Mill Spring, N.C. – The weather did not dampen the competitive spirit of 205 riders as they entered the Blue Ridge Arena to compete in the 2020 Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal National Championship. Edging out much of the field to be one of 25 for the final call back, Taylor Griffiths-Madden had the ride of a lifetime aboard Mac One III to secure gold.
“This is my last medal final, and we drove here from Ohio with my horse Mac One III. I was just hoping to have a solid last medal finals, and of course, hoped to win. I’m really happy it turned out the way it did,” said Griffiths-Madden.
Griffiths-Madden (Wellington, Fla.) rode away with the 2020 Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat National Championship title and the Adrian van Sinderen Memorial Perpetual Trophy with her own Mac One III, the 11-year-old warmblood gelding. One of the six top riders to return for the final test, Griffiths-Madden demonstrated beautiful technique as they answered every question with poise.
“I was a little nervous because the test was very long and then of course the no stirrups part, which is not always that fun, but I watched all of my friends go and we were all talking to each other and helping each other out,” said commented. “It’s hard going into the test knowing your on top because it means you have to really stick to it, so it was a bit nerve wracking.”
The course designed by Steve Stephens (Palmetto, Fla.), challenged 25 hopefuls who were invited back to test over an abbreviated second course requiring a forward, yet fluid, bending ride. The top six then returned for one final test where they had to demonstrate a hand gallop, counter-canter, halt, dropped irons, roll backs, and canter their final fence in the opposite direction under the careful watch of judges Ralph Caristo, of Saugerties, NY and Rachel Kennedy, of Brookeville, MD.
Griffiths-Madden described how her partnership with Mac One III came to be and the development of their partnership over the past few years. Originally campaigned as a top jumper, Mac One III transitioned to the equitation and has successfully carried several notable young riders to top national finishes.
“Mac originally was doing the 1.45m with Lauren Hough and then she brought him to Missy Clark who started him in the equitation. Sam Walker showed him, and Ava Stearns a little bit, and I didn’t have a horse, so Missy let me ride him,” explained Griffiths-Madden. “After getting along with him so well, I decided I wanted to buy him and I’ve had him for about three years now. He has the biggest personality and is the sweetest horse. I just love him so much.”
The reserve championship and silver medal were awarded to Elli Yeager (Wellington, Fla) who piloted her own Copperfield 3, the 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding. Yeager was fourth to ride in the final test and highlighted Copperfield 3’s quality of canter and counter-canter as they headed toward the final jump, the Dover Saddlery vertical.
Sam Walker (Nobleton, Ontario) took third aboard Waldo, the 13-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by North Run Farm. Walker was the first rider in the final test to go, exhibiting a beautiful counter-canter line and rhythm to confirm his position on the podium.
Zayna Rizvi (Wellington, Fla.) and Finnick, owned by Jordyn Rose Freedman, was deemed the Best Equitation Horse in the class by the judges and was awarded the Doris H. Clark Memorial Perpetual Trophy donated by Missy Clark.
Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final
1 Taylor Griffiths-Madden (Wellington, Fla.) and Mac One III
2 Elli Yeager (Wellington, Fla) and Copperfield 3
3 Sam Walker (Nobleton, Ontatio) and Waldo
4 Dominic Gibbs (Colorado Spring, Col.) and Clover
5 Grace Debney (Hampden, Mass.) and Quimby
6 Zayna Rizvi (Wellington, Fla.) and Finnick
7 Skyler Fields (Wellesley Hills, Mass.) and Quite Cassini
8 Mimi Gochman (Palm Beach, Fla.) and Kaskade
9 Augusta Iwasaki (Calabasas, Calif.) and Vanderpump
10 Celia Cram (Aiken, S.C.) and Ivano S
11 Ashleigh Scully (Morristown, N.J.) and Acido 7
12 Annalise Manoog (Centerville, Mass.) and Carollo
For complete results, please visit showmanagementsystem.com.
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