Amira Kettaneh Shines in Inaugural ESP Spring Equitation Challenge Presented by Arion Sellier USA

Amira Kettaneh Shines in Inaugural ESP Spring Equitation Challenge Presented by Arion Sellier USA

The future of U.S. show jumping looked bright as junior equitation riders took center stage at Wellington International to compete in the Inaugural ESP Spring Equitation Challenge, presented by Arion Sellier USAon Friday. The new annual equitation championship allowed junior riders to show in the International Arena and be judged on their execution and style. After three rounds of competition, Amira Kettaneh of Hollis, NH, was crowned the winner from two judging panels made up of Brian Lenehan, Randy Roy, Mark Jungherr, and Sissy Wickes.

On competing in the expansive International Arena, Kettaneh shared, “I was excited to compete in the International Arena today. It’s a great opportunity for juniors to be able to get in the big ring. I went in and wanted to gain confidence, not necessarily to win. At the end of the day, every round is for confidence. It’s great to win, but if you’re smooth and consistent, you’re going to have a higher chance of winning.”

Twenty-eight qualified combinations contested the first round, designed by Danny Moore (USA). The first round featured an S-line question and varying fence challenges, including a trot fence. The top 12 were called back in reverse order for a second round, which tested the riders further with a simple change of lead between fences. Four riders returned for the final phase of testing: Kat Fuqua, Parker Peacock, Josselyn Mersereau, and Kettaneh.

“There were a lot of different options for inside turns in the first round that people were choosing to take,” commented Kettaneh, who piloted Leigh Kettaneh’s Caretinhus. “I wanted to show off both of us the best I could, so I wanted smooth and consistent rounds throughout the class. I didn’t opt for all the inside turns; I opted for the ones I thought we could do really well and would show both of us off the best. I had my mom helping me today, and she told me to take my time in the turns, to land straight after every jump, and to not rush anything.”

Kettaneh and Caretinhus posted consistent rounds with scores in the high 80s and a 92 in the final round to give herself a 10.5-point lead at the conclusion of the class. Josselyn Mersereau of Concord, MA, finished in second with Jeffery RW, owned by Joyce Mersereau, and a cumulative score of 347.25. Rounding out the podium was Parker Peacock of Pfafftown, NC, with a total score of 346.2 riding Chase Finizio’s Empire.

“It’s obviously wonderful to be able to ride other peoples’ horses but there’s something really special about getting to win classes on your own horse,” shared Kettaneh. “I started him as an equitation horse about a year and a half ago, so he’s not new to the equitation anymore, but I feel like we’ve improved together which is really cool.”

Invitations to compete in the final were extended to any ribbon winners before April 2, 2023, of any 2022 ESP Holiday, 2023 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), or Spring 1: USEF Hunt Seat Medal, ASPCA Maclay, USEF Talent Search or WIHS Overall, Hunter Phase or Jumper Phase equitation classes. The championship offered prizes for the trainers of the top four riders. Thanks to the class’s sponsor, Arion Sellier USA, the winner was presented with a new Arion saddle and backpack during the presentation ceremony.

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Amira Kettaneh Shines in Inaugural ESP Spring Equitation Challenge Presented by Arion Sellier USA (