Harrisburg, Pa. – The historic Pennsylvania National Horse Show hosted 31 up-and-coming hunter seat equitation competitors last weekend for the 2022 USEF/NCEA Junior Hunter Seat Medal Final – East. Schuyler Dayner (Odessa, Fla.) earned the win, impressing the judges across three phases of competition.
The USEF/NCEA Finals consist of an initial jumping round with fences set at 3’3”, and from there, the top 10 or top 20% of the class move on to the flat phase, which includes basic dressage movements. The final phase brings back the top four competitors to switch horses and ride a course of at least eight fences with only four minutes of warm-up time, testing their horsemanship on unfamiliar horses in a format similar to NCEA intercollegiate competition. Finally, the top two competitors return to again ride an unfamiliar horse to determine champion and reserve champion positions.
For the first two phases, Dayner rode Joske Van De Knuffel, a 2009 Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Jenna Hanson, who she has been riding for three months.
“We started leasing him from Don Stewart in August for indoor finals,” said Dayner. “Joske is an amazing horse. He is very chill and laid back in the barn. At shows, I feel like he wants to win as much as I do. He tries really hard, which is a great feeling when I get into the ring.”
Dayner aspires to compete as part of a collegiate team in the future, and participating in the USEF/NCEA Medal program is part of her preparation for that, as well as a fun addition to her competition schedule.
“I wanted to do this Final because I would like to ride on a D1 team in college, and I thought this would be a good way to experience what that is like,” she said. “I enjoyed the format with the first round of jumping and then the more intensive flatwork with numerical scores. I loved switching horses for the bracket phase and the head-to-head competition. That’s not something we ever do at [other] shows.”
Dayner’s mother, Heather, is a trainer, and because of that she has experience catch riding a variety of horses, and she credits that with helping her be prepared and confident for the bracket phase.
“I used my four minutes on each new horse to get to know the horse by doing some lengthening and shortening at the canter, flying changes, and our four allowed jumps in the schooling ring,” she said. “I felt pretty confident when I walked into the ring on each of them. Both of the horses I switched to were lovely and fun to ride, which made it easy.”
Adding to the fun of the Final for Dayner was a supportive group of barnmates at the show.
“I really enjoyed this Final because two of my best friends were there competing with me,” she said. “We all train together with Bob Braswell at Terrapin Hill Farm and often travel together. Madison Ramsey finished in third place and Anna Markcrow finished in sixth place, so it was a good day for our whole team!”
Emma Arnhols (Coral Gables, Fla.) was the Reserve Champion riding Spiros Z, her own 2011 Zangersheide gelding. Madison Ramsey (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and Maguro, a 2011 Holsteiner gelding owned by Kevin Eufemia, finished in third place. Charlotte Clivio (Miami, Fla.) and Yung Gravy, a 2015 Zangersheide gelding owned by Don Stewart, rounded out the top four selected for the bracket phase.
The East Final is the second of three in the USEF/NCEA series, with the Central Final having taken place at Showplace Fall Classic in September and the West Final on the schedule for the National Sunshine Series II in November. Learn more about the program here.
Watch the 2022 NCEA Medal Finals – East on-demand on USEF Network.
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