Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 28, 2021 – The highly anticipated Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Horse Show (NHS) Adult Equitation Championship 25 & Over was featured Thursday, October 28, in the Alltech Arena at the 138th National Horse Show. A total of 51 horse-and-rider combinations tried their hand at the challenging 10-obstacle course for round one, and 24 pairs returned for round two. In the end, Claire Stevenson and Audi 2000 Z came out on top to claim the championship honors. Dominique Mungin and Rockingham were awarded reserve champion, while Kiera Phlipot and Red Roc rounded out the top three.
Stevenson is a seasoned adult equitation athlete, with her most recent accomplishment being placing in the top six in the Ariat National Adult Medal Finals at the 2021 Capital Challenge Horse Show. Stevenson had no issues maneuvering flawlessly throughout course designer Bobby Murphy's (USA) challenging 10-obstacle course for round one. The course began with the first jump right out of the corner, and led into a long bending line away from the gate. Many riders found difficulty with the long bending lines that came up quickly out of the corner, but Stevenson stepped up to the plate and wowed the judges with her precision and ability to tackle the testing first round. The top 24 horse-and-rider pairs were welcomed back for a flat phase judged on their form and ability to demonstrate proper equitation under saddle.
Once again, the final round of testing welcomed back the same 24 riders in reverse order of their current standings, per the judge's discretion. Mungin was the first of the top four riders to take her turn at the 11-obstacle course that included several bending lines that tested each rider's ability to maintain a consistent pace. As the fourth rider to enter the ring aboard her mount Rockingham, a 20-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Dominique Damico, Mungin set the pace for the remainder of the top four riders as she once again proved to be a force to reckon with, laying down a beautiful final round and impressing the judges with her precision and skill to tackle the difficult course.
Stevenson was the second to last rider in the ring aboard Audi 2000 Z, an 8-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by Kadley Farms LLC and North Run. The pair came into the Equitation Championship with the confidence from receiving champion in the Adult Amateur Equitation 25 & Over Wednesday, October 27. The newly acquainted pair impressed the judges during their first round and set themselves apart from the rest of the pack as they demonstrated a picture-perfect trip, putting them at the top of the group going into the flat phase and second round. After tackling the flat portion, the judges awarded Stevenson for her beautiful equitation and set her in second place going into the final jumping round. As one of the last riders to test, Stevenson again shone and maneuvered around the second round course with ease and grace, pushing them into the overall lead with one rider left to go.
Phlipot was the final rider to test aboard her longtime partner Red Roc, her own 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, and was leading the pack after demonstrating consistency and perfect form throughout the first course and in the under saddle. With the pressure mounting and two riders already laying down jaw-dropping rounds, Phlipot had her eyes set on her plan, maintaining her consistency throughout the entirety of each round. After a great effort with a continued steady pace, Phlipot and Red Roc would ultimately claim the yellow ribbon.
Equitation competition will continue Friday, October 29, in the Alltech Arena at 7:00 a.m. starting with the 14 & Under Equitation Over Fences and will conclude the day with the 16-17 Equitation Over Fences.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Michael Taylor - Taylor Harris Insurance Services President and Director
“Taylor Harris loves sponsoring these types of events. It is great to see the sportsmanship between competitors and the big smiles that are produced. We are really happy to be able to do this and love giving back to the sport that we love. In the first year of this event, the winner was giving her speech and burst into tears because she was so happy and so taken by her win. Mason Phelps, the President of the National Horse Show at the time, also burst into tears with her. It was a great moment and why we are so committed to supporting amateurs. This class today was a continuation of that spirit and I commend you all for your performances.”
Claire Stevenson - THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championship 25 & Over champion
On Audi 2000 Z:
“Today I was partnered with Audi 2000 Z. He is owned by Kadley Farms, the Geirkink family and North Run. I feel super fortunate to be paired up with him. I rode him at Capital Challenge this year, in the Ariat Finals, and last minute we asked if we could use him here. We did not miss a beat. He came and met up with us here at the show. We had a great day yesterday, Kiera (Phlipot) and I duked it out in the age group division yesterday. I was really excited to come in with less pressure today because yesterday went well. Audi really rose to the occasion. He is young and this is his first time in this ring, as well as mine, and I could not be more thrilled with him. He is wise beyond his years for sure.”
On competing in an equitation championship as an adult amateur:
“I really want to thank the National Horse Show and Taylor Harris for having this class! It is so special to be able to compete in these types of classes post junior years when everyone thinks it's over. I love that the National Horse Show and Taylor Harris make this class so important and it really feels special with all of the bells and whistles. Even to be able to stand in the line at the end and hear the names called out in reverse order, as nerve wracking as that is. I am an equitation junkie, even though I did not compete in those divisions as a junior, so to be in that line-up and get that same feeling was absolutely incredible. This is my first time here and I will definitely hope to be back because I have had an amazing time!”
On keeping her nerves in check for competition:
“Yesterday definitely took the pressure off but my trainer Brendan Williams encouraged me to keep some pressure on myself and ride like I wanted to win. I am thankful for that and thankful that I did not quit while I was ahead. I really wanted to have a solid first round and I am honored to be sitting next to these riders and everyone in the line. To know that we are banding into this competition together as amateurs and we are here to have fun helped the nerves subside a little bit.”
Dominique Mungin - THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championship 25 & Over reserve champion
On her plan for the second round:
“I had a strong first round, with the exception of being a little long at the first jump. In the time between the first and second round, I did what I always do before I ride, I visualized the course and I focused on having a good time. The gate announcer was joking that our division is age group 25 to infinity, and I really hold on to that. This is not the last time that we will be able to do this and it is supposed to be a lot of fun, so I really tried to center on that and go in the ring focused and ready to go.”
On competing in the THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championship 25 and Over:
“I want to say a big thank you to the sponsors and the National Horse Show. I had a great time! I would say that for me, the difference between competing in the equitation as a junior and an amateur is the camaraderie. Our group was super supportive and it is really fun to get to meet people from all over the country and get to root on your friends and new friends that you make, and I am looking forward to coming back.”
“Today I rode Rockingham, who is owned by Dominique Damico, and we have been together for two months. I got him so that we could work towards this competition. We did the Ariat Finals with Claire a couple of weeks ago and were 7th there and were excited to give it a go at the national level.”
Kiera Phlipot - THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championship 25 & Over third place
On what she learned during the warm-up classes:
“I really took away that pace was important off the bat. Jumping up the first line yesterday in each course really required us to be confident in ourselves and in our horses and the track we were on. Today, I felt like I really carried that over into being strong and bold and have a good track to fence one and carry that throughout.”
On competing at the National Horse Show:
“Thank you to the National Horse Show and Taylor Harris for allowing us this opportunity! I did the equitation as a junior just to say that I did but I was not very good at it. Now as an adult I get to practice without so much of the pressure, and even having the split age groups in the final makes it feel easier even though our group was still pretty hard. It is really something special and the perfect cap to the end of the year. It is great to have this to look forward to and work hard for.”
On Red Roc:
“My horse is Red Roc, and I bought him on his fourth birthday and he was unbroken. He and I have a great partnership together and we have eight years together. He is also my 3’6” Amateur-Owner Horse and we also dabble in the equitation and he is my guy!”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner
1. Audi 2000 Z / Claire Stevenson / Kadley Farms LLC, North Run
2. Rockingham / Dominique Mungin / Dominique Damico
3. Red Roc / Kiera Phlipot / Kiera Phlipot
4. Checkpoint / Jessie Lewis / Finesse Sport Horses LLC
5. CF Cosmic / Shannon Davidson / Sofia Cady
6. Antidote / Sydney Smith / Sydney Smith
7. Photoshop / Alexis Apostol / Donald Stewart
8. Impossible Dream VM / Katelyn Ziggas / Sierra Roberti
9. Must De Lison / Miranda Lekacos / Princess Glitter Sparkles
10. Gambit / Brittany Kasprack / Brittany Kasprack