In the final days of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), Sophia Mitchell and Madison Mitchell added their names to the list of champions for the Alessandro Albanese Equitation 15-17 division. The Week 12 class saw 49 horse-and-rider combinations and therefore was held in a California split format which allowed for two champions and two reserve champions.
Sophia Mitchell piloted Lily Walton’s 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Contendo I x Anytime), Callahan, to an impressive total of 30 points to receive the title of section A champion.
Sophia Mitchell and Callahan. Photo © Sportfot
Sophia and Callahan are a new pair that has only come together in this 2019 winter circuit but have clearly found their rhythm as the highest-scoring combination in the division.
“He’s really been an incredible first equitation horse, and I couldn’t imagine learning to do the equitation on anyone else,” Sophia said.
She stated that while she has many things to continue working on, she feels her attention to detail during training is what paid off for her this final weekend.
“We do a lot of technical exercises at home to prepare us for the courses here,” Sophia explained. “I have been to WEF several other years for a weekend or two at a time, but this is my first full circuit. So to win a division championship already, it’s really exciting and encouraging; I think everything I’ve been working on at home just came together and added up to a perfect day.”
Madison Mitchell, a working student for Don Stewart, picked up the section B champion title with Damon, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Massimo x Dubertha) owned by Cleopatra Georgiades.
Madison Mitchell and Damon. Photo © Sportfot
“This is one of my trainer’s horses that I’ve only shown two weekends ago and now this weekend,” she said. “I think for me, it really helps to be able to ride multiple horses and get a feel for how they go.”
She also credits her success in the saddle to the many no-stirrup lessons held at Stewart’s farm.
“I think we have more lessons without our stirrups than we have with them,” Madison added. “To win today really shows me that my hard work has been paying off; it’s very humbling that he allows me to work with so many incredible horses and get these opportunities. Placing in these big classes absolutely blows my mind but the ribbons are just the icing on the cake because what’s most important to me is that my riding is visibly improving.”
The reserve champion for section A went to Ellie Ferrigno and the HBC Sport Horses’ seven-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Chacco Blue x Grandewka), Chambertino. Miles Holman and Caroline McLeese’s 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding Caprisio (Cassini II x Elfe I) earned the section B reserve champion.