Sterling Malnik Scores Memorable Win in USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic

Sterling Malnik, 15, only saves Charlie for special events. The USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic, presented by Intermont Equestrian at Emory and Henry College, not only made the cut for the partnership to return to the show ring, but also made the young rider’s efforts worthwhile as she took home the win after three challenging rounds.

Sterling Malnik and Charlie. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Beginning with a field of 98 competitors, the class was large and packed to the brim with talent. Malnik, of Ocean Ridge, FL, was 36th in the original order of go. She made the tough track, built by Canada’s Kevin Hollowack, look easy with her 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding, guiding him to a score of 92. While that score held the lead for much of the class, Malnik’s friend and barn mate Jordan Gibbs was the only one to top her score in round one, on a score of 94.

Sterling Malnik and Charlie. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

The top 20 returned to contest a handy track, which included a mix of elements from the first course combined with new questions, including a trot bounce, a one-stride combination, and several opportunities to show off handiness and further impress the judges. At the close of the handy round, Malnik had reclaimed the lead with a score of 95 for a total of 187 and—along with five other competitors—was invited to switch horses and test for final results.

The top six after two rounds; Malnik, Gibbs, Kate Hagerty, Emma Callanan, Schuyler Dayner and Ariana Marnell swapped horses and navigated fences one through eight for a chance at the overall title. Switching onto Cent 15, owned by Mountain King Ranch LLC, and the ride of Gibbs in the first two rounds, Malnik sailed to another beautiful trip with poise and elegance, being named the overall champion when awards were presented. Gibbs followed shortly behind on Charlie, claiming second place, and Kate Hagerty moved up from sixth place to finish third.

Jordan Gibbs and Cent 15. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“He means the world to me,” Malnik said of her partner for three years. “He’s game for whatever you want. Recently I’ve been doing him in the International Hunter Derbies – we’ve been doing the high options and getting really confident. I did him at USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships last year and we actually ribboned in Section B. He only comes out for the big, fun, exciting stuff which he loves. Winning on him is the most special because he’s my heart horse and I’m so thankful to have him.”

Kate Hagerty and Solitude. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Regarding the test, Malnik remarked, “I have never swapped horses in a test before so it was definitely nerve wracking but I got to switch with one of my great friends, Jordan Gibbs, and we were going into the test in first and second. I was focused on having a good, confident round, especially on a horse I don’t know. But thankfully Jordan also rides with Beacon Hill Show Stables with Stacia Madden so we talked before we got on each other’s horses and we gave each other tips on what we needed to do and what they like best.”

Sterling Malnik and Charlie. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Winning the prestigious equitation final was a goal of Malnik’s coming into the Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championships this week in Traverse City. Her team, consisting of Bill Schaub, Cassie Speagle, Stacia Madden, Abby Jorgensen, and everyone at Beacon Hill Show Stables helped provide the foundation for Wednesday’s win and came out in support of her victory. “I was so happy being so consistent in all my rounds, being top two in each of the three rounds,” Malnik continued. “It means a lot to do it on my boy Charlie with a team behind me.”

Adequan®/USEF Junior Hunter National Championships commences on Thursday in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring with the classic round for each section of the 3’6” Junior Hunters. The 3’3’ Junior Hunter divisions take to the Main Hunter Ring to compete in their classic rounds before all divisions will compete under saddle Friday.

Final Results: USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic – East

1. Charlie / Sterling Malnik / Sterling Malnik / 92 + 95 = 187
2. Cent 15 / Jordan Gibbs / Mountain King Ranch LLC / 94 + 88.5 = 182.5
3. Solitude / Kate Hagerty / The Hagerty Family / 87 + 90 = 177
4. Wengen / Schuyler Dayner / Kate Preston / 89 + 89 = 178
5. Criminal Minds/ Ariana Marnell / Brooke Mostman / 89.5 + 91 = 180.5
6. Goyard / Emma Callanan Brooke Mostman / 86 + 92 = 178
7. Any Given Sunday / Alexa Leong / Don Stewart / 85.25 + 88 = 173.25
8. Canago / Caroline Nadalin / Caroline Nadalin / 88 + 83 = 171
9. Checkland / Madyson Diaz / Madyson Diaz / 85.75 + 84 = 169.75
10. Kinfolk / Eleanor Rudnicki / Brookside Pine Farms, LLC / 88.5 + 81 = 169.5