Wellington, Fla. – March 26, 2017 – While the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) circuit is coming to a close in just one short week and things are beginning to settle down, the competition is still in full swing, and both the course designers and the judges are not withholding the challenge. Two technical courses set the stage for the 3’6” equitation classes on Sunday of WEF Week Eleven. In Section A of the ASPCA Maclay, new partnerships reigned supreme as Jordan Stiller and Chocolate Moose walked away with the blue ribbon, while Stiller’s barn mate, Emma Crate, claimed top honors in Section B on Stiller’s former partner, A Picobello Star Z.
For their trainer, Kristy Herrera, the victory was that much more rewarding as the two girls just recently switched rides with Crate purchasing Stiller’s horse last week, and Stiller taking the reins on Crate’s sale horse, Chocolate Moose.
Stiller, who is in her final year riding as a junior, said, “This is my first weekend on Chocolate Moose. He’s an incredible and amazing horse and it’s only his first year in the 3’6”. Today marks my third day showing him, so we’ve been a great match from the beginning.”
“I had been riding Moose for about a year and a half now, and we were deciding that maybe we should change it up a bit,” Crate noted. “Jordan said that she wanted to finish riding, so I tried her horse and I’m selling mine. When she got on him, they fit perfectly.”
Stiller, who hails from Needham, Massachusetts, tackled the challenging course, featuring a number of broken lines, on a horse she had just swung her leg over for the first time last week, yet spectators would have never known. The pair nailed nearly every aspect of the track and set the standard for the rest of the class. Stiller remained on stand-by for the flat phase.
“What was difficult about the course today was the middle diagonal line. We came in toward the triple bar, rode a very steady four in the middle and then you had to leg out. I think that people just had to ride the in between. The last line was also very steady towards home but I think that he came back and handled it so well,” Stiller said.
Sara McCloskey and Sting rode to a second place finish behind Stiller in Section A, while Madison Goetzmann and Pappy Van Winkle collected the third place ribbon.
For 16-year-old rider Emma Crate, it was obvious that her recent acquisition of A Picobello Star Z was a wise decision as the new pair came out in top form to capture the prize in Section B of the ASPCA Maclay.
“We just purchased Jordan’s horse about a week ago. He’s absolutely wonderful. I had never ridden him before that. He felt really excellent today. I find it very easy to jump and see distances on him, so I was very confident going into the jumping phase,” Crate acknowledged.
She continued, “I will show him again next week. I’ll do a little bit of the April circuit here, then we’ll be in Saratoga for two weeks in May and also two weeks in June. Next, we are gearing up for Michigan and then Vermont.”
With her new mount, Crate has her sights set on qualifying and competing at the indoor finals in the fall.
Giavanna Rinaldi and Lollipop S were able to pull off a second place victory, and Samantha Cohen and Clover rounded out the top three spots in Section B of the ASPCA Maclay.
A majority of the same riders who competed earlier in the ASPCA Maclay returned in the afternoon to try their efforts in the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal. Section A saw Rinaldi pilot Lollipop S to the first place spot, while Cohen and Clover dominated Section B.
“He’s been really good, and he’s only 6 years old,” Rinaldi said. “He just started doing the equitation this circuit actually and this was our big step up today — getting second [in Section B of the ASPCA Maclay] and first [in Section A of the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal].
“I really liked the first course. I thought it asked a certain amount of questions and I thought the in-and-out line was very tricky. I really liked the test because I thought I could shine in some places and my horse answered all of the questions that I asked of him,” Rinaldi added.
In Section A, eight of the top riders were brought back to test, and Rinaldi was fourth to go over the shortened course. She executed the test, which consisted of a counter-canter to the first fence, a trot jump and a hand gallop to an oxer headed towards the in-gate, seamlessly.
“After watching others go before me, I knew there was an inside turn, so I figured I would shape it and he handled it really well,” Rinaldi said. “He also handled the hand gallop really nicely.”
Rounding out the top three spots behind Rinaldi and Lollipop S in Section A of the Medal was Natalie Jayne and Kallisto in second place, while Tess Lenihan and Wayfarer walked away with third place honors.
Cohen and Clover triumphed in Section B, while Jordan Allen and Chaucer achieved the second place ribbon and Olivia Woodson and Cormack took home third place.
When asked about her mount, Cohen said, “[Clover] was awesome. I got him at the beginning of WEF — at the end of finals. I can always count on him and he’s just a seasoned pro.”
She continued, “There’s so many things about Clover that I love. He’s so reliable and he really doesn’t make mistakes. Everything that I ask him to do, he’ll do. He doesn’t ever do anything stupid. He never lets me down so I know I can always count on him. If I give him a good ride, he’ll usually be there for me.”
Cohen’s plan going into the first round was simple and straightforward.
She explained, “I was just trying to be really smooth. There were a lot of lines today, especially the one down the middle, which was really difficult. It was kind of a stretchy one-stride to a really easy four and then another stretchy one-stride out over an oxer, so I really wanted to nail that line. He’s so good at adjusting, so I tried to find a nice distance out of the turn, cover the one and then get the four done early. I was trying to make it all look invisible.”
With the pressure on, Cohen was the last of four in her section to test, and after watching the other three riders go, she realized that laying down a more conservative but well-done test was better than taking a risk. Her plan paid off.
“After the trot jump, you could go inside or outside of the vertical to hand gallop the oxer. Clover is so good at testing and holding the lead so I knew that if everyone before me went inside and did it well, then I would need to do that too,” Cohen said. “But the test kind of started to fall apart and everyone was having some trouble with that [inside] turn. I figured it would just be easiest to have him land left, get a flying change and go around the vertical holding [the lead].”
Cohen credits her trainer, Stacia Madden, of Beacon Hill Show Stables, for her advice on what to do when preparing to execute an equitation test and trying to maintain the first place position.
“Stacia is really adamant that every test is just about getting it done. She says, ‘Just go in and complete the test. Don’t try to outdo yourself or beat yourself,’” Cohen said.
Since Cohen is already qualified for both the Pessoa/USEF Hunter Seat Medal and ASPCA Maclay Finals, she will forego competing in those classes next weekend. However, to close out the circuit, Cohen will try her efforts in Friday’s Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search 2*.
Equitation competition at WEF will resume on Friday, March 31, with the 2* USEF Show Jumping Talent Search and will continue throughout the weekend. Riders will vie for the top spots in the equitation classes as they try to collect points to qualify for regional competition in the fall.
Results: ASPCA Maclay Section A
1 5157 – CHOCOLATE MOOSE JORDAN STILLER
2 4386 – STING SARA MCCLOSKEY
3 962 – PAPPY VAN WINKLE MADISON GOETZMANN
4 4768 – CASSINO 20 TAYLOR GRIFFITHS
5 4157 – CANTOBLANCO RALEIGH HILER
6 2342 – CHAUCER JORDAN ALLEN
7 4204 – COMMON SENSE ALEXANDRA PIELET
8 4389 – ZJAPPOO SOW BILLI ROSE BRANDNER
Results: ASPCA Maclay Section B
1 5154 – A PICOBELLO STAR Z EMMA CRATE
2 437 – LOLLIPOP S GIAVANNA RINALDI
3 914 – CLOVER SAMANTHA COHEN
4 4207 – FUTURE FIDDLER HANNAH DOHERTY
5 3813 – VINTAGE BENTLEY TESSA QUEIROLO
6 3386 – BARRADOUZ KATHRYN HALL
7 7011 – CARRY AWAY LIELLE RHODES
8 2123 – BILBAO ADAM EDGAR
Results: Pessoa USEF Hunter Seat Medal Section A
1 437 – LOLLIPOP S GIAVANNA RINALDI
2 3426 – KALLISTO NATALIE JAYNE
3 1812 – WAYFARER TESS LENIHAN
4 4768 – CASSINO 20 TAYLOR GRIFFITHS
5 6192 – CARL EMMA KURTZ
6 962 – PAPPY VAN WINKLE MADISON GOETZMANN
7 4157 – CANTOBLANCO RALEIGH HILER
8 6837 – UPTON PHOEBE ALWINE
Results: Pessoa USEF Hunter Seat Medal Section B
1 914 – CLOVER SAMANTHA COHEN
2 2342 – CHAUCER JORDAN ALLEN
3 2328 – CORMACK OLIVIA WOODSON
4 3813 – VINTAGE BENTLEY TESSA QUEIROLO
5 2687 – SIR SANDRO CATALINA PERALTA
6 2123 – BILBAO ADAM EDGAR
7 6310 – CABALLERO III HAYDEN STEWART
8 1595 – CONTO BLUE PAIGE MATTHIES