The Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Medal Finals riders went head-to-head at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show this week, and history was made with this year’s winner.
First off, let’s just talk about how there were 241 competitors in this year’s field. 241! I competed in a class of about 24 short stirrup kids once (don’t ask, it’s a long story but I was definitely not of short stirrup age), and I felt claustrophobic. But 241? Can you imagine the schooling ring for that?
Anyway, Spencer Smith, who is 17, hails from Wellington, Florida, and rides a gorgeous horse named Beau Van Het Keyershof. Fancy, schmancy, right? Spencer comes in as part of the 25 rider work off, which basically means he made callbacks in front of the judges, out of the original 241 riders.
Spencer went on to put in a lovely, smooth, and connected round to finish first overall — the first male rider to do so in 12 years. Crazy! Jacob Pope won the Maclay finals in 2012, but Spencer definitely made history this weekend. Jacob Pope was actually also leading the medal finals at Pennsylvania this weekend but dropped out of contention when his horse spooked in the second round.
“It’s really something I’ve been working for and a lot of people have been helping me to get here,” Spencer said in a USEF press release. “So it just shows what such good trainers and such a good horse can do.”
Coming into the top three for this year are Mckayla Langmeier, who is just 13 years old, and Ali Tritschler, who were both competing as returning riders in the medal finals this year.
Let’s check out some of the medal finals winners from years past. Who gets your vote for the all-time best, HN?
We think these equitation riders are really something. It’s hard to create a good connection with a horse and maintain a rhythm, all while looking like you’re doing nothing. The eternal struggle of an equestrian — appearing effortless. Here’s to big eq and making it look easy!
Go Riding and Go Fleeceworks!