West Springfield, Mass.—Oct. 25, 2021—They may have been equitation final rookies, but Ella Witt and Stakkair looked like seasoned veterans as they climbed to the top of the 2021 USHJA 3’3” Hunter Seat Medal Final – East. Held at the New England Equitation Championships at Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts, on Saturday, October 23, Witt, of Califon, New Jersey, rose from sixth to claim the win ahead of Haley Edwardson, of Ridgefield, Connecticut, in second and Carolyn Carpenter, of Darien, Connecticut, in third.
Scott Alder, of Oxford, Michigan, designed the first round course that judges Ellen Raidt, of Wellington, Florida, and Danny Robertshaw, of Camden, South Carolina, saw 96 riders contest. Edwardson took an early lead with an 87 aboard Deo Volente, followed closely by five other competitors within 3 points, including Carpenter in fourth and Witt in sixth.
The top 25 riders returned to take on the second course, which shuffled the riders as the top six were called back to test in reverse order of their cumulative, unannounced scores. Heading into the third round, Carpenter sat in sixth with Witt in second and Edwardson remaining in first. In the end, Witt’s performance over the shortened course, which included hand gallop and counter canter fences, wowed the judges and edged out Edwardson for the tricolor in their first equitation final.
“We have a saying right before I go in the ring—’cool as a cucumber, eye of a tiger’—and I think that really showed today,” Witt said. “I just tried to be consistent since it is his first time at a big final like this and mine as well. I just wanted to try and make everything match and we’ve been working on trying to keep the same rhythm around. I was definitely a little nervous, but I tried to take that and apply it to my courses.”
“I thought my first round was good—I just was a little deep to one of the jumps but it worked. In the second round, I really tried to show off and move up because I was coming in sixth. Then I came back second, and I was a little nervous about the counter canter because he’s not the best at that since he’s green, but he really stepped up to the plate,” Witt continued. “Stakkair is 8 years old and I am lucky enough to ride him for Emil Spadone and Redfield Farm. I was partnered with him in July, and he’s been awesome. He’s the best partner I could have asked for.”
For her win, Witt received a ribbon, sash, cooler, keeper trophy, a pair of Parlanti boots, a gift from Straight Arrow and an Essex Classics Show Shirt.
The USHJA 3’3” Hunter Seat Medal serves as a stepping stone for equitation riders, providing an opportunity to qualify and compete in a national equitation final at fence heights of 3’3”. The Medal is open to Junior riders, who have not competed in any of the following National Equitation Finals with fences at 3’6” within the same competition year, including USHJA Gladstone Cup Equitation Classic, ASPCA Maclay Finals, USEF Hunter Seat Medal Finals, USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals (East or West), WIHS Equitation Classic Finals, Jump Canada Medal Finals or the North American Equitation Championship.
“I started the 3’3″ this year, so this is kind of a build-up to next year in the [ASPCA] Maclay Finals. So it’s definitely a big honor to win,” said Witt.
The USHJA extends special thanks to the entire New England Equitation Championships team for hosting the event as well as Official Sponsors CWD, Nutrena, Parlanti and Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital; Championship Sponsor Straight Arrow; and Awards Sponsor Essex Classics.
To learn more about the USHJA 3’3″ Hunter Seat Medal, visit ushja.org/HunterSeatMedal.
Photos by Anne Gittins Photography