Starting in 2023, ASPCA Maclay Regionals will be optional for competitors seeking to attend ASPCA Maclay Finals.
That’s one of the many changes to the 2022 and 2023 ASPCA Maclay Finals qualifying criteria released Tuesday by the National Horse Show (Kentucky), which hosts the Finals. The changes are being made in response to input from the NHS Equitation Committee as well as comments from two meetings among equitation trainers held during the 2021 National Horse Show.
“What we got from listening to the membership is that a large portion of the membership no longer thinks regionals need to be mandatory,” National Horse Show Executive Director Cindy Bozan said. “We didn’t feel it fair to make that sweeping change in a year that’s already underway. To try to help accommodate that request, we tried to make things less cumbersome for the mandatory year … we took that penalty about changing regionals away. We want to make getting to regionals as easy as possible for the members this year.”
This year, 225 riders—50 more than in 2021—will be invited to the Finals, and there will be three additional regional competitions. Regions 3 and 5 have been split in half, creating new regions 9 and 10. (You can see a map of the new regions here.) Also, Region 4 will have two regional competitions: One at the American Gold Cup (Michigan) and one at the Kentucky National.
ASPCA Maclay Regionals remain mandatory this year for riders wishing to earn an invitation to the ASPCA Maclay Finals, but they may compete in any regional they wish simply by earning the points their home state requires. That’s a change from previous years, when riders wanting to show outside their home region had to qualify by earning the points required by the state with the highest qualification threshold in the new region.
It means, for example, that Alabama riders wanting to ride in their home Region 3 regional previously needed the 10 points required by the state to do so, but if they wanted to compete in the Region 2 regional, they would need to earn 33 points—the total required by New York and New Jersey, which have the highest thresholds in that region—to do so. This year, by contrast, satisfying their home state’s 10-point requirement would be enough to allow those Alabama riders to compete in Region 2 (or any other) regional as well.
Additionally, the top 10 finishers in the Platinum Performance USEF Talent Search Finals—East and West and the top 12 riders from Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Finals will be invited to compete in the 2022 Finals.
But things will change again for the 2023 season: Regional competitions will become optional, and riders will be able to qualify for the Maclay Finals based on points accrued in regular classes throughout the season instead. The number of points required to qualify for Finals will be increased, mirroring those required to attend USEF Medal Finals.
Regionals won’t be eliminated entirely in 2023, Bozan said, because there are also many riders who consider regionals an end goal. Bozan pointed out that many riders in the Pacific Northwest’s Region 7, for example, aren’t able to travel across the country to compete in the ASPCA Maclay Finals in Kentucky but still want to participate in the program.
“To take that away, to wipe out regionals and not even have them, would be a disservice to a certain percentage of our membership,” she said. “We tried to listen to all of what the members said and all of their ideas and roll everything up together, which is what we came up with for 2023.”
The competition format for the 2023 ASPCA Maclay Finals will undergo a makeover as well.
On the Saturday of the competition, all riders will compete in a preliminary around where a minimum of 125 riders will be selected to move on to Sunday’s competition. Those 125 riders will start with a clean slate on Sunday, participating in a first round, flat phase, second round and optional testing.
While regionals will be optional, riders who are qualified for ASPCA Maclay Finals and elect to compete in a regional will earn an automatic invitation to Sunday’s championship competition if they place in the top percentage at their regional.
Riders who do not earn enough points to qualify for Maclay Finals but elect to compete in an optional regional and finish in the top percentage of the regional will earn an invitation to compete in Saturday’s preliminary round.
Riders will qualify to compete in the optional regionals by earning points from showing in the ASPCA Maclay classes throughout 2023, and regionals are open to any rider with points. Additionally, riders who qualify for the 2023 Hamel Foundation NHS 3’3” Equitation Championship will automatically be qualified to compete in 2023 ASPCA Regional qualifiers.
“It’s giving them an opportunity to get a really solid competition under their belt and to link the two classes,” said Bozan.
Visit the National Horse Show website for more information about the changes to the ASPCA Maclay Finals.