Thermal, Calif. – Dec. 10, 2021 – Professional athletes took center stage in Hunter 1 Friday afternoon to vie for top honors in the $10,000 Valencia Saddlery DIHP 3’3” Pro Equitation Challenge. Several top athletes took their turn over an initial 10-obstacle course and then were invited back for a second round, testing their ability to maneuver through a tactful course. In the end, it was Tasha Visokay and Bruce Wayne who reigned superior and took home the win. Jenny Karazissis and Picnic were awarded the reserve champion honors, while Mitch Endicott and Class Act took home the yellow ribbon.
Each horse and rider combination navigated over an initial 10-obstacle course designed by Alan Lohman. The first round consisted of several long bending lines and a tight rollback at the end of the course, proving to be a challenge for several horse and rider pairs. After a competitive first round, all riders were welcomed back in reverse order of round one scores for a second round, testing their abilities over a quick and challenging jumper track. The top four riders were invited back for additional testing and were asked to switch horses. Each new horse and rider pair had four minutes to warm up the new mount and enter the ring for a unique and challenging test. Visokay ultimately excelled throughout both rounds and additional testing to secure the coveted championship title in the $10,000 Valencia Saddlery DIHP 3’3” Pro Equitation Challenge.
Visokay and her new mount Bruce Wayne, an 8-year-old Danish Warmblood, recently purchased from Jenn Serek, were one of the final pairs to try their hand over the first round and quickly caught the judges’ attention with Visokay’s beautiful form over each jump and the way that she flowed consistently between each obstacle. They were awarded a first-round score of 88, taking the lead early on. The second round consisted of several s-curve bending lines and an extended forward bending line that led to a skinny single that caused several problems for many of the equitation pairs. Nevertheless, the dynamic duo continued to dominate the ring and earned a second-round score of 83, securing them a top four finish going into the final test. Finally, Visokay traded horses with Endicott, taking the ride on Class Act and laying down a seemingly perfect final test, pushing them to victory.
Fellow competitor Karazissis and Picnic, a 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Lisa Hankin, made a splash at the beginning of the class laying down a beautiful first round, showcasing Karazissis’s fantastic equitation and her ability to maneuver throughout the challenging course beautifully and consistently. They were awarded a first-round score of 75, helping them sit in a top position going into the second round. Karazissis was determined to better her second score, highlighting her equitation and handiness ability, earning a second score of 85. Karazissis rode Marisa Metzger’s mount, Unbreakable Z, to a jaw-dropping final test, helping them move up a ranking position and securing them the reserve champion title.
Endicott and Class Act, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Ashland Farms, were a tough pair to beat after earning a first-round score of 82, putting them in the top three of the class. However, the newly acquainted pair was on fire coming into the second round and continued on their consistency, putting forth yet again another beautiful round, taking home a second-round score of 79. In the final testing, Endicott rode Bruce Wayne to a tremendous final test, helping to showcase Endicott’s ability to learn a different mount quickly. Again, they were awarded for their consistency and form and took home the yellow ribbon.
Equitation competition will continue Saturday at 8 a.m. in the Grand Eq Arena with the highlight of competition being the ASPCA Maclay Medal and Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Tasha Visokay – Winner of the $10,000 Valencia Saddlery DIHP 3’3” Pro Equitation Challenge
On Bruce Wayne:
“I just got him [Bruce Wayne], we just purchased him last week from Jenn Serek. We bought him for one of our junior students to do the equitation on. He’s new to the equitation ring too. He was doing the 1.40m’s and he hasn’t done the equitation except for one show. This is only our third class together and he rode fantastically. I am very excited to have him in our program.”
On her plan for the class:
“I didn’t get to walk the first round. In the second round there was that one line from [fence] six to seven A-B that everyone was questioning whether it was five, six or seven strides. I wanted to do five and I did five. I think I watched Nick [Haness] go first and he had a big stepper so I just planned the track so that’s how I rode it. At jump two, I watched everyone spook so I was a little concerned and overrode it, which probably cost me a few points, but I figured better safe than sorry.”
Thoughts on the $10,000 Valencia Saddlery DIHP 3’3” Pro Equitation Challenge:
“I think it’s awesome! I like that it’s all professionals, but it could be a good mix for all types of riders. It was super fun and it’s fun to watch all of us because I think we get just as nervous as the kids we teach. You tell your kids to do it and not be nervous, but I think at some point we all get nervous.”
“I think they’ve made a lot of improvements this year and I look forward to coming again in January. I want to thank everyone who was a sponsor in this class and thank you to the judges; they did a great job!”
Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Score | R2 Score / Pre-Test Score
$10,000 Valencia Saddlery DIHP 3’3” Pro Equitation Challenge
- Bruce Wayne / Tasha Visokay / Jenn Serek / 88 | 83 / 171
- Picnic / Jenny Karazissis / Lisa Hankin / 75 | 85 / 160
- Class Act / Mitch Endicott / Ashland Farms / 82 | 79 / 161
- Unbreakable Z / Marisa Metzger / Maile Smith / 86.5 | 68 / 154.5
- Shakiro / Kelli Cruciotti VanderVeen / Sophia Bruny / 87.5 | 50 / 137.5
- Venti / Nick Haness / Nick Haness / 40 | 87 / 127
- Caspian C / Kristy Gregg / Francesca Savi / 64 | 62 / 126
- Go For It B / Lindsay Stefanko / Sophie Root-Stevens / 84 | 40 / 124
- Verdict / Joie Gatlin / Alexis Meadows / 86 | 37 / 123
- Gusti CK / Katie Hauss / Vianne Storrs / 77 | 40 / 117