Marianna Wade returned to the show ring after a six-month hiatus from the sport she grew up with to claim the national title during the World Championship Hunter Rider Capital Challenge.
Wade competed in a handful of sanctioned events during the 2012 season and claimed first place in the mid-Atlantic regional Amateur-Owner 3’3” 18-35 year old division, which put her in first place entering the championships.
The top 10 nationally ranked riders in each WCHR category, as well as the top six riders from each region were invited to compete in their respective events at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Maryland earlier this month.
“It’s a big show,” Wade said. “People come from all over the country to compete, which makes it that much more exciting.”
The 32-year-old, sporting the leader’s tri-colored arm band during the first day of competition, said she was nervous before entering the ring.
“I get nervous at every horse show, because anything can happen,” she said.
And something did happen. A minor mistake during one of the first two events cost Wade the lead and she dropped into third place.
But Wade knew that she and her 13-year-old gelding Castleton could overcome the deficit.
“I was excited. I knew it was possible,” Wade said. “And I wanted my armband back.”
She said that Castleton put his ears forward and the pair took first and second place in the final two events to claim the national title.
To finish the day off, Wade and Castleton also took first place in a separate Amateur-Owner 3’3” Challenge event four hours later.
“It was an awesome day,” said Wade, who was quick to point out that none of it would have been possible without support from her family.
In May 2011, the Charlottesville native sold her previous horse, which was originally purchased by Sambo Johnson, and took time off from the sport she loves to spend more time with her family. Wade lives in Louisa with her husband Troy — county supervisor for the Louisa District — and their 5-year-old son Porter and 3-year-old daughter Ella-Grace.
She said the time off changed her outlook on competition when she galloped back into the show ring with Castleton.
“I was more selective in the events that I competed in so I could spend more time at home,” she said. “And that made me more focused, which in turn made me more consistent.”
And the continued support from her parents Tom and Claiborne Bishop and sister Maria Shannon was an integral part of Wade’s success. The Bishops purchased the The Barracks Farm, located in Charlottesville, in the mid-70s, where they taught Wade how to ride.
Tom is the Whipper-in and ex-Master of Foxhounds at the Farmington Hunt Club in Charlottesville and Claiborne is Castleton’s trainer.
Claiborne also walked away with top honors during the WCHR Capital Challenge and was named National Trainer Champion in the Amatuer-Owner 3’3” class for her work with Castleton and the Adult Amateur class for her work with another horse she trains at the family farm.
Wade said that her sister Maria—who teaches horse riding at The Barracks—helps keep Castleton fit and often competes with the horse in derby events.
“I couldn’t do any of this without them,” Wade said.
To finish out the season, Wade will compete in the Pennsylvania National Horse Show this week followed by the Washington International Horse Show next week.
“No matter what happens in the next couple of weeks, I can always say, ‘I was the champion at the Capital Challenge and World Hunter Rider for 2012,’” Wade said.