Washington, DC - October 22, 2008 - The second day of competition at Verizon Center began with the Professional Hunter divisions. The 2008 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) is held in the heart of the city at Verizon Center and will run through Sunday, October 26, 2008.
WIHS is a qualifying horse show; riders compete all year and all over the country earning points. Only the top riders in the standings are invited to compete. The show will give out more than $400,000 in prize money.
Scott Stewart of Flemington, NJ, spent much of the morning accepting championship awards. Stewart was named Second Year Green Working Hunter Champion, Green Conformation Hunter Champion and tied for Grand Hunter Champion on his horse Ovation, a horse he owns himself. Aboard another one of his mounts World Time, Stewart was First Year Green Working Hunter Champion. To top everything off, he was also Leading Hunter Rider for the fourth time at WIHS.
"It is always exciting to win awards like this. It never gets old, that is for sure," said Stewart. "I was really happy with how the horses went. World Time has not shown that much; this is his first big show. He went great in every class. I am very proud of him."
Stewart has ridden Ovation for close to two years. The pair has had many championships throughout their career so far, including the Circuit Championship at CN Winter Equestrian Festival last winter and the top tricolor at Capital Challenge two weeks ago. Ovation has been champion at almost every horse show this year.
"Ovation is really laid back and quiet. You don't really need to do anything; you just let the reins go. The courses rode great as well," said Stewart. "Since the ring is so narrow, the course designer really made it nice so the horses did not have to go through any gaps and the course rode really well."
World Time is a fairly new addition for Stewart, who bought him a year ago as a stallion. The horse won at the CN Winter Equestrian Festival last winter and received great ribbons at Devon.
Stewart piloted World Time to two firsts and second-place ribbons in the First Year Green Working Hunters. Aboard Ovation, Stewart came away with two firsts, a second and third-place ribbons in the Green Conformation Hunters and two firsts, a fifth and sixth-place ribbons in the Second Year Green Working Hunters.
The logistics can be tricky for a horse show that has no space to work horses outdoors, so riders must plan well in advance in order to come to the show prepared to win.
"It is especially hard for us because we do not have an indoor ring to practice in. We are in Florida for the winter and then we head to New Jersey for the summer with no indoor ring," said Stewart. "Capital Challenge was our first indoor show. To make things as easy as possible for this particular show, I just shipped the horses that I thought could go well. I picked the ones that are quiet, and I know do not need a lot of outdoor work because there is no space."
Even with the tight stabling and schooling conditions, everyone had good things to say about the horse show and enjoy the atmosphere that Verizon Center provides.
"I love Washington. It is a nice horse show, and I think they do a great job making it a show that everyone can enjoy," said Stewart.
David Wright and Renaissance, owned by South Point Farms, came away with the championship award in the Regular Working Hunters. Wright only rides the horse at horse shows when he is shipped in from South Point Farm in Kansas City, Missouri, and they keep him on a light training program.
"He is very simple. We keep him fit enough to jump the big jumps, and we don't jump him very often," said Wright. "We just continue to keep him in shape. He is very easy, fun, nice to ride horse. He is one of the ones I look forward to. This horse is wonderful. He has been fabulous all year."
Wright thought Renaissance handled himself well indoors.
"He was a little apprehensive in the first round yesterday and had a rail. From then on he has been flawless," said Wright. "He won the handy class, had a rub this morning and had a hard rub at the in-and-out. Other than that I was super happy with his performance."
In the division, Wright received two firsts, a third and eighth-place ribbons.
Wright enjoys more than just riding. The show location and the crowd it attracts are things he looks forward to each year.
"It is really a fun atmosphere being right in the city. People who don't know anything about horse shows get to participate and come by and talk to you. Half of them have never seen a horse in person. It is amazing," said Wright. "Over the past few years I would say about 100 people have come up to me and said they have never been up close with a horse. It is a neat experience. This venue has always been fabulous for spectator interaction."
In the Regular Conformation Hunters, Leslie Steele and mount Smitten, owned by Stephanie Danhakl, came away with the championship. Steele also tied with Stewart for Grand Hunter Champion.
Smitten is still on the green side and stands at a height of 15.2, but that does not damper his athletic abilities. The pair picked up two firsts, a second and third place ribbons.
"He is always a good jumper, and he always tries his best," said Steele. "Sometimes he tries too much and over-jumps. So we just kept telling him how good he was and kept petting him no matter what he did. Every time he would get a little better and a little better. Now he has put it all together."
Steele is back riding Smitten by a series of events. Steele used to own Smitten and sold him a year ago. Archie Cox now trains the horse for another family. Cox offered Steele the ride, so once again she is riding her old horse.
Steele had only good things to say about the horse show and the course.
"The course is lovely. It's really beautiful. The whole facility has done so well, and it has turned into a spectacular event," said Steele. "It is so green and lush; it is a lot for the horses to look at it and gets your horse to give you the best jump ever. It is a little hard for the horses because it is indoors, and it may be difficult if you have a horse that needs extra work. I love it; I love being in the city."
Later in the day the Amateur-Owner Hunters competed. The Amateur-Owner 18-35 Hunter Championship tricolor was awarded to Tracy Sheriff with Lavari. The reserve championship prize went to Zach Parks and Castleton. In the Amateur-Owner 35 and Over Hunter division, Player, with Penelope Ayers in the irons, took home the championship honors. Larkspur and Ashley Kennedy Whitner received the reserve championship trophy
Top honors in the Amateur-Owner divisions were awarded to Tracy Sheriff and Lavari. Together they won both the Grand Champion Amateur-Owner Hunter title and the Leading Amateur-Owner Hunter Rider title.
Tomorrow's list of highlights during the day includes the start of the Junior Hunters, Junior Jumpers, and Open Jumpers, as well as the Amateur-Owner Jumpers. The evening events are scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. with several exhibitions to include the Celebrity Hunt Teams, Terrier Races, and the Ashley Holzer Dressage Demonstration.
Following the exhibitions will be the $20,000 Open Jumper Gambler's Choice, which is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. From 6:30-9:30 p.m. will be the Junior Party sponsored by the Peterson Family located at The Crown Royal Suite. At the conclusion of the night there will be an Exhibitors Party sponsored by the Irish Channel Restaurant and Pub, located across the street from Verizon Center at 500 H Street, NW, Washington, DC.
For more information and to view full results, please visit http://www.wihs.org
Photo Credit: Scott Stewart and Ovation, who was Grand Hunter Champion, Green Conformation Hunter Champion, and Second Year Green Working Hunter Champion. Stewart was also First Year Green Working Hunter Champion with World Time. Photo (C) 2008 Rebecca Walton/PMG. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/scott-stewart-washington-international-horse-10-08.html">Scott Stewart Earns Multiple Championships at 2008 Washington International Horse Show</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com