New Challenge Off to a Successful Start
Seventy-seven junior and amateur riders turned out for the inaugural Whitethorne American Tradition of Equitation Excellence Challenge, hosted by Blenheim EquiSports, June 20–21, in San Juan Capistrano, California. Twelve-year-old Stella Buckingham topped the field competing over two 3-foot-3 hunter derby-type courses on a grass grand prix field. In addition, her coach Katie Gardner earned the Challenge’s $10,000 trainer’s prize.
The new event grew from the desire of California horsewoman Georgy Maskrey-Segesman to bring more education and excitement to the West Coast equitation community. The consensus of those who participated was that she and fellow organizers did just that.
Building on Maskrey-Segesman’s belief that hunter/ jumper riders would like feedback similar to what dressage riders receive after every test, the Chal- lenge included a mandatory educational session that began with riders getting their first-round scorecards from judges Bernie Traurig and Stacia Madden. A question-and-answer period followed with the judges, course designer Karen Healey and mental-skills coach Tonya Johnston all offering insights from their seasoned perspectives to an enthusiastic audience. Traurig also provided commentary for a slow-motion video
of recent winning Maclay Finals rounds.— Kim F. Miller
Stella Buckingham and Nom de Guerre