2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East Review

The 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East have concluded, with Daisy Farish adding her name to the acclaimed list of past champions. Following the four phases of competition, judges Ralph Caristo and Chris Kappler, as well as trainers Andre Dignelli, Stacia Madden and Frank Madden, weighed in on various aspects of the important championship. Find out what they said about the different phases of the championship, what the judges were looking for and the evolution of the class.

On the Phase IV: Ride-off being part of the championship:

Chris Kappler:
“I commented on this in the rider’s meeting. I can understand why they have taken it out of the World Equestrian Games (WEG) because of such big jumps and so much jumping, but I think it’s still very important. It makes this class different and distinct, and I think that you really get to see the horsemanship, the feeling that these riders can give. And we tried to have a somewhat simple course. We tried to have a somewhat nice course where riders really had to use their eye. I think there were five fences there that they actually had to find the fence by themselves, so we really had to test them with their eye, their ratability and their feeling for the horse. That’s what we were looking for. So, I think it’s a really important test and we’d love to see it stay in this competition.”

On how much equitation is involved in the championship:

Ralph Caristo:
“The flatwork is [key] and that’s why we begin with the flatwork phase. Certainly that is a tell-tale sign for what we’re going to see over the fences. All of these people up here, their flatwork was quite good and that’s why they’re in the final four. Equitation does count a lot.”

Chris Kappler:
“It does [count], and even the next step beyond that is how their fundamentals are working. At this point their basics are solid, but now how those basics are rolling into the fundamentals, so we wanted to see from a serpentine, how their legs, their hands, their seat, all work together, their eyes, using all their aids. The style is a part of it but functionally, how they’re working with the horse through their aids and through their fundamentals to get the outcome we’re trying to achieve [is most important].”

Judges of the 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals - East Chris Kappler (left) and Ralph Caristo
2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East Judges Chris Kappler (left) and Ralph Caristo (right)

On the long approach to the final oxer in the Phase III: Gymnastics course:

Ralph Caristo:
“I think [we looked for] just the rider’s ability to see it out of stride, how far back, the real precision with that open gallop all the way to the last fence.”

Chris Kappler:
“A hand gallop wasn’t specified. In the rider’s meeting, we told everyone to ride the gymnastics the way they felt was most appropriate for their horse to be ready for the third day.”

On Daisy Farish’s winning performance:

Andre Dignelli

Andre Dignelli:

“When Daisy won, I was choked up. This class is a big part of my history, so it means a lot when kids come here and excel or win. Patricia [Griffith] and I and the rest of our staff have been on this journey with Daisy since she was 7 years old. It’s just an awesome feeling that she pulled out this win for the rest of her life, regardless of what happens after this in terms of the other equitation classes. I’m just happy she was able to get this done. Jodie [Bailey] is in the room and has made so many sacrifices and will always put Daisy first and I think that she should also be applauded for a big part of this.”

“I think the most special part about Daisy is that everybody loves Daisy, her friends, professionals, she looks you in the eye, she greets you, she’s humble, she takes full ownership of her rounds which is a very hard thing for a lot of people to do. And she’s had an incredible year so we’re just thrilled. It was a little bit, we never always had the right equitation horse at the right time for her, and this year was no different. We just kind of kept sticking our necks out. I saw that horse [Arsouille Des Etangs] in June do the Ox Ridge Hunt Club grand prix and McLain Ward owned him. I asked him if I could lease him, and he said, ‘Let me call you back in a few hours,’ and I leased him. I was certain he was going to get sold along the way. He’s a horse who had been wonderful. We got a customer in the barn, Tom Girard, to buy him. He leased him to Daisy to ride in this class. So there were a lot of layers that had to happen to have this result.”

On this year’s Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East:

Andre Dignelli:
“I’m proud of all of these kids. I was a part of Maddy’s [Goetzmann] journey beginning as a small child and a little bit with Lili [Kaissar], as well. So I knew the horses very well and this is a great group of kids. This is a great class and it was judged beautifully. The courses were excellent and the facility has never looked better. It’s a shame there weren’t more people here to see it.”

Stacia Madden

Stacia Madden:

“I was just so happy to come here and see the flat phase be so direct and so useful for getting ready for the rest of the event. I was thrilled after a couple years of a lot of jumping and gymnastics to know that the gymnastics phase was going to be something that was really productive to treating these horses well, working on their jumping style and their rideability. It really let the judges judge the class instead of the gimmicks. The gymnastics phase has historically been the sticky wicket and I think that Ralph [Caristo] and Chris [Kappler] took this very seriously to make sure that this year was very standard and straightforward. I think that the horses and the riders were able to all solve problems and all come away, as they said in the meeting, feeling that they learned something. I brought 11 riders here and I think they all felt that way. It is not often you do finals with the kids all feeling excited about what they’re doing next. The stadium jumping was very fair. We’ve been forced now to jump 1.20m and we’ve been forced to jump the water a lot of times, and you didn’t see a lot of the course being mucked out, you didn’t see riders falling, you didn’t see horses afraid to jump the water well because it was over-decorated. I think everybody walked the course and felt that they had a real shot to have a good day. These four riders just happened to take it to another level.”

Frank MaddenFrank Madden:

“I think Andre [Dignelli] and Stacia [Madden] got it just right. Class is the word that comes to my mind. This place is such a classy place, and a real class event. There were four classy riders, really 33 classy riders here this year, and two very classy guys judging it. It was the best of all the USET finals I’ve been to in terms of how the place looked, how the class was run, how it was judged and the overall performance of the riders.”


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