Samantha Takacs Rides to Redemption in WIHS Pony Equitation Finals

Wednesday, October 31, 2018
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Samantha Takacs of Oldwick, NJ, won the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals riding Storyteller. (Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography)

Samantha Takacs of Oldwick, NJ, won the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals riding Storyteller. (Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography)

Samantha Takacs of Oldwick, NJ, scored an 88 in the Washington International Horse Show Pony Equitation Finals to take home top honors riding Storyteller. The win was a redeeming effort for Takacs after going off course from the first in the order in the very same class during the 2017 WIHS.

“Last year was my first time at WIHS and this year I was really hoping I did the course correctly,” said Takacs, who trains with  Dave Belford and Chris Payne of New Hope Farm based out of Batavia, OH. “I was a little bit nervous because I hadn’t shown in the hunters at this show this year because I didn’t have a horse to ride so today was my first trip.

Thirteen-year-old Takacs borrowed the ride on Storyteller, owned by Temple Equestrian, LLC and leaded by Caroline Signorino. Despite qualifying for the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals, Takacs didn’t have a mount available to compete and jumped her first fence with Storyteller the morning of the final.

“I am so thankful that my friend Caroline and Temple Equestrian were both kind enough to let me borrow him,” said Takacs of the 15-year-old German Sport Pony gelding. “I rode him this morning and I felt like he was such a good boy and we were a good match. Then in the schooling area, I got a little self-conscious and wasn’t sure how it was going to. But, once I got in the ring I knew he would do it for me.”

After the jumping phase of the WIHS Pony Equitation Finals, the top ten riders were tested on the flat. Takacs pocketed the top score to best second-place finisher Kat Fuqua, who finished one point off the lead with an 87. Tessa Downey finished third with a score of 85, while Mae Mannis of Woodbury, CT, posted an 83 for fourth. Claire Campbell of Cochranville, PA, rounded out the top five on an 81.

“It was really nerve-wracking [to wait for my score to be announced],” said Takacs. “I didn’t know if it was going to be me, Kat or anyone in the top. They were all really good.”

The final events of the 2018 WIHS were the Regional Hunter Finals, which kicked off last week at the WIHS Regional Horse Show at Prince George’s Equestrian Center in Upper Marlboro, MD.

Samantha Takacs and Storyteller. (Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography)

Samantha Takacs and Storyteller. (Photo: Shawn McMillen Photography)

With a win in the WIHS Regional Pony Hunter Finals McKenna Gregorio of Ashland, VA, was named grand champion of the division riding her own Autumn Frost. Reserve went to Maddy Wilson of Bryantown, MD, aboard Shenandoah Jasmine for owner Molly McLaughlin.

Brittani Director of Potomac, MD, topped the WIHS Regional Hunter Finals in the horse section riding her own Rococo. For the division title, Jessica Van Brocklin Smith of Alexandria, VA, was named grand champion and accepted The Black, Starr & Frost Perpetual Trophy, donated by Black, Starr & Frost. She rode her own Romulus. Director and Rococo claimed the reserve champion title.

The Washington International Horse Show wrapped its 60th anniversary celebration, year-end championships, and horse show-inspired entertainment on Sunday, and will return to Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, D.C. for a 61st season from October 22 through 27, 2019. For more information on WIHS, please visit