Washington, D.C. - October 25, 2011 - The 53rd annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) began today with hunter competition for professional and amateur riders, who had the first classes of their divisions and finish for championships tomorrow. In the evening session, children's and adult hunter riders competed for their championships in the ring. The WIHS continues its competition through Sunday, October 30.
The $10,000 WIHS Children's Hunter Championship was the opening class of the evening session, and 32 of the nation's top children's hunters came out to compete. The winner was Double Down, ridden by 14-year-old Elizabeth Adelson of Tulsa, OK, for owner Four Fillies LLC. They had a first round score of 78, and when they came back for their second round, Adelson had a plan to improve.
"My plan was to go faster and to squeeze off the ground so he would pick his feet up, because I was really close to getting a rail in the first round," she explained. "(I wanted) to be more forward."
Double Down and Elizabeth Adelson
Their plan worked, and the judges average came to an 82 in the second round, giving them a total of 160 for the win. Second place went to On Star, ridden by Rachel Okun for Jillian Fellows, who scored a total of 158.166. Quatro and Stella Styslinger, who rode for Staisha Bejarano, were third with a total of 157.
Adelson has been riding Double Down - aka "King" - a 16-year-old Westphalian gelding by Pilot, for a year. "He is the best. He is peeky, but he is fun. He is pretty easy," she described. Adelson felt that there were a few traits that made Double Down one of the judges' favorites. "I think King just looks really fluent when he goes around, so I think that is what they like about him, and his expression. His ears are always forward."
This is Adelson's first time showing at the WIHS. "I think it is really cool," she said of her experience at Verizon Center. "The schooling ring is really small, (but) I think the ring is really cool and (so is) the big stadium. It makes you feel like you are doing the big stuff."
Adelson did not expect to come away with the win in her first time at Washington. "I thought that I would stay in third or maybe get second, but I wasn't expecting to get first," she acknowledged. "It feels good to win. It means a lot to win at an indoor show. This is the first year that I have been doing this and it makes me really happy. I wasn't expecting it."
For their win tonight, Adelson and Double Down were presented with the H. Fenwick Kollock Memorial Perpetual Trophy donated by Friends of Fen.
In the $10,000 WIHS Adult Amateur Hunter Championship, there were 26 entries. The top 12 returned for a second round and it was Practical, ridden and owned by Elise Ledsinger, who came out on top. They led the way through both rounds of competition with scores of 81.833 and 81.333 for a total of 163.166.
Ledsinger's plan going into the second round was "just to ride softly and give where I could and trust him because I know he is not going to do something stupid." She continued, "I just wanted to be more conservative because I knew that I had the lead going in and then the top few had some rails and so I thought, 'Just don't blow it.'"
Practical and Elise Ledsinger
Second place went to My Sweet Daniel, ridden and owned by Whitney Blanchard, who had a two round total of 161.666. Bay of Gold finished third with Phoebe Weseley and a score of 160.166.
Ledsinger is from Bethesda, MD, and while she has ridden Practical, a 12-year-old Warmblood gelding, for six months, she just purchased him a week ago. "That made this even more exciting," she said with a smile. "He has just been the horse of a lifetime. He is the sweetest, he is always ready to go, he is eager to please, he is not complicated. He is very honest. It would be impossible to replace him."
Ledsinger has shown at the WIHS five times, and this is her best finish. She came in with modest goals. "My goal was really to try to enjoy it," she admitted. "There is so much pressure going in. It is really tough and there is no practice. Basically trying to get him quiet and feeling good about going in and just not embarrassing myself was really the goal, so this is above and beyond what I was expecting."
Although she has trained with Ed Lane of Tartan Farm for 14 years, she had help from Ian Silitch over the past few weeks while Lane was at a wedding. Her win here is special for many reasons. She explained, "It means everything; I have had a rough couple of years. I have never had an easy horse ever and I have really worked hard. My trainer has always taught me to work hard and we do everything ourselves. It really means a lot to me just to finally do well because I have wanted it for so long and I have tried, and it is not easy to get it. I think just how much we put in to this; to have it pay off is really amazing."
Earlier in the day in the professional divisions, the winner of the Robotyping Challenge Trophy was Summer Place, ridden by Maggie Jayne for Pony Lane Farm. They scored an 88 to win the trophy as the overall winner of classes 22 and 32. The Fairfax Hunt Race Association Challenge Trophy went to Premier, ridden by Scott Stewart and owned by Gina Day, who had a score of 86 as the overall winner of classes 23 and 33.
The Washington International Horse Show continues tomorrow with championships for the professional and amateur-owner hunter divisions as well as the $10,000 Children's Jumper Championship. The evening session, which begins at 7 p.m., features the $10,000 Adult Jumper Championship and the $10,000 Open Jumper speed class.
For full results, more information, or to watch a free live feed of the show, please visit www.wihs.org.