View other Hamel candids here.
The 140th National Horse Show showcased its unwavering commitment to equestrian excellence as the spotlight shifted to the highly anticipated Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship. In this prestigious event, riders demonstrated exceptional skills and grace in this challenging equitation competition.
The equitation course in the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship, designed by Bobby Murphy (USA), proved to be a challenging and sophisticated test for both horse and rider. Each round featured a series of technical questions and impressive jumps, such as the shrubbed roll-top, open and airy oxers, and the infamous long white gate. In the second round of competition, all riders who had previously competed in the flat section were brought back to face an intricately designed, technical second course. This round tested their abilities and added an extra layer of excitement to the event.
“[The class] stood out,” stated sponsor Kristen Hamel. “If you won this class and this was the end of your junior year you could be really proud of winning it or even competing in it. Looking forward to next year, I think experience is the key. Ride every day that you can and expose your horse to some different things. I think that is what will be necessary in the future.”
After three challenging phases of competition, the title of Champion in the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship went to Maggie King of Spring, Texas. It is King’s first year competing on the indoor equitation circuit, and she absolutely excelled here at the National Horse Show. She rode her own horse, Ivano S, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, to the winner’s circle accompanied by her trainer, Robert Braswell.
The field of 188 competitors were challenged by Murphy’s technical course design. King commented on the course, “I definitely felt that he [Ivano S] studied the jumps, but I was able to keep it together and keep going and focus on what was happening to have a nice round after that. And I would imagine that’s sort of a common thread through most of the riders out here.” She continued, stating, “In the first round, the white combination to the green combination didn’t worry me at first, but then I got nervous going into the ring. And my horse kind of studied it a bit. So that was probably the most challenging part for me, and trying to keep myself together after that happened.” The pair expertly navigated the challenge course and all the questions it gave them.
In a field teeming with top-tier competitors, it was Connecticut native Capri Truesdale who took home the Reserve Champion honors. Truesdale piloted Utrillo Du Soleil, a 16-year-old Warmblood gelding owned by Reese Merna, and was trained by Jill Shulman. Truesdale remarked on her process for success in the class, “I’m really happy to have finished second. I went kind of in the middle of it, so I watched a few people, and then I rode my other horse that was here because I wanted to distract myself. When I watch too many people, I get too worked up.”
Coming in the third-place position was the youngest rider on the podium, Eva Mackenzie. She is the owner and rider of Demonia GS Z, a 10-year-old Warmblood mare, and rode under the guidance of trainer Kim Davidson. Commenting on her plans after her success, “I am 13, but I ride as 12. And I plan on moving up to the Maclay and the big equitation next year.” Successful from the start, Mackenzie went 49th in the order, earlier than her fellow podium finishers.
The Jim and Kristen Hamel Family Foundation, Inc. plays a crucial role in promoting animal care, protection, and placement with supportive caregivers. They have been incredible supporters in the equestrian world.
The festivities continue next week with a range of events. Junior, amateur, and green hunters will go early in the week. The prestigious ASPCA Maclay and the $226,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Lexington promise exciting events.