Forty-eight top young equitation riders along with their trainers, friends and family, spent their Saturday night in the Indoor Arena at Blenheim Farms vying for a prize in the Region 8 section of the 2018 NHSAA/ASPCA Maclay Championships. With packed stands and a sold out VIP, the excitement was palpable as the competitors took to the challenges of the evening. Competing in her first Maclay Championship, seventeen-year-old Emma Pacyna rode her handsome mount Constantinos like a seasoned veteran to take a well-earned victory.
The Regional had three phases: A competitive jumping phase over a track designed by Jasen Shelley of Wellington that required the riders to have a solid and confident plan to execute the questions asked, which included tidy turns and adjustability; a flat phase for the top thirty-six competitors, which counted as 50% of their overall score; and finally a work-off of the top eight riders, as picked by esteemed judges Bill Ellis and Alex Jayne.
After the first two phases, the following eight were chosen to return in this order: Avery Glynn, Austin Krawitt, Catherine Tomlinson, Juliette Joseph, Ella Frey, Julia Stone, Kaitlyn Lovingfoss and Emma Pacyna. These top eight were asked to ride a shortened course of five jumps, with specific instructions to execute a tidy turn, followed by a certain number of strides in a line, then to land on or demonstrate a flying change to the counter lead around a lengthy turn to a final vertical, and halt before exiting the ring at the walk.
As often seen in work-offs, some have shining moments and others have mishaps and placements change accordingly. Glynn was first to go, and rode a beautiful and effective track, ultimately moving her up from eighth to third place. Tomlinson, who sat in sixth, also answered the questions asked with finesse and finished as reserve champion. Last to go, Emma Pacyna maintained her smooth and composed riding style throughout the course, earning the title of 2018 Region 8 Maclay Regional Champion.
Training with Karen Healey and Georgy Maskrey-Segesman for the medal final season, Pacyna also gets solid coaching at home from her mom Michelle, owner of Fieldstone Riding Club. Clearly her homework has served her well, as this is the seventeen-year-old’s first time in the Maclay Regionals, as well as her first year competing in the Big Eq at 3’6″.
Second to last to go in the class of 48 competitors, Pacyna acknowledged that the anticipation was nerve-wracking. “Yes, I was extremely nervous. It was hard sitting there like a ball of nerves the whole time, but in the end it was so much fun. Constantinos was fantastic!”
Nerves did not get the best of her, as she was called back in the top group of the flatwork phase and last to go in the work-off. Pacyna thought the work-off showed off different skills well. “I liked how you could gallop to the first jump and then you had to collect your horse for the second line and then hold the collected counter canter to the last jump.”
Pacyna has only been riding Constantinos for a few months. He, too, is in his first medal final season, so the pair are evolving together. The handsome gray was crowned The Best Equitation Horse, receiving the Vigo Perpetual Trophy in honor of the Citrus Hill Farms mount that taught numerous riders to be Big Eq stars.