THE BIG E – WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA
The New England Equitation Championships (NEEC) celebrated its 44th anniversary this year. This five-day event is run by the volunteer NEEC Committee and is one of the longest running and most prestigious equitation finals in the country. All five days were produced by ShowNet and livestreamed on USEF Network.
The renowned judging panel included Linda Andrisani, Ralph Caristo, Todd Karn, Jimmy Lee, PatrickRodes (course designer) and Sissy Wickes.
The 46+ Adult Medal kicked off the week on Wednesday, October 16. After two rounds and a test of the top three, Michele Foote emerged as Champion with Reserve going to Sherrill Woessner. In the 28-45 division, last year’s Reserve Champion, Carolyn Lavin, came back to win her section of the Open and was Champion in the Medal. Julie Hogan was Reserve. On Thursday, the 22-27 Medal Champion was Alexandra Carlton with Elizabeth Chenelle earning Reserve. In the 18-21 group Clara Bechtold won her Open and was Champion in the Medal. Reserve went to Emily Gilbert.
Junior Open sections ran Friday and Saturday. On Friday evening, over 75 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. After the written test, more than 400 family and friends gathered for a fun-filled dinner and commemorative video celebrating Juniors in their last year. The Juniors vote for one of their peers to win the Junior Sportsmanship Award and this year they selected Emma Fletcher.
Following the Open on Saturday, attendees in person and via livestream were treated to a special equitation course strategy session. All six judges generously hosted this open Q&A forum where they discussed what constitutes a winning round in their eyes.
The world-famous Challenge of the States team costume class ran Saturday afternoon and participants celebrated with as much enthusiasm as ever. Juniors with top scores in the Open competed on teams of six to represent their home states – NO help from trainers allowed! Team New York won Gold, the All American team won Silver and Vermont eared Bronze. Thanks to an anonymous donor, all teams competed for money to donate to a charity of their choice. Gold chose the Kevin Babington fund. Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta, tuning in to the livestream from home, were so touched by the number of teams dedicating their funds to Kevin’s recovery that they personally donated an additional $1,000 to the fund. Throughout the week, the NEEC Committee passed the hat to raise funds for Kevin and then matched that amount. In total, over $6,000 was raised throughout the week and 100% of the proceeds will go to Kevin.
Mark Jungherr was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Mark has won over 35 Grand Prix, produced countless top hunters and jumpers, is a highly respected USEF “R” judge and a long-time supporter of the New England Equitation Championships.
Sunday’s Junior Medal Final featured 171 riders. Last year’s Junior winner, Katrina Tiktinsky, along with esteemed Grand Prix rider and ‘R’ judge Ellie Raidt lent their voices and expertise to the livestream commentary during the final.
Between rounds, Isabel Hall was named overall winner of the Katie Battison Horsemanship Award. Top scoring Juniors who never competed in a 3’6” final were eligible for a separate set of ribbons. First place went to Avery Schauder. Ellie Ferrigno earned the High Point Junior Rider Award.
After two rounds and a test of the top four, Taylor Griffiths masterfully clinched the Champion title with Reserve going to Ellie Ferrigno. Taylor’s trainers are Frank and Jennifer Madden. Ellie rides with Val Renihan.
Adult Sportsmanship: Jennifer Wall and Elizabeth Kenny
Groom’s Award: Pedro Textiera
Sue Brainard Award: Melissa Welch
Jimmy Lee Adult Judge’s Choice: MTM Blueberry
Jimmy Lee Junior Judge’s Choice: Fellow Traveler
Nicholas Award: Writtle
For more information and detailed results: www.NewEnglandEquitation.com
Instagram and Facebook: @newenglandequitation