Harrisburg, Pa. - The nation’s top junior equitation riders will take to the main arena at this year’s 72nd annual Pennsylvania National Horse Show (October 12-21) at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center to compete in the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final, a highly competitive class that boasts one of the sport’s most sought-after titles.
Nearly 300 talented riders have qualified across the country to compete in the Medal Final, but only a small group will make it to the second round and only one will achieve the dream of being crowned champion. For most, just qualifying for the prestigious Medal Final after a year of hard work and tough competitions is an achievement in itself; making the pilgrimage to Harrisburg and having the opportunity to compete against peers from across the nation is an indelible experience for any junior equitation rider.
The Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final takes place this Sunday (October 15). It comprises multiple rounds and is judged on equitation over a course set at 3’6”. Each rider competes on only one horse. All riders compete in the first round, and the judges select the top 20-25 riders from round one to move on to round two. The top four contestants after round two then return for additional testing to determine the champion.
This year’s judges are Tamara Provost and Jack Towell. Show Jumping Hall of Famer Steve Stephens is the course designer. The first round starts at 7:00 a.m. ET, with the final round taking place the same day, at approximately 3:00 p.m. ET.
The winning rider’s name will be engraved on the beautiful Adrian Van Sinderen Trophy. The Doris H. Clark Memorial Perpetual Trophy, donated by Missy Clark, will be awarded to a horse in the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final who, in the opinion of the judges, is the best equitation horse.
The Equitation Medal was established in 1937 by Van Sinderen, the fourth president of the American Horse Shows Association (AHSA, now the USEF), as part of his strategy to connect horse people across the United States. The original Van Sinderen Trophy was awarded to the junior equitation rider who accumulated the most points in AHSA Medal classes in a given competition year. At that time, saddle seat, hunt seat, and stock seat riders were all vying for one trophy and often riding against one another in the same class. In 1948, the classes were divided into the individual riding disciplines.Van Sinderen had two more trophies made, one for hunt seat and the other for stock seat. The saddle seat discipline retained the original Van Sinderen Trophy. In 1950, the Medal Final was fashioned into the competition we now know, with qualifying classes and a final to determine the overall winner.
The Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal is a coveted USEF prize that has proven to be a significant stepping-stone for junior riders aspiring to become Grand Prix and international competitors. A great number of past winners – including Olympic medalists William Steinkraus, George Morris, Mary Mairs Chapot, Conrad Homfeld, and Kent Farrington – have gone on to represent the U.S. internationally.
USEF Network will live stream all the action from the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final this Sunday.