The first Thursday at the 140th National Horse Show welcomed longtime sponsor and partner of NHS, Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS), back to the Alltech Arena for the highly anticipated THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championships.
In the 18-24 section, it was the Reserve Champion of Wednesday’s Pérez & Bennett Adult Equitation 18-24 Section B, Eryn Stanton who earned the prestigious THIS NHS Adult Medal Final Championship title. Under the guidance of her trainer, Shannon Meehan, Stanton took home the championship aboard Exceptional, a 10-year-old Selle Francais. She imported the gelding as a 5-year-old and has spent the last 4 years developing their partnership. Stanton explained her thoughts on the technical courses, “The first round went really nicely. Everything was really flowing and smooth. And the second round was based on track and keeping your horse underneath you and put together, especially with all the turns.” Stanton topped the competitive field of 60 finalists.
Angela Calicchio secured the Reserve Champion spot in the 18-24 category at the THIS NHS Adult Medal Finals. Calicchio, under the guidance of her trainer, Jane Fennessy, displayed exceptional horsemanship aboard City Walk, a 9-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by Cali Horse Sales, LLC. Calicchio’s dedication and skill in the arena were evident, she explains her thoughts on her rides, “I found both courses very challenging, and I was quite nervous about both of them, especially like starting off the right lead to the line in the first round, which was a big question, but I’m lucky to have a great partner who will take me down any line, even if I’m really nervous, the second round, same thing starting with the single, and then it became very complicated through the turns and everything, but it was a lot of fun, and I think it It, you know, teaches us all something that we have to work on.”
The excitement of the THIS NHS Adult Medal Finals extended to the 25 and over championship, where a new set of riders vied for the coveted championship title. It was a close race between the top two riders, prompting a test from the judges, but Sara Wytrzes ultimately emerged as the Champion. Going two for two at the 140th National Horse Show, her first NHS back in over twenty years after competing in the Maclay at Madison Square Garden as a junior rider, Wytrzes kicked off the week topping Wednesday’s Pérez & Bennett Adult Equitation 25 & over Section A. She returned for the THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championships on Thursday with Kathryn Fletcher’s 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Bournedale ultimately claiming the champion position.
Wytrzes comments on her ride, “I’m on a pretty incredible horse. Bournedale has been a winner and there’s nothing he can’t do. You walk into that ring and there’s no question that horse can’t answer.”
Hannah Klinedinst was neck and neck with Wytrzes. The tiebreaker came down to a stirrupless test over fences. Klinedinst ultimately took the Reserve Champion spot under the guidance of trainer, Matt Cyphert. Klinedinst navigated the competition riding MTM Brando, an 11-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Equestrian Closet, LLC. Notably, she also secured the Reserve Champion position under Sara Wytrzes in Wednesday’s Pérez & Bennett Adult Equitation 25 & over Section A, reflecting her consistent performance in this highly competitive event. Klinedinst comments on her experience at the equitation final, “Being here as an amateur is just a surreal feeling. Competing as a junior was always a fun challenge, but graduating and moving on to the adults, it’s really awesome to have the opportunity.”
About THIS NHS Adult Medal Finals:
The THIS NHS Adult Medal Finals present two separate equitation championships: one for riders aged 18-24 and another for those aged 25 and over. This event is unique because past winners in the 18-24 category can compete in the 25 and over class, highlighting the importance of skill and experience over age. In the 25 and over category, similar to its younger counterpart, it has become a thrilling exhibition of talent and dedication, even featuring the most experienced competitor in the field at the age of 61.
Riders are judged on their seat, hands, guidance, and horse control, emphasizing a holistic evaluation rather than numerical scoring. The competition includes a challenging first round over a technical course, a flat phase showcasing equestrian poise, and a second round with possible tests.
For additional challenges, optional testing is available. There is one rider per horse, and the same horse must be used throughout all phases. The THIS NHS Adult Medal Finals celebrate the remarkable partnership between rider and horse, making it a standout event in the equitation world.
Competition will resume on Friday, October 26, when the Alltech Arena welcomes the first wave of junior competitors. The open equitation divisions sponsored by Pérez & Bennett will be categorized by age group, including the 14 and under category, and sections A and B for the 14-15 age group and the 16-17 age group.