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News

Capital Challenge Horse Show Celebrates 20 Years of Outstanding Competition

RELEASE: July 25, 2013
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Rick Fancher and Osczar were the subjects of a painting by Michael Tang in the year following their incredible success at CCHS.
Rick Fancher and Osczar were the subjects of a painting by Michael Tang in the year following their incredible success at CCHS.
Upper Marlboro, MD
 - The 2013 Capital Challenge Horse Show (CCHS) is quickly approaching and there are many exciting highlights to look forward to as the competition celebrates its 20-year anniversary. The show runs September 28 through October 6 at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.

The Capital Challenge Horse Show has a great variety of competition this year, including the popular Developing Pro Rider Challenge and Future Hunter divisions for young horses.  The show will also highlight the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals and the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Children’s Medal Finals. The week will feature the World Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Finals, the North American Junior/Amateur-Owner Challenge Cup, and much more. New for 2013, the Capital Challenge Horse Show is very excited to host the presentation of the TAKE2 Thoroughbred High-Point Hunter Award.

The management team at CCHS is excited to celebrate 20 years of tremendous success and innovation in the equestrian industry and looks back on their history fondly. This year will be a celebration of all of the people and horses that have made the show special.

Over the years, there have been many fantastic moments at CCHS and show managers Oliver Kennedy and Billy Glass each recently recalled some of their favorites. Kennedy will never forget the moment in 1997 when rider Rick Fancher and Osczar, owned by Dawn Fogel, made hunter history by scoring the first ever perfect 100 in a Regular Working Hunter class.

That was a real standout moment,” Kennedy remembered. “It was the first time anybody had ever gotten a score of 100. I didn’t even see the round; I saw it later on a video. Billy and I were by the outside ring and all of a sudden everybody came running up the ramp. Then everybody ran back in because that was Rick’s first round and they wanted to see what he scored in the second round. Half of the people who were by the outdoor ring, if they weren’t in the ring, they were in there trying to see his next round.”

“Most of my favorite moments tend to sportsmanship and competition,” Glass noted. “One of my fondest memories is watching Jack Towell applauding for Scott Stewart after he won over Liza (Towell) Boyd in the Pro Finals. I thoroughly enjoyed that.”

When Prince George’s Equestrian Center broke ground in 1993, Kennedy and Glass had a vision to create a top competition that would lead the indoor show season in North America. Kennedy reserved the dates in advance and ran a warm-up show in the brand new Show Place Arena that December. Kennedy and Glass hosted the first official Capital Challenge Horse Show in October 1994, and together they have run one of the nation’s top horse shows for the last 20 years.

“The whole basis of success for CCHS is the level of competition and bringing everyone together to compete,” stated Glass. “We host many of the best horses and riders in the industry and we are lucky that we have a great facility to attract them. People come from California, the Midwest, the Southwest, year in and year out. We have the highest level of hunter competition.”

The indoor arena is the site of major finals and special classes at CCHS.
The indoor arena is the site of major finals and special classes at CCHS.
“Once we got to 1997 and beyond, people were looking at it like it was an actual indoor show and embracing it that way,” Glass said of the show’s early development. “We offer the best conditions for the horses. We have a history of extremely high-level competition, so the numbers have taken care of themselves. Winners compete at Capital Challenge. I must say, since the beginning we have seen the most amazing quality of horses. Every horse that comes there is capable of placing. I think that is the basis of our success. We have so many good quality horses and that is what attracts the people. They don't want to do it every week, but once a year they want to prove they're the best of the best.”

A success right from the start, the Capital Challenge Horse Show has grown immensely over the years. The show started out as a five-day competition with around 500 horses and has expanded to nine days and over 1,000 horses. There is a long wait list of competitors each year who hope to earn a coveted spot to compete.

Along with the competitors came many businesses, groups and individuals who supported the show from the beginning. Ariat International, for instance, is the longest running corporate sponsor of the show. They sponsored the grand prix that was held the very first year and this will be their 20th year of sponsorship at the horse show.

Capital Challenge is the premier indoor show because of the support of its many dedicated exhibitors. time World Champion Hunter Rider (WCHR) champion Peter Pletcher was one of the show’s first sponsors and has been a huge supporter for all 20 years. Many of the industry’s best equestrians from across the country jumped on board in the show’s first years as they learned of the exciting plans for this new competition.

Kennedy and Glass wanted to become another premier show on the indoor circuit, and they had some innovative ideas to draw in the competitors. In addition to the regular line-up of hunter/jumper classes, the show began adding new equitation finals, exciting new hunter championships, and new divisions for the exhibit of young horses.

The divisions and classes have evolved over the years, and what they have now are some of the nation’s most popular events. From the DevelopingPro Rider Challenge and Future Hunter divisions for young horses, to the ARIAT National Adult Medal Finals and THIS National Children’s Medal Finals, along with the Championship Hunter Rider (WCHR) Professional Finals, Capital Challenge boasts a strong schedule of prestigious classes.

As the Capital Challenge Horse Show looks forward to its 20th year, the goal is now to keep the best of the best coming to Upper Marlboro each fall and keep the competition fresh and original. Kennedy is not sure what the future will bring, but he plans stay ahead of the curve.

“When we originally started the show, Billy and I decided that we wanted to do a show the way we thought it should be done,” Kennedy stated. “We didn’t want a cookie cutter horse show. We didn’t want it to be just like the next week or the week before that. We wanted ours to stand out and I think the hardest thing is to stay current and keep your ideas fresh. I think our horse show spearheaded a lot of change in the industry and now the most important thing is staying ahead of the curve and fresh with new ideas.”

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