Kathleen Degenova and Pizzazz Put Teal Team on Top in $5,000 USHJA Hunter Team Challenge East Championship
Saugerties, N.Y. – August 6, 2023 – The New York Horse and Pony Show concluded Sunday, wrapping up the sixth week of competition at HITS Saugerties. Hunter action in the Hudson Ring for the day culminated with overall high point winner Kathleen DeGenova and her own mare Pizzazz leading the Teal Team to an exciting victory in the $5,000 USHJA Hunter Team Challenge – East after two days and four rounds of competition.
Kathleen DeGenova and Pizzazz. Photo by: ESI Photography
“I loved meeting new people, getting together, decorating our ponies and coming together as a team to make this win happen,” expressed DeGenova after her team’s win. “[Pizzazz] was awesome. We started in the Adult Hunters in the other ring – so I got to do my whole division first – and then we came over here. I just went in and was able to lay down a great trip.”
Normally ranked as individual classes, this unique hunter event offers a team experience for riders competing in the Children’s Pony Hunters, Low Children’s/Adult Hunters and Children’s/Adult Hunter divisions. The Hunter Team Championship competition began on Saturday as riders completed the over fences classes of their divisions, with scores counting towards the first and second rounds of the Hunter Team Challenge. On Sunday morning, riders returned to the ring to represent their team in the scored under saddle phase and the final over fences phase. The final round was the most important, as the leading score from each team would be doubled toward the final score.
DeGenova and Pizzazz came to earn the highest score of the day with a 290, which brought the Teal Team’s total score to 874.5 points. “[Pizzazz] is the best girl ever,” beamed DeGenova. “I really have to just let her be and let her do her job, and she takes care of me. I love how bossy she is, because she taught me how to ride. And she knows what she likes, so I do what she likes.”
Hunter Team Challenge East Champions. Photo by: ESI Photography
DeGenova was joined on the podium by her teammates during the awards presentation, including fellow barn mate Lily Capone, who showed Devito, Wilma Riordan, who rode Bridlewood Signature Design, and Hannah Simcsuk, who, like DeGenova, also competed on her own mount, Mr. Worldwide.
Lily Capone and Devio. Photo by: ESI Photography
Capone was not shy about reveling in her joy of getting to ride with DeGenova, feeling “lucky to have a girl from my barn” on her team. “It was fun hanging out with [DeGenova] and coming together and thinking of new ideas of what we could do to decorate,” said Capone. “I liked the course. It was a nice hunter course that asked basic hunter questions – it was fun!”
Hannah Simcsuk and Mr. Worldwide. Photo by: ESI Photography
Simcsuk also enjoyed the camaraderie the Hunter Team Challenge offered, adding, “I would have to say my favorite part was getting together as a team and decorating. I’m not very open with other people, but this was a fun way of communicating and I loved just getting to match with everyone.”
Wilma and Marilyn Riordan. Photo by: ESI Photography
Riordan, the youngest member of the Teal Team, had the unique opportunity of showing for her mother Kellie Monahan-Riordan and riding against her sister Marilyn. Though the girls rode for different teams, they each doted similar hair extensions woven into their braids, streamers in their ponies’ manes and tails, painted hearts on their ponies’ rumps, and bedazzled entry cards on their backs – Wilma’s in blue and Marilyn’s in pink.
Like her teammates, Riordan’s favorite part of the event was getting to decorate, concluding, “I loved putting sparkles in my pony’s braids!”
Hunter Team Challenge East Medalists. Photo by: ESI Photography
The reserve championship title of the day went to the Burgundy Team, which consisted of members Scarlett Von Zelowitz on Linden, Gianna Carducci on Favorit Privateer, Candace Houston on Tanzanite, and Camille Borres on Kassara. Third place honors were awarded to the Lavender Team, including Madeline Ahern and Clees, Sarah McCombe and Delmar, Ryen McDaniel and Glynhafan Calvin & Hobbs, and finally, Abby Curran and Bluetini.
The New York Horse and Pony Show will conclude Sunday, August 6, marking the end of the Summer Series at HITS Saugerties. Hunter/jumper action will resume on August 30 with HITS-on-the-Hudson VII, the first week of the Fall Series, followed by the 2023 HITS Championship. For more information about the HITS Saugerties Series, visit www.hitsshows.com.