November 27, 2009 -- The United States Equestrian Federation's (USEF) Saddle Seat Medal Final came down to a workout of the top two riders--Faye Wuesthofen and Ellen Medley Wright--on exchanged horses. Add to that the fact the top two riders shared the same trainer, DeLovely's Lillian Shively, and it was one for the record books. In the end, Wisconsin's Faye Wuesthofen was crowned champion.
The final was one of the events held during the United Professional Horsemen's Association (UPHA) American Royal National Championships in Kansas City, Mo.
Wuesthofen rode Michelle Werry's Kiss of the Zodiac (trained by Shively and DeLovely Farm) to the winner's circle. Wright aboard Soli Deo Glori (owned by Fish Creek Stables, LLC, and trained by Lillian Shively) was named the reserve champion.
With this win, Wuesthofen secured the "Saddle Seat Triple Crown," which includes the National Horse Show Good Hands Final, UPHA Challenge Cup and the USEF Saddle Seat Medal Final. She also won the Saddle Seat Equitation Championship at the 2009 Kentucky State Fair World's Championship Horse Show.
"It was so exciting, and I put so much work into trying to win the Triple Crown this year," said Wuesthofen. "I was very excited when they said that we had to switch horses because I have spent my whole life riding all sorts of different horses. I knew that it was something that I could do very well. All of the competitors had excellent rail and pattern work. This has been a dream come true for me, and it has taught me that hard work pays off."
Shively was in this same situation some 12 years ago as the trainer of the champion and reserve champion.
"When they lined up, I knew it was too close to call," she said. "Both are outstanding horsewomen, and as the trainer of both of them I was so excited, overwhelmed and very proud to be in that position. These were wonderful horses and riders."
Shively was also impressed by the response from the audience when the riders were called for the workout.
"There is a need for more excitement in this division," said Shively. "These children have a passion for it, and if people could see what the children gain from it, it's truly preparation for life. Being able to be a part of it made me want to do cartwheels."
In addition, the Breyer Award was presented to 12-year-old Margaret McCool of Newburyport, Ma. The prize, donated by Breyer Creations, is given to the youngest rider to compete in the competition.
The top 10 placings in the USEF Saddle Seat Medal Final were:
1 - Faye Wuesthofen aboard Kiss of the Zodiac (owned by Michelle Werry)
2 - Ellen Medley Wright aboard Soli Deo Glori (owned by Fish Creek Stables, LLC)
3 - Angela Darrow aboard Tango Till Dawn (owned by Mara and Russ Darrow)
4 - Belle Owen aboard Chanti's Prayer (owned by Belle Owen)
5 - Deanna Lanigan aboard Oh What A Feeling (owned by Margaret Lanigan)
6 - Eleanor Watkins aboard Worthy Am I (owned by Samuel and Eleanor Watkins)
7 - Nick Maupin aboard Coco Mojo (owned by Melissa and Nick Maupin)
8 - Rachel Machamer aboard All About Charm (owned by Rachel Machamer)
9 - Sarah Lawson aboard Feng Shui (owned by James Williams)
10 - Cori O'Brien aboard Steel'n A Dream (owned by G.P. Rom, LLC)