Chicago Represented in 2012 Maclay Finals By: Brenda Mueller
Catherine Tyree after placing third in the finals.
Catherine Tyree, Lauren Tyree, Stephen Foran and Caitlin Boyle at the Alltech National Horse Show
Lexington, KY – Nov. 4, 2012 – The Alltech National Horse Show in Lexington, KY was the setting for the 2012 ASPCA Maclay Medal Finals. Riders from across the country spent the year showing in qualifying classes along with regional finals to get to the top 152 equitation riders in the country.
Alfred B. Maclay, an ASPCA board member, accomplished horseman and president of the National Horse Show, initiated the ASPCA Maclay, a championship class at the National Horse Show, in 1933. Maclay conceived of a trophy that would inspire young riders to develop the best horsemanship skills and instill in them respect and compassion for their equine partners. (ASPCA)
Riders qualifying from the Chicago area competed in the Region 4 final held at the Kentucky Horse Park in October. The top 30 riders from the regional final moved on to the National Final. Taylor Schmidt, Sydney Schaefer, Madeline Thatcher, Abigail McArdle, Caitlin Boyle, and Stephen Foran were in the qualifying group. Chicago riders Lauren and Catherine Tyree qualified in a different regional.
The course walk at 6 am Sunday tells the riders what the day will be like. First up in the Chicago group was Lauren Tyree, 16, of Chicago, who went 18th in the order, following Meg O’Mara, winner of the USEF Pessoa Medal two weeks earlier. Lauren quickly set the standard for the class and held the third place position for almost all of the class.
The course was simple but not to be taken for granted. The exercises were subtle but needed hand and leg coordination and a forward ride. Riders needed to know how to ride a triple bar and a narrow jump without standards, execute S turns and a long gallop to a single jump. It was typical of exercises set in clinics taught by George H. Morris, who was judging the class, with Grand Prix rider, Hap Hansen.
Next in the 39th slot in the order was Stephen Foran, of Lake Forest. Foran also held a spot on the stand by list in the first round of cuts. Trained by his father, Stephen Foran, they are one of the many Chicago families where parents train their children.
Another 20 horses later was Sydney Schaefer of Mequon, WI, who finished 6th in the Regional Final in October. Another 20 horses went and Madeline Thatcher and Caitlin Boyle of Elgin took a swing. Thatcher, from Utah, trains with the Chicago stable Our Day Farm and the Jayne family. Thatcher also had hunters and jumpers at the National, of which she won some high ribbons on those as well. Thatcher finished just behind Schaefer in the Regional. Boyle, trains with Kim Gardiner and her father, show manager, Patrick Boyle. Caitlin also held a spot on the standby list after her round.
Several hours into the class now, Abigail McArdle, 18, of Barrington, puts in her round and gets added to the standby list. McArdle has had a great year with her jumper, Cosma 20, winning the Individual Gold Medal at the Young Riders Championships in July and winning the Junior Jumper gold medal with Zone 5 at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show two weeks earlier.
Drawing the 108th spot in the order was Taylor Schmidt, winner of the Regionals. She also made the good list and moved on to the flat phase.
Bringing the class to the end, Catherine Tyree, 18, of Barrington, rode the long awaited trip of 145th out of 152 riders. Catherine also was on the Junior Jumper team winning the gold at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show and won top ribbons on her jumper, Wetter, at the National Horse Show as well. Catherine is also a winner of the prestigious Hunterdon Cup, a Championship equitation class held in Wellington, FL in honor of George H. Morris. Catherine also earned a chance to move on to the flat phase.
Twenty-three of the original 152 riders then demonstrated their skills on flat. Three groups were put through the paces with both Tyree girls and Taylor Schmidt moving way up on the list. Riders held their breath, waiting to hear what was next.
All 23 riders were invited back to jump a second round. This time the test was to jump the course backwards. Riders returned in reverse order, lowest scores jumped first. Taylor Schmidt was now in 9th, Catherine Tyree in 4th and Lauren Tyree in 2nd. Once again, the course took its toll on those who didn’t analyze the exercises. Lauren Tyree had an unfortunate rail at the last jump lowering her to 9th. The judges were able to narrow down the top ten but requested additional testing of the top four competitors.
Lillie Keenan of New York, NY, Elizabeth Benson of Whitehouse Station, NJ, Jacob Pope of Columbia, MD, and Catherine Tyree were the last four standing. All four were called into the ring and then asked to switch horses without help, which included mounting from the ground. Tyree and Pope switched and Keenan and Benson switched and were instructed to ride the course again on their new mounts.
Tyree had a tight distance at the triple bar, Keenan had a rail and Benson missed the skinny jump, leaving Pope the best ride of the day.
The Tyree girls were the best from Chicago, with Catherine finishing third in the last medal final of her junior career and Lauren finishing ninth with more chances in her junior career. For full results go to www.nhs.org.