Washington International Horse Show spectators were treated to a wonderful show Friday night as Aaron Vale and Finou claimed the sole victory in the much beloved Puissance class. Four brave combinations started out in the class, but only Aaron and the Hanoverian gelding — owned by Thinks Like a Horse and Don Stewart — attempted the final death-defying leap over the brick wall stacked to 6’7″ to claim the big check.
“It’s the horse,” said Aaron after his win. “This horse actually has quite a bit of talent for this. It feels like he could actually jump a very big wall if the class played out that way. He’s very comfortable at it, and it’d be exciting to try something pretty high with him if it ever happened. My personal best is 7’2 ¼”. If I made higher it than that – that’s pretty high to me.”
19-year-old Hunter Holloway made her magnificent puissance debut Friday night with consistently strong jumps aboard Cassevel, a ten-year-old gray Holsteiner owned by Hays Investment Corporation. They polished off the first three rounds with style and confidence before opting not to start in the fourth and ultimately final round.
As it was Hunter’s first foray into the wall leaping business, she had a great first go and will have plenty of opportunities in her career to make more attempts, and wisely decided to end on a high note.
Longtime Puissance queen Kama Godek and her own De Grande looked poised for a spectacular night when they cleared the first and second rounds with inches to spare, but in the third round, Kama gracefully bowed out with a smile when De Grande didn’t feel game to keep going.
“He really overjumped the last round, and I think he scared himself a little,” Kama shared in the ring. She gave him a final confidence boosting hop over the practice fence before calling it a night, though we’ll no doubt see them both back in the puissance ring soon.
Paulo Santana Filho of El Salvador and Una du Keske Z have a tremendous history in the puissance with numerous wins in their belt, but it was just wasn’t their night Friday as they just clipped the wall in the second round.
We’ve got one more night of epic performances in store here in our nations capital, stay tuned for more from WIHS!