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Kimberly McCormack Wins Medal Finals at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show

Nearly 300 young riders earned the privilege to compete for the coveted USEF/Pessoa Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Final. They represented the best equitation riders from 34 states, British Columbia, Ontario and the District of Columbia. Despite an early lead being held throughout the daylong competition, the winner, Kimberly McCormack of Clermont, NJ, emerged from the final 42 riders.

"Her round was fantastic, just great," said Judge Geoff Teal of Wellington, FL. "Her round just stood out." After 251 rounds, that’s saying something. Twenty-nine horses and riders returned to jump another round. The course layout was the same, but the jumps had changed in particular spots.

"Our goal was to create a course that would sort the riders," said Teal. "You had to have a good first round, even a small error cost the riders a chance to have a second round." By changing the type of jumps, the judges were testing the riders’ abilities to control and guide their mounts into fences that required different styles of jumping.

"When you have a group whose basics are as good as this whole group, it’s hard to design a course that is comfortable, won’t demoralize, still separates the riders but does offer all competitors some ‘homework,’ said Julie Winkel, Reno, NV, the other judge. "There were only three falls – one in each round."

McCormack was glad to ride late. That’s where she’s ridden the last three years here at Harrisburg. "It gave me a chance to relax and watch how the other riders rode the course. The two rounds suited my horse really well—he prefers to turn to the left and there were more left turns. He has a big stride, but can adjust well. The second trip demanded you rate for the fences differently." Clearly McCormack and Sundance were up to the task.

Even Missy Clark, McCormack’s trainer, was a little surprised by the apparently simple changes. "Initially, I thought "this is weird, but then I came to understand. The courses were interesting and innovative. Both courses had options for the riders to take," she said, "and, that makes for great courses."

Instead of asking competitors to trade mounts, which, according to Teal, has become almost standard, he and Winkel asked the riders to do a short course focusing on transitions: lead changes, counter canters, halts and trotting over fences. In short, testing the actual control the rider had.

Again McCormack rose to the challenge. "The pressure was on her," said Teal, "it was hers to lose. She didn’t."

Hannah Selleck of Thousand Oaks, CA, took Reserve and was quite pleased. "I was nervous. This is the first year of Equitation competition for her horse. I was happy keeping him in. Her plan for the final round---come into the first fence ‘brightly.’"

Tina Dilandri, the third place finisher, was thrilled. "Last year I crashed through most of the course, so this was a definite improvement. I liked the courses. They were challenging enough; but, if you planned and rode it well, it came out well."

Plc Rider City, State

1 Kimberly McCormack Clermont, NJ

2 Hannah Selleck Thousand Oaks, CA

3 Tina Dilandri LaJolla, CA

4 Shelby Wakeman Westlake Village, CA

5 Addison Phillips New York, NY

6 Jacqueline Lubrano Glenmoore, PA

7 Emma Lipman Bedford, NY

8 Jennifer Waxman Chagrin Falls, OH

9 Mallory Olson Newport Coast, CA

10 Sophie Verges Berkley, CA

11 Saer Coulter San Francisco, CA


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