San Juan Capistrano, Calif.—Sept. 29, 2021—With a unique three-round format, the 2021 EMO Insurance/USHJA 3'3" Jumping Seat Medal Final - West at Blenheim Equisports' International Jumping Festival in San Juan Capistrano, California, September 24-25, finished with Elizabeth Gray and Quentino leading the victory gallop. Following behind with the reserve ribbon was Grace Russo and Casalino, with Marina Boudreau and Little Big Won in third.
"I’m very honored to be the 2021 EMO Insurance/ USHJA 3’3 Jumping Seat- West Champion," said Gray. "This is my first medal final win, so it’s definitely a week I will always remember. I ride with Elvenstar, who has taken home this title three times now, so that makes it all the more special."
The first phase kicked off competition on Friday with judges Gary Duffy, of Palm Beach, Florida, and Mark Jungherr, of Ocala, Florida, putting 28 horse-and-rider combinations through their paces on the flat. After demonstrating three gaits, including sitting trot, lengthening of stride and counter canter, Mialuna Hutcheson, of Laguna Beach, California, sat in first with the only score of 90 aboard Starboy. Close behind her with an 89 was Mara Mihanovic, of Los Altos Hills, California, with Vulkano's Boy and Russo, of Los Angeles, California, with an 88 on Casalino.
Next up, the Gymnastics Phase tested riders over a series of gymnastic lines similar to those of the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals. The tricky course, designed by Anthony D'Ambrosio, of Red Hook, New York, saw Claire Simic, of Westlake Villiage, California, take over the lead on Diatoon with a two-round score of 211. Boudreau, of Calabasas, California, moved up from the eighth spot to third with Little Big Won and a 207.50. Eventual winner Gray, of Rolling Hills Estates, California, sat in fourth after moving up from sixteenth with Quentino, and Russo finished the round to move to sixth overall.
On Saturday, riders returned in reverse order for the final phase, a 15-effort Jumper-style course again designed by D'Ambrosio. Of the eventual top three, Russo took to the ring first, earning a three-round score of 378.75 to move into second. Gray totaled a 379.50 to edge out Russo and secure the top spot with three riders to go. Boudreau's overall score of 377.25 couldn't catch Gray's leading, leaving her holding on to her third place spot.
With Russo and Boudreau within three points of Gray, the top three returned for a work-off, but the shortened course only solidified the final placings, giving Gray the overall win and tricolor ribbon. For her victory, Gray received a cooler, sash, trophy, saddle pad, a pair of Parlanti paddock boots, a gift from Straight Arrow and an Essex Classics Show Shirt. Russo received a sash, saddle pad, picture frame and a gift from Straight Arrow, and Simic's Diatoon was awarded Best Equitation Horse with a trophy and CWD gift certificate.
"I started off the Final with a solid flat score, which kept me competitive going into the next phases. My gymnastics phase went very smoothly because I took advantage of my horse’s adjustability. It was all about the geometry of the course, so I walked the exact track I wanted to take to each fence during the course walk. The third phase was a beautifully designed course that allowed me to take inside turns and open up my horse’s stride," said Gray. "Quentino has huge scope and is very elastic, so he’s a dream to work with in the equitation ring. He knows his job so well, and I couldn’t ask for a better horse to compete in this final with!"
The EMO Insurance/USHJA 3'3" Jumping Seat Medal provides Junior exhibitors with the opportunity to develop their equitation skills over a jumper-style course, aiming to help riders gain experience in a format similar to that of the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search. The Medal is open to Junior riders who have not reached their 18th birthday as of December 1 of the current competition year and qualify for the Finals by earning points in Jumping Seat Medal classes during the qualifying period. This year's East Coast Final will take place October 1-3 at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
"I think that this Final is an amazing way to prepare riders for competing in the [USEF Show Jumping] Talent Search. The first phase assures riders can complete advanced flatwork, which is the basics of jumping. In the second phase, riders are tested on their ability to keep their horses light and collected through gymnastic exercises. The third phase asks riders to demonstrate handiness and pace as they complete a clean round in the tight time allowed," said Gray.
New in 2021, the USHJA 3'3" Adult Jumping Seat Medal extends the opportunity to Adult Amateur riders. Riders who have not competed in a USEF Talent Search or jumped at 1.30m or higher in the same competition year can qualify for Finals by earning points during the qualifying period. Dates and locations for the 2022 inaugural Finals will be announced soon.
The USHJA extends special thanks to the entire Blenheim EquiSports team for hosting the event as well as Title Sponsor EMO Insurance; Official Sponsors CWD, Nutrena, Parlanti and Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital; Championship Sponsor Straight Arrow; and Awards Sponsor Essex Classics.
To learn more about the EMO Insurance/USHJA 3'3" Jumping Seat Medal and the new USHJA 3'3" Adult Jumping Seat Medal, visit ushja.org/JumpSeatMedal.
Photos by McCool Photography
Placing - Rider - Horse
1 - Elizabeth Gray - Quentino
2 - Grace Russo - Casalino
3 - Marina Boudreau - Little Big Won
4 - Sienna Gustafson - Unique De La Chesnee
5 - Mara Mihanovic - Vulkano's Boy
6 - Claire Simic - Diatoon
7 - Zoe Wolf - Catoon
8 - Della Walker - Twizzler
9 - Brooke Mostman - Goyard
10 - Mialuna Hutcheson - Starboy
11 - Ayanna Kimbro - Outkast
12 - Vivienne Wood - Alant