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First Midwest Academy Challenge Held at Lamplight Equestrian Center

Photos of the Midwest Academy Challenge

Competitors of the Academy Challenge with Kirk Dailey and Paul Homb of Purina Mills


On Sunday, June 3, 2012, the Lamplight Equestrian Center hosted a unique and heart-warming event called the Midwest Academy Challenge Series.  The event was organized by Tommy and Debbie McIntyre and sponsored by Saddler’s Row Tack Shop of Palatine and Purina Mills Feed.  Contributing sponsors included and X-Sport Fitness.  Riding school students competed as teams and as individuals for awards. When show manager Tommy McIntyre was asked what had prompted the idea to host the Midwest Academy Challenge Series, he stated that he wished to, “expose all riders to what show life is truly like”, as well as, “give all riders the opportunity to compete and gain a sense of pride in their accomplishments”.                              

Five teams participated in the Midwest Academy Challenge Series, with each team being comprised of four students from the same riding school, using the riding school’s own lesson horses and ponies. Each of the participants were given an official polo shirt embroidered by both major sponsors, Purina Mills and Saddler’s Row, to wear while competing. The five teams were named after a different type of feed created by Purina Mills. One student from each team competed in one of the four levels that were offered.  Each level consisted of an under saddle class which was either walk and trot or walk, trot, and canter.  After the under saddle classes were completed, riders went into an over fences class matching their riding level.  Level one and two included a pattern to be completed by one rider from each team, while riders in levels three and four completed a small course with fence heights between eighteen inches and twenty-seven inches.

Riders in every class were rewarded a ribbon, with the winner receiving a gift certificate from Saddler’s Row.  Upon the completion of both classes in all four levels, the team points were totaled and the teams were awarded ribbons in accordance with the totals.  Along with the team awards, a Leading Trainer  award went to to Kris Yankula, the trainer at Market Hill Farm of Wauconda, Illinois.  Yankula received a Burliegh show jump for her arena at home courtesy of Saddler’s Row. Yankula was eager to thank the McIntyres, as well as Purina Mills and Saddler’s Row for sponsoring the series.  Yankula made a point of expressing  great appreciation for the opportunity presented to lesson program riders by the McIntyres through the Midwest Academy Challenge Series. Those who participated hope the appreciation from the families, participants, and trainers is enough to encourage more Academy Challenges in the future.   

Sponsor, Purina Mills, provided family activities for all to participate in as well.  Children could make stick horses and various art projects while families could see the display of pet foods manufactured by Purina Mills.

This Midwest Academy Challenge Series was not only beneficial to riding students, but to the instructors. Heather Cieszynski of McIntyre Stables said she, “got as much out of the Challenge Series as her students did”.  The Academy Challenge was her first experience training at a horse show, being a recent graduate of William Woods University.  She said the competitive nature of the Midwest Academy Challenge Series brought out a determination in her students to be successful. Heather also told Chicago Equestrian that when her girls did not place as well as they had expected, they were, “patted on the back and encouraged by teammates…[and] watched the other girls competing to see how they could improve their own riding”.  Heather even said that her girls and the parents expressed their excitement about the Midwest Academy Challenge Series by asking when the next challenge will take place!  The next shows will be held Sunday July 8th and Sunday September 9th, both at the Lamplight Equestrian Center in St. Charles.