Equitation Greats 1995 - 2018
1995 was the first year all five of the current “major” junior equitation finals were contested - the Medal, Maclay, Talent Search East/West, Washington, and North American. With a complete archive of the results from MedalMaclay.com, as well as near-complete archives of horses ridden, it is possible to objectively determine the greatest equitation riders, greatest equitation horses, as well as the best horse/rider pairs during this current "5-Final" era.
To determine these lists every single horse and rider who won a ribbon since 1995 was recorded. Mathematical equations or simple calculations were used to determine the greats in each category. We established specific, common sense criteria, as noted with each list. Below are summary lists of great riders, horses and partnerships, based on our mathematical calculations.
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Equitation Greats: Riders 1995 - 2018
Based on wins and ribbons at all finals; all ribbons earned, with wins and better ribbons given more weight. The oldest, most prestigious equitation finals (Medal, Maclay, and Talent Search) are also given slightly more weight than the two new finals (WIHS, NAEC). Bonus points are awarded to riders who won the coveted Medal-Maclay “double” win. Score = (M+M+TS Pins) + (WIHS Pins) + (NAEC Pins) + MM Bonus.
Each junior rider has a unique journey to the top. Some riders won several major finals in a few years, others had a long career over many seasons riding in finals. Some riders only had one or two horses, others rode many different horses, winning no matter the mount.
It's no surprise that the #1 equitation rider from this era is Brianne Goutal. She is the only rider to win all five major equitation finals, and did so in a relatively short timespan of three years, 2003-2005. Goutal earned her first finals ribbon at the North American Equitation Championships in 2003 and went on to pin in the Washington and Maclay that year.
Many top equitation riders experience similar results in their initial breakthrough year, but Goutal followed it up with a series of historic performances over the next two years: she was champion or reserve at four of the five equitation finals in 2004, winning the Talent Search East and the Washington. With the immense pressure of being the "finals favorite" coming into 2005, she never wavered, winning all three finals in which she was eligible to compete: the North American, the Medal and the Maclay.
Goutal shared a special partnership with her mount, Logan, a 16.2-hand black Dutch Warmblood gelding born November 12, 1993. Logan was Goutal's partner for four of her five championships (winning with Onira in the Talent Search East) and nine of the eleven total finals ribbons won. No other horse-rider pair has together accomplished such feats in the high-pressure, subjective, and extremely competitive junior equitation finals.
#2 Lillie Keenan's route to the top was altogether different from Goutal's, earning top finishes over the course of six years. She burst onto the scene as 12 year-old in 2009 winning her first finals ribbon, and then won the 2010 Washington Equitation the next year at 13. Starting in 2012 and running through 2014, it was all or nothing for Keenan at equitation finals - any ribbon she won was a tricolor: she finished champion or reserve in six finals. In 2013 she completed the coveted Medal-Maclay double championship, winning both. She ultimately won four of the five major finals, narrowly missing the fifth win when she took reserve champion at the Talent Search in 2014.
Keenan proved effective on a variety of mounts, partnering with four different horses to achieve her results: Logan (Goutal's mount), Uno, Clearway, and Catwalk 19. Her greatest successes came with Clearway, a 17.1-hand bay warmblood gelding, born May 23, 2005 by Cheenook out of Lacrima. Andre Dignelli spotted the gelding as a 5 year-old and a few years later he appeared in the states in the 7 year-old jumpers with Brian Walker of Woodside Farm in early 2012. Clearway quickly turned into a top equitation horse that winter and immediately won some classes at WEF with Michael Murphy before Keenan took over the ride for the remainder of the year. And the rest is history!
Like Keenan, #3 Victoria Colvin rode a variety of horses to excellent results at finals between 2011-2015. Remarkably, Colvin and Keenan were able to compile historic winning records while competing against each other, as their show years overlapped. Colvin won five finals, including the Washington, Maclay, and Talent Search East. While the Medal win eluded her, she rode to two wins in a row at the North American Equitation Championship, the only final which allows winners to compete again.
Colvin's mounts were Sander, VIP Z, Monsieur du Reverdy, Patrick, Clearway, and Avalanche. While most of her ribbons were earned on VIP Z, two of her major wins came on Patrick: the 2014 ASPCA Maclay and 2015 Washington. In 2014, she rode three different horses to ribbons in finals, Patrick, Pioneer and Clearway, the latter two were already finals winners with Samantha Schaefer and Keenan. Colvin, meanwhile, brought Patrick his first win after many years of previous finals ribbons. The 16.2-hand chestnut gelding was born in 2002 and at just six won his first finals ribbon with Lucy Davis. More would follow with Catherine Tyree and Charlotte Jacobs before Colvin brought him to the winner's circle.
#4 Maggie McAlary first appeared in finals results in 2004 and had her big breakthrough in 2006 finishing top three in the four major finals: she won both the Medal and the Maclay, was reserve in the Talent Search, and third in the Washington. McAlary rode four mounts to 11 ribbons over six years: Peter Pan, Mid-Accord, Chagall, and Sierra. For her Medal-Maclay double win, McAlary rode two different horses: her own Mid-Accord, a 16-hand 1997 Hanoverian gelding by Accord II out of Sangria, and Chagall a 1993 bay warmblood gelding then owned by Natalie Johnson.
#5 Hayley Barnhill only won ribbons at finals over the course of two seasons, 2010-2011, but her results packed some serious punch in that short time: she was champion or reserve at five finals, won the Medal-Maclay double in 2010, and was reserve in the Washington in 2011. She earned back to back tricolors at the North American, finishing reserve champion in 2010 and coming back to win it in 2011. More amazing is that she rode to the top on four different horses, Podest, Dynasty, Asparagus and Camona. Her Medal-Maclay win came on Podest, a 16.3-hand 10 year-old liver chestnut Oldenburg gelding (born May 29, 2000, by Padarco out of Hauptstutbuch Goldess).
Jessica Springsteen lands at #6. Like most of these top riders, Springsteen won the Medal-Maclay double championship, scoring the Maclay in 2008 and the Medal in 2009. She also earned the reserve championship at the 2009 Talent Search East. Springsteen rode three different horses to finals ribbons, but her major successes came with Papillon 136, a 16.2-hand Dutch Warmblood gelding. The flashy chestnut was born March 6, 1997, by Guidam de Dartay out of Lundy.
McKayla Langmeier takes the #7 spot, edging Michael Hughes at #8. These riders serve as an interesting comparison and show that succeeding in equitation can come in completely different ways. Both riders won two finals each. Langmeier earned one more reserve championship (3) than Hughes (2), but Hughes earned 15 total ribbons to Langmeier's 13. When it comes to their mounts, however, the numbers diverge: Langmeier has a legendary partnership with her horse Skyfall, earning all but one of her finals ribbons on him. Meanwhile, Hughes rode nine, yes, NINE different horses during his equitation finals career!
#9 Hillary Schlusemeyer is the equitation trail-blazer of this current 5-final generation; a model for the riders who followed. Her first ribbon came in 1992 before all five finals were offered and the "big three" - the Medal, Maclay, and Talent Search were the only equitation finals. Yet Schlusemeyer was one of the early competitors in the Washington class, placing third in 1995 and reserve champion in 1996. While the Maclay win eluded her (she was so close at 7th, 4th, and 4th), she won both the Medal and Talent Search East in 1996. Schlusemeyer had a tremendous partnership with Pik Trump II, a bay Hanoverian gelding, and one of the best equitation horses of his generation. Her success spans two generations of equitation riders, as she also appears on our 1982-1994 list of equitation greats.
At #10 is Sarah Willeman, winner of three equitation finals and longtime owner of the greatest equitation horse of all-time, Grappa. The 16.2-hand Hanoverian gelding was foaled on April 27, 1989, by Grossmogul out of Sally. Of course, he wasn't yet an all-time great when Willeman got the ride in 1998. With two finals wins under his belt with Lauren Bass, Willeman kept on the torrid pace of finals success, immediately winning the 1998 Washington, and then winning the Medal and Talent Search East in 2000. Together, they earned ribbons in nine total classes together during their three-year partnership. Willeman also rode Guardian Angel to a placing at the 1999 Talent Search East, bringing her total ribbon count to 10.
- McKayla Langmeier was tied for #7 with Michael Hughes, but bumped him to #8 with her ribbon at the Washington Finals.
- Madison Goetzmann made a big jump from #27 to #16 after finishing with reserve championships at the USET East and the North American, and 6th in the Washington.
- Brian Moggre's impressive 2018 finals season (Medal Champion, Maclay Reserve) nearly earned him a spot on the greats list, but he just missed the cutoff. At 16, he has one more year left and he's got a great shot to make the list next year.
- Trainers/Farms were added to the list. We know it's a huge team effort, but for simplicity we recorded who seemed to be the one or two training outfits responsible for equitation training. If we are in error, feel free to be in touch!
Equitation Greats: Riders 1995 - 2018
Equitation Greats: Horses 1995 - 2018
Score = wins + ribbons won + longevity + number of different riders + number of winning riders
While many of the top riders won on a variety of different mounts, proof-positive of their premiere abilities, there are also horses in every generation who stand out for their ability to perform at the highest levels time and time again with multiple riders.
A lot is demanded of the equitation horse both physically and mentally, and what makes the following horses so special is their longevity combined with their results. Although we did not research the specific owners and trainers who managed the care of these horses except for our top 5, it's clear that these mounts were not only well cared for, but also consistently matched with riders that brought out their talents year-in and year-out.
The greatest equitation horse of this era is Grappa, a 16.2-hand Hanoverian gelding. He earned 17 equitation finals ribbons during the span from 1996-2003, which includes his incredible seven equitation championships. He accomplished this with five different riders, four of whom won a final. Lauren Bass kicked off his career with two finals wins, Sarah Willeman earned three finals wins, Brian Walker and Maggie Jayne each won one final, and lastly Sophie Coppedge earned a final ribbon.
Equitation trainer Missy Clark originally purchased Grappa from California after seeing him competing in the jumpers as a 9 year-old and put him on a new career path. Starting with Lauren Bass, who soon purchased him, Grappa quickly excelled as an equitation horse and Clark would oversee his training for the remainder of his career. Clark recalled, “Everyone always said he was easy, but you had to be a real rider with him. I think he dumped everyone who rode him. He would buck you off at home. He would spook a lot, and he always had a lot of energy. He was a handful, but he was very unique, and I think that is what made him so good. You had to let him gallop up to the jumps, and he really caught your attention. He was a character, but he was just a great horse. He was really special.”1
His longtime owner, Willeman, shared, "When he focused his impressive mental energy on doing his job, there was no feeling like it—his bright gallop and perfect balance, fingertip-lightness in the bridle and fine-tuned response to the leg. He taught me smooth, bold riding; he required it."1 After winning the Maclay with him, Brian Walker stated, "When you go into the ring on him, you feel so confident. You know he can do anything."3
Grappa not only won finals, but also many championship classes throughout his career at Wellington, Devon, Lake Placid, and the Hampton Classic, among others. Fittingly, he capped off the long and storied history of the ASPCA Maclay Finals at Madison Square Garden in New York City: he was the last horse to win the finals there. Grappa is well remembered within the equitation community. He was given a beautiful retirement ceremony at the Washington International Horse Show in 2006 and his name graces the best horse trophy at the USEF Talent Search East Finals.
Grappa was also one of the first "equi-celebrities" of the internet era. His career occurred during the early days the internet; it's no coincidence that his feats were spread far and wide by chat rooms and discussion forums - including ours, the original Bigeq Bulletin Board circa 1999. Prior to this, a top equitation horse may have received an occasional mention in a print article, but most were known only to a relatively small group of trainers and competitors who participated in and followed the division closely and mostly in person. With Grappa, online results and news coverage disseminated his results widely and immediately with every win - and with Grappa they kept piling up, building the legend with rider after rider.
Broader recognition of this great horse happened in a way that had previously been impossible prior to the rise of digital media, and there couldn't have been a better horse to carry the mantle. As of this writing, Grappa's online presence continues to charm his fans, as Willeman posts updates from his retirement on her aptly named blog "Grappa Lane."
At #2 on the list of greatest equitation horses is Class Action, who continued his amazing career with four top ten finals ribbons in 2018 with Coco Fath. Born in May 1999, Class Action is a 16.1-hand gray Danish Warmblood by Carano. In 2008, the gelding began his American showing career in the baby green hunters with California trainer Cameron Smith. Renowned equitation trainer Karen Healey soon spotted him and purchased him from Smith for her equitation student Navona Gallegos.
The pair competed in the finals that fall. Another junior rider, Katherine Newman, was offered Class Action for the Washington class since Gallegos hadn't qualified for it. Healey told Newman's trainers, "Look, I have this horse. He has never done it, but I guarantee you he is going to march in there and be perfect, I just know it." Class Action indeed won the Final with Newman. Healey recalled that the pairing was "a match made in heaven. We certainly did not think we were going to win, but he just cantered around like a machine. That was just the way he was from day one.”4
Following a strong showing at the 2009 Talent Search West, finishing fourth, Gallegos sold the gelding to Jessica Springsteen at the recommendation of her trainer, Stacia Madden. Springsteen immediately rode him to the reserve championship in the Talent Search East in 2009 - making him the only horse that has won two ribbons at the same "final" in one year! Springsteen described him as the "nicest horse I have ever ridden."5 High praise having ridden her own top mount, Papillon 136, to much success. Alluding to one of his nicknames, "Puff," later rider Lucy Deslauriers likened him to a cloud: "he's floating almost, his canter is super smooth, and he just looks like a cloud."6
Class Action also carried Allison Toffolon, Megan MacPherson, and Coco Fath to ribbons at equitation finals. In total, he has won one final, earned twenty finals ribbons, and done so with seven - SEVEN - different riders. At 19 years-old, the gelding still dazzled in the equitation ring when he won the reserve championship at the 2018 Washington class with Coco Fath and earned top ribbons in three other national finals. In reflecting upon his career, Healey marveled how well he "perform[ed] for every rider that has had him. That horse has never done anything other than try to please. You can absolutely depend on him in any ring, in any circumstance, over any jump. I think he goes down truly as one of the great ones."7 We agree. And so does the math!
#3 goes to Ivy, the bright chestnut born on Valentine's Day in 1994. The 16.1-hand Dutch Warmblood gelding won many hearts over his ten-year career. Owned and trained by Missy Clark, Ivy emerged onto the equitation scene in the late 1990s. In 1999, Clark's working student Kristin Mauks piloted the precocious five year-old to ribbons in the Medal, Maclay and Washington finals. Vanessa Haas took over in 2000, and earned ribbons at the Maclay and Washington finals. Over the next several years, two Jayne family members had success with the gelding. First, Charlie Jayne rode to three top-3 finishes in 2001-2002, including reserve champion at the 2001 Medal Finals. Haylie Jayne earned good ribbons during the 2005-2006 finals seasons, including reserve champion in the 2006 Washington class.
In 2008, Ivy paired up with Zazou Hoffman in what would become the defining and final partnership of his career. The duo finished seventh at the Medal Finals, and improved upon that finishing with a third place ribbon in the Maclay. In 2009, Hoffman and Ivy returned and earned two tricolors: the reserve championship in the Medal and champion in the Maclay. Following the Maclay, Hoffman described the gelding, "Ivy is just amazing. He’s the coolest horse I’ve ever ridden. Missy owns him and he’s a little older, but he still feels amazing and perfect. He has such a great canter and the best rhythm. I get along with him great. He’s a little bit more sensitive, and he doesn’t need much leg. He’s really soft and has a great jump."8
The following spring, the show community was saddened to learn that Ivy had passed away suddenly, due to a ruptured tumor on his kidney. Only months before, Ivy was still at the top of the sport, winning in Wellington with his latest rider, Laura Pfeiffer. At the time of the news, Hoffman wrote of Ivy, "I feel so privileged to have had the experience of competing on him and I know that his many other riders feel the same. He had a heart the size of the universe and gave his all in every competition. I miss him already."9 In all, Ivy won one final and earned sixteen total ribbons with five different riders over eleven years.
At #4 is San Remo VDL, a Latvian Warmblood born in March of 2000 (by Sudanas out of Jasa). Owner Elizabeth Benson purchased the gelding in early 2010 and shifted his focus from jumpers to equitation with the aid of her trainer Stacia Madden. From the get-go, the talented gelding was a little eccentric. In 2011, after winning the George Morris Excellence in Equitation class in Wellington, Benson noted "Usually he gets really antsy and kind of strong, so he does not like to wait at the ring."10 Remo's anxiety also made him tough during the halt or trot fences in tests. Year later, reflecting on his younger days, Madden recalled, "San Remo is an interesting bird because he is very antisocial. When we first got him, he didn’t want to be in the paddock. He only wanted to be in a stall and it was like solitary confinement. He kind of stood in a corner.”11
Years of training has eased some of his quirks, and Benson spent three years honing her partnership with Remo, culminating with a fantastic 2012 finals season, earning ribbons at both the Medal and Maclay, and taking the victory in the Washington final. Remo had been injured the previous finals season, so the victory was sweet. Benson's high scores of 89 and 91 in the two phases on Remo (along with a 90 on another equitation horse great, #6 Patrick) secured the win.
Remo would continue to earn top ribbons with Gabrielle Bausano and Katherine Strauss. The latter won the 2016 North American Championship with him. In 2017, Madison Goetzmann partnered with the gelding, who no longer shows all year. Turned out in a herd at John and Beezie Madden's farm in New York, Remo spends his time relaxing and socializing and returns to work just for finals season. With Goetzmann, he had another banner year, winning the Maclay and earning ribbons at the other three indoor finals together.
After their Maclay win, Goetzmann expressed her gratitude for her mount, "San Remo VDL is a very special horse. It’s hard for me to take credit for all of this because really he is the one who helped me get where I am right now... He is really a championship horse and I am glad I could give him the win he deserves."12 In 2018, Goetzmann partnered with Remo again and rode to the reserve championship at the North American and sixth place in the Washington.
Another horse with a long, successful career is #5 Ricochet. Born in 1993, the gelding earned his first finals ribbon as a six year-old at the 1999 Maclay with Tiffany Cornacchio under the guidance of trainer Lisa Rex. Ricochet would remain a top medal horse for the next eleven years. Under the guidance of trainer Andre Dignelli, Heritage Farm working student Caitlyn Shiels had a banner year with the dark bay in 2001, earning a ribbon at four finals, the Medal, Maclay, Talent Search and Washington - a true feat of top level consistency.
A few years later, fellow Heritage student Addison Phillips commenced a tremendously successful three-year partnership. The highlight was their 2003 season, with a victory in the 2003 Washington final and ribbons at the Medal, Maclay and Talent Search. The pair won a total of seven finals ribbons together. Future Olympian Reed Kessler brought him his final ribbon in 2009. In all, Ricochet won fourteen finals ribbons with four riders.
The Ideal Equitation Horse?
We would love to write more detailing each horse (maybe someday!), but for the time being we went through and compiled data on the physical characteristics of the top equitation horses from 1995-2017 to see what the "ideal" equitation horse type might be:
Age: Most horses won their first finals ribbon at an average age of 7.91 years, the youngest being 5 (Gulliver, Ivy) and the oldest being 12 (Pioneer). No horse on our top list had a "career" shorter than four years (defined as the time from when they won their first finals ribbon to their last), the average was 6.8 years, and five of these horses earned ribbons at finals for spans of a decade or longer. These top horses averaged 3.5 different riders who won ribbons on them, and just under half of them (12) won finals with two or more different riders.
Breed: All but four were warmbloods of some variety, with Dutch Warmbloods (8) accounting for the biggest sub-category of those. The remaining non-Warmbloods were Thoroughbreds or Thoroughbred/Warmblood crosses (Gulliver, Brother, Editorial, and Flamingo). Other warmblood sub-breeds represented were: Hanoverian, Danish, Latvian, Holsteiner, Oldenburg, Irish, and Bavarian.
Sex: Geldings are the rule. Only one mare made the list!
Height: It seems there's popular opinion that big horses make the best equitation horses, but this contradicts the height data we were able to obtain on twenty of the top horses from their USEF records - the majority of the horses were medium sized: 16.1-16.3, with the average being 16.2 hands, the smallest being 15.3 and the largest being 17.1-hands. In terms of coloring, bays accounted for about half (14), followed by chestnut (10), gray (3) and black (3).
So if you're looking for your next equitation champion, buy an intelligent, seven year-old, 16.2-hand, bay Dutch Warmblood gelding. ;)
- We extended the list to all horses with GOAT scores of 15 and higher, bringing the total to 39 instead of 30.
- Class Action edges closer to #1 Grappa, but remains #2.
- San Remo VDL moves up a spot from last year to #4.
- Efendi debuts on the list at #20 after winning two finals in 2018 with two different riders, Brian Moggre and Grady Lyman.
- Kaskade moves from #27 to #17 after winning two ribbons with new rider Mimi Gochman.
- Finnick joins the list at #31.
Equitation Greats: Horses 1995 - 2018
Equitation Greats: Partnerships 1995 - 2018
1 Horse & 1 Rider only. Score = number of finals wins + total ribbons won together.
Equitation riders and horses get paired with new partners every year or two. Sometimes riders age out just as youngsters begin their quest for equitation success, other times horses get injured or otherwise need time off, and amidst the constant shuffle there are some exemplary partnerships which stand out for their success together over the course of two or more finals seasons.
Brianne Goutal and Logan top this list, and amazingly the partnership almost didn't happen. At first it wasn't apparent that they would be a good partnership, at least in the eyes of Goutal. After trying the gelding, she did not feel it was a match, "He was really uncomfortable, and he was kind of a peculiar type." Only after being coaxed into doing a second trial did she change her mind, "[A]fter I tried him the second time, I was obsessed. I just kind of missed something the first time, but then I knew I just had to have him."1
Goutal came to know and appreciate Logan and learn to ride him according to his unique traits and personality, "Logan is possibly the greatest horse I will ever own. He is a rare type. Beautiful style with more heart than you can imagine. He never goes into the ring to do anything but win, and when you go to the ring on him you always feel like you have a better chance than anyone else! However, Logan is one of the most uncomfortable horses to sit to ever! When you’re going around a course and you’re able to be in your half-seat, he has a great gallop. On the flat, though, he’s very bouncy and very stiff in his jaw. Also, when you jump him, you have to find the line where you can ask him to do something, not tell him to. He doesn’t respond to force."2
Their three year partnership began with ribbons at three finals in 2003; this was followed by winning the Talent Search and the Washington in 2004, and finally their victories in the Medal, Maclay and North American in 2005. As fate would have it, Goutal and Logan's final historic season was documented on the Animal Planet 6-episode documentary series, "Horse Power: Road To The Maclay."
Having won all of the equitation finals, Goutal was faced with what to do with Logan since she could no longer show him in the division. Top equitation horses are rare and special, and she knew someone else would benefit by having the chance own him. She describes the day she decided to sell him, however, as "one of the worst days of my life."3 Fortunately, he was bought by a barn-mate at Beacon Hill where Goutal saw him regularly, and would continue to teach young equitation riders for many years, finally retiring at the age of 20 in 2013. He is currently retired at a farm in The Plains, Virginia. Goutal, meanwhile, has taken her strong foundation in equitation and put it to good use, and has continued rising in the ranks of grand prix show jumping.
As mentioned above in more depth, our #2 partners Grappa and Sarah Willeman helped each other to the top of the equitation division. In an age when the term "spirit animal" has entered the pop culture lexicon, it seems appropriate to make a comparison between this horse and rider; both are extremely intelligent. In reflecting on on Willeman's junior years, trainer Missy Clark shared that Sarah is "probably one of the smartest people I've ever met in my life, one of those rare finds who could transfer her intelligence into her riding."4
Perhaps Grappa, also described as very smart, is an apt counterpart for Willeman. "[H]e’s always existed on his own plane, gazing bright-eyed into the distance—more important things on his mind than carrots," Willeman shared on her blog. Even in retirement, years after his competitive career ended Grappa "still gets the wild, faraway look in his eye. Communicating with the mother ship, we used to call it... He keeps tabs on our farm projects, watching in his special intent manner, always curious to see what happens next."5 The pairing of these two minds indeed produced one of the greatest partnerships in equitation history.
#3 McKayla Langmeier and Skyfall were a team partnership that worked their way up to the top over the course of five years. In 2012, Langmeier and her mother and trainer, Linda Langmeier, headed to Europe to find an equitation horse and selected Skyfall, a 2004 Hanoverian gelding. In January 2013, they made their show ring debut together in Wellington, gaining mileage in the children's and low junior jumpers before moving into medal classes. They showed flashes of their future success, with 12 year-old Langmeier winning a Maclay class and taking 8th place in the Sam Edelman Equitation Championship over a tough 2-round class on the derby field.
In 2014, after gaining another year of mileage and experience, they earned their first finals ribbons: placing 8th in the Talent Search East, reserve champion in the Medal, and third in the Washington. Things got even better in 2015, when they earned high ribbons at four finals, including a reserve championship at the Talent Search East and finishing the year as the Maclay champion, a feat her mother accomplished years earlier! A year later, and the pair again finished top 10 in three 2016 finals. By 2017, they were a perennial and reliable finals favorite and didn't disappoint - Langmeier and Skyfall won the 2017 Talent Search East and took the reserve championship in the Washington.
Langmeier's co-trainer, Missy Clark, credits Langmeier for her effort: "McKayla is great. Work ethic A+, talent A+, dedication A+, interest level A+. All of it. She has worked so hard for so many years and has always been so respectable, polite and appreciative, and I can’t say enough good things about her. She’s a good one." Her praise extends to the Langmeier family as well, "Occasionally in life great people show up in your life, and I can’t say enough about the Langmeiers. From Linda to Kenny to McKayla and the work ethic and the whole thing, it just works together. This girl is as good as it gets right here, she really is." Both horse and rider are remarkably consistent and Langmeier credits Skyfall for his reliability, "He's a very special horse for [my mom and I]. He has put me through all the finals and been top at every final that I have called on him. He is always there for me and is just an extraordinary animal."6
- We were excited to see the epic partnership of McKayla Langmeier and Skyfall challenge the top two this fall, but alas McKayla did not ride him at her last two finals.
- Maclay champions Sam Walker and Waldo earn a spot on the list!
- Copperfield 39 and Elli Yeager are one point off the list. A partnership to watch for 2019!
- We received a nice note from Courtney McKay Prebble, former North American champion, about her horse Atlantic D. Turns out he originally went by the name of Skywalker. When we added up their ribbons together under both names, they easily made the list of great partnerships!
Equitation Greats: Partnerships 1995-2018
Equitation Greats - Multiple Finals Ribbon Winners 1995-2018
The following riders won ribbons at multiple finals as noted:
ALL FIVE - CHAMPION/RES
BRIANNE GOUTAL - champion all
LILLIE KEENAN - champion/res all
RIBBONS ALL FIVE
RIBBONS AT MEDAL, MACLAY, TALENT SEARCH, WIHS
JORDYN ROSE FREEDMAN
TAYLOR ST JACQUES
RIBBONS AT MEDAL, MACLAY, TALENT SEARCH
RIBBONS AT ANY THREE OF FIVE
LAUREN VAN ELDIK
* or + INCLUDES PRE-1995 RESULTS, SOME RESULTS MAY BE MISSING
Horses Commentary Sources:
1. Lauren Fisher, "Equine Stars of the WIHS Equitation Finals Remembered," Practical Horseman, October 2016.
2. Sarah Willeman, "Meet Grappa," Grappa Lane Blog
3. "Final Postcard: 2001 National Horse Show," Equisearch
4. Fisher, "Equine Stars of the WIHS Equitation Finals Remembered," Practical Horseman
5. Fisher, "Equine Stars of the WIHS Equitation Finals Remembered," Practical Horseman
6. Rebecca Macatee, "Behind the Stall Door With: Class Action," The Chronicle of the Horse, October 30, 2017.
7. Fisher, "Equine Stars of the WIHS Equitation Finals Remembered," Practical Horseman
8. Phelps Media Group, Press Release, November 2009.
9. Zazou Hoffman, "On Course With Zazou: Farewell to Ivy and insightful advice from Bernie Traurig," California Riding Magazine, June 2010.
10 Lauren Fisher "Elizabeth Benson Wins 4th Annual George Morris Excellence in Equitation Championships," Jennifer Wood Media press release, March 18, 2011.
11 Rebecca Macatee, "Behind the Stall Door With: San Remo VDL" The Chronicle of the Horse, Nov 7, 2017.
12 "Madison Goetzmann Fulfills ASPCA Maclay National Championships Dream," Phelps Media Group press release, November 2017
Partnerships Commentary Sources:
1. Lauren Fisher, "Equine Stars of the WIHS Equitation Finals Remembered," Practical Horseman, October 2016.
2. "Road to the Maclay Stars In The Tackroom," April 5, 2006, The Chronicle of the Horse online.
3. "Road to the Maclay Stars In The Tackroom," April 5, 2006, The Chronicle of the Horse online.
4. Nancy Jaffer, "Where Are They Now? Sarah Willeman," Horse Canada online.
5. Sarah Willeman, "Meet Grappa," Grappa Lane Blog
6. "McKayla Langmeier Wins 2017 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East" USET Website, Oct 9, 2017.