On the final day of the 2022 Capital Challenge Horse Show on Sunday, October 9, at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Skylar Wireman, of Bonsall, California, and Bonne Starlight shone brightly as Grand Junior Hunter 3’6” Champions.
Wireman and Bonne Starlight first earned the Small Junior Hunter 16-17 division championship, sponsored by Three Ships LLC, with a clean sweep of all four classes. Their stellar performance propelled them to Grand Junior Hunter 16-17 Champion, sponsored by Somerset Farm, and the overall Grand Junior Hunter 3’6” Championship, sponsored by Shadow Ridge. For earning the overall title of Grand Junior Hunter 3’6” Champion, Wireman was presented with the Spontaneous Perpetual Trophy, donated by the Listrani Family. She was also given the Best Junior Rider Award, sponsored by Karen Healey.
“It means a lot,” said Wireman after picking up her many accolades. “This is my fourth time coming to Capital Challenge, and this is my first time ever getting any sort of grand champion. To be all three- 16-17, overall grand, and high score - is really amazing, and I couldn’t ask for a better partner to do it with.”
Bonne Starlight and Wireman paired up just over a year ago. They started off in the baby greens and have worked their way up the ladder. Before this week, the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Bonne Chance had only been to two indoor shows and was making his Capital Challenge debut, so Wireman was impressed with his composure in the elevated atmosphere of the Show Place Arena.
“I thought he felt great, and he jumped beautifully both in the indoor and in the outdoor,” reflected Wireman, who trains with her mother, Shayne Berridge Wireman, as well as the team at Heritage Farm in Katonah, New York. “I thought he was a star. I can always count on him. He’s so brave, and I can trust him and know that he’s always going to perform for me. It’s a really great feeling to ride him because he’s so reliable and he’s so fun. I just love him.”
She continued, “I’d just like to thank the owners, Cathy, Steve, and Lilly Muzzy at MZ Farms, for the ride on Bonne Starlight.”
Wireman has had a banner week with top placings in the equitation, jumpers, and now hunters, but she’s also enjoyed the experience of being at the show and watching the other horses compete.
“I think Capital Challenge is just a really special horse show,” she stated. “It’s all the top hunters from around the country, and there’s a great environment in the ring with beautiful jumps and nice courses. There’s a lot of action and there’s a lot of big important classes. I really liked watching the [WCHR] Professional Challenge, especially, because I have dreams to do that someday.”
Finishing as the reserve champion in Small Junior Hunter 16-17 was Ella Bikoff aboard Bikoff Equestrian LLC’s Commentary.
The champion of the Small Junior Hunter 3’6” 15 and Under division and the Grand Junior Hunter 15 and Under Champion, sponsored by Courtyard Farm, was Ariana Marnell on Babylon, owned by Marnell Sport Horses. Clara Propp piloted Inquisitive, owned by Aquitaine Equine, to the reserve champion title in the division. Marnell also won the Best EMO Junior Trip of the Show for her impressive score of 91.5 with Babylon, who also topped Wednesday’s $25,000 WCHR Professional Challenge, sponsored by The Gochman Family with John French in the irons.
“I think Capital Challenge is the most prestigious hunter show, and it’s an honor to win here,” expressed Marnell. “This has been a big goal of mine, and Babylon really deserves it. He’s just one of those horses that can win any class, and I’m glad I didn’t let him down.
“John made Babylon the horse he is since when he came over [to the U.S.] at four and now he’s seven, but that’s a product of John French,” she continued. “Thanks go toJohn and my parents for getting me Babylon and letting me show at these shows. I’m so excited.”
Raina Swani rode Shadowfax Equestrian LLC’s Trademark to champion in the Large Junior Hunter 3’6” 15 and Under division, sponsored by New England Farm. Sterling Malnik and her own In Writing received the reserve champion honors in the division.
Stella Wasserman and Donald Stewart’s G.Eleven earned the Large Junior Hunter 3’6” 16-17 championship title, sponsored by Beacon Hill Show Stables. Lauren Little rode Little Brook LLC’s Paisley Park to reserve champion.
Later in the day on the heels of their division success, Wireman and Bonne Starlight continued their reign in the $5,000 WCHR Junior 3’6” Challenge, sponsored by Nicole Lyvere & Finally Home Farm, where they scored the high 89.66 to claim yet another victory.
Perry and Tiesto Take Grand Champion Junior Hunter 3’3” Honors
Junior Hunter 3’3” horses took over the outdoor arena on the final day of competition, where Cecelia Perry of Boynton Beach, Florida, with her own Tiesto emerged as the Grand Champion Junior Hunter 3’3”, sponsored by Aubrey Hill Equestrian.
Perry and Tiesto notched a win and third-place finish over fences. Their third-place ribbon in the under saddle gave them the Section A Junior Hunter 3’3” 15-17 division championship as well as the highest point total of any rider from the Section A, Section B, and the Junior Hunter 3’3”, 14 and Under division, sponsored by Hesslink*Williams, for the overall Grand Champion honors. In addition, Perry was presented with the Best Junior 3’3” Rider Award, sponsored by Deer Creek Farm LLC.
“Oh my gosh, I’m so excited,” said Perry smiling. “This is unreal. This is crazy. This is not what I expected at all. This was definitely the goal, but definitely not what I expected. This was all a shock.”
Piloted by Lexy Reed, Tiesto got his week at Capital Challenge started with a champion ribbon in the Section A Green Hunter 3’3”, sponsored by Hunt Tosh, Inc. The seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Cordess continued to put his best hoof forward.
He’s still a baby, so he’s still learning,” explained Perry. “He walks in the ring like he’s been doing this for years even though he hasn’t. This is his first big show, so I’m really excited for him. He was a very good boy, and he felt great. I just wanted to make sure he wasn’t nervous or anything. I’m really proud of him.”
Reserve champion in the Section A Junior Hunter 3’3” 15-17 went to Notorious, owned by West Coast Equine Partners LLC and ridden by Katherine Simonds. Simonds earned the top prize in the $2,500 WCHR Junior 3’3” Challenge, sponsored by Noelle Wolf Stables LLC. The duo earned a score of 86.33 to win the class.
In Section B, champion was C’est Jolie, owned by B R Farms LLC and ridden by Sofia Baiker. Shannon Maguire rode her own Chance of a Lifetime to reserve.
Champion of the Junior Hunter 3’3” 14 and Under division went to Anna Markcrow aboard her own Aubergine. Reserve was Brooke Hagerty and The Hagerty Family’s Casino Cash.
The Best EMO 3’3” Junior Hunter Trip of the Show was presented to Olivia Sweetnam after the rider scored an 88.5 with Hobbs Lane in the 14 and Under handy stake class.
Cairns and Blueper Make No Mistakes for Grand Champion Children’s Hunter Award
In the covered arena, Chloe Cairns and Blueper were unbeatable to claim the Grand Champion Children’s Hunter award, sponsored by Mary Jane King.
Cairns and Blueper had a perfect day of competition on Saturday, October 8, during the Children’s Hunter Pony division, scoring blue ribbons in all three classes for the division championship. They had to wait until the children’s horses showed on the final day of the 2022 Capital Challenge Horse Show on Sunday, October 9, to see if anyone could match their results. In the end, their 30-point total gave them the Grand Championship title out of more than 100 children’s riders, including the Children’s Hunter 14 and Under, sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Gary Duffy and Little Brook Farms, Inc., the Children’s Hunter 15-17, sponsored by Katie Kappler LLC, and the Children’s Hunter Pony.
“He’s just so good,” said Cairns of the 12-year-old Welsh Pony Cross by Jef Sir Lancelot. “He knows everything. He’s the best pony, always friendly, and he never does anything bad. He’s just perfect.”
The 12-year-old rider from Amagansett, New York, has been partnered with Blueper for about a year. With Cairns gearing up to focus on horses and Blueper in line to take his next kid from cross-rails to Pony Hunters, this show marked their last competition together.
“It felt really good. I’m really pumped. Having a clean sweep, it was amazing,” commented Cairns. “I came here last year, and I had a good show, but no major results. I just really wanted to come back and show something for all the years I’ve done with ponies.”
With their goal achieved, Cairns could appreciate the significance of her achievement.
“I love that all the best riders come to Capital Challenge,” noted Cairns of the experience. “There’s a lot of competition, so you really can see how good you are.”
For her Grand Champion Children’s Hunter award, sponsored by Mary Jane King, Cairns was presented with The Laura Pickett Memorial Trophy, donated by Julie Karpan. She was also named the Best Children’s Hunter Rider, sponsored by Wild Sky Farm & The Nelson Family.
Grace Majoros rode Emilie Rucci’s I Spy a Rainbow to the reserve championship in the Children’s Pony Hunter division.
In the Children’s Hunter 15-17, champion was Everglow, ridden by Electra Ford for Gerald Ford. Reserve champion was Avery McCracken and Midas, owned by Paul McCracken.
Elle Boyd rode Profound, owned by The Rein Family LLC, to the championship of the Children’s Hunter 14 and Under. Colin Sweetnam earned the reserve honors with Sweet Oak Farm’s Coppertone.
Boyd also had a resounding victory in the $1,500 WCHR Children’s Hunter Challenge, sponsored by Stephanie Bulger and MeadowView, scoring an impressive 91 with Katherine K Ellis’s Kensi.
Sweetnam won the Best EMO Children’s Hunter Trip of the Show with an 86.5, and was presented with the Stewart-Warner Cup for Children’s rider. It is given in memory of Laurie Gilbert Stewart and Mary Warner Brown by Donald E. Stewart, Jr. and Louise W. Serio.
The Leading Hunter Trainer Award, sponsored by South Haven Farm, went to Geoffrey Hesslink and Brendan Williams.