NEHC Medal Finals: Sylvia De Toledo Wins 34th New England Equitation Championship

It was an early start for the junior riders competing in the 34th annual New England Equitation Championships held at The Big E coliseum in Springfield, Mass., on Sunday, Oct. 24. The course walk began at 6 a.m., and the first rider was on course at 7.

According to the 16-member organizing committee, the New England Equitation Championships has grown from humble beginnings to become one of the most prestigious and well-attended equitation finals in the country. The four-day competition closed Sunday with the junior equitation final which featured 255 riders, each of whom qualified by winning one NEHC medal class during the year.

The 10-fence course was designed by Ken Krome and featured two in-and-outs, a solid wall surrounded by two tall pine trees and an end line fence that nearly 20 percent of the horses refused to jump. The six-judge panel included Krome, Linda Andrisani, Leo Conroy, Peter Lombardo, Ellen Raidt and Danny Robertshaw.

The top 30 riders were called back for a second trip, with the cut off score set at 79.25.

As the second course was set up, the results from the day’s other competition were announced—the NEEC Junior Horsemanship Class, which is designed to recognize riders that demonstrate knowledge of quality horse care. One-hundred thirty-five riders entered the competition. Riders are tested with a 100-question written test and a rigorous hands-on practicum administered by a veterinarian. The results from these two tests are averaged with the score from the rider’s first round score in the New England Finals class. After the first round, the eight finalists were brought into the ring. The 2010 Katie Battison Horsemanship Award was presented to Maggie McManus from Topsfield, Mass.

After 30 riders completed the second course, the top four riders were called back for additional testing. They were, in order:

Rider, Hometown, Horse, Total Combined Score

Sylvia De Toledo, New York, N.Y., Spock, 177.99
Katherine Schmidt, Ridgefield, Conn., Topper, 174.83
Naomi Weirens, Winston, Bronxville, N.Y., 170.49
Colin Quinlan, High Class, Cohusset, Mass., 170.24

The test: Without irons, enter the ring and canter fences 1 and 2. Trot fence 3. Canter fences 4 and 9. Halt. Sit trot to gate. Exit at a walk.

Each rider performed well in the test—clearly their hours without stirrups paid off. But in the end, the order stayed the same.

Final results:

1. Sylvia De Toledo, Spock, 177.99
2. Katherine Schmidt, Topper, 174.83
3. Naomi Weirens, Winston, 170.49
4. Colin Quinlan, High Class, 170.24
5. Grace Glover, Copyright, 169.49
6. Kelsey Hart, Agostino (2nd last year), 168.66
7. Alexandra Carlton, Clitschko, 168.49          
8. Genevieve Zock, Contemporary, 167.66
9. Olivia Hupy, Good Omens, 166.66
10. Haleigh Landrigan, Vivaldi, 161.24
11. Alexa Bayko, 160.58
12. Emma Schauder, Let’s Win Again, 160.41           

Elizabeth Howell grew up riding on the hunter/jumper circuit in Massachusetts. Now she is a horse show mom. She holds a day job at The Emily Post Institute and slings horse manure on the weekends. Her website is