This year marked a new experience for my daughter, Katie, her horse Rock Star, aka Caspian, and me.  Katie’s performance at Regionals qualified her for the 2016 ASPCA Maclay Finals in Kentucky.  So many junior riders today dream of qualifying to compete at Finals, whether it is in the USET, Pessoa, Maclay, or Washington, but the road to Finals is long.


Besides the difficulty of qualifying, the decision to go was almost as difficult. So many things were factored in to making our decision: the financial expense, the pressure, whether to take our very green horse, and Katie missing school being just a few of the concerns.  Ultimately, we decided to make the trek out to the Kentucky Horse Park to see how things worked at the Maclay Finals.


To say that just getting to compete was the experience of a lifetime would be an understatement.  So many kids show all year, trying to qualify for the Finals, and still will never have the opportunity to get there.  Katie took her young horse, knowing it would be a learning experience for both of them, rather than leasing a horse that was seasoned and already there.  Neither of us regret that choice.  Both Katie and Caspian learned a lot.  The Finals did not go as well as Katie would have liked, we all learned so many things for the future, making the trip worth every penny we spent.


I took a moment when I returned to highlight just some of the things I learned while I was there, in hopes that we will return next year.


  1. While every big-name rider/trainer in the business was at this show, they all have to put their pants on one leg at a time.  Everyone we met was friendly and professional.
  2. The Kentucky Horse Park was a fantastic place to horse show.  I would go back anytime, but next time I am bringing my own horse to ride around on the show grounds.  I was very jealous when the kids got to hack out on the cross-country course.
  3. I should have been in the race horse business.  The thoroughbred industry in Lexington was beyond amazing.  The thoroughbred farms and Keeneland Race Track were showplaces.  We were lucky enough to get to look at some famous stallions and Hill and Dale. What an amazing experience – I’m so glad we took the time to explore outside of the horse show.
  4. The riding times for the kids at the Maclay brought back memories of competing at the Stock Show when the schooling times were crazy.  Schooling at five in the morning, then riding again at ten or eleven at night is hard for everyone, including the horses.
  5. The pressure of  was tough.  I have stood at the in-gate at competitions ranging from schooling shows to IEA and IHSA Nationals.  Nothing compared to the intensity of standing there looking at that course as my child walked through the in-gate.
  6. I think I learned more from hanging out in the warm-up ring and watching other professionals ride and teach than anywhere else I have been.  To say we are isolated in Colorado is a true statement.  As trainers, we need to work harder for more opportunities to learn. I brought back a plethora of exercises to set at home and told my riders to be prepared! We have set a few already and I am seeing a huge improvement in our work at home.
  7. We absolutely need to push our equitation riders by challenging them with tougher and more technical courses daily, both at home and at the shows.  What we see here locally is not enough to prepare our riders for other opportunities.


Although it took me a few days to recover, I have to say I would do it all over again.  I know that Katie is already planning (and hoping) for a trip back for next year, and working on plans for her collegiate riding career.  I have come home with a lot of ideas to help improve my program and to push our CHJA riders into the next generation of competition.


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USHJA Expands Jumper Championships to 1.20/1.25m and 1.30/1.35m Junior and Amateur Jumper Competitors


After four successful years, the United States Hunter Jumper Association is expanding its Children’s and Adult Amateur Jumper Championships to include 1.20/1.25m Junior and Amateur Jumper, as well as 1.30/1.35m Junior and Amateur Jumper sections across the country. This Nations Cup-style format offers competitors experience that could otherwise only be gained through high-performance show jumping competition.

Riders must apply and qualify for the USHJA Zone Jumper Team Championships, which provide them with a competitive team experience and an opportunity to earn Zone Horse of the Year points in their respective jumper sections.

Our zone will be paired with Zone 7, and we will share more information about our specific championships soon.

USHJA will open rider applications by February 2017. Interested riders must complete an application by May 1 and earn a minimum of 20 points (or $20 money won) in their respective sections at USEF-licensed competitions held at the designated fence heights prior to June 1. After the initial point deadline, riders continue to accumulate points, which are used to determine their placement on a team for the Championships, until 60 days prior to the date of their zone’s championships. For more information

Welcome 2017 Zone Committee Members!

The USHJA is pleased to welcome and introduce the new Zone 8 Committee that was recently seated. Committee members will serve our zone from December 2016 to November 2020.

New Zone 8 Committee Members

Chair Tracye Ferguson

Vice Chair Laurie Grayson

Treasurer Jenny Paisley

JJ Atkinson

Betty Beran

Nancy Britt

Betsy Checchia

Chris Collman

Cindy Cruciotti

Michael Dennehy

Lisa Hooper

Beth Nielsen

Danine Summers

Allison Wicks-Swift

Committees are made up of six members elected by the Zone 8 membership, four members from the top four affiliate organizations in each zone and five presidential appointments. Thank you to all our members who helped elect new committee members!

USHJA extends a special thank you to the members who have served on the Zone 8 Committee for their service and commitment. Their efforts have brought about a positive change for the USHJA and the hunter/jumper industry as a whole. Without dedicated volunteers, the USHJA and the sport cannot advance.

For more information about the election process, visit