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January 19, 2009

Welles Lands On Top Of Maclay Regionals

Julie Welles, 17, capitalized on the relationship she's formed with Gabby Slome's Lando to win the ASPCA Northeast Regional, held Sept. 25 at the Grand
Fall Classic in Westbrook, Conn.

Welles, of West Simsbury, Conn., typically finds herself astride whatever steed trainer Missy Clark brings to a show. She also rides the variety of mounts available at the Ethel Walker School (Conn.), where she is a student and trains with Linda Langmeier, and her mother is the assistant director of riding.

"I started riding Lando at the end of Florida. I'm planning on taking him to finals--if it actually happens, that'll be nice!" she said with a chuckle. "It definitely has made me stronger as a rider because I don't normally ride the same horse for very long, but this year has been nice having the same horse. It also helps when you catch ride other people's horses because you can relate them back to a horse you've ridden before."

Riding every day under the guidance of Langmeier and with the tutelage of Clark at shows, Welles gets a lot of input. "They both really pick on my position a lot! They're both amazing to ride with and are consistently on me," she said. "It's really nice to have two of them by the ring."

A field of 68 riders, the largest of all the regions, vied for one of Region 1's berths at the ASPCA Maclay Finals, to be held Nov. 5-6 at the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament (N.Y.). Welles, who had placed third in last year's qualifier and second in the finals to Megan Young, was coming off of an already successful weekend at the Grand Fall Classic, boasting wins in all of her other equitation classes. She was sitting in first going into the flat portion of the regional and continued the trend throughout the class.

"There were a bunch of options on the course, but I don't think they really cared how you did it, as long as you did it nicely," she said. "In the second line, you could do a bending five or a direct four to the in-and-out. Missy decided that we were going to do the five because it was more of a test. The first line was really forward in three, and the next line showed how you could collect."

She opted for the more direct option in a new bending line question in the ride-off, which tested the top eight riders.

Welles, who has one more junior year remaining, appreciates the opportunity to start the indoor season on a good note. "I just really want to ride well.
Consistent riding is what gets you to the top, not one lucky round."

Help From A New Amigo

Maria Schaub, 16, who placed eighth in last year's ASPCA Maclay Finals, will be back for another shot this year, thanks in part to Nicole Chernys' 13-year-old Holsteiner, Amigo. The duo topped a field of 55 riders in the Eastern Maclay Regional, held Sept. 11 at the Long Island Classic in Old Westbury, N.Y.

Schaub's 10-year-old, Dutch Warmblood cross gelding, Whimsey, tore his suspensory at the Capital Challenge (Md.) last year after placing third in the Maclay Regionals, and she struggled through the rest of indoors on borrowed horses. Although she's been leasing Amigo since early this year, he is for sale, so she's not sure he'll still be an option when the final rolls around. She's trying to contain her excitement that Whimsey might be ready in time.

"He has been jumping for two weeks, and it's been unreal to be back on him!" she said. "We're hoping that if he's 150 percent, he might be able to do the finals, but I don't want to push it at all."

Schaub, of Holmdel, N.J., rides with Beacon Hill Show Stables, referring to trainers Frank and Stacia Madden, Krista Freundlich and Max Amaya as family.

Their guidance helped her maintain the lead throughout the competition, which featured a course she described as "difficult, but in a more subtle way than last year's."

She explained that the deciding factors were not refusals and rails falling but smaller details in performances. "Some people get caught up with keeping a number in their heads. It's good to have an idea, but getting too locked on a number can get you into trouble," she said. "If you come out too much [on a bending line] and try to gun it to go for the number, you can get into trouble, instead of having an idea and doing what's best for the situation. It's not 'Who can do the least amount of strides?'

"It can be hard to take your time in a small space like that--the ring makes it more difficult," she added. "You don't always need to be the winner. You need to go in with a solid round knowing you have no major flaws. You want a good solid round to get qualified."

Winning came as a pleasant bonus to Schaub's thoughtful approach. "It was such a nice class. I'm just very thankful. It was really cool to be able to do well in it," she said. "Hopefully, that's foreshadowing!"

Rounding out the East Coast winners, Michael DelFiandra, of Del Ray Beach, Fla., nabbed the Southeast title on Sept. 25 at the Camden Fall Classic (S.C.). A product of Alan Korotkin and Castlewood Farm, he piloted Gordon, an 11-year-old, Oldenburg gelding co-owned by Korotkin and two of his clients, to the victory over approximately 30 other competitors.

"We got him at the beginning of the summer as a sale horse and decided we liked him a lot as an eq horse and kept him," explained DelFiandra, 17. "He could not have been better. He was very responsive and came back well. Usually, he has such a big step that I have trouble getting him back, but he came back really well in the test."

Leading after the first course, he dipped to second after the flat but returned to the lead after the top six riders were tested. Whitney Goulart fell from first to third after a little bobble at a trot jump, opening the door for DelFiandra. "It was really exciting since my first year there I kind of went off course, so it was a relief to know I could actually win it!" he admitted.

DelFiandra, in his last junior year and in his senior year in high school, is looking forward to turning pro this coming year, in addition to attending a local college to secure a back-up plan.

"It's nice to end the equitation," he said, "but it's kind of sad because you'll never do this kind of thing again."

Keeping The Name Alive

Haylie Jayne duplicated her effort from last year's Midwest Maclay Regional, earning her second Region 4 title at the Kentucky National in Lexington, on Sept. 24. Her victory comes as the fifth in six years for the Jayne family, with sister Maggie winning in 2000 and 2002 and brother Charlie
in 2001.

Jayne, 17, trains with her father, Alex, her sister, and Clark, and she rode Clark's 12-year-old, chestnut gelding, Ivy. Although he's been at her family's farm in Elgin, Ill., for about a year, Jayne has saved him for the big shows. The regionals was her fourth outing with him.

The pair moved up throughout the class--from fifth after their jumping round, to second after the flat. "The course walked like it wasn't going to be too terribly hard, but it rode a lot trickier," she said. "The first line was a forward five, and you really had to get it done immediately. A lot of people had problems with it."

The future looked a little grim as the flat portion began. "He was really good in the first round, but when I was going in for the flat phase, the section B people were heading out of the ring and people were clapping for them. He got really excited and started bucking, but once they called the class to order, he was fine and was perfect," she explained.

She was able to move into the lead when Whitney Weeks, who was sitting in first going into the test, wasn't able to develop a true hand gallop approaching the last fence and dropped to fourth, despite an otherwise lovely round.

"I really wanted to win back-to-back, since my brother and sister had won it a bunch of years, but they kind of mixed it up," she said. "It was weird not having one of them competing in it this year, though. Charlie even called me before and said, 'It's all on you, kid!' "

Her Majesty Rules

Katie Taylor, 18, of Tarzana, Calif., rode her 13-year-old, warmblood gelding, Majesty, to the Region 8 Maclay title in the horse's first show back after a minor injury.

"He felt really good. My horse has been back and forth with a couple injuries and two colic surgeries," she said. "We didn't know how he was going to be, since we gelded him when we got him [four years ago]. He's got some stallion attitude sometimes, but he is the best horse ever."

Taylor, who is a freshman education student at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., trains with Nick Karazissis and crew of Far West Farms. She led the class of 38 throughout its entirety.

Although her horse is on the mend, Taylor has been spending a little time on the disabled list after straining her neck in a fall the day after her win. "It was kind of upsetting because I was so excited, and then the next day, I crash and burn!" she admitted.

She has plans for the Pennsylvania National and now Syracuse, but Taylor is going to be forced to miss the Washington International (D.C.) due to her college courses. She plans to use the education degree she is pursuing to support her quest to become a professional rider.

Whitney Linders, 18, of Manhattan, Kan., is also wrapping up her last junior year with a Maclay Regionals title. She claimed hers at the St. Louis National Charity (Mo.) on Sept. 17, riding her 11-year-old warmblood, Hennessey.

"I actually can't wait to get out of the equitation, but having a win first was kind of nice!" she said.

Don Stewart and Gordon Monroe helped with Hennessey early on, while Susan Baginski and Bob Braswell have trained her.

Linders had an option for which horse she would ride during regionals, and the final decision wasn't made until 45 minutes before the class. "I have another chestnut horse that Bob is letting me borrow throughout indoors, but I don't really know him well enough yet, so we chose Hennessey," she said.

She was called on top to flat, after which she dropped to third due to a little freshness on Hennessey's part. The test involved cantering the first fence, trotting the second, and after two more fences, hand galloping the final jump. "I think there were a lot of nerves going on at that point," noted Linders, who was able to reclaim the top spot with a well-executed trip. "The girl in first had a mishap at the trot fence, and some people were a little afraid to let go for the hand gallop."

Linders will be starting at Florida Atlantic University in January and plans to continue riding, perhaps after taking a little break.

Getting An Early Start

At 15 years old, Sarah Tredennick was the youngest of this year's regional winners, earning her victory in Region 6 at the High Prairie Fall Classic in Parker, Colo., on Sept. 17. She rode A'Biento, her 9-year-old warmblood purchased five months ago in Europe, to the top of the small class.

Sitting in second or third after the flat, Tredennick and the other top three riders switched horses and re-rode the original course for the ride-off. She rode Kate Van Hee's horse. "He is a lot like 'Peter,' so I didn't have much problem with that," she said. "Everyone rode their horses well, but everyone had little
mistakes, so it was just [judge] Sue Ashe's decision."

Tredennick, of Littleton, Colo., is currently attending the Kent School in Connecticut, and she gets help from a spectrum of trainers spanning the country, including Michael Page, Jenny Paisley, Mindy Darst and Baginski.

"I love having the different trainers since I get so many different ideas," she said.

Nicole Bourgeois, 17, of Sherwood, Ore., rode her versatile 7-year-old Irish-bred, Teacher's Pet, to Region 5 Maclay honors at the Northwest Autumn Finals on Sept. 10 in Monroe, Wash. "This was his first 3'6" year and he handled it wonderfully," she said.

Bourgeois, who trains with Jeff and Shelley Campf of Oz Inc., also shows the gelding in the large juniors, and he'll be doing double duty for her during indoors this year. "Back East, especially, I bet most people have different horses for equitation and hunter, but mine's the same," she said. "I think it's cool how he can win and do well at both."

The pair racked up an armful of blues in equitation and hunter classes that weekend before the Maclay, and they earned their regional victory without having to test.

"There were a lot of bending lines in the course, which is nice for me since my horse isn't that broke. I could stay out or go in instead of having to shorten or lengthen a lot," she said. "There was an in-and-out that had a 90-degree angle to an option. I didn't like that part. I rode it fine, but it's been like that two other years, and I always managed to add in the in-and-out. This year I was adamant that I not add in the in-and-out!"
 
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