In her first year of competing in the class, young professional Cassandra Kahle of Langley, British Columbia, rode Monday Balous to capture the top prize in the $30,000 World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Challenge, sponsored by The Gochman Family, at the Capital Challenge Horse Show (CCHS) on Wednesday, October 2.
Cassandra Kahle and Monday Balous, owned by Redfield Farm and Don Stewart. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Scott Stewart and Regent topped the $25,000 North American Green Hunter 3′ and 3’3″ Championship, sponsored by The Wheeler Family. The three classes marked a highlight day of CCHS, which runs through Sunday, October 6, at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.
One of the coveted titles offered at CCHS, the $30,000 WCHR Professional Challenge brought out 33 of the best horses and riders in the country to compete over two rounds.
At the conclusion of the first round, Kahle and Monday Balous were tied for the lead with last year’s Professional Challenge winners, Amanda Steege and Lafitte de Muze, with both scoring 90.33. Kahle’s second-round score of 91.16, resulting in a 181.49 total, put her into the top spot.
“Going into tonight, I was nervous, but my expectations weren’t super high,” said Kahle, 27. “I just really wanted to have a good time. I’m really lucky to get to ride this horse. He’s like nothing I’ve ever ridden before; he’s amazing. He’s got a great rhythm and canter, so I went in and picked up a good gallop. He kind of shows you the distances and the jumps.”
Kahle and Monday Balous, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Balou du Rouet, had to qualify for the Professional Challenge at CCHS, and they did so with ribbons in the High Performance division. “I think I was just relieved to make it into the class. It was something I really wanted to do,” Kahle said. “I’ve watched this class since I was a kid. I admire the riders; they’re the top riders in the country that compete in this class. I think it’s something every hunter rider would love to do.” Kahle has competed in the WCHR Developing Pro Challenge in previous years.
Kahle, who grew up riding with her mother, Natasha Brash, has worked for Emil Spadone of Redfield Farm in Califon, NJ, for six years. “I’ve gone from riding young hunters to High Performance hunters and started doing the jumpers and some grand prix classes,” she said. “I don’t think I could have progressed this much without the opportunities I’ve had at Redfield.” Spadone co-owns Monday Balous with trainer Don Stewart. They bought the horse together in 2017, and he’d been showing with students of Stewart’s and Jimmy Torano until September, when Kahle piloted him to third in the $250,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix at HITS Saugerties in New York. Capital Challenge was just Kahle’s second show with the horse.
Second place in the $30,000 WCHR Pro Challenge for the second consecutive year went to Hannah Isop and Tracy Freels’ Red Ryder, who scored a 92.0 in the second round, which when added to a first-round score of 87.0 resulted in a total of 179.0. Steege and Lafitte de Muze were third with scores of 90.33 and 86.91 for a total of 177.24.
Cassandra Kahle and Monday Balous won the $30,000 World Championship Hunter Rider Professional Challenge. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
The win resulted in Kahle being award a wild-card spot in Friday night’s $10,000 WCHR Professional Finals along with six-time winner Scott Stewart, four-time winner John French, three-time winner Liza Boyd, Victoria Colvin, Amanda Steege, and Jeff Gogul. Kahle also was awarded the American Style of Riding Award, sponsored by Bill Rube.
The overall Grand Championship Hunter title, sponsored by RBS Farms, Inc., Rob Bielefeld, and Chrystal Knight, ended in a tie between two of Scott Stewart’s mounts, Gochman Sport Horse LLC’s Catch Me and Betsee Parker’s Private Life. For the win, Stewart and his two mounts received the Janet Read & Margaret Hough Sabbatini Memorial Trophy, donated by the Goguen Family. Stewart was awarded the Leading Hunter Rider Award, sponsored by the Gibson Family and The Shadyside Farm.
Sara Taylor and Noah Claim $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge
Sara Taylor added another win to a successful year by topping the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge. She and Noah, a nine-year-old warmblood, were best out of 31 entries in the class.
Ingrid Avera’s Noah and Sara Taylor topped the $5,000 WCHR Developing Pro Challenge. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Taylor and Noah claimed the lead in round one with a score of 90.66, then added a second-round score of 92.0 to record a total of 182.66
“I’m really overjoyed that I won this class. My whole family has been wanting this for me!” said Taylor, who had ridden in the Developing Pro Challenge twice before. “This is one of my favorite horse shows, so to qualify for the WCHR Developing Pro Final and then to have it all come together to win is amazing. My mom’s going to be crying.”
Taylor, 28, grew up riding in Massachusetts and now has worked for John and Kitty Barker at their Eight Oaks Inc., in Middleburg, VA, for five years. “They’ve taken me under their wing and taught me what it means to be a good horseman and how to run a successful business and take care of your horses most of all,” Taylor said.
Sara Taylor and Noah, owned by Ingrid Avera. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
She and Noah claimed the title in the Platinum Performance USHJA 3’6″/3’9″ Green Hunter Incentive Championship in August. Taylor has ridden Noah for three years for owner Ingrid Avera. “The biggest wins I’ve had are with him, so I owe a lot to him,” Taylor said. “It’s easy for him, so it makes you as a rider feel so easy. It felt like he was there for me every step I felt confident the whole way around.”
Jennifer Ritucci took second in the class after riding MTM Fashion to scores of 89.0 and 88.0 for a total of 177.0, while Quinn Partridge guided Enrique to third place with scores of 86.66 and 87.16 for a total of 173.82.