Washington, D.C. - October 25, 2008 - Katherine Newman of Upperville, VA, rode Class Action, a nine-year-old gelding owned by Bar X Ranch, for the first time three days ago. This evening, she rode through two beautiful rounds to win the 2008 WIHS Equitation Classic Finals. Samantha Schaefer of
The top 30 junior riders in the nation qualified for the 2008 WIHS Equitation Classic Finals by placing well throughout the year. They started the competition yesterday with a hunter phase. Newman scored a respectable 85.42 in the round, while Metell won the phase with a score of 92 on Cadeau. Schaefer scored an 88.67 in the hunter phase on Aston.
The jumper phase commenced this afternoon. All 30 riders returned for the second round and tackled a 12 jump course set by Richard Jeffrey. Two imposing bending lines in a row with a Swedish oxer proved to be the most difficult part of the course. Newman noted, "I think the course was about right. There were certainly some lines that were tricky. I think altogether it was pretty good. All of it put together was technical, for sure."
Newman won the jumper phase with a fantastic score of 92.67, an average from six judges at three positions in the ring. Schaefer and Aston scored an 85.83 to continue their consistency.
After the two rounds of scores were added up, the top ten riders were asked to return for the third phase, a final work-off where riders switch horses. At this point in the class, Newman sat in third place behind Emma Lipman and Kimberly McCormack.
In the final round, Samantha Schaefer rode
"It was nice to do the same round in the final test on a different horse. You knew how it rode. We got four jumps in the schooling area before we went in for the final round. I've watched the horse go, and he's really perfect. I like to switch horses, and I think it's fun. You always get experience from it; you learn something from it. I was happy make it back for the final," Schaefer said.
Matt Metell and Rodin, Carolyn Curcio's horse, put in a solid round as well for an 89 and a total of 263.750. They would end up in third place.
"I wasn't concerned," Newman said of switching onto Papillon. "I've seen the horse over the past two years, so I knew it pretty well. I wanted to see if I could figure him out in that amount of time. Jessica told me the basics of her horse and what sort of spurs to wear."
Lipman and Chase Boggio's horse Graphiq had trouble, including a rail for a score of 53.666. Their total of 231.916 dropped them to tenth place in the class. McCormack and Foreign Encounter, Laura Pfeiffer's horse, had trouble too. Their score of 78.666 in the final round was not enough to push them into the lead, and they faded to fourth place.
Schaefer, a 14-year-old, trains with Kim Stewart and Andre Dignelli. Her equitation horse Aston is only seven years old, and Schaefer rides him sporadically throughout the year. "He was so good here, and I'm really happy to do so well in an equitation final," Schaefer said.
At the beginning of the week, Newman was unsure if she would even have a horse to ride today. "I didn't know what to expect because as of Monday, I just found a horse and I didn't know the horse I was riding," she said. "I just went in to do my best. I really just wanted to ride as well as I could, especially under the circumstances."
Newman does not own her own equitation horse, so through the kindness of others, she was able to ride Class Action. The horse, owned by Bar X Ranch and shown regularly by Navona Gallegos, is trained by Karen Healey. In a twist of fate, it was Healey who loaned Newman her first equitation horse years ago as well and helped her in her first equitation final. "Karen Healey was really nice, and the owners of Class Action, they were so nice to let me ride him. He's really cool and fun to ride. He's an amazing horse," she said.
Newman was named the 2008 winner of the WIHS Equitation Classic Finals in her first attempt, a goal that the young rider had for years. "I certainly wanted to win a final," she acknowledged. "That was definitely a goal. I wanted to do well with all of the horses I was riding, my hunters and jumpers too. There is more that I'd like to achieve."
Final Results: WIHS Equitation Classic Finals