Eight Reasons Not to Miss This Year’s Capital Challenge Horse Show

By Emily Riden, Jump Media
In just a few short days, the 24th edition of the Capital Challenge Horse Show is coming to the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD, and this year more than ever, you’re not going to want to miss it!

Here are just eight of the many reasons to head to Capital Challenge (or at the very least turn on the livestream at capitalchallenge.org!) from September 29 – October 8.

1. ALL the equitation finals The Capital Challenge Horse Show offers more major equitation finals than any other horse show on the ‘Indoors’ circuit – and there is something for everyone, especially this year!

There’s the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Children’s Medal Finals, the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Championships, the Ariat National Adult Medal Final, the Palm Beach International Academy North American Junior Equitation Championships, and the all-new United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East.

If you’re a child, adult, or competing in the 3’3”, Capital Challenge presents the rare opportunity to claim a major indoor equitation championship of your own. If you’re a junior competing in the ‘big eq,’ it’s a great chance to vie for your first finals victory of the year and to gear up for the three remaining indoor finals.

If you’re a spectator, it’s a great chance to watch the country’s top young equitation contenders and maybe even make your picks and predictions for the remaining finals. (Equitation fantasy league, anyone?)

Katherine Strauss and San Remo VDL - Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Katherine Strauss and San Remo VDL – Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

2. It’s an indoor final – but it’s also outside. – Capital Challenge is generally considered the first leg of the Indoors circuit, but it’s the only indoor final where you can simultaneously enjoy some fresh air and show in beautiful outdoor rings, as well as the spacious indoor Show Place Arena! From the professionals to juniors and amateurs, the majority of divisions have the chance to first show outside before concluding their classes in the prestigious indoor setting.

Hunt Tosh and Chicago - Photo by Jump Media
Hunt Tosh and Chicago – Photo by Jump Media

3. Gorgeous hunters and more gorgeous hunters – Capital Challenge hosts the World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Finals: in other words, all the nicest (best-moving and jumping, most beautiful to just stare at, make you want to sell any of your personal belongings to buy) hunters in the country are all in one place. If I were expanding this list, reasons nine through approximately 50 could just read: “Catch Me, Enough Said, Golden Rule, Boss, Lucador, Casanova, Rock Harbor, Celtic Fire, Cassius, Dedication, Mythical…” and so on and so forth with my lengthy hunter wish list.

Scott Stewart and Catch Me - Photo by Jump Media
Scott Stewart and Catch Me – Photo by Jump Media

4. You could witness a perfect round. – With all those gorgeous, top-performing hunters in one place, you maybe, just maybe, could have the chance to witness a perfect 100 scoring round. In the 23-year history of Capital Challenge, two perfect scores have been awarded – one in 1997 to Rick Fancher and Osczar and one in 2003 to Shachine Belle and In Disguise. “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?”

5. The future hunter stars of tomorrow are born at Capital Challenge. – Quick: what do Sambalino, Bacardi, Dream Date, Gray Slipper, Q, Largesse, and Declaration all have in common? Capital Challenge of course! All of these successful hunters went on to great careers following top finishes in the Future Hunters, now the Green Hunters, at Capital Challenge, which hosts the $25,000 3’ and 3’3” Green Hunter North American Championships, sponsored by the Wheeler Family and Radwanski Enterprises.

Bacardi and Havens Schatt
Bacardi and Havens Schatt – Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

The Capital Challenge Green Hunter divisions are divided into Green Hunter 3’3”, two Green Hunter 3’ sections, Green Hunter Mares 3’3” and 3’, and Green Hunter Colts and Geldings 3’. The top six horses in each of the five qualifying sections are then invited to compete in the $25,000 championship, and each year, the results of the championship read almost like a “who’s who” of horses to watch for in the years to come!

Chicago, Hunt Tosh and daughter Maddie Tosh
Chicago, Hunt Tosh and daughter Maddie Tosh

6. There are really great jumpers too! – While the equitation and top hunters are often the first thing that come to mind when thinking of Capital Challenge, one would be remiss not to mention all the great Child, Adult, Junior, and Amateur Jumper competition available at Capital Challenge as well!

This year, highlights include the $10,000 North American Medium Junior/Amateur-Owner Classic, sponsored by Johnson Horse Transportation; the $10,000 Children’s Jumper Classic; the $10,000 Adult Amateur Jumper Classic, sponsored by Radwanski Enterprises; and the newly added Low Junior/Amateur Jumper division.

Sandra Zimmerli and Zaza - Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Sandra Zimmerli and Zaza – Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

7. The shopping – If you’re not busy watching some of the best horses in the country, you can shop for anything you need when owning one, or when dressing like you own one, or when dreaming that you own one. Check out the full list of vendors here!

CCHS vendors
CCHS vendors

8. Everybody’s doing it. – Or at least it seems that way! This year’s Capital Challenge Horse Show is the largest to date with more than 1,350 entries competing throughout the 10 days!

CCHS line up - Photo by Michelle Bloch

Learn more about Capital Challenge, watch the livestream, and check out the full schedule at www.capitalchallenge.org.

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