By Katie Browne / Photos by Kaitlyn Van Konynenburg
The USHJA Hunterdon Equitation Cup Classic is a prestigious and challenging final that was held for the first time on the west coast last week at Showpark in Del Mar, CA. With 26 entries in the class, the top 4 riders proved themselves to the judges by switching horses and returning for a shortened course with no stirrups. In the end, Kayla Lott was champion, with Grady Lyman, Nina Vogel, and Emma Marlowe respectively taking the top ribbons in the class. The Plaid Horse caught up with each of the riders to learn more about the event. Watch their work off videos to see what it takes to win such a challenging class!
What is your favorite memory of the competing in the final?
Being able to ride Vancouver in the Hunterdon Cup is my favorite memory. He means a lot to me and the Elvenstar family so it was really amazing to share the win with Vancouver and everyone at Elvenstar
Did you do anything special to prepare for the class?
He showed in two classes on Friday and one class Saturday and Sunday. We just kept it really light and only jumped a little. I mostly focused on keeping him sharp in the flatwork.
What was going through your mind as you jumped the last jump?
I was so happy and relieved to have stayed consistent throughout the competition.
If you could ride any horse in the world who would it be and why?
I would have to say either Beezie Madden’s Cortes C or Jessica Springsteen’s Cynar. Both of them are so incredible and even being able to sit on them is out of this world.
Have you ever competed in anything like the Hunterdon Cup?
I have competed in a few medal finals that have a similar format to the class but nothing of this stature.
How did you feel standing at the back gate before the work off?
I think we all felt the pressure but I was more excited than anything.
What was it like competing on a young horse?
Going into this class, I wanted to give him a confident ride and give him exposure to the big equitation classes. So to see him step up to the challenge and give it his all was something really cool to be a part of.
If you were a food, what would you be?
Watermelon, because it’s tough on the outside and sweet on the inside.
Were you nervous before the final?
I would say I was more excited than nervous. A few nerves are helpful to stay focused, though.
What was it like jumping on someone else’s horse and competing right away?
Well Grady and I tried to give each other tips to get to know each other’s horses better. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Avinjo because he’s so green and Grady rides so well, but he was such a good boy. I tried to practice things I would need for the work off like going forward for the hand gallop and getting him back for the trot in the few minutes I had to warm up. He really is such a good horse and I always love riding new ones so the combination made it super fun.
What did you think of the no-stirrup work off?
I thought having no stirrups was an interesting twist because the horses in the work off ranged from veteran equitation horses to horses just out of the jumper ring. That being said, having no stirrups certainly proved the riders’ foundations. Michael Page who was one of the judges pointed out in the press conference after that having no stirrups didn’t change any of our rides. I consider that a big compliment!
What is your most recent obsession?
Boxing! I go to classes for some cardio work and I absolutely love it.
What was the most challenging part of the class?
Definitely the work off switching horses is a huge test and without stirrups was even more challenging. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the test. I got to switch with Kayla Lott onto Vancouver and he was amazing! It was fun to have a different kind of work off then we usually have in medals. It’s a fun little warm up for USET finals work off.
What did you think of the courses?
I thought the courses were great! The first round was very straight forward. Towards the end of the course there was a long line that walked in a quiet 9 strides, but a lot of people were doing 8. It just depended on your horse. I personally liked the 9 and that is what I decided to do. I went pretty early in the order and got a score of 85. I was really happy with my round but knew An 85 wasn’t going to be the leader. I went into the handy round in 6th and knew I had to put in a stellar round. I was very handy and got a score of 87 which won the second round. Which moved me to 2nd overall right behind Kayla.
How did you feel when you were called back in the top four?
It was an honor! The other top 3 riders are fantastic and it was really just a fun work off. I was super excited! My goal was just to make top 4 so I was really proud to of accomplished. It’s really exciting to be apart of the first ever west coast Hunterton cup!
What is your favorite TV show?