October 11, 2015--The Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Medal Final was center stage at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show today as a field of 287 competitors looked to earn the prestigious national championship title. Kelli Cruciotti rose to the occasion to win the Adrian Van Sinderen Memorial Trophy as the 2015 National Champion. Taking reserve champion honors was Hunter Holloway; McKayla Langmeier finished in third.
Following a preliminary round that featured natural obstacles and a variety of options for the riders, 25 riders were called back for the second round work-off. Cruciotti (Elizabeth, Colo.) and her own Monterrey impressed with a confident and stylish round that was highlighted by fluid turns, earning her the last to-go position in the work-off. Again producing a flawless round in the work-off, Cruciotti remained last in the order as judges Julie Winkel and Scott Hofstetter called back six riders for a final test.
“I was definitely nervous being in the lead, I am usually ranked lower going in so it’s less pressure. This was a new position for me and it added more pressure to stay on top in the second round and in the test,” said Cruciotti.
The final test required riders to complete a course of seven jumps including a roll back from the first fence to the second fence at the counter canter, a demonstration of two simple or flying changes, and a hand gallop to the final fence.
“I thought it was a great test to show off. My horse is very good on the counter canter, so I was very happy about that. The option to do simple or flying changes required that you played to your horse’s strength, my horse does better simple changes so that’s what we did. I stuck with the options that we had taken in the preliminary rounds and it paid off,” explained Cruciotti of her winning test.
The judges complimented Cruciotti, who is trained by her mother Cindy Cruciotti, Don Stewart Jr., and Peter Wylde, on her confidence and comradery with her horse, noting that although she went early in the first-round order, she was very memorable.
Monterrey was awarded the Doris H. Clark Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Missy Clark, for Best Equitation Horse, as determined by judges Winkel and Hofstetter.
Holloway (Topeka, Kan.), who placed third in last weekend’s Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals East, again piloted Hays Investment Corp.’s Any Given Sunday to a top placing on the national stage. Going fourth in the order of 25 in the work-off, Holloway showcased her horse’s handiness and rode determined rounds to earn the Reserve Champion honors.
Also coming off a top placing as the Reserve Champion at the Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals East, Langmeier (East Granby, Conn.) and Missy Clark’s Eclipse excelled under pressure as they came from behind as the 10th to go in the second round order, and second of six to go in the final test to secure a third-place finish overall.
This event marked the 20th year that Pessoa has generously sponsored this historical championship.
The complete competition will be available to watch on demand at USEFNetwork.com.