Devon, Pa. – July 10, 2021 – Equitation competitors were eager to get back in the ring during week two of competition at the Brandywine Horse Show to vie for top honors in the highly anticipated Brandywine Equitation Cup Classic. Showcasing some of the nation’s top junior athletes, the competition was tough, with 65 horse-and-rider combinations trying their hand at the 11 obstacle course. In the end, Bennett Kitchens and Clearview dominated the field over the two phases of competition throughout the two-week series.
Course designers Paul Jewell and Nancy Wallis designed an 11-obstacle course for the hunter phase on Saturday, July 10, in the Dixon Oval. The course allowed riders to showcase their horses fluidity and ease throughout the round, letting the riders gallop up to the jumps. The Brandywine Equitation Classic is a long-standing tradition that helps shine a light on some of the top equitation riders in the nation. The jumper phase is held during Brandywine I, and the hunter phase is held during Brandywine II. Both Brandywine Equitation Classics offer a 3’3″ and a 3’6″ section and are open to all junior riders. The hunter phase features two parts with all participants showcasing their style during the first round, and the final test welcomed back the top 10 entries.
During week one, Maeve O’Donovan and Crackerjack, a 15-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Jackie Macdonald, claimed the top prize in the jumper phase. Returning during Week Two, Sterling Malnik and her own Charlie, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding, picked up the win in the hunter phase. Malnik and Charlie impressed the judges during round one of competition with their forward pace, beautiful form and consistency, helping them earn a first-round score of 87, putting them into fourth place going into the test. This dynamic pair continued to dominate in the second round, showcasing their handiness and fantastic form over each jump, earning them the blue ribbon.
Overall, Kitchens and her longtime mount, Clearview, a 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Hannah Dodd, scored an 82 to place third out of 19 in the jumper phase. The horse and rider combination continued to dominate and catch the judge’s eye in the hunter phase, scoring an 83.5 in the first round, which would put them in the 10th position going into the test. Again, Kitchens demonstrated the true meaning of equitation, with her fantastic form, consistent pace and technicality she showed in each obstacle of the course. Despite a challenging second round, Kitchens and Clearview held their position strong, which would prove to lead them to victory overall.
The second week of the Brandywine Horse Shows will conclude on Sunday with the Junior Hunters, which will culminate with the presentation of the Grand Junior Hunter Championship.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Bennett Kitchens – Brandywine Equitation Cup Classic winner
On winning the Brandywine Equitation Cup Classic:
“It is pretty cool [to win the Brandywine Equitation Cup Classic]. Last week was the jumper phase and that was pretty fun! I love doing more technical jumper tracks, so that was a lot of fun, Today was a little more huntery, but still had a handy vibe to it. It is pretty cool to win the Brandywine Cup. Emma Curtz also won it and she rode at our barn, so it is cool to follow her path.”
“I have had Clearview for almost a year. The first time I rode him I knew he was my horse of a lifetime.”
On the most challenging part of the class:
“The first jump in the test [was most difficult]. Other than that, it was a lot of the same questions the other equitation classes tend to ask.”
On competing at Brandywine Horse Shows:
“I came to Brandywine last year and it is pretty great. We love this horse show and they do a good job running it.”
Sterling Malnik – Brandywine Equitation Cup Classic – Hunter winner
On winning the Brandywine Equitation Cup Classic – Hunter:
“It feels amazing [to win the Brandywine Equitation Cup Classic- Hunter]. I have been working so hard and I was supposed to do my other equitation horse, who we had all prepared this morning, but he didn’t feel up to it today, so we had Charlie ready as a backup! We went in there and he was just incredible!”
“I got Charlie two years ago and we got him from some people in Washington state. He is a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding. I have been competing with him at all the big shows like [the Winter Equestrian Festival]. We were reserve in the THIS [Children’s Medal Finals] and Capital Challenge and recently he has been doing him in a ton of hunter derbies for fun since I have my other equitation horse. He just really pulled through today!”
On the course:
“My horse likes to warm up to things a lot and get ready for the course in an opening circle, so cantering right in I was a little on the edge wondering how it was going to go, but I just did a nice circle to get him out in front of my leg. A big thing I am working on right now for handy rounds is not looking for my distance too far back and just letting him canter, then start to find the distance. He was just incredible and I think he galloped right up to the first jump perfectly.”
On her future plans:
“I think we are going to go to Michigan for two weeks for the [Great Lakes Equestrian Festival], so we are super excited for that! Then we will have the National Horse Show to get ready for in Kentucky, and the rest of the indoor finals!”
On competing at Brandywine Horse Shows:
“It feels amazing [to be at Brandywine]. I went to Devon in 2019 but I was on ponies, so this is my second time back here and it feels amazing. My horses love this ring and I think they do a great job with the entire horse show.”