Temecula, Calif. – May 20, 2022 – The west coast’s top junior riders put their equitation skills to the test Friday afternoon for the ASPCA 3’6” Maclay Medal in the Grand Hunter Ring at the Temecula Valley National Horse Show Series. One at a time, the young riders took to the course, designed by Richard Cram, to demonstrate proper technique and impress the judges with their abilities to connect with their mounts and accurately interpret the course in order to take home a top result. After 18 trips and the flat phase, Stella Buckingham and Vondel DH Z, owned by Ingenium Farm, emerged victorious yet again.
The track presented several challenges, including long runs to single fences where riders attempted inside turns, as well as a bending five stride line and a two stride. Riders opted for various paths around the large Grand Hunter Ring, turning inside certain obstacles or going around the large trees down the centerline. Some issues arose with the last as the class went on, and others struggled maintaining their rhythm into and out of the four stride line.
Eager to return for another victory, Stella Buckingham and Vondel DH Z, stepped foot into the ring certain of their plan and executed it accordingly. She and the 15-year-old Zangersheide gelding gracefully met each jump and navigated the course as smoothly as possible. They took a slightly more inside-track ride, opting for inside turns without being too risky and sacrificing the quality of the ride to do so. Without a final score announced after each round, riders patiently waited to see if they’d make it back for the flat phase.
Buckingham and her partner of two years, Vondel DH Z, previously won the ASPCA Maclay Medal during Temecula Valley National Premier I. This dynamic horse-and-rider pair continues to swipe competition, leaving all others in the dust. With victories in the USEF Hunter Seat Medal, WIHS Hunter Phase and CPHA Junior 3’6” Medal, this duo is headed for success at the year-end indoor finals to showcase their equitation skills. The pair has built an impressive record consistently earning top ribbons in equitation classes at the Desert International Horse Park, Blenheim Equisports Horse Shows, Capital Challenge Horse Show, and the Temecula Valley National Horse Show Series.
Fellow competitor Ella Cate Duke and their mount Understudy, demonstrated a beautiful equitation round. The pair was awarded for their flowing pace, consistency and fantastic form over each fence. Duke entered the flat phase determined to keep her high standing and impress the judges with her excellent flat work. She continued to be a force to reckon with, floating across the ground demonstrating great flatwork and form, securing them the red ribbon against a competitive group of junior riders. Charley Stowell and Heathrow HX, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Riffle Hitch, helped to round out the top three after demonstrating a proper fluid equitation round, helping them to keep a spot in the class.
Upcoming Temecula Valley National I hunter highlights include the Large Junior 3’6” Hunter in the Grand Hunter Arena and the $2,500 USHJA National Hunter Derby taking place on Sunday. Competition will return next Wednesday with the Green 3’3 Hunter in Hunter 1.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Stella Buckingham – ASPCA 3’6″ Maclay Medal winner
On Vondel DH Z:
“We’ve been together for almost 2 years now. He’s the best and super experienced. He knows his job and we’re just very in sync. He really is the best partner ever.”
On her ride:
“This was a pretty good course for him. He’s one that I can just get on and gallop and keep going so it was a very good course for him. I was able to take my time in a lot of places and keep my pace around the ring. I was just focusing on keeping a good rhythm.”
On future plans:
“I’m going to take him to indoors for my last junior year. We’re planning on doing all of the medal finals and hoping for a result there. That’s my goal for the year with him.”
On Nilforushan Equisport Events:
“I absolutely love it here and all they have to offer. It [Nilforushan Equisport Events] has such a great atmosphere and the classes are all very great.”