Lexington, Ky. – Oct. 24, 2020 – The 137th National Horse Show (NHS) continued Saturday, October 24, bringing top athletes to the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park for another day of historic sport. In addition to naming its first round of champions, day two of the 2020 National Horse Show featured the highly-anticipated Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Horse Show Adult Equitation Championship. Seventy-six adult equitation riders were called to order in the evening for the THIS National Horse Show Adult Equitation Championship, which challenged them to show their best position and style over a three-phase contest. Ultimately, Madison Sellman outshone the rest to ride to a standout victory aboard Clover.
A hefty start list of 76 exhibitors navigated course designer Bobby Murphy’s 12-effort track for the first phase of the competition. The flowing course featured a series of lines, including two bending lines to fences at the far end of the ring, a question that repeatedly posed a challenge to riders and their equine partners. Following the conclusion of the first round, judges Keri Kampsen and Chance Arakelian invited 24 contenders back to the arena for the final two phases of competition, which consisted of a flat class in addition to another trip over fences. Whittled down to the best performers, the flat portion of the class was split into two sections, which saw the remaining challenger demonstrate all three paces. Following that, all 24 eligible partnerships advanced to the final phase, one more over fences trip to demonstrate their skill.
A new pattern, Murphy’s second course featured some familiar elements from the first track, but offered riders a few new opportunities to showcase their abilities. With the 24 rounds completed, judges Kampsen and Arakalien invited four finalists – Jessica Stone, Madison Myro, Madison Sellman and Ashton Alexander – back to the ring for one final test.
Riding in that order, Stone tackled the track first, which consisted of counter-cantering fence 1, cantering fence 2, a halt, cantering fences 4a and 4b, trotting fence 5, cantering fences 6a and 6b, then returning to the line. She and her mount put the pressure on with an expertly-navigated work-off to set the standard for the remaining contestants, and Myro followed suit, managing to halt her horse earlier than her peer. Not willing to be outdone, Sellman performed admirably with another expert trip, hoping to add further success to her division championship won earlier in the day, leaving Alexander for last. Also a division tricolor winner Saturday, Alexander piloted her equine partner to a seemingly flawless execution of the pattern, leaving a tough decision for the judges to order the quartet of talented riders.
As the results were announced in reverse order, Sellman’s efforts over four phases were ultimately rewarded as the judges named her the 2020 Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Horse Show Adult Equitation champion. Alexander was awarded reserve honors, followed by Stone in third place, while Myro rounded out the top four.
From Honeoye Falls, N.Y., Sellman is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina, where she was named the 2019 - 2020 SEC Equestrian Scholar Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year. In the competition arena, Sellman excelled as well, earning NCEA All-America Second Team and All-SEC honors as a senior for her work on the flat. Her catch-riding skills from collegiate equestrian came in handy Saturday, as the young rider navigated Clover, a horse that she does not normally ride, to a prestigious victory.
Equitation judging will resume Sunday, October 25, at 7a.m. with the Hamel Foundation National Horse Show 3’3″ Equitation Championship, a class that highlights some of the country’s most talented up-and-coming equitation athletes.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Madison Sellman – Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Horse Show Adult Equitation Championship winner
On winning the Taylor Harris Insurance Services Adult Equitation Championship:
“It feels amazing! There were so many good riders in that class, I just feel very grateful to have won.”
On her horse, Clover:
“I rode Clover and he is owned by Stacia Madden of Beacon Hill Show Stables. His speciality is equitation and he is truly a master and has done all of the big equitation finals. Stacia was kind enough to let me use him for this class tonight. I don’t normally ride him and I am currently in school so this was kind of a one time thing.”
On winning a big class on Clover:
“This was a big confidence booster! Clover is amazing so I was just so happy to be able to ride him.”
On her best round of the night:
“I was in 12th place going into the second jumping round. I was able to climb my way up and I was able to end up in second place going into the test. I was able to solidify my lead in the test, but I gave my best ride in the second round.”
On the Taylor Harris Insurance Services Adult Equitation class and 3’ Equitation divisions:
“I think this class is a great opportunity. I really like that they are creating opportunities for kids and adults at this height and I think it is a good way to boost your confidence before moving into the bigger equitation classes.”
On competing at the National Horse Show:
“I have competed at the National Horse Show many times as a junior and a Maclay rider. It is always amazing, the grounds keep everything running smoothly and it is a great facility.”
Ashton Alexander – Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Horse Show Adult Equitation Championship second place
On Thrift Shop:
“His name is Thrift Shop and he is actually a little bit more of a senior citizen. He is 18 years old and I actually used to show him as a junior. Then, I got to show him again for the first time this summer and it almost brought tears to my eyes! I did him in the Ariat Adult Medal and I wasn’t going to end up using him this week, I was going to use a different horse, but things didn’t end up working out so I used him and of course he was spectacular, like always. You always know he is going to give you his all and honestly, he knows more about the equitation than any of us do and he is not shy to let you know that!”
On the test:
“My plan for the test was to watch everybody else and watch how they did things since I was sitting on top. There was a turn that I was looking for, but since somebody else did it I just played it safe. I tried to be efficient everywhere I could be and I thought he went as well as he could, so I was very happy with him.”
On the Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Horse Show Adult Equitation Championship:
“It is actually really nice to have a class like this. I was never able to win one as a junior so I started off with the Ariat Finals this year and then was obviously the runner up here! When I was a junior at Maclay Finals I was 11th twice, so it was nice to finally be in the top three here.”
On competing at the National Horse Show:
“It has been great to be here. They have done a wonderful job with the COVID protocols and getting people in and out of the ring in an efficient manner. I think that we were running two hours ahead of schedule today, which was amazing! I think they have done a fantastic job here. It is definitely a little bit different, but they have done a wonderful job overall.”
Michael Taylor – Taylor Harris Insurance Services National Horse Show Adult Equitation Championship sponsor
On the experience of the THIS NHS Adult Equitation Championship:
“This is the third running of this great class and it is seriously competitive! There were 2x more competitors this year than last year and it was great fun to watch. We had a great winner and superb top ten finalists.”
On the 2020 National Horse Show:
“It is fantastically well organized. Given the situation with COVID, this weekend really kicked off a fantastic show. There is so much commitment that has gone into it being the only indoor show in the country and I want to congratulate the team for putting it together.”
On Taylor Harris Insurance Services sponsorship of the National Horse Show:
“I think it’s important to be at the events where you are a sponsor and luckily I was, in fact, able to be here and I was very happy to be here. “I would like to thank the National Horse Show team for putting this together and for the commitment to this class.”