October 27, 2023—One advantage Maddie Tosh had going into the 2023 Washington International Horse Show Equitation Final was her horse. Though Daktari is still green and young, “he has a massive stride, and he’s so brave. I mean, I could point him at fire and he would have no problem jumping it,” she said.
Those strengths paid off Saturday with Tosh capturing the three-phase equitation final, whose third round included the riders swapping horses. Eleanor Rudnicki placed second in the overall final and Carlee McCutcheon placed third.
The competition is part of the Washington International Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, Maryland, October 23-29, 2023.
One of the judges, Michael Morrissey, said the top riders were close in the final standing, and the competition could have been won by any of them. “I thought, for the most part, the entire class handled the pressure of this final very well. It was exciting and fun to watch these guys go out and compete at such a high level.”
The final consists of a hunter phase on Friday and a jumper phase on Saturday. In the final phase, the top 10 riders swapped horses with one another.
Maddie Tosh: ‘We Know Each Other Really Well”
Tosh started riding Dr. Betsee Parker’s Daktari about three years ago. “I feel like every final so far and every class he’s gone in, he’s just gotten better and better. And coming in here, we know each other really well. I felt pretty confident with him, and I was pretty much just trying to stay out of his way,” she said. “To be able to go in and just kind of count on him, and he came to play today for sure.”
For the third phase, Tosh swapped onto Rudnicki’s horse, Kosher. She said Kosher has a hunter-type style, and she’s used to riding a lot of hunters. “I feel like the horse I switched onto, I clicked with pretty well,” she said. “There was maybe a couple places where I could have helped him out a little more, stayed out of his way, but I felt like overall it went really well.”
Hunt Tosh: A Proud Dad
Tosh is the daughter of top hunter rider Hunt Tosh, who helped coach her along with trainers from North Run. Tosh said he appreciated that his daughter and Rudnicki were supportive of one another in the horse swap. “The camaraderie and watching them compare notes and talk about each other’s horses before the swap. … They talked about each other’s horse’s weaknesses and strengths. So they had a little advantage of what they could ask the horse to do, their entrance into the ring, their idiosyncrasies, what the horses did …. It’s fun watching them to get together and really want the horses to go well.”
He said that both Maddie and Rudnicki have brought their horses up through their educational careers. “So to be able to watch them go in with a different rider tonight and do that, it’s fun to watch horses develop and get to that level,” he said.
Eleanor Rudnicki: ‘Let Him Do His Job’
Rudnicki said Kosher is newer to the equitation, “but he’s had plenty of miles in the jumper ring, so he’s kind of seen it all.”
She said she brought him to the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show in Harrisburg in mid-October, “and he was great, so we decided to bring him here too, and he was perfect.
“He’s a beautiful jumper, so the hunter phase went well and he was able to show off his style,” she continued. “And then in the jumper phase, I just stayed out of his way, let him do his job, and he was very good.”
Rudnicki swapped onto Tosh’s horse for the third phase. “He’s also very hunter, like my horse, so I just let him go around with his nose sticking out, and he’s a great jumper,” she said.
Carlee McCutcheon: ‘I Knew I Could Trust Him’
McCutcheon said she was looking at the equitation final as any other competition. “I try not to put too much pressure on myself going into it. I’m just trying to look at it as another Washington, any weekend at any normal horse show. My horse is very experienced at this, more than I am for sure.”
She said that in the first phase, the hunter phase, she was a bit too relaxed and had a couple of swapped leads, which put her down in the standing going into the Jumper Phase. But she climbed her way back up.
“I knew coming int o today, I really had to put in my best performance. And he was really there for me today, and he showed up for sure. I really couldn’t have asked any more for him. He likes to win, so I knew I could trust him and move up into the horse swap.”
McCutcheon swapped on Amira Kettaneh’s Gossip SA “I got pretty lucky to end up on Gossip. I rode her at the [2023 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East] as well. So I had an advantage there, and she was really great. I ended up having a back rail doing an inside turn, but I couldn’t have asked her to be any better.” McCutcheon placed second in the Talent Search Finals, held in early October.
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Thanks to Cosequin® for our coverage of the 2023 Washington International Horse Show, including competition reports, photos, videos and more.