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Grace Debney Named Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final Champion

by Kathleen Landwehr, US Equestrian Communications Department | Oct 17, 2021, 10:02 PM EST

Harrisburg, Pa. - The country’s top equitation riders converged at Pennsylvania National Horse Show for the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final. A field of 223 athlete-and-horse combinations completed the first round, with 25 combinations called back by judges Tom Brennan, Emil Spadone, and Geoff Teall for the second round. A rare two work-offs took place before Grace Debney was named the champion.

Grace Debney, 2021 Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final Champion
(Andrew Ryback Photography)

For the initial work-off, Zayna Rizvi, Eleanor Rudnicki, Skylar Wireman, and Grace Debney returned to the Harrisburg Coliseum. The test involved seven fences and required riding counter-canter to two fences, a halt, a hand gallop to the final fence, then finishing with a sitting trot to the in-gate.

“I was a little nervous to go last in the test,” shared Debney. “I got to watch Zayna go; she went beautifully. I kind of used her as my example. I didn’t watch the other two. I thought I had a really nice test, then I did make a mistake, but I finished my test and I made it happen to the best of my ability. That is something I am going to go home and work on that one mistake. Overall, I thought the test was nice, the jumps were all nice, and I finished it.”

The excitement continued when the judges elected to do a second work-off between Debney and Rizvi, who had risen from sixth and 12th, respectively, from the first round. The riders switched mounts and completed the same work-off course.

After the conclusion of the final, the judges shared their insights on the second work-off. “I think the short answer is that [Debney and Rizvi] were so consistently good and there was so much movement from round one to round two to the test that we felt they had earned and both deserved an opportunity, for lack of better words, to duke it out themselves,” explained Brennan. “They had attained that level that they were so skilled and on such good horses. I think the longer story here is that you are seeing the depth of our bench in equitation getting so vast and so many good rounds.”

Rizvi was the first rider to return in the second work-off and a miscommunication with Quimby at the first fence unfortunately resulted in rails down. She rebounded to have a solid remainder of the round to finish on a high note.

“Overall, I learned a lot about Grace’s horse, which I thought was really cool. I have always wanted to ride him,” Rizvi said of the second work-off round. “Even though it wasn’t the best round of my life, I did learn a lot from it. I am going to take that home with me and I’m going to continue to work.”

Debney entered the ring last. She had a bobble with getting the second counter-canter with Finnick but laid down an impressive round on an unfamiliar mount to claim the win.

“It is a huge honor to even be here at the show, so it is such an honor to win,” said Debney. “I came in here with really high hopes and really high goals, and I am so happy that I was able to achieve them.”

Debney acknowledged the relationship she has with Quimby as part of her success. “We did our first equitation classes together. I did my first final and his first final,” said Debney. “I think that is what really put us together so well. We just grew together and that is what really helped us create such a good partnership.”

Ivano S, Celia Cram’s 2013 Dutch Warmblood gelding who was piloted by Elizabeth Cram, was named the Best Equitation Horse in the class by the judges and was awarded the Doris H. Clark Memorial Perpetual Trophy donated by Missy Clark.

Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final

First: Grace Debney (Hampden, Mass.) and Quimby, Temple Equestrian LLC’s 2011 Holsteiner gelding

Second: Zayna Rizvi (Wellington, Fla.) and Finnick, Jordyn Rose Freeman’s 2006 Westphalian gelding

Third: Eleanor Rudnicki (The Woodlands, Texas) and Travis Scott, Brookside Pine Farms, LLC’s 2010 Warmblood gelding

Fourth: Skylar Wireman (Bonsall, Calif.) and Eretto, Natalie Jayne’s 2009 Warmblood gelding

Fifth: Alexander Alston (Gahanna, Ohio) and Campreoll, Missy Clark’s 2006 Swedish Warmblood gelding

Sixth: Sofia Cady (Austin, Texas) and Konfessions, Brookside Pine Farms, LLC’s 2013 Warmblood gelding

Seventh: Caroline Tinsley (Sudbury, Mass.) and Zonder Z Quattro, Abigail Tinsley’s 2008 Estonian Sporthorse gelding

Eighth: Hannah Hoch (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) and Simply Stated, Eleanor Rudnicki’s 2008 Belgian Warmblood gelding

Ninth: Natalie Jayne (Elgin, Ill.) and Charisma, Heritage Farm, Inc.’s 2007 Warmblood gelding

10th: Catalina Peralta (Geneva, Fla.) and Clover, Sail Horse Investments’ 2004 Holsteiner gelding

11th: Tessa Brown (Jamaica, Vt.) and Davide, Equipearl, LLC’s 2008 Warmblood gelding

12th: Emily Dehoff (Far Hills, N.J.) and Quathageno, The Sporty Game, LLC’s 2010 Warmblood gelding

Full results

Learn more about the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final.

The USEF Network livestream was brought to you by Hollow Brook Wealth Management, and on-demand coverage is available on the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final page.

For photo galleries and more, follow Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final on Facebook, US Equestrian on Twitter and Instagram, and USEF Network on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.