After two testing rounds and a dramatic switch of horses, Maggie McAlary won the Pessoa/USEF Medal Finals on Oct. 15 in Harrisburg, Pa. “She’s got beautiful style, and she got on a strange horse and rode it really well,” said Jimmy Torano, who judges the finals with Bill Moroney. For a blog of the events of the day, with details of who did what and when, click here…
McAlary went 11th out of the 271 riders who competed in the finals today. Her first-round course didn’t go quite as smoothly as she’d hoped. “I think in the first round, my horse was a little bit nervous. He felt nervous going to [a combination out of the corner at 4AB] and had 4A down. But in the second round, he was more relaxed, and went really well.” The judges called McAlary back in fifth for Round 2, and her smooth, flowing trip moved her up to second before the test. She traded onto Sloane Coles’ horse for the final testing, and turned in yet another fluid, lovely round.
“I had seen Sloane show that horse a lot this summer, and I watched both her rounds today,” McAlary said. “I tried to take what I saw and simulate her ride. He has a very big stride—much bigger than my horse—so, I just tried to take a feel of him and make it smooth.”
The final switch proved to be the downfall for Coles, who was called back in third after Round 1, and moved up to the lead before the horse switch. Once on McAlary’s horse, she picked up a confident gallop and really attacked the course. But the horse hesitated off the ground into an in-and-out, and then pulled a rail. The judges moved Coles down to fourth.
Julie Welles claimed second, with great rides on her own horse, Sander, and a confident test aboard Zazou Hoffman’s horse. She’d been in fourth after Round 1, and stayed there after Round 2.
Adrienne Dixon, of Hillsboro, Calif., made a huge leap up in the test to finish third. The judges had called her back in 12th after a smooth Round 1, and then she moved up to eighth with her second round. But her ride on Molly Braswell’s horse in the test really stood out to the judges, with flowing turns, and she vaulted into the third place. “I was just happy to have made it into the top group,” Dixon said. “I just started riding the horse I rode, Tarantino, a week ago. I was really happy to make it into the top 25, and then so excited to be in the final group.”