The Upperville Colt and Horse Show Gallops Into Its 171st Anniversary

By Hailey Wharram and Forbes Dudley

From June 3 through June 9, Mars Equestrian hosted the 171st annual Upperville Colt and Horse Show in Upperville, Virginia. Created in 1853, UCHS is the oldest horse show in the United States, as well as a 501(c)3 charitable entity which fundraises for local charities such as the Churches of Upperville Outreach Program. Though the show began as a humble, domestic endeavor, UCHS now brings together over 2000 professional and amateur riders from all over the world every year for a week jam-packed with competitive equestrian events.

American horseback rider Carly Anthony and her horse Jet Blue (owned by Portfolio Horses) took home the $38,700 First Place Prize, ironically, for the Delta Airlines FEI 4 Power and Speed Stakes on Thursday with a time of 28.4 seconds. Darragh Kenny from Ireland also won big at Saturday’s $30,000 American Standard Grand Prix. Kenny didn’t just win first place at this event—he claimed all three top spots while riding horses Lightning, Vancouver Dreams, and Vico G, respectively. Furthermore 19-year-old Mimi Gochman from Palm Beach, Florida, rode her 11-year-old stallion Cosmos BH to victory in the  $226,000 FEI 4 Upperville Jumper Classic.

Other UCHS winners included Bluemont-based sisters McKenzie Canard and Reilly Canard.

McKenzie Canard and Reilly Canard. Photo by Hailey Wharram.

“I won the Founder’s Cup yesterday, and then Reilly was third in the adults and then she won the Classic,” McKenzie told The Georgetowner.

“Upperville is one of our favorite shows, so this is definitely something we look forward to all year,” Reilly said. “We grew up around here, we grew up showing the ponies here.” 

McKenzie and Reilly have been horseback riding since childhood. Alongside ample family ties to horseback riding (their aunt grew up riding and their uncle bred ponies), both sisters attended Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia—an academy with a flourishing equestrian program where 33 percent of students ride horses. After high school, both pursued higher education: McKenzie received an undergraduate degree from Lynchburg University and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia, and Reilly received an undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech. Now that the sisters have graduated, both are continuing to pursue their love of horseback riding by competing in shows such as UCHS. 

Photo by Forbes Dudley.

“McKenzie and I both showed different horses yesterday,” Reilly said. “I showed a horse named Carry On and he is very very sweet. He has a lot of jobs. He’s done the Junior Hunters, he’s done the Rusty Stirrups, which is a smaller height, and he’s honestly done a little bit of everything. He’s done the performance center with McKenzie, and he’s just a really great guy. I always say he is someone who just makes you feel a lot of confidence. I always feel very confident walking into the ring with him—he makes me feel like I can do anything when we go in together.”  

Though McKenzie and Reilly have grown up riding, they reiterated that horse shows like UCHS can truly be enjoyed by everybody, regardless of their proximity to the equestrian world. 

“I would definitely encourage people to come out to the show,” Reilly said. “It’s a fun show for spectators who don’t have anything to do with horses as well.” 

Nick Granat, a renowned course designer who is recognized by the North American Riders Group (NARG) and licensed with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), talked to The Georgetowner about his experience working with the Upperville Colt and Horse Show. This was Nick’s fifth year with the Upperville show and his second year designing the grand prix ring. 

“I’m constantly trying to get ready for the bigger classes in the league here,” Nick said. “Trying to build the horses up as the week goes on for the more and more important classes.”

Photo by Forbes Dudley.

Originally entering the equestrian world as a young rider, Nick eventually discovered a passion for course building and designing which enabled him to stay in the industry. In his career, Nick has course designed for notable competitions such as CHIO Aachen, Lake Placid Horse Show, Split Rock Jumping Tour, and many more. While working as a course designer, he also assisted with the World Cup Finals and built for the North American Youth Championships. 

“For me to stay in the top was to become a course designer and there was kind of a need in America for younger course designers, so I jumped in with both feet.”

Similar to riders McKenzie and Reilly, Nick encourages people not directly involved with the equestrian world to check out competitions too. 

Nick commented: “I’d say it’s really exciting to watch horses jump and go fast. I think what’s great about here [Upperville] is that it’s quite an intimate setting, you actually get to see how big the horses are jumping, and I think that the jumps are bigger than people think, and it’s not so easy.”




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