October 1, 2013--The Capital Challenge Horse Show kicked off hunter competition today at the Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD. Within its span of two decades, the Capital Challenge Horse Show has set itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter competition among its many other advancements in the industry. The show continues through Sunday, October 6.
Highlights of the Capital Challenge Horse Show will include the World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) Developing Pro Challenge (Oct. 2), Future Hunter North American Championship (Oct. 2), the North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper Challenge Cup (two rounds held on Oct. 4-5), the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals (Oct. 4), and the WCHR Professional Finals (Oct. 4).
When show managers Oliver Kennedy and Billy Glass started CCHS, they wanted to become a premier show on the indoor circuit, and they had some fantastic ideas to draw in the competitors. In addition to the regular line-up of hunter/jumper classes, the show began adding new equitation finals, exciting new hunter championships, and new divisions for the exhibit of young horses.
Some of the greatest moments and biggest achievements for Kennedy and Glass have come from the development and success of the developing pro rider and young hunter classes. Both men have a long history in the business and saw the opportunity to make their mark early on by creating original and ground-breaking classes for the rising stars of the sport.
The Future Hunters are a big draw at Capital Challenge. Their division classes are held today and tomorrow, while the $20,000 Added Future Hunter North American Championship, sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Wheeler, Kocher Tack, Corrine Bevis/San Marcos Training, and Makoto Farm, Inc., is on Wednesday. While Pre-Green classes were offered in the early years of the Capital Challenge, the popular Future Hunter divisions started in 2001.
"I would say, and I think Billy will agree, that has probably turned into the best hunter class at our horse show," Kennedy stated. "To watch these young horses that have never shown indoors, they walk in there and it is an amazing class. Gray Slipper came out of that, Dream Date, Popeye K, Bacardi, Sambalino, all of the great hunters out there that go on to dominate the next year in the First Year Greens or the Green Conformation, they all do well in that division. It is kind of like the 'Star Search' for what is happening next year. That is probably one of the most fun classes to sit and watch at the horse show because you really see some spectacular horses."
In addition to adding classes for the emerging young horses, Kennedy and Glass also came up with the idea to host a class for the up-and-coming professional riders. What is now the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge started out as the Emerging Pro Challenge in 2008 and has seen many top professionals make a name for themselves in the business. The class was first won by Megan Edrick of Ocala, FL, who has since gone on to become a top name in the sport, along with Katherine Newman (2009), Molly Sewell (2010), Tara Metzner (2011), and Melissa Feller (2012).
"The young professionals are the ones who are sitting out there that have been kind of the journeymen, that have not had the great horse to show off their riding talents," Kennedy detailed. "The past winners are people who are now in the limelight, are now going on to ride the big horses, and they got their shot here. The first Emerging Pro Finals would be a highlight moment for me."
Manager Billy Glass agreed with Kennedy's sentiments on the development of both the Future Hunter and Developing Professional classes and their importance to the success of the horse show.
"The Future Hunters are something I have always been really proud of, to have that big dollar class for them," Glass acknowledged. "In recent years, my favorite program is the Developing Pro Finals. There is nothing like it anywhere else. It is terrific that all these folks have embraced it. Now we have 25-30 people fighting to get in that class."
"We try to react to the industry's needs," Glass stated. "It justifies high-level hunter competition and we reward it. We have better prize money and more fanfare. Awards and presentations are real important to us. We keep an open ear to changing times, as demands change. It has been a challenge over the years and I'd like to think we've risen to that challenge and accommodate the hunter community in various ways. The fact that everyone comes to show here tells me we're doing something right."
Kennedy and Glass hosted the first official Capital Challenge Horse Show in October 1994, and together they have run one of the nation's top horse shows for two decades. "The whole basis of success for CCHS is the level of competition and bringing everyone together to compete," stated Glass. "We host many of the best horses and riders in the industry and we are lucky that we have a great facility to attract them. We have the highest level of hunter competition. Winners compete at Capital Challenge."
The Capital Challenge Horse Show continues tomorrow with more professional hunter classes and championships for the Second Year Green, High Performance, and Performance 3'6" Hunter divisions, plus championships for all of the Future Hunter divisions.
For full results, or more information, please visit www.capitalchallenge.org.