Pink Team Strikes Gold to Win $5,000 USHJA Hunter Team Challenge East Championship

Saugerties, NY – August 7, 2022 – Hunter riders stood atop the podium at HITS-on-the-Hudson as the $5,000 USHJA Hunter Team Challenge – East came to a close on Sunday. Generally an individual sport, this unique hunter event offered a team experience for riders competing in the Children’s Pony Hunters, Low Children’s/Adult Hunters and Children’s/Adult Hunter divisions. After two days and four rounds of competition, Abigail Davis, Lola Erdmann, Samantha Stepanik and Wilma Riordan earned the gold medal for the Pink Team.

The Hunter Team Championship competition got underway 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, they returned to the Outside Course, representing their team in the scored under saddle phase and returning for the final over fences phase. The final round was the most important, as the leading score from each team would be doubled towards the final score.

Davis and Gio Candio earned the highest score of the day with an 89, which brought the Pink Team’s total to 1035. “I was super happy, and I just felt so grateful for my horse,” said Davis after hearing her leading score. “[Gio Candio] is so amazing, and a big thanks to my trainer for helping me. I am so grateful and so happy!”

Abigail Davis and Gio Candio. Photo by ESI

Davis was joined on the podium by her teammates Erdmann riding Catano D, Stepanik aboard Hederiggy, and Riordan with Rollingwoods Up to Snuff. Davis enjoyed the team camaraderie saying, “It’s so fun that you get to cheer on your teammates in their divisions and watch them go. Then you get to watch all the trips with everyone on all the teams and cheer them on together.”

Stepanik competed in the Hunter Team Challenge in 2021 and was thrilled to have the chance to compete on a team once again. “I think the Hunter Team Challenge is a great opportunity to work with other equestrians in a team aspect because that's not something we usually get to do – it is such an individualized sport. It connected riders of all different levels and ages. We all got to know each other, and it was great to cheer each other on and talk about how we would show team spirit. We ended up making pompoms for a whole barn. It was just a great experience to work together, show team spirit and share this experience with other people who love the sport.”

Samantha Stepanik aboard Hederiggy. Photo by: Jump Media

Erdmann also enjoyed the experience and added, “To me, being part of the winning team is truly my biggest accomplishment. Me, my horse, my trainer, and my parents have all worked very hard to get me to this point, so I’m very proud of this accomplishment. My overall favorite part of the whole experience was having a team. It encouraged me to meet and talk to new people. All of my teammates were super supportive, and we cheered each other on the whole time. I’m so happy I got to have this experience!”

Lola Erdmann and Catano D. Photo by: ESI

As the youngest rider on the team, this was Riordan’s first year competing in the Hunter Team Challenge, and after emphasizing that she would want to do it again, she concluded, “I loved it because it was fun. We watched each other as much as possible. My pony was so good, and she loved it too!”

Wilma Riordan and Rollingwoods Up to Snuff. Photo by: ESI

The silver medal went to the Burgundy team, which included Jillian Slattery-Mauss with Milo, Olivia Lee with City Smart, and Hayley Wyman with Espirit De Victoire. The Red team earned the bronze medal with riders Allison Tarter aboard Shining, Kate Cianfaglione aboard Fox Creek’s Dark Knight, Lena Andrews aboard Paddington, and Olivia Vlahkis aboard Sir Blue Moon De Brio.

Hunter action for the Summer Series at HITS-on-the-Hudson season concluded Sunday, but the HTS Saugerties Summer Fall will get underway at the world-class facility in September. The HITS Championship is scheduled for September 7-11, and will include the $15,000 Green Hunter Prix, the $50,000 Platinum Performance Hunter Prix and the $200,000 Diamond Mills Hunter Prix. For more information about the HITS Saugerties Series click here.