North Salem, NY - Every year, junior riders from around the country strive to earn points to qualify for the ASPCA/NHSAA Maclay Regional Championships. On Saturday, 37 of those young, qualified riders gathered at the American Gold Cup CSI4*-W to compete in the Region 2 ASPCA/NHSAA Maclay Regional Championships and to vie for their shot to ride at the esteemed ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Championship Finals at the National Horse Show this November.
The class began with an over fences phase, with a course designed by Phil DeVita Jr., which included a combination, as well as multiple rollbacks and bending lines. Following the over fences phase, three groups were invited back to the ring for the flat phase where they had to demonstrate all three gaits, as well as the sitting trot for judges Ken Smith and Carol Hoffman.
After the flat phase, six athletes were asked to return to the indoor ring at Old Salem Farm for the final test. They had to canter the first two fences, then trot a vertical and get the counter canter for the next vertical. The next vertical came three strides later, and then they could make an inside turn to the final fence before halting and returning to the line-up.
Katherine Strauss and Lucy Deslauriers were called back at the top of the rankings but both missed the counter canter to finish sixth and fifth, respectively. A solid performance by Taylor St. Jacques moved her up from sixth to fourth. Despite having a rail down in the three-stride line, T.J. O'Mara's overall performance earned him the third place honors. With a smooth counter canter, Maya Nayyar moved up from fifth in the ranking to second. Katherine Bundy was ranked third after the first two phases, but after a flawless trot jump and landing the counter canter, she captured the Region 2 ASPCA/NHSAA Maclay Regional Championship.
"When I first heard the test, I had to go over it in my head a couple of times," laughed Bundy after her win. "I really liked it, and I was pretty proud of myself for pulling it off, because sometimes I just really get too nervous and I overdo things. I thought the counter canter was probably the hardest part of that - landing the counter canter."
Trainer Missy Clark of North Run was very pleased with the test. "I liked it because there were places where they could show off," she stated, "Holding the counter canter was going to be tricky, and Katherine did it beautifully."
Clark added, "Katherine is a hard worker. She's got a lot of natural ability and she's an easy kid to work with. She's very good at following instructions, so we had a plan, and she stuck to it beautifully."
Bundy has owned her mount Levkoi for two years and showed him at Regionals two years ago, but an injury sidelined him for a few months at the end of last year. "He just came back recently in Florida this year, and he feels better than ever," she commented. "He's been amazing. Lake Placid this year was really when we kind of got it together. He's been wonderful."
Qualifying for the Finals in Kentucky is a relief for Bundy, as well as her parents. "My mom can finally book a hotel room!" she laughed. "I'm actually really excited now that I know I'm in. Once we were flatting in Section A I knew that I was probably going to wind up going, which is a good feeling. It's nice to know going into the test knowing that even if you do mess up, it's still going to wind up working out." With the 2015 Maclay Finals now firmly on her schedule, Bundy will return to North Run to continuing practicing for the fall season.
All of the top entries from Saturday's Regional Championship have qualified for the ASPCA Alfred B. Maclay Horsemanship Championship Finals at the National Horse Show, to be held Nov. 2, 2014. For more information visit www.nhs.org.