leasing this horse in February. She's just been great, but it's taken us a couple months to figure each other out. She just takes me a lot more than my last one did. My last one I had to kick, and this one I have to hold. Everything is coming together at the right time. It's really unbelievable. It's such a hard horse show to win at with so many people. I don't know what to think right now!”

The Capital Challenge continues tomorrow with the start of the junior and pony hunters and will host the WCHR Adult Amateur Finals, the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals, and the North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge Cup Round 1. The evening session includes one of the highlight classes of the week, the WCHR Professional Finals.

For full results, please visit and for live scoring please visit If you can’t attend the Capital Challenge Horse Show, remember you can log on to to see all the action live.

Final Results: $10,000 Children's/Adult Jumper Challenge
2 LOVER BOY ALEX VOLTA: 0/0/31.971

About Capital Challenge
In its 19th year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter competition. Held each autumn at the Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, this year's show will take place on September 29-October 7.

Top competitions include the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals and the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals, along with the Capital Challenge Equitation Weekend, presented by In addition to these prestigious equitation events, the Capital Challenge Horse Show will once again host the World Champion Hunter Rider Finals and will assemble the country's best horses and riders to compete in junior, amateur, and professional hunter classes.

For more information, please visit or visit the Capital Challenge Horse Show page on Facebook!

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