On Saturday, Sophie Gochman made pony riding history for the second year in a row as the winner of the Grand Pony Hunter Championship aboard Bit of Love. The 10-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding by English Lad and owned by Dr. Betsee Parker won the Small Pony Hunter championship with two firsts, two seconds, and a fourth. Gochman was also honored with the Best Child Rider on a Pony title.
“It’s an amazing experience, especially since this is planning to be my last year on the ponies. It’s really nice to have my last Capital Challenge on the ponies, for me to be Grand Champion and Best Child Rider. It means a lot to me and makes it special,” she said.
Last year, Gochman won the top prize on Love Me Tender, and Bit of Love was reserve champion in the Smalls. She believes the extra time they spent together resulted in the upgrade in prizes for 2016. “I think our bond has grown bigger,” she explained. “I’ve been riding him for about two years, so I know all of his quirks. I know what rhythm I’m supposed to ride him on, and he knows how I ride too. It’s the bond that’s improved us.”
But Bit of Love can be a bit of a diva according to his rider. “He’s very cute (and) very tiny. He knows he’s very pretty. He thinks that everyone has treats for him. He at first seems a little bit feisty, but he really just wants to snuggle and get food.”
Among the other pony winners of the day were Timeless and 12-year-old Erica Felder, who won champion in the Large Pony Hunters for owner Victoria Haynes with two wins over fences and a second in the under saddle. The reserve championship went to Small Soldier, ridden by Augusta Iwasaki and owned by Iwasaki & Reilly, who won the under saddle and was second in two over fences classes. Champion in the Medium Pony Hunters was Highlands Heaven Sent, ridden by Luke Jensen for Bill Schaub. They placed first and second over fences. Reserve champion in the division was Blue Chip, ridden by Caroline Passarelli and owned by Heritage Farm, Inc., who jumped to first, third, and fourth over fences.
Luke Jensen traveled to the winner’s circle for two more awards: the EMO Trip of the Show for Ponies for his score of 88 aboard Heaven Sent, and the Stewart Warner Cup, awarded to up-and-coming junior riders, who, in the opinion of the panel of judges, exhibit the best hunter style and show potential as a young hunter rider.
Stella Wasserman and Trillville topped the WCHR Pony Hunter Challenge, adding to the list of her family’s many accomplishments at the Capital Challenge Horse Show. In 2013, Stella’s mother Laura Wasserman won the WCHR Amateur-Owner Challenge aboard Back in the Game, and this year, the Wasserman’s horse Boss won the Grand Hunter and Regular Conformation Hunter Championships with rider John French.
For additional information, full results, and live stream coverage from the Capital Challenge, please visit the show’s website. Or, for behind-the-scenes photos, videos and more, check out the Capital Challenge on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram.