San Juan Capistrano, Calif. – Oct. 4, 2018 – Spearheaded by highly-respected rider and trainer Nicole (Nicki) Shahinian-Simpson, the team at Riffle Hitch LLC is familiar with putting forth hard work in and out of the saddle and reaping the benefits in the form of numerous winning titles and prizes at some of the most prestigious horse shows around the country. The talent was not in short supply at the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West, where Simpson’s daughter, Sophie, captured the win aboard Henri HX.
Sophie’s victory in the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West was especially meaningful for everyone at Riffle Hitch LLC as her talented partner is owned by fellow mother-daughter duo, Sloan and Violet Lindemann Barnett, who also both train with Nicki. Imported by David Raposa Sales and only 6 years old, Henri HX bested the group of seasoned equitation mounts, showcasing his natural talent and promising potential as a successful show mount.
Held during Blenheim EquiSports’ International Jumping Festival from Sept. 19–23 at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in San Juan Capistrano, California, the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West saw Sophie and the Warmblood gelding rise to the top of the scorecard in the four-phase competition.
Sophie and Henri HX surpassed the competitive field of entries and earned the high score of 91 in the initial flat phase, which challenged riders by asking them to demonstrate basic dressage movements such as the counter-canter, leg yield and turn on the haunches. The rigorous testing continued in the gymnastics phase, where riders showcased their skills over a jumping pattern, which included executing a simple lead change in the middle of a S-shaped line.
“In a split second you had to realize what lead you landed on, get them back down to the walk or the trot and then pick up a different lead in a matter of five strides,” Sophie said.
Heading into the jumping phase with a cumulative score of 223, Sophie added more points to her name by topping the leaderboard once again in the third round of competition, earning her a spot in the final round. The top four riders entered into the final phase with a clean slate and completed a shortened course with their mounts followed by a trip on each of the other three horses.
Sophie and Henri HX executed flawless rounds across the board and their consistency paid off, earning them the coveted Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West title in addition to the Dinali Memorial Perpetual Trophy.
Sloan and Violet are excited to see what the future holds for Henri HX and where the gelding’s enormous amount of potential, combined with Nicki’s expertise and training, takes him.
Riffle Hitch LLC kicked off their fall indoor circuit at the Capital Challenge Horse Show held at the Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, where Violet claimed multiple top 10 placings in the 15-Year-Old Equitation and Open 3’6″ Equitation as well as a win over fences in the 15-Year-Old Equitation with Salvatore.
This week, the team returns to the West Coast for the Sacramento International Horse Show. Violet will compete in the junior jumpers, while Nicki will ride Silver Raven Farms’ Akuna Mattata in the $100,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Sacramento CSI3*-W.
Following the Sacramento International Horse Show, the competition season will continue with the Washington International Horse Show, Pennsylvania National Horse Show and National Horse Show, where Violet recently qualified for the prestigious ASPCA Maclay National Championship during Maclay regionals at the Blenheim Fall Tournament with Salvatore.