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Tradition of Excellence

Education comes first, but its still a big win for Nina Vogel in the second annual Challenge

Special to the Horsetrader - July 1st, 2018 - Show & Event News
Nina Vogel, aboard Pam Stewart’s Durango, after earning the title of The American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Challenge.

Nina Vogel, aboard Pam Stewart’s Durango, after earning the title of The American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Challenge.

Amy McCool photo

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — More than 60 junior and amateur riders took to The Oaks International Grand Prix Field for the Second Annual American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Challenge, presented by Whitethorne.

Home after her freshman year in college, 20-year-old Nina Vogel, aboard Pam Stewart’s Durango, rode beautifully both days to earn a big title.

The class took place over three phases, with the first day featuring a jumping phase over a 3’3″ equitation-type track, as well as an educational presentation and “question-and-answer” phase with all riders, trainers, and judges that evening. In Day Two, competitors took what they learned from Day One and applied it to their ride in Phase 3, followed by a work-off of the top six scoring riders.

Georgey Maskrey-Segesman, of Whitethorne, LLC, founder and title sponsor of the event, explained this class is about education, and that winning is only a small part of the big picture.

Courses he courses were designed by Karen Healey. She also served as technical delegate and was on hand as a mentor to all participants, along with mental skills coach Tonya Johnston. Bernie Traurig returned as a judge, this year joined by Geoff Teall, who along with Robin Rost Brown will be adjudicating the USEF Hunter Seat Medal Finals this fall. Traurig and Teall presided over each jumping phase and provided written comments for each competitor as well as scores in the open numerical format.

After a warm-up round on Monday and a mandatory rider’s meeting on Tuesday morning, Phase One commenced. Sixty-five competitors set out to answer the questions of adjustability, pace, and fluidity around the course.

Phase Two was conducted at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel on Tuesday evening. As they entered, riders picked up the judges’ comment cards from Phase One. Soon after, Tonya Johnston gave a “Mental Skills” presentation to the group. Then Riders and trainers watched a video presentation illustrating the history of traditional equitation riding. Traurig commented on how riding styles have developed over time, and which traditional techniques we can use today to further develop our riding skills.

Afterwards Traurig, Teall, Healey, Johnston, and Maskrey-Segesman answered inquiries from the riders. The unique opportunity to receive such extensive feedback from the panel highlighted the educational components of the class and gave the riders a unique leg up in the third phase the following morning, as well as a new perspective on the tradition of equitation.

Phase Three began at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Sixty-one entries returned to ride the course for the day’s competition, featuring a more technical track with lines requiring adjustability, a triple-combination near the in-gate, an airy swedish oxer, and two bending lines at the top of the arena.

Many riders found the second round course to be difficult, especially the bending lines, one ridden off the right lead in five or six strides, and the other off the left lead in four strides. Riders who were able to execute a forward pace and an automatic release, as discussed during Phase Two, with the horse between hand and leg throughout, received well-earned solid scores from the judges.

Sitting fourth after Phase One, Vogel didn’t miss a step in Phase Two, executing a flawless round and earning a score of 95, which led to a combined total of 181 points.

Generous prizes were awarded to the top riders and trainers, including $10,000 cash to the winning trainer, a Butet saddle and cooler, a full set of EquiFit boots, and a generous Tredstep Ireland gift certificate to the winning rider. All riders received gift bags from Butet, the top 12 also took home gifts from EquiFit and Valencia Sport Saddlery and the second and third place riders were also awarded Tredstep Ireland gift certificates.

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