Alexa Schwartz Wins Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search 2* During WEF One

© Morgan McClelland: Alexa Schwartz and Cicero
Alexa Schwartz and Cicero won the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search 2* at WEF Week One.

Wellington, Fla. – Jan. 13, 2017 – Alexa Schwartz and Cicero are off to a great start during Week One of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), claiming the blue on Friday in the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search 2* competition. This week marked just the second horse show for the pair.

“My initial goal was to qualify for the George Morris Equitation Championship,” said Schwartz. “Going through the rest of the circuit I just really want to keep up the good pace and keep placing well.”

The USEF Talent Search was set at 1.15m in height and proved to be a tricky 2* course. The Denemethy Ring helped create a jumper-style atmosphere for the riders. Friday’s 2* track was challenging, testing both equitation and horsemanship. The water jump was problematic for the majority of the top young riders in the class, causing numerous refusals, but not for Schwartz. Her smooth trip on Cicero, owned by Brooke Wilson, resulted in no faults within the time allowed.

© Morgan McClelland: Alexa Schwartz and Cicero
Alexa Schwartz and Cicero

“I thought it was a really nice course,” Schwartz explained. “It tested a lot of things that Cicero is good at, like lengthening and out-of-stride lines, which I think is a really big strength of his.”

Schwartz, who trains with Stacia Madden of Beacon Hill Show Stables, placed eighth in the 2016 Region 1 ASPCA Alfred B. Maclay Horsemanship Championship. During Week Five at the 2016 Vermont Summer Festival, Schwartz was ranked as the highest-scoring junior in the New England Hunter Jumper Association Derby for her ride on Zoomerang.

Of the 17 riders, only a handful finished the course on Friday without any faults. Jump three, heading directly towards the scoreboard at the farthest end of the ring, was a solid 1.15m oxer and preceded the triple combination, however both elements proved to be difficult. Few riders jumped the oxer without having a rail down, and problems at the oxer often caused issues at the triple combination.

© Morgan McClelland: Jordyn Rose Freedman riding Finnick
Jordyn Rose Freedman and Finnick – Third Place

The flat phase showcased strong equitation at various gaits. Riders were asked to demonstrate a working trot, both sitting and rising, a working canter, an extended trot, an extended canter, transitions to the walk from both gaits and a counter canter in each direction.

During the 12 weeks of the Winter Equestrian Festival, the Platinum Performance USEF Show Jumping Talent Search is offered Week Nine at a 1* ranking. Weeks Four, Eight and Twelve are rated as 3* and the remaining competition weeks will include 2* classes. This leaves three remaining opportunities during WEF for a rider to automatically qualify for the finals.

© Morgan McClelland: Isabella Russekoff and CovetIsabella Russekoff and Covet – Second Place

Each show offering the USEF Talent Search class is ranked between a 1* through a 3*, with a 3* being the most challenging. In the 1* and 2* classes, both the flat and jumping phases must be held in either a jumper or an equitation ring. In a 3* class, the jumping phase must be held in a main grand prix ring. The fences of a 2* class reach a height of 1.15m and the course must include both a filled liver pool and a water-filled jump. Riders who seek to qualify for the East Coast finals must ribbon in a 2* or a 3* class and accumulate 90 points. For both the West and East Coast final, a rider will be automatically qualified by winning a 3* class.

1. Alexa Schwartz
2. Isabella Russekoff
3. Jordyn Rose Freedman
4. Taylor Griffiths
5. Taylor St. Jacques
6. Sam Walker
7. Caroline Dance
8. Emma Callanan

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