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Top West Coast juniors and amateurs compete in equitation challenge

Special to the Horsetrader

The top six riders listening to instruction for work-off at The American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Challenge. (Amy McCool photo)

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO—Junior and Amateur riders from across the West Coast made up a field of over 90 competitors looking to gain solid miles and rise to the occasion in The American Tradition of Excellence Equitation Challenge, presented by Whitethorne.

At the conclusion of three phases and a work-off by the top six, 16-year-old Payton Potter earned the 2019 championship honors with a final point score of 269.5. Second to Potter was Julia Stone, who finished with 257.25 points. These two young riders each claimed another challenging 3’3” victory in the last two years, as the 2017 and 2018 champions of the USHJA 3’3” Jumping Seat Medal Finals.

Only in its third year, this unique educational event was larger and more competitive than ever. After a riders meeting and course walk, Phase One, held on Tuesday, welcomed 94 entries over a flowing, hunter-type track of 3’3” fences set on the Oaks International Grand Prix Field.

After a gathering that evening with every competitor and their trainer at The Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, the competitors entered the next phase: educational presentations and a Q&A session with the judges. Then, bright and early on Wednesday morning, each rider had an opportunity to apply what they learned from the previous phases to Phase Three, a 3’3” jumping seat medal finals style course. The six riders who finished the jumping phases with the highest overall scores returned for a work-off to determine the top placings.

Like the talent in the arena, the mentorship was top tier, too. Georgy Maskrey-Segesman of Whitethorne was present throughout all phases of the event and expressed her excitement and appreciation for the incredible turnout this year. The beautifully decorated courses were designed by Karen Healey, who also served as technical delegate and was on hand as a mentor to participants. Mental skills coach Erika Westhoff, M.A., was present for all three phases to offer guidance and support. Two distinguished judges, Diana Carney and Cynthia Hankins, worked together to provide not only a numerical score for each round in both jumping phases but, unique to this class, they also provided written comments for each competitor.

More online: http://bit.ly/907_equitation

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