Wellington, FL - February 27, 2015 - Caitlin Boyle and Ability Dance rode to the top of the Platinum Performance USEF Talent Search 3* during Week 8 of the Winter Equestrian Festival. Today’s highest ranked Talent Search class was held in the DeNementhy ring, and the challenging track prepared riders for Finals this fall. The lines within the course were very similar to ones set up in past years at Gladstone. Riders had to show they were able to navigate the open water with no rail and equitate over fences set at a 1.20m.
The top spot today for Boyle marks her second USEF Talent Search win so far this circuit, but her first 3* win. According to the new classifications for the Talent Search, since today was ranked the most difficult at a 3*, Boyle has earned an automatic spot in the Final this fall.
Boyle is seasoned when it comes to the USEF Talent Search, placing 3rd in last year’s tough East Coast Final, but she looks forward to this year due to the new format.
“I wasn't super nervous in every USET class last year, but when I got to the Finals, even though it was set slightly lower, I still was a little bit impressed by it,” Boyle claimed. “I didn’t have the full year to practice equitating at that height, as well as being effective.”
The buzz is getting around WEF that the 3* class is no joke for the equitation riders. Compared to other 3’ 6” equitation classes offered, where there are up to 80 riders entered, the Talent Search 3* classes have around 25 competitors. Although many opt out of the challenging class, riders who have participated find the class to be helpful for the future.
“I think having the different ranking with the 1*, 2* and 3* is really beneficial for USET Finals,” Boyle explained. “If you want a good prep you will make sure you are going to horse shows with the 3* that has an open water with no rail and is set at the correct 1.20m.”
Boyle added, “Sometimes it wouldn’t be set quite at 1.20m like it is at the Finals, so it would make it nerve-racking to go to the Finals. Having that practice and feeling comfortable at that level helps.”
Unlike many of the riders competing, Boyle is no longer a junior rider, but the switch in status has not shown in the ring. “It is a challenge now because I show one three foot hunter and that is really my only other ride right now,” Boyle stated. “Going from that to having just my one USET class that is set to height can be difficult.”
A majority of the riders had major errors within the course and only a handful left the in-gate with a flawless trip. Mistakes were mainly apparent with riders exceeding the time allowed of 80 seconds, not deciding on a number of strides within the bending lines, and losing their position over the wide oxers.
“A lot challenged me within the course because there were many bending lines with different numbers,” Boyle said. “Measuring the lines and getting there correctly is really important.
Another area that proved to be troubling was the line where riders had to gallop up to jump the open water in and collect to clear the tall vertical out.
“After the water, if they jumped it well and big you really had to back up to fit the six in,” Boyle said. “The short turn to the liverpool, to the long one, to the super short five was also a little difficult. Overall it was a pretty difficult track. Many people had a lot of problems and everything came up pretty quick, which made it hard.”
Boyle continued, “For me it rode steady because my horse jumped it really well and big, but then came back really nicely.”
Right behind Boyle, landing in the second spot was Ali Tritschler. Like Boyle she also is a rider that is no stranger to success, placing in almost every equitation Final during the fall of 2014. Claiming the third spot, who has shown consistency throughout WEF, was T.J O’Mara.
Even though the 12 weeks offered at WEF are not over, Boyle, O’Mara and Victoria Colvin have all been riders to watch in the competitive USEF Talent Search Classes, all claiming two victories one of which including a 3* win.
Today marked the last Platinum Performance USEF Talent Search 3* class offered at the Winter Equestrian Festival. The remainder of the weeks will offer 2* classes.
To qualify for the East Coast Final in the fall of 2015, a rider can either win a 3* ranked USEF Talent Search class or earn 90 points and place in either a 2* or a 3* class. For the West Coast Final, a rider must win at a 3* to automatically qualify or accumulate 30 points and a ribbon in a 2* or a 3* class.