Brendan Weiss Works Off To Win the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Finals

September 28, 2023 - Upper Marlboro, MD

Brendan Weiss in his winning presentation for the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Finals with Kim Buzby, Eduardo Garcia, and Camilla Grover Dodge.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Brendan Weiss and Hello Houston Z
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Brendan Weiss and Hello Houston Z
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Ella Cate Duke and Understudy are the overall leaders in the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3 Jumping Seat Medal Final – East after the first two phases.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

On the first day of Equitation Weekend, presented by BIGEQ.com, during the 30th anniversary of the Capital Challenge Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, Brendan Weiss rode to victory in the North American Adult Amateur Equitation Finals.

From a field of 37 entries, Weiss, of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, earned a first-round score of 87.50 from judges Jeff Ayers and Michael Tokaruk to sit atop the leaderboard. The top 10 then returned in reverse order of merit, with Weiss last to tackle the second-round track. His smoothness and consistency were once again rewarded, scoring 86.75 for a total of 174.25. While Weiss’s overall score still led the pack, just 1.63 points separated him from Annalise Manoog, resulting in a work-off where the top two riders returned for a test on the flat without stirrups.

“I thought the courses were great, and everything rode nicely based off of the track,” commented Weiss, who trains with Kim Buzby at Windfall Farm. “We really had a plan going in and just stuck with it. When they asked us to test without stirrups, it definitely added an extra layer of effort that we needed to put in. The judges made us work for it, but that just adds to the prestige of the horse show, and at a horse show like this, it’s important that that level of competition is there.”

While they looked like a seasoned pair, Weiss only recently partnered with his mount Hello Houston Z a day prior to competing. The nine-year-old Zangersheide gelding was borrowed from Morgan Rosenberg’s Topline Imports LLC and owner Elizabeth Cohen, and the quick match paid off.

“He couldn’t have been better,” expressed Weiss in appreciation. “I’m very happy with how he was, and I’m lucky it worked out today.”

The win marked a triumphant return to the Capital Challenge Horse Show for Weiss who competed at the event just once before when he was 16 years old.

“It feels great to be back,” stated Weiss. “It took a lot and there was a lot coming into it, but I’m really happy. Capital Challenge was a big goal on our list this year. Throughout the year there is the pressure to get here, but once you’re here it’s just the icing on the cake.”

After the work-off, Manoog, of Centerville, Massachusetts, finished in second place with a two-round jumping score of 172.62. Erin Brody, of Rockville Centre, New York, completed the top three with a 169.50 total.

Ella Cate Duke Dominates the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3’ Jumping Seat Medal Final – East

Competition in The Show Place Arena on Thursday of Equitation Weekend featured the flat and gymnastics phases of the seventh-annual EMO Insurance Agency/United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East. At the of the day, Ella Cate Duke of Lake Oswego, Oregon, leads the 169-rider field.

It was a full day of action, which got underway at 7:30 a.m., where riders were divided into 14 flat groups. Duke rode in the third group and earned a score of 87.65 from judges Virginia Edwards and Mark Jungherr to sit in 23rd overall. Riders then walked the Ken Krome-designed course for the gymnastics phase at 10:45 a.m. and returned to jump in reverse order of their flat phase placing. Going late in the order around 5:00 p.m., Duke piloted her mount Understudy to the high score of 89. Because scores in the gymnastics phase are multiplied by a coefficient of 1.5, Duke’s winning score of 89 gave her a total of 221.15, jumping up the rankings into pole position.

“I definitely sat and watched a lot, but I made sure to make my own plan and stay focused on what I wanted to do and what was best for me and my horse,” explained Duke who trains with Shelley Campf and the team at Oz Incorporated in Canby, Oregon.

Duke and “Balou” have been partnered together for four years and have had a lot of success both in the hunter ring and the equitation ring.

“He is just such a special horse, and I love him so much,” said Duke of the eight-year-old Oldenburg gelding. “He has been such an amazing crossover horse, and he really can do everything.”

Riding for the first time at the Capital Challenge Horse Show, Duke is heading into the final jumping phase with a cool head, relying on her strong bond with her horse.

“I’m definitely going to give him a lot of treats tonight,” shared Duke of her preparation. “I think the key is to stay confident in what my trainer and I decide to do. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the course looks like and what tomorrow brings.

“It’s such an amazing venue,” she continued. “It’s really beautiful, and I think my horse really likes it too.”

The Capital Challenge Horse Show continues on Friday, September 29, with the age group equitation divisions starting at 7:30 a.m. followed by the final jumping phase and culmination of the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final - East.