First Four Champions of the 140th National Horse Show Crowned

The National Horse Show welcomed competitors and exhibitors back to the Alltech Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, for its 140th installment. The Pérez & Bennett Adult Equitation riders were the first to set foot in the ring and the first champions to be crowned this year at #NHS2023…

To start the day, Grace Loughlin clinched the Section A 18-24 Adult Equitation Championship. Mounted on the 9-year-old Warmblood gelding Jarabel K Z, owned by Kathryn Fletcher and under the guidance of trainer Donald Stewart, Loughlin’s performance wowed the audience and the judges alike. Loughlin showcased her all-around skills, winning an over-fences round and the flat portion. In her own words, “The National Horse Show is doing a great job of offering classes for both adults and juniors. I had so much fun competing in the adult equitation, and I hope to come back next year.”

However, the reserve title in Section A wasn’t far behind. In a brilliant display, Janet Hedges and her Dutch Warmblood partner, Dauntless, owned by Paula Steinberg Goodman. The pair managed to secure the reserve honors, under trainer Linda Langmeier. 

In Section B, Riley Hogan took center stage as the 18-24 Adult Equitation champion, skillfully guiding Clintiro, a 9-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Terrapin Hill Farm, LLC, to the victory. Under the expert coaching of Donald Stewart, Hogan was in a league of her own, claiming not only a fences course but also triumphing in the highly competitive flat section. Hogan expressed her deep appreciation for the event: “To show here at the National Horse Show is just an amazing experience and an amazing opportunity to have. I was fortunate enough to show here when I was a junior, and to come back as an amateur was something special. I walked into the ring and was like, ‘Oh, the atmosphere is just amazing,’ and I definitely missed it.” Hogan, no stranger to the winner’s circle, also won the Ariat Adult Medal Finals at the Capital Challenge Horse Show this year. 

Eryn Stanton and her own horse Exceptional, a 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding, secured the reserve champion title in Section B. 

The Section A 25 & Up Adult Equitation saw Sara Wytrzes, on the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Bournedale, claim the championship, expertly guided by her trainer and owner of Bournedale, Kathryn Fletcher. Wytezes received a Leo Conroy grant to attend this year’s National Horse Show after a 23-year hiatus. She states, “It’s a very generous grant, which helps riders come here because for a lot of us, it’s very far away, and the costs are very, very high, and that was really meaningful and helpful that I was able to receive that.”

In the same section, riding the 11-year-old Warmblood gelding MTM Brando, owned by Equestrian Closet, LLC. Hannah Klinedinst secured the reserve championship under the guidance of her trainer, Matt Cyphert. 

Additionally, in Section B, the 25 & over Adult Equitation category, Jennifer Kemp claimed the championship. She expertly rode the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding Hyperion Du Stiquot, owned by Jennifer Kemp, under the guidance of trainer Sarah Ash. Kemp excitedly states, “I never honestly thought I’d be winning here, let alone champion. So it feels amazing. He was a wonderful horse all day today, and I just love him too. I think it’s all setting in.” 

The reserve title went to Pamela Gremley, who skillfully piloted her own 13-year-old Warmblood gelding, Carsandro, under the coaching of Patricia Harnois.

Competition will resume in the Alltech Arena on Thursday, October 26, with the highly anticipated Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) NHS Adult Medal Finals. The initial round is scheduled to commence at 7:00 a.m., where, in a tradition, the adult riders will be categorized into two age groups: 18-24 and 25 & over.

About the Leo Conroy Grant:  

In honor of Leo Conroy’s enduring commitment to equestrian sport, the National Horse Show established the Leo Conroy Equitation Grant. This grant is designed to assist riders with financial need, offering opportunities for up to five participants from each of the three Equitation Championships to compete at the National Horse Show, ensuring that Conroy’s dedication to nurturing emerging talent lives on.

In an interview with Sara Wytrzes, one of the Leo Conroy Equitation Grant recipients, expressed her heartfelt gratitude after a 23-year hiatus from the National Horse Show: “It’s been a really, really long time that I’ve been trying to get back here. I actually got a Leo Conway grant to help me come back this year and do it, which was incredibly helpful and very, very generous that they do that. I have been trying to come back for a long time, and this is a really nice way to do it.”

The grant’s significance was further highlighted when the recipient explained: “So the grant is presented to five people in each section, and we write an essay and then we send three references, and I believe they actually did call them all. It’s a very generous grant, which helps us to come here because for a lot of us, it’s very far away, and the costs are very, very high. You have to spend all your working and being able to compete here, and that was really meaningful and helpful that I was able to receive that.”

These words underscore the Leo Conroy Equitation Grant’s invaluable support in making dreams come true for aspiring equestrians, helping them overcome the financial barriers often accompanying their passion for the sport.

Find the full list of results here.