Gladstone, N.J. – Oct. 6, 2018 – A new roster of emerging talent gathered at Hamilton Farm on Saturday to vie for the coveted 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East title and a chance to have their name etched in equitation history. The initial day of competition featured two phases which challenged some of the foremost young riders in the country on their flatwork skills and gymnastics precision. At the end of the day, it was 18-year-old Madison Goetzmann who came out on top after flawless back-to-back performances riding Anna Blumenfeld’s Faemes Van T Poelzelhof.
Aptly located at the impressive United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey, the historic equitation final plays a key role in the Show Jumping Talent Search Program, which dates back to the 1950s. The program provides an opportunity for athletes under the age of 21 years old to showcase their abilities as potential international representatives of American show jumping at the highest level. With a strong focus on the principle that “form follows function,” riders are expected to navigate their horse over a jumper-style course while maintaining the forward style of riding, demonstrating both correct equitation as well as speed and precision.
Saturday morning got underway with 33 riders tackling the opening flat phase of competition, each one trying to stake their claim and make a positive early impression on judges Ralph Caristo and Chris Kappler. All six groups of contestants were asked to demonstrate a series of tests including counter-canter, shoulder-in, haunches-in, turn on the haunches, collecting and lengthening of stride, walking on a long rein and backing up.
The flat phase was no easy feat as riders tried to prove themselves worthy of consideration on Caristo and Kappler’s scorecards. Just two competitors distinguished themselves from the rest of the pack as the only ones to achieve scores above 90, led by Madison Goetzmann with a near-perfect score of 92, followed by Cooper Dean in second place with a 91. Daisy Farish sat in the third place position with a score of 89 to round out the top three headed into the afternoon’s gymnastics phase.
Goetzmann, who is competing for the sixth time at the 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East, was the final rider to tackle the course as riders were invited back in reverse order. While Goetzmann is extremely familiar with the equitation, her new partner has much less experience. Goetzmann got the ride on Faemes Van T Poelzelhof, a 13-year-old mare that was spotted by her trainers, Stacia Madden and Krista Freundlich, less than one month ago. Although the mare was competing in the jumper ring, Madden and Freundlich felt that the duo would make a great team in the equitation.
In addition to judging, Caristo and Kappler acted as course designers, and they built the track with 12 fences ranging in height from 1.15 to 1.20 meters. Goetzmann was certainly one to watch as she executed a seamless performance over the course which included a serpentine of four verticals that tested the riders’ abilities to keep their horses straight.
Riders started with a line off the left lead in five steady strides to five flowing strides to the four verticals in a serpentine loop, followed by a rollback to a blue oxer, then another line off the right lead headed towards the in-gate measuring four very forward strides to four short strides to a one-stride, then a long approach to the final blue oxer. Overall, most of the horse and rider combinations were proficient over the track, with the most common error being an occasional downed rail.
Goetzmann was able to keep her composure and was awarded a score of 94 in the second round to remain on top going into Sunday’s final two rounds with a cumulative score of 233 points. Following closely behind was Cooper Dean aboard Bryan Baldwin’s Braavos, who earned an 89 in the gymnastics phase for a total of 224.5 points. Daisy Farish and JMTT Girard LLC’s Arsouille Des Etangs rounded out the top three spots heading into Sunday with a grand total of 224.0 points after scoring an impressive 90 in the gymnastics phase.
The 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East will continue at Hamilton Farm on Sunday with two more phases of competition remaining to determine this year’s champion. Phase III: Jumping will begin the day’s events, followed by the afternoon’s Phase IV: Ride-off, consisting of the four top-scoring competitors. Those four young riders will return to the ring following a format modeled after the Show Jumping World Championships final ride-off, and will first navigate their own mounts, then the other three competitors’ horses, over an abridged course to determine the new winner of the prestigious title.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Madison Goetzmann – Leader of 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East
On maintaining her lead:
“I was hoping for a good result but I wasn’t expecting it. I know I have such a great team behind me and an amazing horse for this event so I thought I had a good chance of having a successful first day. My horse delivered perfectly. I couldn’t be any more proud of her. I have been in this position before, being on top at a final and it is a lot of pressure, but I think over the years I have gained experience with it. Tonight, I will just try to really remain calm and not think about it too much, because at this final especially, a lot can change.”
On the course:
“I wasn’t sure what to expect. This is my sixth USET Finals so every single year I feel as if the course is completely different. Ralph [Caristo] and Chris [Kappler] kind of manufactured this course and I have huge amounts of respect for both of them so I was expecting a good, solid course. It didn’t ask too much of the riders where it was unfair. It was a perfect course. The serpentine line really tested riders’ ability to keep the horses straight but still going on a curve. Then, there was a nice inside turn that riders had to be tactful about keeping their horses’ eye on and straight.”
On Faemes Van T Poelzelhof:
“She is 13 years old. I have been riding her for a little bit less than a month now. It is a funny story of how we got her. This is my second show on her. I went to the Kentucky Horse Park for a day to try USET horses just because there is sort of a specific horse you want for this final. My trainers, Krista Freundlich and Stacia Madden, saw Faemes trotting around in a ring with someone else and they loved her look. They approached the owners and asked if I could sit on her. I tried her there and we instantly fell in love. We won our first USET class together and this is her first USET Finals. She was doing the jumpers with Anna Blumenfeld. I am so grateful to Anna for letting me borrow her for this final and I’m just feeling very lucky.”
Place / Rider / Horse / Owner / Score
1. Madison Goetzmann / Faemes Van T Poelzelhof / Anna Blumenfeld / 233.0
2. Cooper Dean / Braavos / Bryan Baldwin / 224.5
3. Daisy Farish / Arsouille Des Etangs / JMTT Girard LLC / 224.0
4. Lili Kaissar / Salt Lake / Two Aces Equestrian / 215.5
5. Tess Lenihan / Cool De Reve / Tess Lenihan / 212.3
6. Isabelle Song / Casper Vant Gestelhof / Patricia Garrett / 209.8
7. Taylor Griffiths / Dalaide De Longpre / Elle Haymond / 207.3
8. Coco Fath / Cantoblanco / Raleigh Hiler / 203.0
9. Tanner Korotkin / Canny Windsor Z / Peacock Ridge LLC / 200.5
10. Ava Ellis / Remmits Delphi / Clear Ride LLC / 199.5
For more information on the 2018 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals, please click here.