What’s in Your Arena? Presented by Attwood: Eventing Equitation Challenge

What’s in Your Arena? is an EN series sponsored by Attwood Equestrian Surfaces in which riders share their favorite jumping exercises. It’s easy to get stuck in a training rut, and we hope this will inspire you with fresh ideas that you can take home and incorporate into your own programs.

If you’re expecting ho-hum “inside, outside, inside, outside” hunter courses think again. A Maclay Medal class can have bounces, options, angles and more. Photo via MaclayMedal.com.

We eventers think of ourselves as tough, but how would you hang in a class full of Maclay Medal finalists? I’m pretty sure I’d get dismissed from the ring before I even made it to the first jump.

Equitation classes, especially at the highest levels, are fascinating studies in form meeting function, and it’s not surprising that many winners of the Maclay Final have gone on to represent the U.S. in international show jumping competition. From legends like Bill Steinkraus, Frank Chapot and George Morris to present-day Olympians, if you can win the Maclay, the sky’s the limit for your riding career. A handful of past Maclay winners, like J. Michael Plumb and Bernie Traurig, have even gone on to contest the upper echelons of eventing!

What can we learn from these masters of style? Plenty! Stride length and rhythm. Counting steps. Riding accurate lines. Making a plan and sticking to it.

MedalMaclay.com is home to a sketch collection of over 50 equitation courses from various national medal finals from the 1980s onward, and encourages riders to print them out and set them up in their rings at home.

Here’s one, for instance, that would be easy enough to set up.

Try riding it as is, then for an extra challenge attempt the “Test” described in the lower lefthand corner, used to determine the top placings. Which of the 2008 top four riders — Jessica Springsteen, Victoria Birdsall, Zazou Hoffman and Christy DiStefano–jumped it best?

You be the judge, then click here to find out who actually won the class.

Do you have an exercise to share or is there an eventer you would like to nominate for the “What’s in Your Arena?” series? Email [email protected]