Pletcher Wins Chronicle Professional WCHR Hunter Rider Title
At Capital Challenge
By Diana De Rosa
Pletcher took a moment to take it all in after he won the 2002 Chronicle
of the Horse Professional World Championship Hunter Rider title.
The Challenge was sponsored by Carol & Gordon Stillwell, Stillwell
Hansen, Inc. and Jack Schock and First Savings Mortgage Corporation,
presented by the American Hunter Jumper Foundation (AHJF) and hosted
on October 4, during the eight-day Capital Challenge Horse Show
at the Prince George's Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.
Four riders qualified for the final competition: Sandy Ferrell,
Churchville, MD; Scott Stewart, Flemington, NJ; Emily Williams,
Wellington, FL and Pletcher, Magnolia, TX. He and the others had
competed in this class before and felt that "doing it before
helped. Emily was more nervous because this was her first time."
For Pletcher it was his third try and his first victory. "I'm
really glad," he admitted. "I've wanted to win this class
ever since they started it. It's a very special class for me to
The riders alternated on riding four different horses which they
had not ridden before. These included Special Delivery, a 12-year-old
grey Dutch gelding by Largos owned and trained by Geoff Teall; Notra
Dame, a 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Megan McGuire,
and trained by Amanda Steege-Herrara; Capito, a 10-year-old chestnut
Warmblood gelding, owned by Karen Healey; and Gandolf, a 10-year-old
bay, Hanoverian gelding, owned by Sue Grange and trained by Don
Pletcher had the high score (92.60) on Special Delivery, while Ferrell
scored 89.20, Williams 86.40 and Stewart 84.60. Notra Dame, loved
being ridden "soft," explained Pletcher. "The softer
you rode her the better." Again Peter took the high mark of
89.20 (Stewart 86, Ferrell 75.60 and Williams 73.80).
It was Stewart who took the leading score of 91.80 on Capito (Pletcher
88.20, Williams 87.60, Ferrell 73.80). Williams took the leading
score of 89.60 on Gandolf (Pletcher 88.70, Stewart 88.60, Ferrell
The riders were allowed to briefly warm-up on their first horse
but for all subsequent rides they had to go directly to the course
in the ring. When the final scores were tallied Pletcher had the
highest total of 358.70. Then it was Stewart (351), Williams (337.40)
and Ferrell (317).
Ferrell, Scott Stewart, Peter Pletcher, Emily Williams
After a yearlong selection process based on points, the Professional
Division riders were narrowed down to the top four who then rode
off for the title. Similar to a World Championship, the riders competed
over a 3'6" course on each of four horses provided by the show.
In hunters the horses are judged on form over fences and when they
jump from a comfortable distance their form is shown off the best.
So, as the riders go around the course their goal is to bring their
horse to the optimal distance for each fence. However, unlike other
hunter classes, the winner in this class was the rider and not the
The five judges scored by the open numerical system. The rider with
the highest cumulative total was the winner. The four riders who
qualified were being judged by Ronnie Beard, Wellington, FL; Jim
Clapperton, Columbia, MD; Brian Lenehan, Southern Pines, NC; Matt
Collins, Culpeper, VA and Patrick Rodes, Argyle, TX.
"The key to scoring this class is you don't score each round,
you score how each rider does on each horse," commented Lenehan.
"Peter showed he could ride all four horses well and that was
the clincher, whereas the others had trouble with at least one,"
"There was no on in that class that on any given day couldn't
win that class," added AHJF Executive Director Michele Perla.
Serio, Geoff Teall
CLASS IS FOR THE RIDERS
The riders look forward to this class. "It's an excellent
class, a great concept," said Pletcher.
"It happens fast and it's fun. It's great for the audience.
They can follow it and it's something totally different. The
riders really enjoy it and the crowds come," added Teall,
President of the American Hunter Jumper Foundation (AHJF).
"There's no other class like it and it gives the hunter
visibility," added Louise Serio, AHJF Vice President.
"It gives us a little something extra to work for because
this is strictly for the riders," said Ferrell.
"It is a great class because it highlights the hunter riders,"
noted Stewart, who also added that the AHJF "is wonderful
because it showcases the hunters and keeps people interested
in doing hunters."
"It was so much fun. I hope to get to do it many more times.
It's something different and they made it very special,"
said Williams. "Plus it was fun seeing how every horse
goes with the different riders
and the fact that you've
never ridden them before is good. I had a blast!"
Williams had also won the Winter's Run Sportsmanship Award which
is voted on by the other riders. She was especially pleased
about this because her mom, Lynne (who recently lost her battle
with cancer) was the first recipient of the award in 1997. "My
mom was such a good sport and always gracious," commented
Williams. "Winning that class made my whole year."
AMERICAN HUNTER JUMPER FOUNDATION
The AHJF was founded in 1992 by Louise Serio, Geoff Teall and Kavar
Kerr. At that time it had 400 members and four designated member
shows in each of five regions. Today the AHJF has 1,000 members
and 48 designated shows in 8 regions.
The AHJF was created for the purpose of rewarding the hunter riders
who are often overlooked when compared to the jumpers. Beyond the
awards program, the AHJF also has an Emergency Relief Fund, the
Retired Equine Placement Service, and a BSA 401(k) Profit Sharing
Plan. It works towards educating spectators and encourages grass-roots
organizations. The AHJF is a non-profit, member and sponsor-supported
The AHJF also sponsors a few more featured events throughout the
year, including the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular of Palm Beach
(February 15, 2003), which is done as an Add-Back competition with
$12,000 going to the winner.
The riders are very appreciative of how the AHJF has increased interest
in hunters. "Everything they do is so great," commented
from the scoring, to the perfectly
manicured rings, to the smallest details."
At the Capital Challenge the Professional Championship honors were
part of an overall World Championship Hunter Riders Awards Program,
which included junior, professional, amateur-owner, adult amateur,
children's and pony hunter riders. The program was established by
the AHJF to recognize and reward excellence among hunter riders.
In order to qualify, a rider's top four WCHR shows plus their performance
at the Capital Challenge determined the ultimate champions. A number
of special awards were given out as well. The late Victor Hugo Vidal
(August 2002) was the winner of the Old Springhouse Lifetime Achievement
Award. The Heard A Rumor Award was presented to Prince Charming
owned by Caroline Moran (Bedford, NY). The Jeffery Katz Memorial
Award went to Marvin, ridden by Ferrell. Marvin's owner, Mrs. Gary
B. Peterson, won the Rox Dene Award. The China Blue Hunter Challenge
went to Strapless, ridden by Williams.
Trophy & Cooler
TO THE TOP
This was the eighth year that the AHJF had hosted the Chronicle
of the Horse Professional Rider award. The winner not only received
the trophy but also a Tad Coffin Performance Saddle, a saddle
that Olympic Gold Medalist Coffin researched and designed himself
which is based around the comfort of the horse. "It's great
for us to be here. The AHJF is a group of people who are trying
to do the right thing for hunters and that is the key,"
commented Justin Kenney who presented the saddle. "It's
a hard class. You take your saddle and your skill and go on
to the next horse."
Pletcher also received a sponsorship from the Chronicle of the
Horse, which designates money to be used specifically to ensure
coverage of both the championship and of Pletcher as its winner.
Press Link, an equine focused PR firm, handles that sponsorship.
The Chronicle and the AHJF should be applauded for their foresight
to ensure that someone who wins such an important award is not
The AHJF was able to present trophies, money and prizes to the
winners of the various awards thanks to the Chronicle and Tad
Coffin as well as C.M. Hadfield's Saddlery, Derbydown Inc.,
Equitex/Cynthia Krantz, Finish-Line Horse Products, Hodges Badges
Co., Linda Robinson, Merrill Lynch, Quail Hollow Tack, Rein-Aid
Productions, Sandra Brown and Hobby Horse/Marge Vance.
special thanks also goes to Capital Challenge co-managers Oliver
Kennedy and Billy Glass who truly showcase the event which is preceded
by a light show and followed by a friends and exhibitors party.
For more information, the AHJF can be contacted at 335 Lancaster
Street, West Boylston, MA 01583-0369, 508-835-8813, fax: 508-835-6125,
or email: email@example.com. For complete
results go to www.ryegate.com.
2002 CHRONICLE OF THE HORSE PROFESSIONAL WCHR: 1. Peter Pletcher
(88.70, 88.20, 89.20, 92.60), 358.70; 2. Scott Stewart (86, 84.60,
88.60, 91.80), 351; 3. Emily Williams (87.60, 73.80, 86.40, 89.60),
337.40; 4. Sandy Ferrell (89.20, 78.40, 73.80, 75.60) 317.
OLD SPRINGHOUSE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: The late Victor Hugo
(Presented to a person who exemplifies great support and lifetime
commitment to the sport of hunter and jumper competition.)
JEFFERY KATZ MEMORIAL AWARD: Marvin, Sandy Ferrell (owner/Mrs. Gary
Total Points: 2120 (459 Capital Challenge, 465 Middleburg Classic,
399 Saratoga I, 393 Lexington Spring and 404 Upperville)
(Jeffery Katz was a 38-year-old trainer from Chicago who was killed
in a car accident in 1999. The award goes to the horse/rider combination
that accumulates the most points in the 1st Year Green, 2nd Year
Green, or Green Conformation Hunter Divisions at their best four
WCHR shows, plus the divisions at the Capital Challenge.)
DERBYDOWN TROPHY FOR THE TRIP OF THE SHOW: Kelly Farmer, Without
Risk (scored an average of 96 in the Future Hunter Class)
(This award acknowledges the professional rider earning the highest
CHINA BLUE FARM WORKING HUNTER CHALLENGE AWARD: Strapless (rider/Emily
Williams, owner/Clara Lindner, groom/Emily Hamilton, trainer/Tom
Wright). The owner, rider and trainer each receive a check for $3,500
and the groom (Emily Hamilton) receives a check for $500. (1582
points: 294 Capital Challenge, 405 Florida Classic, 265 Kentucky,
420 Hampton Classic, and 198 Turfway Classic)
(Donated by Priscilla Tamkin, this award honors the horse and rider
combination that accumulates the most points in either of the 4'
hunter divisions at their best four WCHR shows, plus their divisions
at the Capital Challenge.)
THE HEARD A RUMOR AWARD: Prince Charming (16-year-old Dutch Warmblood
by Zion), owner/Caroline Moran (Bedford, NY)
(Presented to a horse who has shown exceptional ability and epitomizes
the partnership of show hunter and hunter rider. Donated by Mr.
& Mrs. Dean Edwards in memory of their talented show hunter.)
WINTER'S RUN SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD: Emily Williams (The award was
especially momentous as Emily's mother, Lynne recently lost her
battle with cancer. Lynne was the first recipient of this award
(Sponsored by Tricia Bosley in memory of her mother Sylvia Hechter.
The boot trophy is one of Sylvia's treasured Vogel boots which was
bronzed and mounted on a walnut base. The purpose of the award is
to encourage better sportsmanship throughout the entire horse show
ROX DENE AWARD: Mrs. Gary B. Peterson (owner of Marvin who was ridden
by Sandy Ferrell to 2120 points)
(Donated by Elaine and Chanda Boylen, this award is presented to
the Owner of the WCHR High Score Horse ridden by a professional,
which has accumulated the most points using the four best WCHR sanctioned
shows plus the divisions at the Capital Challenge.
FINAL RESULTS OF THE WCHR NATIONAL PROGRAM
PROFESSIONAL: 1. Sandy Ferrell, Churchville, MD, 2120; 2. Scott
Stewart, Flemington, NJ, 1970;
3. Peter Pletcher, Magnolia, TX, 1907; 4. Emily Williams, Wellington,
JUNIOR: 1. Charlie Jayne, Elgin, IL, 2030 pts.; 2. Cody Baird, Greenwich,
CT, 1846 pts.; 3. Elizabeth Coughlin, Lutherville, MD, 1822 pts.
PONY: 1. Sofie Applegate, Atherton, CA, 1633 pts.; 2. Sarah Chovnick,
Brookville, MD, 1604 pts.; 3. Alexandra Skiffington, Wellington,
FL, 1603 pts.
AMATEUR-OWNER: 1. Kara Hofstetter, Ocala, FL, 1737 pts.; 2. Caroline
Moran, Bedford, NY, 1586 pts.; 3. Robin Sinderman, South Salem,
NY 1562 pts.
RESULTS FOR REGIONAL STANDINGS
SOUTHWEST: Professional: John Bragg, Petaluma, CA, 1255; Amateur-Owner:
Alison Agley, Pasadena, CA 1143; Junior: Jamie Taylor, Tarzana,
CA, 1319; Pony: Tess Albrecht, Hidden Hills, CA, 1469; Children:
Gabby Applegate, Atherton, CA, 1128; Adult Amateur: Bridget Twomey,
Petaluma, CA, 1325.
MIDWEST: Professional: Rick Fancher, Crestwood, KY, 840; Amateur-Owner:
Dawn Fogel, Louisville, KY, 908; Junior: Clara Lindner, Cincinnati,
OH, 888; Pony: Alexander Skiffington, Wellington, FL, 1407; Children:
Molly Schmiege, Wilmette, IL, 328; Adult Amateur: Leslie Fishback,
Versailles, KY, 966.
SOUTH CENTRAL: Professional: Tracy Fenney, Flower Mound, TX, 918;
Amateur-Owner: Didi Mackenzie, Flower Mound, TX, 803; Junior: Alex
Beckstett, Magnolia, TX, 827; Pony: Lindsey George, Magnolia, TX,
1100; Children: Julia Kahn, Houston, TX, 384; Adult Amateur: Laura
Beckworth, Magnolia, TX, 470.
NORTH EAST: Professional: Scott Stewart, Flemington, NJ, 1115; Amateur-Owner:
Mimi Tashjian, Greenwich, CT, 1091; Junior: Whitney Roper, Rumson,
NJ, 812; Pony: Alexandra Arute, Farmington, CT, 1129; Children:
Carolyn Kelly, New York City, NY, 472; Adult Amateur: Pamela Vance,
Amenia, NY, 804.
EAST: Professional: Scott Hofstetter, Ocala, FL, 1239; Amateur-Owner:
Kara Hofstetter, Ocala, FL, 1237; Junior: Erin Stewart, Ocala, FL,
1214; Pony: Lauren Hogan, Tampa, FL, 891; Children: Maggie Schottenfeld,
Alpharetta, GA, 485; Adult Amateur: Victoria Watters-Round, Wellington,
MOUNTAIN: Professional: Emily Hook, Phoenix, AZ, 466; Amateur-Owner:
Cathy Morris-Schmitt, Englewood, CO, 550; Junior: Kate Hart, Englewood,
CO, 1209; Pony: Grace Van Dyke, Edwards, CO, 776; Children: Jessica
Lizarraga, Littleton, CO, 581; Adult Amateur: Karen Franklin Tanner,
Littleton, CO, 939.
WEST: Professional: Jack Hammond, Sammamish, WA, 1293; Amateur-Owner:
Tracy Sully, Aldergrove, BC, Canada, 1069; Junior: Lauren Crooks,
Sonohomish, WA, 983; Pony: Amanda Moore, Bothell, WA, 1120; Children:
Catherine Kranda, Medina, WA, 877; Adult Amateur: Amy Levenson,
Poulsbo, WA, 1179.
ATLANTIC: Professional: Sandy Ferrell, Churchville, MD, 1650; Amateur-Owner:
Betty Oare, Warrenton, VA, 1253; Junior: Elizabeth Coughlin, Lutherville,
MD, 1283; Pony: Sarah Chovnick, Brookville, MD, 1290; Children:
Lauren Graves, Crozet, VA, 809; Adult Amateur: Jack D. Schock, Middleburg,
Diana De Rosa
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