Sydney Shulman Goes Like Lightning to Win WIHS $36K International Jumper Accumulator Costume Class

Sydney Shulman, who rides for Israel, just couldn’t stop grinning after picking up the blue ribbon in the $36,000 International Jumper Accumulator Costume Class in her first year of competing in the international open jumper division at WIHS. She topped the class riding Villamoura as the fastest round of the nine riders who picked up 65 points over the jumps, finishing in 41.04 seconds.

Sydney Shulman and Villamoura. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

“I looked at the list of riders and I had dreamed to be in a class with these people, let alone to beat them,” Shulman, 24, said. “So I’m going to really remember this! It’s special to be here.”

The first through ninth place riders all collected 65 points, which meant they cleared all 10 jumps on course, including the final “joker” fence worth 20 points. There was also a special Washington Nationals World Series-themed fence on course, and Irish rider Shane Sweetnam dressed up as Nationals shortstop Trea Turner in honor of the baseball team’s World Series appearance the same week as WIHS.

With nine riders out of the 24 starters on the same score, the class results came down to speed. “I watched some horses go, and after Adrienne [Sternlicht] went, I thought, ‘There’s no way I can be faster,’ but I had to try!” Shulman said. “My horse doesn’t have nearly the size of stride that she does. I had to think about being faster in the turns and across the ground. I added [strides] in two places that she left a stride out, but for my horse that’s what works.

U.S. rider Sternlicht ended up in second place riding Fantast with 65 points in 42.34 seconds, while fellow U.S. rider Catherine Tyree piloted Catungee into third place with 65 points in 44.09 seconds.

Sydney Shulman rode Villamoura to the win in the $35,000 International Jumper Accumulator Costume Class.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

Villamoura, a 10-year-old Selle Français mare (Diamant de Semilly—Kasina) owned by Jill Shulman, is one of Sydney’s favorite horses. “I’ve had her since a six-year-old and brought her along,” she said. “I live for this horse. She is my pride and joy. Every time I ask her to do something, whether it’s a bigger grand prix than she’s ever done, or any speed class, she totally steps up her game. She was my main speed horse as an eight- and nine-year-old, but now she’s had to step up a little bit and be my main grand prix horse. She’s done everything I’ve asked her and more. I brought her here specifically aiming for this class and tomorrow night’s speed class, because she’s very brave and competitive.”

Riders dressed themselves and their horses in costume for the class, and Sydney, of Greenwich, CT, crowdsourced from her students for ideas for her costume. “We wanted something fast, because the horse is very fast, so they thought of Pikachu, who is a lightning bolt. So, then I automatically became the Pokéman trainer, Ash,” Sydney said. “When we were walking the course, I threw 30 plush Poké balls out into the crowd. And the kids I threw them to were so excited at the end when I won.”

For their victory, Shulman was presented with the Crown Royal Trophy, while Villamoura was awarded the Sue Ann Geisler Memorial Trophy, donated by the Washington International Horse Show, as the top horse in the class.

The Best Costume Award, presented by The Stephens Family, was given to Kristen Vanderveen, who dressed as Cruella de Ville riding Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, who was decorated to look like a Dalmatian. Her groom, Luis Salazar, will share the prize money. With 10 clear rounds over the Buck Breast Cancer jump, $5,000 was donated to the Capital Breast Care Center.

Kristen Vanderveen, as Cruella de Ville, and Bull Run’s Faustino de Tili, as a Dalmation, earned the Best Costume Award in the $35,000 International Jumper Accumulator Costume Class. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

WIHS continues on Friday with presentations for the junior hunter champions, the opening hunter phase of the Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund WIHS Equitation Finals, and jump-off classes for the Low and High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers in the day session. The exciting Military Night, presented by Caterpillar, Inc., will have the $50,000 Speed Final for international jumpers as well as the $25,000 Land Rover Puissance.