Tracey Gorin-Byrne Catch Rides to Victory in the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Finals at Capital Challenge

September 29, 2022 - Upper Marlboro, MD

Tracey Gorin-Byrne rode Checker 69 to the win in the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Championship, pictured in their winning presentation with their groom Marco Hernandez.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Tracey Gorin-Byrne and Checker 69
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Vivian Golden and Cap Ferrat are the overall leaders in the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3'3 Jumping Seat Medal Final – East after the first two phases.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

Tracey Gorin-Byrne claimed the championship title in the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Finals on Thursday, September 29, at the 2022 Capital Challenge Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. This major finals kicks off Equitation Weekend, presented by

A field of 35 competitors contested the Joseph Carnicom-designed course, featuring several lines where riders could choose the striding that best suited their horse. Judges Bobbi Reber and Sissy Wickes scored each round individually with the average of their scores counting as the rider’s overall mark. The top 10 were then called back in reverse order for a second round judged in the same format, with the average from each round yielding the deciding two-round total. After earning the leading score of 86.5 in the first round, Gorin-Byrne was the last to return for the second round aboard Checker 69. Their stylish trip scored an 89 for a 175.5 total, making them the clear overall winner, and no further testing was needed.

“This is my favorite horse show of the year,” said Gorin-Byrne. “I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid, and even though I’ve enjoyed a lot of success and had a lot of fun, I’ve never actually won. Obviously, it means a lot to win anywhere, but to win here is particularly special.”

Gorin-Byrne trains with the team at Sweet Oak Farm in Wellington, Florida, but competes on catch -rides throughout the year to qualify for the finals at Capital Challenge. As an added difficulty, Gorin-Byrne balances her riding with work and being a mom, so she hadn’t ridden for a couple of months before swinging a leg over “Checker” for the first time. Originally, the plan was to arrive on Wednesday morning, but Hurricane Ian caused a change of plans, so Gorin-Byrne and Checker got to know each other in the Adult Equitation division classes ahead of the championship.

Checker also has limited experience in the equitation ring after transitioning from the junior jumpers with owner Reid Arani. Olivia Sweetnam took over the ride during the summer, and evidently Checker is now excelling in his new career.

“He is dreamy,” Gorin-Byrne said of the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Carrico. “He is so much fun, and he’s very, very smart. He’s going to be a very, very nice horse, so I was really lucky I got to sit on him before he becomes very special for someone else.”

Gorin-Byrne will get a chance to build on her success in the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals on Friday, October 7, 2022, but the opportunity to compete in itself makes her emotional.

She expressed, “I’m just really thankful to all the people from all the barns who have helped me to be able to do the adult equitation. Over the years there have been so many people–Ali Sweetnam, of course, but also other barns like Beacon Hill and Ashland Farms have helped me too. It’s just really nice that everyone is so supportive and kind, and I really appreciate all the help from everybody.”

Second place went to last year’s third-place finisher, Anna Koenig of Hollywood, Florida, aboard her own Constantin, with a two-round total score of 170.25. Catherine Kramer of Indianapolis, Indiana, scored 169.75 to round out the top three, riding last year’s winner, Audi 2000 Z, owned by Kadley Farms LLC.

Golden Leads the Way in the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East

The first day of competition at the Capital Challenge Horse Show also featured the flat and gymnastics phases of the sixth-annual EMO Insurance Agency/United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final - East. Following the first two phases, Vivian Golden of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, leads the 164-rider field.

Golden sat in second-place after scoring 85.8 in the flat phase, and then earned fourth-place in the Ken Krome-designed gymnastics phase with a score of 85.25 from judges Robin Rost Brown and Tammy Provost. The gymnastics phase scores are multiplied by a coefficient of 1.5, so Golden’s overall total of 213.675 puts her at the top of the leaderboard.

“I don’t usually add up the scores or anything like that. I actually try not to think about the scores and the results and just focus on doing the plan and what my trainers tell me,” stated Golden.

Golden trains with her mother, Olivia Golden, at their Double G Stables, and with Amanda Lyerly at Madison Hills Farm. Her horse, Cap Ferrat, is a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Quasimodo VD Molendreef, who is a former breeding stallion from Holland that Golden is piloting in his first finals.

“I have a lot of pressure normally, so I am kind of used to it now, and I know how to manage it,” explained Golden. “I am not too stressed out about coming back last, because whatever happens, happens. Since my horse can be a little green here and there, we don’t really know how it’s going to go. He’s been so good, so I’m excited.”

Maxine Boeding, of Sag Harbor, New York, went 57th in the order after scoring 72.25 in the flat phase. She kept her composure, earning an 87 for the win in the gymnastics phase on Jalabert, an eight-year-old KWPN gelding by Arezzo VDL, owned by Nicole Adams.

“After my round, I sat in the stadium and watched every single rider that went until the end of the class,” said Boeding, who trains with Heritage Farm in Katonah, New York. “Typically, as the class progresses, you’re seeing more competitive rounds. Those are the rounds you aspire to have, and the more you watch the more you learn.

“There’s no pressure ever,” she added. “I don’t ever feel pressure from my team, or my parents, or anyone, and that’s a nice way to go into it, because I’m doing this for myself and not for anyone else.”

The Capital Challenge Horse Show continues on Friday with the age group equitation divisions starting at 7:30 a.m. followed by the final phase and culmination of the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final - East.