Grace Shipman Sailed to Victory in the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3'3" Jumping Seat Medal Final – East

September 29, 2023 - Upper Marlboro, MD

Grace Shipman and Calamanzo
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Grace Shipman in her winning presentation for the EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3'3 Jumping Seat Medal Final – East with Juan Pablo LR, Randi Byrd, Maddie Tosh, Chris Strucker, Val Renihan, Sue Bopp of EMO Insurance Agency, Mary Knowlton of USHJA, and Jennifer Hinman.
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Emi Richard of Middlefield, CT
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
RJ Maya of Wellington, FL
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Logan Thomas of Millburn, NJ
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Kingsley Dey of Wellington, FL
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Ella Cate Duke of Lake Oswego, OR
Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

Six new champions were crowned on the second day of Equitation Weekend, presented by BIGEQ.com, on Friday, September 29, during the 30th anniversary of the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, MD. Competition in the Show Place Arena at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center culminated with the final phase of the seventh-annual EMO Insurance Agency/United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East, where Grace Shipman, 17, of Ridgefield, CT, piloted Calamanzo to the high score of 89 to secure the overall lead and don the winning ribbon sash.

During Thursday’s competition, Shipman earned a score of 86.72 in the flat phase to sit in 37th out of the field of 169 riders. She then returned for the gymnastics phase, delivering the second-highest score of the day, an 88. With scores in the gymnastics phase multiplied by a coefficient of 1.5, her two-round total of 218.72 shot her up to third place overall.

“I love that there are three phases because I think it gives everyone a chance to try their best in each phase and find some success somewhere,” shared Shipman. “My favorite is the gymnastics phase. We practice that a lot at home – all the technical tests. The flat on my particular horse has been the more challenging part, but we’ve worked really hard this past year so I’m really proud of how we did.”

Riders contested the final jumping phase in reverse order of their overall placings. While the course walk took place at 1:30 p.m., Shipman entered The Show Place Arena at 8:00 p.m. Her stylish trip over the Ken Krome-designed track scored an 89 from judges Virginia Edwards and Mark Jungherr. When multiplied by the jumping phase’s coefficient of 2, Shipman’s final total score across the three rounds was 396.72.

“I felt pressure, for sure, but I knew that if I had a consistent round I would get a top ribbon, and that was the goal,” said Shipman. “Honestly, I was so excited. I was just ready to go and do it.

“The course asked a lot of different questions,” she continued of the jumping phase. “Starting with a forward line was a test in itself. We all had to get enough pace and catch a good distance going in. My horse has a big stride, so I was really focusing on staying on the outside track for some of those lines like the five-stride to the triple combination, which definitely walked a little short. There were a few lines like that.”

Shipman’s trainer, Val Renihan at Findlay’s Ridge in North Salem, New York, had confidence in her student’s ability to navigate the challenging course, but knew the 75-second time allowed would be a contributing factor to the results. Shipman crossed the finishing timers in 74.993 seconds.

“I thought she would be fine because she’s so consistent with him and they are like a match made in heaven,” reflected Renihan of Shipman and Calamanzo. “I really wasn’t all that nervous. I thought she’d bring it. I was just a little worried about that time allowed. I usually cheer sooner after the last jump, but she was right in front of me so I was like, ‘Go!’ because I knew she was barely under the time allowed. I was just trying to get her through the timers.”

Shipman has been partnered with the 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding for just over a year. The EMO Insurance Agency/USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Final – East at the 2022 Capital Challenge Horse Show was one of their first outings together. At the time, they had not yet figured each other out, but now their hard work has paid off.

“He’s just the best horse ever,” expressed Shipman. “I love him. I feel like we have gotten so consistent together, and it means so much to me to win this with him. I’ve been doing the equitation for a long time, and this has always been a dream of mine, as it is for everybody, so it really is amazing. Capital Challenge is my favorite horse show. Hands down.”

The reserve championship title went to Sally Ives, 16, of Durham, NC, aboard her own Jinter van het Hagehof with a final score of 392.065. Logan Thomas, 16, of Millburn, NJ, earned a third-place finish with an overall score of 390.755 riding Reverie Sport Horses LLC’s Chacom Ask.

Earlier in the day, five Section A age group equitation division champions and reserve champions were named as follows:

  • Champion Emi Richard of Middlefield, CT, and Reserve Champion Kaitlyn Linck of Clinton Corners, NY, in the 12 & Under Equitation
  • Champion RJ Maya of Wellington, FL, and Reserve Champion Lily Epstein of Coral Gables, FL, in the 13- & 14-Year-Old Equitation
  • Champion Kingsley Dey of Wellington, FL, and Reserve Champion Anna Markcrow of Manchester Center, VT, in the 15-Year-Old Equitation
  • Champion Logan Thomas of Millburn, NJ, and Reserve Champion Sally Ives of Durham, NC, in the 16-Year-Old Equitation
  • Champion Ella Cate Duke of Lake Oswego, OR, and Reserve Champion Grace Shipman of Ridgefield, CT, in the 17-Year-Old Equitation

Equitation Weekend, presented by BIGEQ.com, continues Saturday, September 30, with the Section B age group equitation divisions followed by the THIS National Children’s Medal Finals and the North American League (NAL) Children’s Hunter Finals, presented by Charles Ancona. The Capital Challenge Horse Show features top hunter, jumper, and equitation competition through October 8.