Friday, April 26 2024 9:50

A Special Equestrian Competition

Written by Madeline Iacobucci, Thorncroft Equestrian Center
Opening photo by Chris Nichols, other photos by Ryan Samson

On Memorial Day weekend, the 45th Therapeutic Riders Division will compete

The competiton at the Thorncroft Equestrian Center culminates with an award ceremony at the Devon Horse Show grounds. Thorncroft Rider Alex McNamara, riding Paint Jack, receives the Thorncroft Perpetual Trophy from Stan Bowers and Thorncroft’s Executive Director, Tiffany Meyer.
Special Equestrians Executive Director Janice Witt stands with rider and horse Captain preparing for her trail class

On Saturday, May 25, 2024, Thorncroft Equestrian Center will host the 45th Annual Therapeutic Riders Division of the Devon Horse Show, an equestrian competition welcoming riders of all abilities to compete in equitation, dressage and trail classes.

Founded in 1980 by a dedicated team of volunteers and staff from both Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital and Thorncroft, along with pioneers Hope Montgomery Scott and Betty Moran, the first competition welcomed just 11 riders to the Thorncroft grounds to take part in one of the first inclusively-minded horse shows of its kind.

Hope Springs Equestrian Therapy rider Emma tackles her dressage test with her horse Hamilton

Today, the Therapeutic Riders Division welcomes over 125 riders from over 15 therapeutic riding programs from the tri-state area to compete on the Memorial Day Weekend in May. This year’s competition is open to the public and expected to welcome over 300 visitors to cheer on riders and support therapeutic riding programs. Must-see events include the Costume Class and Horse of the Year competition.

Saturday’s competition will welcome riders to Thorncroft’s arena and grounds to compete in one of three divisions with over 51 total classes. Riders will test their style and function in the equitation rings, their poise, rhythm and precision with their horse in the dressage ring, and the challenge of negotiating obstacles in the trail class. Riders’ performances are judged and awarded ribbons for first to eighth place.

Terri Long, MPT of TaKE Center, joins rider before the trail class

Placing well in certain classes qualifies riders and their horses for up to 10 possible trophies, such as the Brushwood Challenge Trophy, founded and sponsored in 1981 by Betty Moran and continued today by her daughter Caroline Moran. Other trophies include the E.W. Garbish Trophy sponsored this year by Mr. and Mrs. Wade L. McDevitt, the Hill Top Trophy sponsored by Jane C. MacElree, the MacDermott Perpetual Trophy sponsored by Mary MacKinnon and Jane Higgins, the Stephanie Bennett Trophy sponsored by Stephanie Bennett, the Anne Joyce Cochrane Trophy, the Ann Dixon Artistic Award Trophy and the Thorncroft Perpetual Trophy. Riders are presented their trophies in the Dixon Oval at the Devon Horse Show on Sunday, May 26, during that day’s events.

Thorncroft instructor Mackenzie Rennie with rider Charlotte aboard Paint Jack, celebrates a well-deserved placing

The presentations culminate with the award of the Hope Montgomery Scott Perpetual Memorial Trophy, given to the winner of the Grand Champion Class. The late Mrs. Scott donated a trophy she won in 1930 at the Bryn Mawr Horse Show. Thorncroft rider and current instructor at Ivy Hill Therapeutic Riding Center, Priya Russell, was the winner in 2023.

Although there are only two days of competition, riders spend many months working directly with their team and equine partner to prepare for this important event, fine-tuning their communication with their horses, memorizing dressage tests and working on obstacles for the trail ring. Alongside each rider is a team of instructors and volunteers, working equally hard to make this day possible and who are equally excited to share in the joy of the day.

A rider and horse Chip from Maryland Therapeutic Riding Center compete in the Dressage Ring

This event would not be possible without the dedication of Maire Guggenheim. For over 30 years, Maire has been the driving force behind this competition and making this weekend a memorable one for all. She single- handedly schedules every rider, communicates with participating programs and ensures every i is dotted and t is crossed. Maire’s passion for this competition is contagious and raises everyone’s desire to do their best for every rider.

The competition at Thorncroft, which is celebrating its 55th year, is open to the public, and the awards ceremony in the Dixon Oval is open to Devon Horse Show ticketholders. Come see the culmination of 45 years of this special tradition!

IF YOU GO: Saturday’s May 25 competition at Thorncroft Equestrian Center is open to the public. Classes begin at 8 a.m. 190 Line Rd, Malvern. Sunday’s May 26 Grand Champion Class and Trophy Awards at the Devon Horse Show are open to those with Devon admission tickets. 23 Dorset Rd., Devon.

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