Nanda, Halle, Gibbs Score NAL Jumper Finals Victories at Capital Challenge

The Capital Challenge Horse Show for the first time welcomed the North American League (NAL) jumper year-end finals, and on Tuesday, September 29, three new NAL national jumper champions were named.

In the NAL Children’s Jumper Finals, presented by EquiFit, Leigh Nanda dominated the competition with her horse El Casper, accomplishing a perfect show after also taking the win in the Welcome the day prior.

Leigh Nanda on El Casper. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

The 15-year-old from Wilmette, IL, bested a 21-horse jump-off, crossing the timers in 31.488 seconds. Nanda came into her first Capital Challenge appearance as the leader of the NAL Children’s Jumper nationwide rankings and emerged victorious in every class this week, also earning the Leading Children’s Jumper Rider award.

“I took a stride out in the first line and the last line, so I think that really did it for me,” said Nanda of her winning round. “Casper takes a lot of leg; he looks and feels deceptively slow, but he’s got a really big stride. He’s really smooth if you meet all the jumps in stride. My trainer, Lance Williamson, always says, ‘Smooth is fast!’”

Twenty-nine riders took on the Joseph Carnicom-designed course, with 16 jumping double-clear efforts. Reserve honors were awarded to Katalena Prusso and Camera Ready on a time of 33.44 seconds, and third place went to Elizabeth Cram and Vancouver IV after they crossed the timers in 33.94 seconds.

Ellen Halle on Iggy Pop. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

Emerging victorious in the NAL Adult Jumper Finals, presented by SmartPak, was Ellen Halle of Upperco, MD, with Iggy Pop, who completed the jump-off in a time of 34.01 seconds. Halle topped the 27 starting entries and took on the short course with nine other competitors, ultimately taking home the Leading Adult Amateur Jumper Rider title, as well.

“The jump-off was icing on the cake for me,” Halle said of her win. “This was my first final, and I was just super excited to jump a clear round and have the opportunity to jump off. I was mainly trying to enjoy the experience but also be a little competitive and take a few risks just because it was awesome to even be there. I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.”

The winning pair were matched together in March of this year, and the 2020 Capital Challenge Horse Show was Halle’s first ever final.

“This is definitely worth the trip, and I am super grateful to be here and be part of a competition with such high caliber athletes,” said Halle. “They’ve really gone the extra mile to make it a great experience for all the exhibitors.”

Olivia Parr claimed second aboard her first entry Falco van de Nordhooek on a jump-off time of 34.26 seconds and also took home third with High Valley on a time of 36.70 seconds.

Dominic Gibbs on Douwe. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

Dominic Gibbs topped the NAL Low Junior/Amateur/Amateur-Owner Jumper Finals, presented by HorseFlight, aboard Douwe with a double-clear effort and a winning jump-off time of 29.98 seconds. The Colorado Springs, CO, rider was the last of 12 entries to jump off and one of five double-clear rides.

“It definitely was a competitive jump-off,” said Gibbs. “These were some of the best horses in the country, but I know I have one of the fastest. He makes my job really easy and fun. I knew I could take a chance and take some tough inside turns that maybe some of the other horses and riders wouldn’t be able to do.

“I’ve been riding him for around two years now,” Gibbs said of his horse Douwe. “My sister, [Jordan Gibbs], is actually going to start riding him this fall. This was my last show with him, so it was a great note to end on. He’s really one of the most incredible horses I’ve ever gotten to know. He’s so fast, and he’s really come a long way.”

Second place and the Leading Junior Jumper award went to Ellie Bruder with Violette de Launay, with a jump-off time of 30.32 seconds. Rounding out the top three was Ellie Ferrigno and Shark with a time of 31.52 seconds.

In addition to the three NAL jumper finals, Capital Challenge also hosted the $10,000 1.30-1.35m Medium Junior/Amateur/Amateur-Owner Classic on Tuesday.

Emma Seving on Fantast. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography.

After an unfortunate fall in the NAL Low Junior/Amateur/Amateur Owner Jumper Finals, Emma Seving pulled off a one-two finish in the Medium Junior/Amateur/Amateur Owner Jumper Classic aboard Fantast and Brighton Bay, respectively. Ten horse-and-rider combinations jumped the first round clear, but Seving’s time of 37.35 seconds in the jump-off took the win by nearly two seconds.

“Falling off is scary no matter how it happens,” said Seving. “I’m just glad my horses and I were safe, and I was able to get back on for my next class! I’m lucky that my horses give me so much confidence, so I still felt good to go back in there on the next two.”

The Newtown, PA, native has attended Capital Challenge since she was on small ponies and now has two new ribbons to add to her list of accolades from Capital Challenges past.

“I’m excited I rode so consistently because they were first and second in the last classic we did,” Seving continued. “It was really cool to do that twice in a row and feel confident and that I’m doing something right.”

Third place went to Jaime Auletto with Dynamite, finishing double-clear with a jump-off time of 40.12 seconds.

The NAL offers year-long series in five divisions: Children’s Hunters, Adult Hunters, Children’s Jumpers, presented by EquiFit; Adult Jumpers, presented by SmartPak; and Low Junior/Amateur Jumper, presented by HorseFlight. The NAL series conclude with year-end finals for those who accumulated the most points in their divisions over the course of the season.

The NAL qualifying season runs from September 1 through August 31. NAL qualifying classes are open to all competitors, but only current members are awarded points. By joining the NAL, riders can accumulate the points necessary to qualify for the finals. Annual memberships are only $40 per rider. Further information on the NAL is available by calling +1 (717) 867-5643, emailing or visiting  Follow the NAL on Facebook here.

Competition at the 2020 Capital Challenge Horse Show continues on Tuesday, October 6, beginning with the professional hunter divisions at 8:00am.

About the Capital Challenge Horse Show
Now in its 27th year, the Capital Challenge Horse Show, presented by the World Equestrian Center, sets itself apart with a distinct and unique focus on preeminent hunter and equitation competition. Held each autumn, the 2020 edition of the Capital Challenge Horse Show continues through October 4 at the World Equestrian Center in Wilmington, OH. The 10 days of competition will include prestigious equitation events, jumper divisions, the World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Finals, the $25,000 3’ and 3’3” Green Hunter North American Championships, and more, with many of the country’s best horses and riders competing in junior, amateur, and professional divisions.