2020 New England Equitation Championships Recap
Photos: Anne Gittins Photography www.annegittins.com
FIELDSTONE SHOW PARK – HALIFAX, MA
The New England Equitation Championships (NEEC) celebrated its 45th anniversary this year. This five-day event is run entirely by the volunteer NEEC Committee and is one of the longest running and most prestigious equitation finals in the country. All five days were produced by ShowNet and livestreamed on USEF Network.
The esteemed judging panel was made up of Tammy Provost and David Wilbur. Tom Hern was the course designer.
Despite the herculean task of moving the event to an outdoor venue and putting many COVID-19 health precautions in place just a couple of weeks before showtime, the NEEC had yet another year of storied success.
The 46+ Adult Medal kicked off the week on Wednesday, September 16. Robin Harkins emerged as Champion with Reserve going to Mary Davis. In the 28-45 division, Jillian MacLean won her section of the Open and was Champion of the Medal; Julie Hogan took Reserve. On Thursday, the 22-27 Medal Champion was Lauren Henry with Alexa Bayko earning Reserve. Jessica Oswald won the 18-21 Medal final and Abigail Hopkins won her section of the Open and was Reserve in the medal. Also, on Thursday Gary Saccocia Sr. was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
All Junior Open sections ran Friday. On Friday afternoon, about 90 Juniors took the written phase of the Horsemanship Class. Originating at the NEEC, the Horsemanship Class combines a rider’s written test score, practicum, and first round of the Medal score to determine the overall top Junior Horseperson. After the Open rounds and the test wrapped up, riders gathered on the Grand Prix field (socially distanced and masked) to watch the commemorative video celebrating Juniors in their last year.
Saturday marked a new chapter in NEEC history when it hosted the USHJA 3’3″ Hunter Seat Medal Final – East. 159 Juniors took to the ring for round one, the top 25 returned for a second round and the top four were called back to test. Isabella David moved up in the test from second to take home the Champion ribbon (trainer: Stacia Madden and Beacon Hill Show Stables) while Madison Frankel earned
Reserve (trainer: Andre Dignelli and Heritage Farm).
Following the USHJA Medal, the world-famous Challenge of the States team class ran Saturday afternoon. Despite smaller teams and no costumes to comply with COVID-19 safety standards, the teams took it on with good humor and a competitive spirit. By popular demand, an Adult team was added this year. Juniors and adults with top scores in the Open competed on teams of four to represent their home states – NO help from trainers allowed! Team Vermont won Gold, MA-2 won Silver and MA-3 earned Bronze. Thanks to an anonymous donor, all teams competed for money to donate to a charity of their choice. Gold chose the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding Center.
Sunday’s NEHC Junior Hunt Seat Medal Finals featured 204 riders and the top 25 returned for a second round. Last year’s Junior winner, Taylor Griffiths-Madden, along with respected NEEC Committee Member and accomplished trainer/rider Kristen Bumpus lent their voices and expertise to the livestream commentary during the final. They did a phenomenal job.
Between rounds, the Junior Sportsmanship Award was presented. This year it was a three-way tie between Taylor Griffiths-Madden, Emma Eaton-Ayers and Nora Andrews. The winner of the Top 3’ Junior Rider award was Anneliese de Rosaire.
Ellie Ferrigno was the indisputable 2020 NEHC Junior Medal winner with first and second round scores of 95 – no further testing necessary. Ellie was also the High Point Rider winner. Ellie’s trainers are Abbi Ferrigno and Val Renihan. Reserve went to Alexa Aureliano. Alexa is trained by Andre Dignelli and Heritage Farm.
Adult Sportsmanship: Jessica Roberts (Older) and Rosemary Mullholland (Younger)
Groom’s Award: Kharah Davis
Sue Brainard Award: Cyndi Mottolese
Jimmy Lee Adult Judge’s Choice: MTM Blueberry
Jimmy Lee Junior Judge’s Choice: Astro de Ravel
Nicholas Award: Opportunity
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