Devon, Pa.–July 7
It was all Caitlin Boyle in the 2014 USHJA/Essex Classics Hunterdon Cup Classic at the U.S. Junior Hunter National Championship-East Coast (Pa.). She took the lead after the hunter round when she scored a 92, giving herself a four-point margin over Ashton Alexander, and never gave it back.
Skip Bailey’s course presented riders with plenty of options to stand out with a combination built through the middle of the course allowing riders to choose how they wanted to proceed, a direct one stride, a direct two stride or a bending three to be completed in both directions.
“The first round there were a lot of tough parts to it, especially the bending two-stride or the option for the one [stride] and it was a lot of forward and backward lines,” Boyle said. “My horse could do that well, so I thought it turned out as planned.”
The handy hunter course presented more challenges, including a trot fence, a hand gallop jump and one fence that could be jumped from either direction.
When Boyle returned, she proved she was ready to win, taking a bold track that scored an 89.
Following the handy hunter round Boyle, Alexander, Victoria Press and Thea Chafee were asked to return to the ring to be tested in the third round. Without any outside assistance, the riders were asked to switch horses and were given 2 minutes and two warm-up fences to adjust to their new mounts before returning for a modified version of the course.
Boyle used her 2 minutes to get used to Alexander’s mount Thrift Shop’s canter by adjusting his stride to see what would work best.
“Ashton was really helpful about giving me a few pointers for him and he’s a really sweet horse,” Boyle said. “He was stridey and he turned great. I felt very comfortable even after the two fences in the schooling ring.
“He was the opposite of my horse,” Boyle said. “He was much more active to my leg; he was very quick to turn.”
Boyle, 17, is originally from Hampshire, Ill., and rides with trainers Freddie Vazquez and Kim Gardiner. Her father is Patrick Boyle, who manages horse shows in the area.
“[My dad] really helps me even though he’s not here,” she said. “He called me and I sent him pictures of the course and he gave me a few pointers of what he thought just from looking at it.”
This year, she started showing with the team of trainers from Heritage Farm in Katonah, N.Y. with Andre Dignelli, Patricia Griffith and Leana Romond.
“Everybody at Heritage has just helped me so much,” said Boyle, who is a working student at Heritage. “It’s been great.”
“She’s a great girl,” said Griffith. “She’s a hard worker; she’s one of the first ones there; one of the last ones to leave. She’s always looking to help, and she’s always underfoot and learning when she’s not showing. I’m happy for kids like that when it all comes together.”
Earlier this year, Boyle’s strong showing in the equitation at the Devon Horse Show helped her win the R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Equitation Championship. She rode Heritage Farm’s Clearway, who had been Lillie Keenan’s mount for the wins in the Pessoa/USEF Medal Final (Pa.) and the ASPCA Maclay Final (Ky.) last fall, at Devon for that title. But for the Hunterdon Cup, Boyle was back on her former ride, Micaela Kennedy’s Loredo, since Tori Colvin now has the ride on Clearway. Colvin finished seventh in the Hunterdon Cup.