Tampa, Fla. – Sept. 5, 2021 – Competition at the 2021 Southeast Medal Finals (SEMF)came to a close on Sunday, Sept. 5 featuring a packed schedule. With riders of all levels and ages vying for championship titles, Mckenzie Clayton and Bea Ready were the first duo to claim top honors in the Junior Medal Finals presented by The Clothes Horse, while Lexie Kate Crumbaker and My Way topped the field in the Pony Medal Finals. Top Show Jumping competition also came to a head featuring the largest purse of the weekend in the $25,000 Dr. Eli Farri Memorial Day Grand Prix presented by The Adams Group eXperience of eXp Realty, where Callan Solem and Essenar Crixus emerged victorious, wrapping up competition at the 2021 Southeast Medal Finals for the 5th anniversary at the Bob Thomas Equestrian Center.
Top junior riders were eager to show off their textbook skills and effortless style in the Junior Medal Finals presented by The Clothes Horse. Following a tight first round, 12 of the riders were invited back for an over-fences work-off. Riders contested over the shortened course and were asked to display the counter canter and a posting trot without stirrup irons. The second round could lend any of the top three riders the leading title, but ultimately it was North Carolina junior rider, Clayton, that impressed the judges the most to move up and earn first place aboard brand new mount, Bea Ready. Madison Ramsey and Maguro would finish the class in second place, with Kate Neily and First Verdi rounding out the top three.
Clayton, who showed Bea Ready for the first time just this week at the 2021 SEMF, walked away with the unexpected win aboard Kristen Bond’s 9-year-old KWPN mare. Having only ever ridden the mare three times prior to entering the Teco Indoor Arena for the Junior Medal Finals, Clayton was just hoping to get a better feel for the mare heading into indoor finals season where she will compete in the ASPCA Maclay and USEF Medal Finals. With the help of her good luck charm necklace, in addition to her cool and composed demeanor, Clayton not only produced two smooth trips but also nailed the counter canter, having never practiced the movement on her newest mount.
The youngest equitation riders took to the Gene Mische Ring for the Pony Medal Finals where Crumbaker impressed the judges with her style and finesse aboard her own 18-year-old Welsh Pony Cross gelding, My Way, taking home the first-place ribbon. Second place was ultimately awarded to Elizabeth Dorward riding Show And Tell. Rebecca Holcomb and Mi’Amore rounded out the top three.
34 top horse-and-rider combinations took the Grand Prix Ring for one last class at the 2021 Southeast Medal Finals for the feature event of the week, the $25,000 Dr. Eli Farri Memorial Day Grand Prix presented by The Adams Group eXperience of eXp Realty. The large field of competitors provided an exciting display of show jumping as 9 riders moved into the jump-off. In a nail-biting finish, it was ultimately Solem who was last to take to the ring who bested Catalina Peralta’s 39.999 by a half of a second with a time of 39.428 seconds. Sarah Gordon and Castella closed out the podium with a third-place finish.
Solem and the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Elan Farm secured their first grand prix win together Sunday afternoon out of a competitive field of 34 athletes. The newly partnered duo plans to compete on the winter circuit at The World Equestrian Center in Ocala, Florida later this year.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Mckenzie Clayton – 2021 SEMF Junior Medal Finals Winner
On Bea Ready:
“This is actually my first show on her, and only my third class on her. She is very new so we were just going in for the experience. She will probably be the horse that I ride at the USEF Medal and ASPCA Maclay Finals this year.”
On her rounds:
“They were nice. In my first round, I was a little inconsistent in one line, but in my test, she was really good and that was probably the best test I have had in a while. I noticed she favors her right lead so after the two-stride it was easy for me to hold the counter canter, and she was really good about the halt. She seemed pretty simple. It was my first time doing that stuff on her so I really just wanted to see if she was going to participate or not.”
On her strategy:
“I just try to think that we are more in this to have fun, but I do always wear my lucky necklace, and that has brought me a lot of luck this year. Someone special gave it to me so it is just a comfort to have it on when I am riding. But, I take deep breaths, and if you don’t win it is not the end of the world. I always keep that in the back of my mind.”
Callan Solem – $25,000 Dr. Eli Farri Memorial Day Grand Prix Winner
On Essenar Crixus:
“He is the best and I am crazy about him. He belongs to Elan Farm out of New Jersey and I have had him since the middle of May. He just gives you such a great feeling, he is so brave and scopey. He is so big and has a huge stride. We are just starting to get to know each other after a few months. I feel so lucky I get to ride him. He really suits me. All my thanks to Elan Farm for their support and the team at UpCountry Farm. It truly takes a village.”
On the courses:
“I thought the courses were great. They looked gentle but I knew they were not. It was a really careful track with a lot of bending lines and related distances that I thought was a hard class to jump clear, but with that being said, a nice progression if you were trying to produce a young horse. Super job, great course.”
On their future plans:
“I live in Florida now so I will be doing more of the shows down here than I have done in the past which will be fun and different.”
On Southeast Medal Finals:
“Everybody here is so friendly and it is such a nice group of people in this area. I am getting to know some new people and it has been fun and different.”