October 23, 2013--The 55th annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) hosted its opening day at Verizon Center in downtown Washington, D.C. on Tuesday with a full day of hunter competition. The professional and amateur-owner riders showed throughout the day in the first classes of their divisions and will conclude their competition for championship honors on Wednesday. The children's and adult hunter riders competed for their championships in the evening. The WIHS continues its six-day competition through Sunday, October 27.
The $10,000 WIHS Children's Hunter Championship featured 31 entries on Tuesday competing over a course set by J.P. Godard of Aiken, SC, with the top 12 entries returning for round two. Fifteen-year-old Abigael Kaufman of Chevy Chase, MD, came out on top with high scores of 86 and 84 for a combined total of 170 aboard her mount Ivanhoe. For their win, the pair was awarded the H. Fenwick Kollock Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Friends of Fen.
Kimmee Gottwald and Catina finished second with scores of 91.5 and 76 for a 157 point total. Third place honors went to Darby Cole and Valerie Renihan's Tuscan Sun with a pair of 77 scores to total 154.
Abigael Kaufman trains with Alan Lohman and has leased Ivanhoe, a 17-year-old Selle Francais gelding, for two years now. The pair has shown together in the Children's Hunter and equitation divisions. "We've just been doing local shows trying to qualify for zone finals and we finally qualified for Washington, which was a very nice end to the year," Kaufman noted.
Although she showed at WIHS with a pony two years ago, this was the rider's first time competing on a horse, and the experience was a little different. "It's my first time winning, which is very nice," she smiled. "It's pretty much the same, but it's different because when you are on a horse it's a lot more important, and it's harder to ride around the ring, especially on a big horse."
"I also got to show on a weekday, which I think is really cool because all of the good riders get to show on weekdays," she added with a smile. "It's a lot of fun."
The experience of competing in downtown Washington D.C. is always exciting, with the horses temporarily stabled in the streets surrounding Verizon Center, and people walking through the city day and night.
"The coolest part is probably walking down the ramp from the stalls to the ring," Kaufman noted. "You see people walking home from work and they wonder why there is a horse walking around in D.C. and you say 'Yup, that's my horse.' It's really cool."
Ivanhoe and Kaufman handled the city setting likes pros and put in two winning rounds. Kaufman described Ivanhoe as a very slow horse that takes a lot of leg and commented further on her rounds.
"Once I got my pace and had him out in front of me, everything else was golden. He was right there, ready to do it for me," she detailed. "The first round I felt really good about. I feel like I was able to fix all the mistakes I've made during the year. The second round, my trainer just told me to go in and have fun and make it as smooth as possible. I think we did just that. We had a few little minor errors, but he made up for it and jumped all the fences nicely. I was really happy with both of them."
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