July 9, 2014--Seventeen-year-old Caitlin Boyle of Hampshire, IL took the Dixon Ring at the Devon show grounds by storm maintaining the lead through each of the three rounds of the USHJA/Essex Classics Hunterdon Equitation Cup Classic. Boyle rode to the head of the pack of 59, scoring a 92 aboard Michaela Kennedy's 14-year-old Mecklenburg gelding, Loredo. This year's Hunterdon Cup, held during the East Coast U.S. National Junior Hunter Championships, saw a challenging 3'6" track which included a formidable u-shaped pen made of natural birch rails and ample greenery created by course designer Skip Bailey.
Top Ten Results for the 2014 USHJA/Essex Classics Hunterdon Cup:
Champion- Caitlin Boyle, Hampshire, IL
Reserve Champion- Ashton Alexander, Ocala, FL
3rd Victoria Press, New York, NY
4th Thea Chafe, Potowomut, RI
5th Yasmin Rizvi, Greenwich, CT
6th Kate Ross, New York, NY
7th Victoria Colvin, Loxahatchee, FL
8th Kristen Mohr, Long Valley, NJ
9th Piper Benjamin, Lake Forest, IL
10th Emma Kurtz, Hudson, OH
Held for the first time at the Devon show grounds, and managed by the Brandywine Horse Show management team, the Hunterdon Cup shined as the day's main event. "Working with the country's most historic show grounds is an amazing experience," stated Jennifer Burger, sponsor relations manager for the Brandywine Series. "To have the Hunterdon Cup here is an honor and to be able to share with riders all this beauty and rich history that the facility naturally holds makes it just that much more amazing. The courses are brilliantly designed and I just can't tell you how excited I am. Equitation is such an important part and it teaches the kids so much about poise and discipline and the Hunterdon Cup is the cherry on that sundae for sure."
The top 20 riders from round one returned to the ring in reverse order where Boyle once again bested the field drawing a score of 89 from judges Scott Hofstetter and Stacia Madden.
"When we walked the course we thought the hardest part would be the pen in the middle of the ring. The pen turned out not to be a very big problem for most of the riders who rode it smooth and forward," stated Hofstetter. "A lot of the kids lost it at the first jump because it was so far at the end of the ring, and both Stacia and I really like to see a rider pick up a gallop and go right to it and pick up a pace. Many of the kids were nervous so they did one more stride than needed. That's why Caitlin scored so high. Because from the minute she picked up the canter she went forward all the way down to the first jump and was out of the tack, so she was quite high in both the first and second rounds."
At the conclusion of the second round Hofstetter and Madden selected the top four to return to the ring for a final work-off.
Boyle reflected on the challenge and thrill of the final round, "I felt really comfortable with switching horses because I ride a lot of different horses every day that I get on and jump around without practicing beforehand. The most challenging part is definitely switching horses and only having two minutes to warm up and then having to ride a whole new test." While challenging, Boyle also saw this element as her favorite part of the class. "It's really suspenseful and it really tested all four of us and it shows what you can do with not knowing a horse."
At the conclusion of the third round Cathy Sacher, owner and president of Essex Classics was on hand to present each rider with a top ten rider sash, saddle pad and Essex Wrap Collar Cool Max shirt. As Champion, Boyle was awarded a bevy of prizes and also received a keeper trophy to commemorate the Hunterdon Equitation Cup Perpetual trophy, named in honor of George Morris and his farm, and donated by Diane Carney and Lynn Jayne.
Boyle's mount, Loredo, was awarded the Best Equitation Horse award which was selected by the judges, Hofstetter and Madden.
Boyle's trainer, Patricia Griffith, was thrilled for the young rider taking the tri-colors. "She's a hard worker, one of the first riders at the barn and the last one to leave; she's always looking to help and looking to learn when she is not showing. I am happy for kids like that when it all comes together."
About the USHJA/Essex Classic Hunterdon Equitation Cup Classic
The Hunterdon Cup is an equitation class that combines the precision of equitation with the handiness of hunters. The Hunterdon Cup is open to Active USHJA junior members who have won a USEF Medal, ASPCA Maclay, USEF Show Jumping Talent Search, or Overall WIHS Equitation Classic between July 2 - July 1 of the qualifying year. The competition consists of three rounds over fences: the Hunter phase, the Handy ride and the work-off. The work-off is based on the combined scores from Rounds 1 and 2, with up to the top 10 riders returning to switch mounts for additional testing.