The 2016 WIHS Regional Horse Show & USHJA Zone 3 Championship, presented by The Linden Group at Morgan Stanley, was hosted at Prince George’s Equestrian Center (PGEC) in Upper Marlboro, MD, on Friday, October 21, through Sunday, October 23. The event offers local and regional riders a final chance to qualify to compete at this week’s Washington International Horse Show (WIHS), one of the most prestigious and entertaining equestrian events in North America.

WIHS begins Tuesday, October 25, and continues through Sunday, October 30, at Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., offering elite equestrian competition that showcases the best of the hunter, jumper, and equitation disciplines.

Competition features the WIHS Championship Finals, which includes the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Hunter Championship and the $10,000 WIHS Adult Hunter Championship on Tuesday, October 25, as well as the $10,000 WIHS Children’s Jumper Championship, presented by The Klein Family & Lance Williamson Stables, and the $10,000 WIHS Adult Jumper Championship, presented by The Treacy Family, held on Wednesday, October 26. Regional hunter combinations that earn a qualifying spot in the WIHS Regional Hunter Finals will compete at Verizon Center on Sunday, October 30.

The MHSA Gittings Horsemanship Finals were the feature event on Friday night at Prince George’s Equestrian Center with an exciting victory for 17-year-old Lauren Rachuba of Woodbine, MD. Rachuba guided Equi-Brokers LLC’s Aoki, a seven-year-old Hanoverian gelding, to the win with help from her trainer (and aunt) Kim Rachuba-Williams. Madeline McManus rode her own Invesco to the second place finish, Selina Petronelli finished third aboard Streett Moore’s Argyle, and Thea Bitar placed fourth riding her own Airwalk. McManus, Bitar, and sixth place finisher Ana Bertozzi are all members of the WIHS Junior Committee and will also be an integral part of the team working behind the scenes at WIHS this week.

2016 Gittings Horsemanship Finals winner Lauren Rachuba aboard Aoki with 2015 winner Devan Graham, trainer Kim Rachuba-Williams, and MHSA President Jessica Lohman. Shawn McMillen photography

2016 Gittings Horsemanship Finals winner Lauren Rachuba aboard Aoki with 2015 winner Devan Graham, trainer Kim Rachuba-Williams, and MHSA President Jessica Lohman. Shawn McMillen photography.

Rachuba began riding at a young age through her family and has competed in the major equitation divisions throughout her junior career. She competed in the MHSA Gittings Horsemanship Finals multiple times before getting the win this year, finishing seventh two times and also placing second in 2015. That finish was also aboard Aoki, the gelding that she has leased for a year and a half and showed for the final time this weekend.

“It was awesome to win, and it maybe was better that it was my last show with him because we went out with a bang,” Rachuba detailed. “I have been doing those Finals for so long and it was the first Gittings win for my trainer too, so it was very exciting.”

She continued, “I thought it was a really good course. It had things that you could show off on. My first round I messed up a little bit because I added a stride in a line. I did nine and I was planning eight, but it turned out fine and I rode it well.”

Rachuba plans to start riding in the jumpers and also just got accepted onto the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) Team for Texas A&M University. She plans to study Pediatric Nursing and continue to ride at home in the summers as well.

Other equitation divisions in this weekend’s WIHS Regional competition included the MHSA Adult Hunt Seat Final, which saw a win for Margot Sanger-Katz riding Sandra L. Humenik’s Tempelbach. Carolyn TenEyck finished second aboard her own Someday.

New equitation classes included the National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) 3’3” Junior Hunt Seat Medal, which was won by Ana Bertozzi riding Cavallo Farm’s Cappuccino, with Alexandra Gilbertson and Suzanne M. Miller’s Finally Right in second.

Kylie Wilton-Jone was victorious in the VHSA Children’s Medal riding Mile High, and Elena Barrick finished second riding Dale Miller’s Jameson.

In the VHSA Adult Amateur Medal, Katie McAfee was the winner riding her own Census. Vanessa Massaro took second place honors aboard her own Fashion Forward.

The MHSA Children’s Pony Medal saw a win for Samantha L. Green riding her own Starstruck, with Abigail Felsenthal and Meredith S. Harris’s Pendleton Hotwheels in second.

In the jumper divisions, the Children’s Jumper Zone Finals saw a win for Elizabeth Parent and her own Corfu LS La Silla, with Margo Tack and Jenny Colgate’s Ever So Clever finishing second.

Zone 3 Low Children's Jumper winners Emma Jolly and Well Played. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

Zone 3 Low Children’s Jumper winners Emma Jolly and Well Played. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

The Low Children’s Jumper Zone Final saw victory for Emma Jolly and Streett Moore’s Well Played. Thea Bitar and Airwalk finished second.

The winner of the Pony Jumper Zone Finals was Casey R. Barnhill riding Carolina Country Acres’ Blue Me Away. The Adult Amateur Jumper Zone Finals winner was Nicole Wood aboard Vendetta, with Wendy Libert and John Bartko’s Papilion Peanut in second.

Sharon Gordon riding her own Interstellar won the Low Adult Jumper Zone Final. Erin Dombroski and Diane Semer’s Money Spider finished second.

In the hunter divisions, Neysa L. Bryant and Emma Fass’s Son of a Sailor earned the championship tricolor in the Adult Amateur Hunter 18-35 Zone Finals. There was a tie for reserve honors between Erin Dombroski aboard Diane Semer’s Bonavor, and Bari Friedman with Quoteworthy.

In the Adult Amateur Hunter Over 35 Zone Finals, the championship was awarded to Carolyn TenEyck riding her own Someday, with Patti Schindler and Glyndon finishing in reserve.

The Children’s Hunter Horse 14 and Under also hosted their Zone Finals over the weekend, with a championship win for Lauren Satola riding Julia Hanover’s Touch. Taylor Mitchell and Cantissimo VDL finished in reserve.

In the Zone Children’s Hunter Horse 15-17, the championship was awarded to Selina Petronelli and her own Made You Look. Carly E. Genovere rode Taylor Serio’s Inside Scoop to reserve honors.

The Zone 3’3” Junior Hunter division was won by Lauren Watts riding Jacqueline Watts’s Color Up to the championship. There was a tie for reserve, with Kirsten Schuler and Mr. Darcy, as well as Lauren Dean aboard Vivaldi, securing equal points.

The Zone Small/Medium Children’s Hunter Pony division presented its championship to Sham’s Loganberry, owned by Streett Moore and ridden by Aidan Dubin. Meadowview’s Sundance Kid, owned by Morgan Bland and ridden by Caroline L. Gilmer, finished in reserve.

The Zone Large Children’s Hunter Pony champion was Bestseller, owned by Tara Dow-Rein, and ridden by Cassidy Rein. Streett Moore’s Sand Castle and Christina Gonzalez earned the reserve honors.

All of the fantastic regional competition in Upper Marlboro, MD, leads up to the 58th annual Washington International Horse Show, featuring many of the nation’s top horses and riders as well as some of the world’s best international competitors. For more information, please visit www.wihs.org, join us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Finals Results: MHSA Gittings Horsemanship Finals
Place   Entry    Horse   Rider    Owners Trainer

1          374      Aoki     Lauren Rachuba          Equi-Brokers LLC         Kim Rachuba Williams
2          361      Invesco            Madeline McManus     Madeline McManus     Amy Moore
3          356      Argyle  Selina Petronelli         Streett Moore
4          265      Airwalk Thea Bitar       Thea Bitar       Virginia Edwards
5          313      Man Of Steel   Mali Selman    Mali Selman    Jonelle Mullen
6          947      Solly    Ana Bertozzi    Kathie Cox       Chad Keenum
7          362      Zendor Z          Rachel Tanio  Streett Moore   Amy Moore
8          388      RF Tabasco     Jordi Gray        Team Tabasco            Kim Rachuba Williams