Madison Goetzmann Fulfills ASPCA Maclay National Championship Dream to Conclude CP National Horse Show
In its 134th year, the National Horse Show has come to be known as one of America’s premier indoor equestrian events, with its rich history and classical traditions, yet it is also known as the place where one very hard-fought dream comes true each year for one special junior rider. The ASPCA Maclay National Championship, which first began in 1933, is one of the most prestigious competitions for junior riders in the United States and is the last of four big indoor equitation finals held throughout the year. Capping off a fantastic week at the Kentucky Horse Park, the CP National Horse Show concluded on Sunday, crowning Madison Goetzmann as the 2017 ASPCA Maclay National Champion and adding her name among some of the biggest in equestrian sport on the esteemed ASPCA Horsemanship Trophy.
This year’s championship began with 177 horses and riders in Saturday’s preliminary round of over fences competition. Goetzmann, trained by Stacia Madden at Beacon Hill Show Stables, and Elizabeth Benson’s San Remo VDL went 128th in the first round order-of-go, but quickly moved to the top of the standby list in second place, behind Jordyn Rose Freedman, after her confident and smooth round over the challenging 12-fence serpentine designed by Bobby Murphy.
Sunday’s final rounds of competition brought back the top 25 combinations from Saturday’s first round and consisted of a flat phase and one final over fences round. The flat phase of the championship was divided into three groups, where judges Ralph Caristo and Bernie Traurig tested the riders’ degree of adjustability and harmony with their horses by giving them a variety of undersaddle tests to complete including demonstrating a counter-canter, flying changes, a hand gallop, an extension and collection at the trot and canter and confidence on the flat with no stirrups.
Goetzmann expertly showcased her ability to adjust her mount, tackling the challenges the judges presented with ease. She demonstrated a high level of skill and control, maintaining connection with her horse and being effective with her aids, which ultimately was enough to move her up to first place in the rankings heading in to the final round.
The second round of over fences competition followed, where the top 25 returned to the Alltech Arena for one last chance to impress the judges before the final results were decided. Returning in reverse order of ranking after the flat phase meant Goetzmann and San Remo VDL were the very last pair to contest Sunday’s course.
The course began with a long approach to an oxer headed towards the ingate to a vertical that spanned 30 feet in length and was distinguished by its false groundlines. Next was an in-and-out along the outside line to an oxer, where riders then had to hand gallop across the diagonal to fence five, an oxer, followed by another oxer directly after in the corner of the arena. Once landing fence six, riders were asked to counter-canter over fence two in the opposite direction then trot fence eight and counter-canter fence nine on a bending line. The final line, which proved to be one of the more challenging elements of the course for most riders, was an oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination before finishing over the skinny ASPCA wall.
Last to go, Goetzmann and San Remo VDL navigated the track effortlessly and in textbook form to maintain her lead from the flat phase and seal the championship prize, following in her trainer’s footsteps who also won the championship in 1987. Upon Goetzmann’s win, Madden was awarded the Maclay National Championship Trainer Award, while Goetzmann’s family was also presented with the Gordon Wright Perpetual Trophy.
The 2017 ASPCA Maclay National Championship, presented by Chansonette Farm, is Goetzmann’s first equitation final win, which proved to be an emotional one as the 17-year-old high school senior shed tears of joy during the awards presentation. “Honestly, I tear up just thinking about it,” said Goetzmann. “My trainer also won this final, which makes it a really special win. It’s just incredible. It was a dream of mine to win.”
The seasoned veteran, San Remo VDL, is an equitation expert at 17 years of age, having won multiple finals at the Washington International Horse Show and Capital Challenge Horse Show with past riders. Goetzmann was able to qualify for Maclay regionals while at the Winter Equestrian Festival this year and only recently teamed up with the Warmblood gelding at the Hampton Classic after spending her summer campaigning in the jumpers in Europe under the tutelage of John and Beezie Madden. After claiming the Region 2 ASPCA/NHSAA Maclay Championship at Old Salem Farm in September, the pair continued their winning streak to take home the prestigious national championship.
“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,” said Goetzmann of the gelding. “I first started riding him in late August and we started off with a win. For me, riding this horse has been a big deal because I know what a huge part of the family he is at Beacon Hill [Show Stables]. He is really a championship horse and I am glad I could give him the win he deserves.”
Freedman, who trains with Linda Langmeier of Kelianda Farm, and Finnick were leading after Saturday’s first round and stayed consistent on Sunday to finish as reserve champion. During the awards ceremony following the 2017 ASPCA Maclay National Championship, Freedman and Goetzmann shared the honors of receiving the Iris McNeal Perpetual Trophy, donated by Susie Schoellkopf, David Distler and Walter J. Lee. Both Freedman and Goetzmann were recognized for their strong work ethic, horsemanship and outstanding sense of sportsmanship.
“Madison is one of my best friends, since we were on ponies, and once they said we were the top two I was just so happy, no matter how it went,” said Freedman on her finish behind Goetzmann. “I came out of the ring crying after the second round because I was just so happy that I kept it together.”
Rounding out the top three was Grady Lyman, who trains with Ken Smith of Ashland Farms, with You Wish, moving up from seventh place after the first round.