Rylynn Conway and Crossbow Conquer 2021 Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3” Equitation Championship

Rylynn Conway

Edited Press Release

Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 31, 2021 – Equitation competition came to a pinnacle Sunday, October 31, at the 2021 National Horse Show (NHS). As one of the most highly anticipated events of the prestigious show, the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3” Equitation Championship made its return to the Alltech Arena for its fourth consecutive year to welcome a large field of 177 junior athletes and their equitation mounts. After two rounds of stiff over fences competition and a flat phase, it would ultimately be Rylynn Conway and Crossbow donning the championship tricolor after leading the class throughout all three phases. Claire Simic and Diatoon would claim the second place position, and Daniela Carvajal and KTS Chrystal Lake would round out the top three.

The United States’ Bobby Murphy set the first-round track fit for the championship title. A total of 10 obstacles set across the expansive arena made for a winding path starting with a vertical directly in front of the in-gate, immediately challenging the focus of horse-and-rider pairs. Throughout the first round course, athletes worked to maintain pace and stride in the numerous bending lines, including one that featured two double-combinations towards the out-gate. Of the 177 starters, judges decided on a list of the top 24 athletes from round one to return for the flat phase and round two over fences, of which, Conway, Simic and Annabelle Brown held the top three positions heading into the flat phase of competition.

Judges David Beisel and Rachel Kennedy invited riders back to the arena in two separate groups of 12 for the flat portion. Riders were asked to demonstrate correct position through the walk, sitting trot, trot, canter, and counter canter, all of which required seamless transitions in between. After both groups were seen on the flat, judges pegged the same group of 24 riders in reverse order of preference to return for a third round of competition, which took the form of an over fences. 

Claire Simic

Also a 10-effort track, the second-round course nearly replicated the first-round course in reverse order, with a few minor changes to the format. Brown and El Tigre, who were the fifth-to-last pair to take on the second-round course, laid down a respectable trip, setting the bar for the remaining four to follow. Gable Gering and Decklin were next to try out the second-round track, producing a solid effort that would keep them in contention for a top placing. Tensions rose as the final three made their way through the National Horse Show arches. Carvajal and KTS Chrystal Lake would also perform their best before the penultimate combination, Simic and Diatoon. The pair were handy throughout the track to maintain a steady position amongst the pack. Conway, who led the charge throughout the first two phases, was the final athlete on course. Her and Crossbow were tasked with mounting pressure to maintain their lead, a challenge that would prove to be an easy one for the 13-year-old athlete as she and Crossbow laid down an incredible final course to ultimately earn her title as the undeniable winner of the Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3” Equitation Championship. 

Daniella Carvajal

Conway and her 16-year-old Warmblood gelding Crossbow have been partnered together for two years. Under the tutelage of Stacia Klein Madden and the team at Beacon Hill Show Stables, Conway and Crossbow have grown immensely in their partnership together, racking up wins across the country in the equitation ranks and hunter derbies. Though only 13-years-old, Conway’s future appears bright, and she hopes to continue her success throughout her remaining junior years.

Coming off of a championship finish in the Pérez & Bennett Open Equitation 16-17 during Saturday’s competition, Simic and Diatoon, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding, claimed the second place prize after three rounds of competition. The pair look forward to competing in the 3’6” equitation divisions next year. 

Rounding out the top three was Carvajal, who was the recipient of the Leo Conroy Equitation Grant and New England Equitation Championship Mason Phelps Spirit of the Sport Grant, one of which she graciously handed off to a peer so that she could also have the opportunity to compete at the 2021 National Horse Show. Riding her own 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding, KTS Chrystal Lake, Cravajal was thrilled with her top-three finish. 


Rylynn Conway – Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3” Equitation Championship winner

On Crossbow:
​​“I have had Crossbow for two years. He was my first horse, which makes a difference because he has taught me everything. He’s been perfect for me, I love him so much.”

On her experience at the National Horse Show:
“Yesterday I was awarded champion in the 14 & Under Equitation. My plan for today was to just be consistent and have a good time. I thought I could have a good round, but I didn’t think I’d be winning.”

On her plans for the future:
“My goals are to continue being consistent and have a good rest of my junior career.”

On having a 3’3” Equitation Championship at the National Horse Show:
“I think it makes me more confident for the future, it’s a big accomplishment.”

On her trainer’s advice going into the ring:
“They always say good luck and have fun. I think that helps me go into the ring and feel less nervous.”

Claire Simic – Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3” Equitation Championship second place

On the competition this weekend:
“I had so much fun this whole week. The competition and the riders were great. It was really fun to see all the horses, they’re all so pretty. My plan going into this class was to be consistent, follow the plan, and listen to my horse. Just have a great warmup, go in and be confident.”

On competing at the 2021 National Horse Show:
“This is my first time at the National Horse Show, and it’s my horse’s first time also. It was a first for both of us and I didn’t know what to expect. I had such a great time and I love it here. I love the grass and the rings. It’s been really fun, and I’m so grateful to my trainers, my parents, and everything who has supported me here.”

On having a 3’3” Equitation Championship at the National Horse Show:
“I loved getting this experience under my belt and competing indoors for the first time. I’m excited to start 3’6” next year.”

Daniela Carvajal – Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3” Equitation Championship third place

On competing at the 2021 National Horse Show:
“Ever since I was a little kid, I have seen this horse show and wanted to show there, be successful there. Coming here for the second year in a row is just a dream. Having the support of the Leo Conroy Equitation Grant is beyond words. I am so grateful for it.”

On the importance of sportsmanship:
“This sport seems so individual, every rider is riding for themselves. But every rider has a team behind the scenes that none of it would be possible without, and I think that’s really important. Showing kindness towards my team is really important.”

On having a 3’3” Equitation Championship at the National Horse Show:
“I think that the 3’3” is an incredible stepping stone, and having all of these 3’3” finals is really important for safety and rider confidence. I think they are really important.”

Kristen Hamel – Sponsor of the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3” Equitation Championship

On supporting the competition:
“This class always amazes me. Every year we have phenomenal riders, it grows, and it’s something near and dear to my heart. It’s something we talked about but never thought would come to fruition like it has, and we think it’s very special. I really want to congratulate the girls, you rode well and it was a great competition.”


Place / Horse / Rider / Owner

2021 Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3” Equitation Championship:
1. Crossbow / Rylynn Conway / Rylynn Conway
2. Diatoon / Claire Simic / Claire Simic 
3. KTS Chrystal Lake / Daniela Carvajal /  Daniela Carvajal
4. Decklin / Gable Gering / Gable Gering 
5. Nemesis 11 / Annabelle Brown / Julia Zug 
6. Handsome DD / Caroline Olsen / Dianne Desroches 
7. Coltino / Ariana Marnell / Katherine Dewar
8. Rockingham  / Mae Manning / Dominique Damico
9. Constantinos / Paige Walkenbach / Georgy Maskrey-Segesman
10. G- Star / Julia Brown / Kathleen Schmeler
11. Calino 60 / Mina Godden / Mina Godden 
12. Schimmy / Kennedi Kunkle / Kennedi Kunkle