Above: NEHC Junior Hunt Seat Medal Final Champion: Emma Fletcher owner/rider on Conspicuous. Left to right standing: Ed Nowak, Linda Langmeier, Kathy Fletcher, Amber Woodruff, Samantha Burger, Joe Dotoli. Photo by Anne Gittins Photography www.annegittins.com
THE BIG E – WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA
This year, the New England Equitation Championships celebrated its 42nd anniversary. The five-day event is one of the longest running and most prestigious equitation finals in the country. ShowNet livestreamed all week and USEF Network covered Sunday’s Junior Medal. Ellie Raidt, Matt Brayman and Mckayla Langmeier commentated.
The respected judging panel was made up of Patrick Rodes (course designer), Brian Flynn (Lifetime Achievement Award winner), Chance Arakelian, Tom Brennan, Otis Brown and Robin Ann Rost. Rodes’ course design challenged competitors with lots of connections and flowing bending lines.
The 46+ Adult Medal kicked off the week on Wednesday, October 18. Brenda Tananbaum was Champion and Jennifer Seidel was Reserve. An unprecedented tie after two rounds in the 28-45 Medal demanded a test which Elysse Ruschmeyer executed for the win; Melissa Pelton was Reserve. On Thursday, two more adult groups took to the ring. Allison Joyce was Champion and Hannah Brown was Reserve in the 22-27 group. Rhian Murphy won the 18-21 division with Rebekah Chenelle in Reserve.
The new Adult Equitation Championship Class on Thursday invited back Champion and Reserve riders from the four adult age groups to compete. Rebekah Chenelle emerged victorious.
Junior Open sections ran Friday and Saturday. On Friday evening, over 100 Juniors took the written phase of the Horsemanship Class. Originating at the NEEC, the Horsemanship Class combines a rider’s written test score, practicum, and first round finals score to determine the overall top Junior Horseperson.
450+ family and friends then gathered for a fun-filled dinner and a commemorative video celebrating Juniors in their last year. Nicole Lindquist and Raleigh Hiler won the Junior Sportsmanship Award. Beloved announcer and R jumper judge, John Bahret, received the esteemed Sue Brainard award for his many years of dedication to the continued success of the NEEC.
The Challenge of the States team costume class celebrated 20 years on Saturday with as much enthusiasm as ever. Juniors with top scores in the Open competed on teams of six to represent their home states with NO help from their trainers allowed! Massachusetts Team 1 won Gold. Thanks to an anonymous donor, teams competed for money to donate to a charity of their choice. Gold donated to Paws for Purple Hearts.
On Sunday, the Junior Medal Final featured 181 riders. Between rounds, Clara Bechtold was crowned overall winner of the Katie Battison Horsemanship Award. Top scoring Juniors who have never competed in a 3’6” final were eligible for a separate set of ribbons, the win went to Libby Lestage.
Sam Walker won the High Point Junior Rider Award. Emma Fletcher laid down flawless rounds to become the NEHC Junior Medal Champion. Emma’s trainers are Linda Langmeier, Amber Woodruff, Kathy Fletcher and Grazing Fields Farm. Reserve: Ava Stearns, Trainer: North Run.
Adult Sportsmanship: Anne Keesler and Jacquie Arakalien Groom’s Award: Antonio Bustamonte
Adult Judge’s Choice: To The Nines
Junior Judge’s Choice: Sting
For more information: www.NewEnglandEquitation.com