The 25th anniversary Capital Challenge Horse Show concluded on Sunday, October 7, with the awarding of the final Junior and Children’s Hunter championships at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.
The Overall Grand Junior Hunter Championship was presented to Emma Kurtz of Hudson, OH, riding A Million Reasons, owned by Dr. Betsee Parker.
Kurtz, 17, and the 13-year-old Holsteiner mare (by Coriano) swept every class of the
Small Junior 16-17 Hunter division on Saturday, making them the far and away front-runners for the Grand Junior Hunter Championship title, sponsored by Shadow Ridge and presented on Sunday.
“It’s always good to do well here because you then kind of know how they’re going to be going in to the rest of indoors,” said Kurtz, who is no stranger to success at Capital Challenge, having won numerous classes and championships over the years. “It’s such a great horse show, so it feels amazing.”
Kurtz started showing A Million Reasons in early 2018, and, after quickly getting acclimated to the mare’s ride, has had great success since.
“She’s really cool to ride,” said Kurtz, who trains with Amanda Lyerly. “She’s kind of like a metronome; she just goes in her own pace. As long as I don’t screw her up, she’ll never do anything out of character or anything.
“But he’s different from what I’m used to; she’s hard for me because her stride is so big, and you have to go so slow. It’s hard for me to keep everything slow and in that rhythm; I’m not really used to that,” continued Kurtz, who is now in her final junior competition year and has started her freshman year at Auburn University. “I’m used to getting on and galloping around, but she’s absolutely amazing. It’s just a different ride for me.”
For her rides on A Million Reasons, Kurtz was also presented with the Best Junior Rider Award, sponsored by Karen Healey, and the pair received the Best EMO Junior Trip of the Show, sponsored by the EMO Agency, with a score of 89.50.
“You don’t have to worry when [Emma] walks in the ring because she’s always going to do what you tell her, and she’s always going to try her hardest,” said Lyerly. “It’s just a pleasure to teach her because she makes my job easy.”
In addition to the Overall Grand Junior Hunter Championship, four Junior Hunter division championships were presented on Sunday, with a Grand Junior 3’3” Hunter Champion and a Grand Junior 15 & Under Hunter Champion also named.