San Juan Capistrano, CA – Thirty-nine leading West Coast junior equitation riders competed in Blenheim Farm's covered arena at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park on the evening of September 18th in the ASPCA Maclay West Coast Regional Finals.
With thirty returning for the flat phase and five for the work-off, it was 16-year-old Kylee Arbuckle aboard Kimberly Lynch's D'Anconia Copper, who finished on top to secure her place in 2010 ASPCA Maclay National Championship on November 7th at the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament.
Scott Starnes' course of fourteen obstacles asked the riders to commit to a flowing pace while riding the track. Eighth to compete in the over fences phase, Arbuckle (Karen Healey, trainer) showed mastery of the course and rode her mount with style and poise, earning her a spot in the top ten of the flat phase.
Following the jumping portion of the competition, the top thirty riders in the class were called back to work on the flat, divided into three groups of ten with the highest scoring riders flatting last. Judges Kip Rosenthal and John Roper asked for the walk, trot, and canter in both directions as well as a lengthening of stride at the trot down the long side of the ring. Several riders were solid in their seat, including Healey students Arbuckle and Theodore Boris.
The judges then chose their top five and asked them to return to the ring for a work-off. In reverse order, the juniors were asked to jump several jumps, including a trot jump and a rollback turn as well as to demonstrate two simple changes through the walk before returning to the line-up. Sitting second after the over fences and flat phases, Arbuckle had the advantage of watching three riders test before her, Audrey Coulter (Mary Manfredi, trainer), Clementine Yost (Benson Carroll, trainer) and Morgan Geller (Peter Lombardo, trainer). She clearly commanded the work-off requirements, having the most solid ride of the five. Sitting first after the first two rounds, Theodore Boris (Karen Healey, trainer) was the final junior to tackle the test. Unfortunately, he missed to the jump after the rollback turn, leaving the win open for Arbuckle.
"[In the work-off] I tried to get my horse out in front of my leg before the first jump and move up to the trot fence," gleaming winner Arbuckle explained. Her plan worked, impressing both the judges and her trainer.
"[Kylee's] work-off was great," commented Arbuckle's trainer of three years, Karen Healey. In addition to being happy with her student's test, Healey was also glad to see that Arbuckle's over fences trip was scored properly despite pulling a rail on course. "Her first round was scored just how it should have been – as if the rail didn't come down – and then four points were taken off of her [final over fences] score."
Although winning is glorious, earning a place in the top fifteen will hopefully earn a spot in the prestigious finals in Syracuse this November. Once the final regional competition of eight throughout the country is complete, the exact number of qualified riders per regional will be announced.
ASPCA Maclay West Coast Regional Finals
1. Kylee Arbuckle (Karen Healey)
2. Audrey Coulter (Mary Manfredi)
3. Clementine Yost (Benson Carroll)
4. Morgan Geller (Peter Lombardo)
5. Theodore Boris (Karen Healey)
6. Sydney Callaway (Lori De Rosa)
7. Samantha Harrison (Karen Healey)
8. Gabbi Langston (Archie Cox)
9. Holly Dickinson (Karen Healey)
10. Alicia Gasser (Kost Karazissis)
11. Kilian McGrath (Leslie Steele)
12. Jocelyn Neff (Karen Healey)
13. Cayla Richards (Archie Cox)
14. Sybil Rose (Peter Lombardo)
15. Lucy Davis (Archie Cox)
About Blenheim EquiSports
Blenheim EquiSports, an equestrian event management company based in San Juan Capistrano, CA, produces over 30 events per year in three locations: San Juan Capistrano, Del Mar and Las Vegas, NV. The events include 18 USEF "A" or "AA" rated hunter-jumper shows featuring several World Cup Qualifying Grand Prix events, USHJA International Hunter Derbies, Pony Finals, Medal Finals and more. Visit www.showpark.com for more details.
Photo: ASPCA Maclay Regional Finals Winner Kylee Arbuckle. Photos © CapturedMomentPhoto.com.