Video – Riders Learn Formula For Success With Equitation Challenge
New event is a resounding success. Riders, trainers and parents learn and gain insight into what it takes to be successful in the equitation ring.
Watch the Video Wrap-up of “American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Challenge presented by Whitethorne”.
The Blenheim June Classic hosted the inaugural “American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Challenge presented by Whitethorne”.
79 junior and amateur riders singed up for this unique, three-phase event that took place over two days in San Juan Capistrano.
The event kicked off with a mandatory rider & trainer meeting. Event founder Georgy Maskrey-Segesman, owner and operator of Whitethorne, welcomed the group and reaffirmed the spirit of the program was education. Then, renowned judges and trainers Bernie Traurig, Stacia Madden and Karen Healey shared insight into what they were looking for when judging an equitation class.
After warm-up rounds, the official competition began with the jumping phase over a 3’3″ Hunter Derby type track on The Oaks International Grand Prix Field. Scribes accompanied the judges to record notes and written feedback that was provided to the riders later in the afternoon.
The second phase, held at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel, provided an opportunity for the riders and trainers to interact with the judges and other mentors. The evening included a video presentation, “Equitation – an American Tradition of Excellence” presented by Bernie Traurig. Tonya Johnston delivered a presentation entitled, “Mental Preparation for Medal Finals.” Presentations were followed by a lively Question & Answer session between the panel of mentors and the trainers and riders.
The unusual opportunity to receive such extensive feedback from the panel highlighted the educational components of the class and gave riders numerous options for improvement in the third phase the following morning as well as a new perspective on equitation.
Phase Three commenced at 8am on Wednesday morning. Tonya Johnston was on hand to provide last-minute mental skills coaching. All riders with a score of 60 or better from Phase One were invited back, bringing the entry total for the second day to 61. The course for the day’s competition took center stage, featuring a prominent square of hay bales interspersed with jumps 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, and 10. The rest of the fences in the twelve-element course were incorporated in a series of carefully measured lines, a delicate scoop-fence bounce, and a daring hand gallop finish to the final oxer.
Many riders had trouble navigating the hay bale square of elements, as well as the bending lines and rollbacks twisting into the single outside line and bounce. The lightweight wooden rails making up fences 9 and 10 also fell multiple times. Riders who were able to successfully balance their horses’ stride and impulsion throughout received well-earned solid scores from judges.
Using combined scores from days one and two, the top six riders were called back for a jump-off. They were given verbal instructions to canter directly from the lineup to fence 1, canter fence 2, counter canter fence 3 and canter fence 4, then halt. They were then asked to back their horses 3-5 steps, pick up a canter to 5, counter canter 6, and return to the line. Work-off scores were not announced and riders performed directly after the previous one had finished.
In the end it was twelve-year-old Stella Buckingham, moving up from eighth to first for an impressive win aboard Nom de Guerre.
Feedback from all participants was overwhelmingly positive.
Many riders and trainers told Show Jumping Life that the event provided a wonderful educational experience, combined with terrific competition that has given them new skills to become more successful in the show ring.