Samantha Schaefer Sweeps Equitation Divisions at Vermont Summer Festival

Sunday, July 18, 2010
Posted by Jennifer Ward, Starting Gate Communications


East Dorset, Vermont — Samantha Schaefer of Westminster, MD, made a clean sweep of the equitation divisions offered during the second week of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT.  Schaefer, 17, won the Pessoa/USEF National Hunter Seat Medal, the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Medal, and the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search.
The only big equitation competition she did not win was the WIHS Equitation Classic, and with good reason – Schaefer won the WIHS Equitation Classic Finals last year the Washington International Horse Show, precluding her from further competition.  “Winning the equation this week was pretty big for me,” said Schaefer. “My strength is the hunters, as I have been doing that since I was six or seven. The jumpers are challenging, but I try to work hard at it.”

Schaefer’s trio of victories in Vermont all came aboard the same horse, Pioneer. Even more impressive was the fact that it was Schaefer’s first time showing the dark bay gelding. Owned by Schaefer’s equitation trainer, Andre Dignelli of Heritage Farm, Pioneer is an experienced equitation mount that carried Matthew Mettel to victory over 96 other entries in the 2009 Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals in Gladstone, NJ.

Schaefer is hoping that Pioneer, who is affectionately known as ‘Pie’, might do the same for her this year.  “Now that I am qualified for all three finals, my goal is to have a successful indoor fall season,” said Schaefer. “My trainer, Andre, was here in Vermont last week, and he left Pioneer here for me to ride to see how we would get along. I am very honored that he left the horse with me.”

As their impressive results testify, Schaefer and Pioneer got along very well indeed.  “He is really nice and easy to ride,” said Schaefer. “He is one of the nicest horses I have ridden. He is so cool. He drives like a sports car, you just get in the rhythm and you keep going.”

In addition to three equitation medals, Schaefer also won the Junior Hunter Small 16-17 Handy competition riding Corvet Z as well as Thursday’s Junior/Amateur-Owner High competition with Sugar Ray during week two. In Dignelli’s absence, Schaefer’s long-time trainer, Kim Stewart, helped her with the equitation classes as well as her hunter and jumper competitions. As Schaefer says, “We all work together.”

Stewart had been Schaefer’s mother trainer when she was competing, and now Schaefer’s younger sister, Maddie, 8, is showing in the Small Pony Hunter division. Even her father has gotten in on the act, buying a western horse to ride. With her success at the Vermont Summer Festival, Schaefer can head to the finals this fall with the confidence of knowing that winning is possible.

The second of six weeks of competition at the Vermont Summer Festival concludes on Sunday, July 18, with the $30,000 Vermont Summer Festival Grand Prix, Presented by The Equinox Resort, beginning at 1 p.m. Located at Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset, admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children Wednesday through Saturday. On Grand Prix Sunday, admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children. All gate proceeds benefit Manchester Elementary-Middle School (MEMS).

Running July 7 through August 15, 2010, the Vermont Summer Festival offers more than $750,000 in prize money, making it the richest sporting event based on purse in the state. The six-week Vermont Summer Festival culminates with the $50,000 Vermont Summer Celebration Grand Prix on Sunday, August 15. The Vermont Summer Festival is a proud member event of the Show Jumping Hall Of Fame, the Marshall & Sterling League, and the North American League (NAL). For more information about the Vermont Summer Festival, please e-mail: or visit

Photos: Samantha Schaefer and Pioneer won the Pessoa/USEF National Hunter Seat Medal, the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Medal, and the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search during week two of the 2010 Vermont Summer Festival in East Dorset, VT. Photo credits - David Mullinix Photography