Mindful Wins WIHS Grand Hunter Championship; Scott Stewart Named Leading Hunter Rider

Washington, D.C. – October 22, 2014 – Day two of the 2014 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) featured the presentation of championship honors in the professional and amateur-owner hunter divisions at Verizon Center in downtown Washington D.C. on Wednesday. 

Kelley Farmer guided Mindful to the overall Grand Hunter Championship after sweeping two divisions. Scott Stewart earned the Leading Hunter Rider Award following championship wins aboard Lucador, Quest, and A Million Reasons. A Million Reasons also earned the Grand Green Working Hunter Championship. Concluding the day session, Becky Gochman and Last Call and Kyle Owens and Voila each earned Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter Championships. The show will continue through Sunday, October 26. 

Mindful and Farmer in their winning presentation.

Kelley Farmer and Mindful were in a league of their own this week to win the 2014 WIHS Grand Hunter Championship and receive the Rave Review Challenge Trophy, donated by Stoney Hill. The ten-year-old Hanoverian gelding swept every class in both the High Performance Working Hunter and Regular Conformation Hunter divisions to earn each championship tricolor.

In the High Performance Working Hunters, sponsored by The Wasserman Foundation, Mindful and Farmer accepted The “NOT ALWAYS” Challenge Trophy donated by Miss Peggy Steinman along with championship prizes for winning all four classes in the division. Todd Minikus and LPF LLC's LPF Woodford finished in reserve after placing second, third and fourth over fences and third in the under saddle.

In the Regular Conformation Hunters, sponsored by Lynn Ellen Rice, Farmer and Mindful once again topped every class and were presented with The Mary Farren Perpetual Trophy. Glefke and Kensell LLC's Why earned reserve honors ridden by Elizabeth Sanden-Mulvey. The pair placed second, second, and third over fences as well as fourth under saddle.

Kelley Farmer and Mindful

“He is an unreal horse. He is unbelievable,” Farmer said of Mindful. “I can't say enough about him. I am very lucky. He tries to win all the time, he wants to win, and he doesn't let me down. He has so much ability. When he doesn’t win, it's my fault. It's just because I have gotten in his way. He is an awesome animal, and he has been unreal.”

In addition to the grand championship, Mindful's owners, Glefke and Kensell LLC, were presented with the Leading Hunter Owner Award sponsored by The Reid Family. Mindful and Farmer were also presented with the special Protocol Trophy, sponsored by Platinum Performance, as the overall High Point High Performance Working Hunter from the Devon Horse Show, Pennsylvania National Horse Show, and Washington International Horse Show.

“Mythical won the Protocol last year, and Rosalynn won it three years ago. It is a very hard trophy to win, and I think it is very special,” Farmer stated. “For those three different venues that are so different, I think that is really a testament to a really good horse. It takes a hell of a horse to do it, and I am very proud that I have had three horses do it. All three of them were unbelievable animals and all three of them were capable of winning no matter the circumstances. It is really a true sign of a great horse.”

Showing in the city did not faze Mindful this week, who has proven himself in many different environments and even had a very successful jumper career before turning to the hunters. “He is out of a Thoroughbred mare, so he has enough blood to make him careful and aware, but he is a quiet horse,” Farmer mused. “He has so much ability that this is really easy for him. There is nothing that I have asked him to do that he thought was hard or that he hasn't given us 100%.”

Farmer has been showing at WIHS since she was a child on ponies, but noted that you never lose that special feeling of nerves and excitement showing in the nation's capital. “It always gives you a special feeling,” she said. “If you don't get that feeling, then you should stop. It's the best feeling in the world when you walk to the ring. It's do or die. It's excitement.”

While Farmer earned the overall grand championship, Scott Stewart guided Dr. Betsee Parker's A Million Reasons to the Grand Green Working Hunter Championship to receive The Claire Lang Miller Challenge Trophy. The pair topped the Second Year Green Working Hunter championship, earning three first place ribbons over fences, and a second place under saddle. The Windy Acres Challenge Trophy was also presented to A Million Reasons earlier in the morning for the best Green Working Hunter stake round with a score of 87. The reserve championship went to Amy Guth's Inspired ridden by Louise Serio, placing second, second and third over fences and sixth under saddle.

A Million Reasons, a nine-year-old Holsteiner mare by Coriano, is a brand new ride for Stewart as of just this week. She is owned by Maura Thatcher's Pony Lane Farm and was leased to show. 

“We tried her last week at Harrisburg. I jumped three jumps with her, and they were nice enough to let Betsee lease her,” Stewart explained. “Originally, the horse came from Larry (Glefke) and Kelley. I never jumped a line until yesterday, and she was amazing. She was so easy, but I was obviously nervous having never done anything with her before.”

 winning round from A Million Reasons and Scott Stewart

Click to see a winning round from A Million Reasons and Scott Stewart.  
Video courtesy of Shownet.biz.

A Million Reasons showed in Harrisburg with Maggie Jayne and was ready to go for Stewart this week. Although he does not know her well, the mare was unfazed by the impressive venue and change of rider. 

“So far I think she is the easiest horse I have ever ridden,” Stewart acknowledged. “I think she goes exactly the way you want her to go. She is beautiful, she moves great, she is scopey. I have watched her go for a couple of years and I didn't realize she would be available, so it is great.”

Continuing the day, Stewart went on to win the Green Conformation Hunter championship, sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. John R. Ingram. He guided Dr. Betsee Parker's Lucador to top honors after placing first, second and second over fences and winning the under saddle. The pair also won Tuesday's model. For the championship honors, they were presented with The Valiant Hark Memorial Challenge Trophy, donated by Mrs. Stephen J. Clark. California's John French rode Montana Coady's Ranger to the reserve championship with two wins and a second place finish over fences as well as second place under saddle.

Lucador, a six-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Lord Pezi, has been a solid mount for Stewart all year and handles the excitement of WIHS like an experienced veteran at such a young age. “He has been great, and he is so young,” Stewart said. “I wasn't sure if I was going to show him this year at 3'6”, but he does it so easy. This is the most consistent he has been. He was first or second in every jump class. I think it came down to the hack. We had to win that to be champion, so it was a tight race.”

“He is really great in the ring,” Stewart added. “He's a little quirky in the schooling area and he doesn't like the crowd, so it's a little hard to get ready, but once he is in the ring he is easy. I literally don't have to jump a jump with him. I can jump one little jump and go in the ring or not even jump, so I knew he could just go in there and be fine.”

The Leading Rider presentation with WIHS Executive Director Bridget Love Meehan,
Dr. Betsee Parker and Scott Stewart.

Securing his third championship of the day, Stewart continued on to win the First Year Green Working Hunter division sponsored by Montana Coady. He guided Stephanie Danhakl's Quest to the win after placing first, second and third over fences. Nilani Trent's Autumn Rhythm and Sloane Coles finished in reserve with first and second place ribbons.

Seven-year-old Quest, a Warmblood gelding by Verdi, shows in the 3'3” Amateur-Owner Hunters with his owner and also had success in Harrisburg. “He just started back showing; he had a little time off, so he was out of the groove, but he was right on track here today,” Stewart noted. “It took him a show to get ready, but he was awesome. He is brave and not spooky. He is basically quiet, so he's perfect for this situation.”

With three championships under his belt, Stewart was named the 2014 WIHS Leading Hunter Rider, receiving a special $5,000 bonus for the award sponsored by Dr. Betsee Parker. He was also presented with The Robert Coluccio Leading Hunter Rider Perpetual Trophy. This marks Stewart's eighth time earning the title at WIHS in a long-standing and illustrious professional career. It was a close race with Farmer, who won the award last year, but Stewart got the winning edge. 

“We figured it out this morning. Larry and I added up the points and I think Kelley was one point ahead coming into today,” he noted. “It all came down to today.”

Gochman and Owens Win Amateur-Owner Titles
The Amateur-Owner Hunter divisions concluded their second day of competition on Wednesday and awarded championship honors as well. The Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’6” championship, sponsored by Kim Davis, was awarded to David Gochman's Last Call ridden by Becky Gochman. The pair earned the Frank Counselman Memorial Perpetual Trophy after topping the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3'6” Over 35 division, sponsored by Cembell Industries. They placed first, second and fifth over fences and won the under saddle. The reserve champion was Walk the Line, owned and ridden by Lynn Seithel, who placed first and second over fences.

See a winning round from Becky Gochman and Last Call. Video courtesy of Shownet.biz.

Gochman was also presented with the Leading Amateur-Owner Hunter Rider Award for the 3’6” level, sponsored by Kessler Show Stables. This was her third time receiving the honor. 

“It has been a lucky show,” Gochman remarked. “I love Washington, D.C. and the diversity here. I absolutely love that the show is next to Chinatown, and I am really excited that it is the Year of the Horse and there is a special jump made to represent Chinatown. I love the city show because you get to see all the people on the street admiring the horses and it is all different kinds of people. That is pretty cool just to break up somebody's day. They watch the horses being braided, and they ask people questions. I just get a real kick out of that. My husband and I also get to come without our kids, and there are so many great restaurants. It has been a special place for me and maybe I feel that too; I feel the love of it.”

Gochman bought her winning mount, Last Call, this spring and has been working with trainers Scott Stewart and Ken Berkley to get to know the 13-year-old Warmblood gelding and solidify their partnership.

Watch an interview with Becky Gochman!

“I haven't had him for very long and it has just been a matter of making small adjustments to get him right,” she explained. “To be honest, I didn't come in to indoors with the greatest amount of confidence on him. I wasn't sure how he was going to be, especially without doing a professional division, and he really proved himself to be a true amateur horse. He went right in and he knew his business, and he made it completely easy on me. He gives 100%.”

Becky Gochman and Last Call

Last Call is also a much bigger horse than the rider is used to, but Gochman enjoys the challenge. “I like how big he is,” she smiled. “It is extra hard to get on, and I have to get a super high leg up. It is just a different experience than I have ever had. It is that much more important that I have to stretch up and sit up tall. It is fun because the straighter you get and the calmer you are, the more he is really going to power off the ground. It has been a lot of fun getting to know him in that way.”

Gochman received several other awards for her high score stake round of 87 aboard Empire on Wednesday. She earned The Shari Hollis Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by the Late Col. J.B. Hollis and Ms. Jeannie Hollis, which is presented to the overall winner in the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’6” stake rounds. She also received an award for the EQUUS Foundation Best Performance of the Day.

Becky Gochman and Last Call in their winning presentation.

Becky Gochman and Last Call in their winning presentation with
WIHS Executive Director Bridget Love Meehan and President Victoria Lowell.


In the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3'6” 18-35 division, the championship was awarded to Stephanie Danhakl and Golden Rule. The pair placed second, second and third over fences and won under saddle. There was a tie for the reserve championship between Danhakl and her second mount, Humor Me, as well as Krista Weisman and Reality. After a coin toss, the prize was awarded to Weisman and Reality, who placed first and fourth over fences.

Continuing the day, the Amateur-Owner Working Hunter 3’3” 18-35 division concluded its championship with a win for Kyle Owens and Voila. They won two classes over fences and finished third under saddle. Taylor Willever and Whisper finished in reserve, placing first, second, and fourth over fences. Willever was also presented with the award for Best Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’3” Stake Round for her high score of 85.

Kyle Owens and Voila

Kyle Owens and Voila

At the conclusion of the afternoon, Voila was named Grand Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’3” Champion, sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Earnest M. Oare. Owens was named the Leading Amateur-Owner Hunter Rider for the 3’3” division overall. The 23-year-old rider from Columbus, OH, trains with Peter Pletcher and although he has ridden for many years, he only began showing competitively this year. This was the first trip to WIHS for both horse and rider and far exceeded expectations. 

“This was his first time inside and mine too, so I was thinking it wasn't going to go as well, but he was perfect,” the rider smiled. “This is my first time at Washington. I have never done any of the indoors (before this year), so I was thrilled. I am shocked, and I am so thankful that it happened.”

The winning presentation for Kyle Owens and Voila. 

The winning presentation for Kyle Owens and Voila.

Owens bought Voila, a six-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Verdi, this past winter and has been impressed with the horse's quick progress. Although Voila is young and inexperienced, the horse took little preparation for this week's competition. 

“We just rode him in the ring the first day, and that is all I had to do,” Owens stated. “We did Capital Challenge and we did Harrisburg and got some ribbons, but second was as good as it got, so I am thrilled with what happened here. I couldn't believe it. I have never gotten a leading rider title or any of this. I have not even gotten it at a smaller horse show, so for that to happen here is just really cool.”

 Kyle Owens' and Voila's winning round!

See Kyle Owens' and Voila's winning round! Video courtesy of Shownet.biz.

Owens began riding when he was ten and only competed locally until he was an amateur. He decided to step up to the next level this year and purchased Voila and several other horses that he showed in Florida throughout the winter with great results.

“He is so sweet, and he is really smart,” the rider described of Voila. “He is actually one of the smartest horses I have ever ridden. I didn't expect him to come along so fast. We started him in the 3' Pre-Greens thinking he was going to be super green and we would just do him for a year at 3', but after several weeks we moved him right up to the 3'3” because he was just learning so fast. He is really smart to learn, he is super brave, and he has a lot of step. He has all the right parts.”

Watch an interview with Kyle Owens!

Watch an interview with Kyle Owens!

The final hunter division of the day was the Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’3” Over 35, which saw a win for Glen Senk aboard Fashion Farm's Beholden. The pair won two classes over fences and was fourth in another. The reserve championship went to Becky Gochman aboard David Gochman's Touchdown with first, second and sixth place ribbons over fences.

The Washington International Horse Show continues on Thursday with the beginning of Junior Hunter competition in the morning and Low and High Junior/Amateur-Owner competition followed by a $34,000 International Jumper Welcome Stake in the afternoon. The evening session will welcome local horse lovers, riders, trainers, and their families for Barn Night, presented by Dover Saddlery, beginning at 6 p.m. The $20,000 International Jumper Gambler's Choice costume class will be the highlight event of the evening.

For those who cannot make it to the show, it will be live streamed in its entirety, sponsored in part by The Nutro Company, at www.wihs.org and is also available on USEF Network at www.usefnetwork.com.

Photo Credit: Photos © Shawn McMillen Photography, www.shawnmcmillen.com. These photos may only be used in relation to this press release and with full photo credit.