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Brooke Jacobs Wins the Gold in the 2006 USEF Saddle Seat Adult Amateur Medal Finals

By Susan F. Harris

On Friday morning, July 14, the Lexington Junior League Horse Show hosted the USEF Saddle Seat Adult Amateur Medal National Finals. Six top riders competed for prestige, prizes, and meeting their own personal goals. After executing a virtually flawless individual pattern, Brooke Jacobs was called out as the Gold Medalist.   


Having competed in all five previous Medal Finals, this win was particularly poignant for Jacobs. Not only did she ride in front of many family members and friends, including father and trainer Brent Jacobs, but Jacobs is especially attached to her horse Callaway’s Show Me When. Purchased in February from Revelation Farm, “Snickers” is Kaitlyn Grom’s former equitation mount. Jacobs says that his personality is especially well-suited for equitation. “He is very patient but game. He also allows you to push him,” explained Jacobs. Her mother, equine photographer Jane Jacobs, further exclaimed, “Never have I seen her execute a workout so well.


Brooke Jacobs on Callaway’s Show Me When Receives the Gold Medal


Indeed many observers believed the clean and sharp workout was what set Jacobs apart from her fellow competitors. Reserve champion for the third year in a row, Tasha Sandler was certainly pushing Jacobs hard in the railwork.


Silver Medalist Presentation (l. to r.)

Nancy Becker, Jennifer Mellenkamp (USEF), Tasha Sandler, Jennifer Holman (USEF)

Six accomplished adult amateur riders made up the field for this year’s national medal finals. However, no one knew for sure until the last minute just how many entries would be competing. The equitation world was concerned when USEF issued a press release in mid-June saying that more entries were needed for this class. At the horse show’s deadline for entries, only three of 24 qualified riders had submitted their entries. Past fields have ranged from a low of seven riders to as many as ten riders. With this wake-up call, the USEF Saddle Seat Committee is working on plans to promote more participation next year and to encourage more shows across the country to hold qualifying classes.


It takes a special person and a special dedication to be an adult equitation rider at the highest level. Balancing college schedules, families, and/or careers with the time required to train can be difficult. Further, many equitation horses are sold once their riders “age out.” The challenge of finding an appropriate mount to borrow is a common one in the adult ranks. In fact four of the six 2006 USEF finalists were riding borrowed horses. In a sport where teamwork between horse and rider is critically important, riding an unfamiliar horse can make the difference between success and failure when executing complex patterns. Furthermore, as a person ages, reflexes slow down, muscles get a bit tighter, and the body changes. Adult equitation riders have to work harder to stay fit and prepared than they did during their junior careers.   


The Medal finalists were asked why they wanted to compete in equitation as adults. Across the board they answered, “The challenge.”  “I’m a sick person,” laughed Dr. Colleen Carter, the Finals’ oldest competitor at the age of 42, as she explained, “I actually LIKE to do pattern work.” She was also one of those who responded to USEF’s late call for entries. Riding with Todd Perkins at Centre Pointe in Minnesota, Dr. Carter qualified in a spur of the moment decision at Tanbark only two weeks earlier. Luckily a horse was available, a tack stall at Lexington was converted to a horse stall, work schedules were covered, and family gave its okay. “This was supposed to be a one-time thing, according to my husband,” confided Carter, “but…… I plan to come back… on my OWN horse!”


Kevin Ingram says the challenge of equitation is also its appeal for him. “I have a passion for equitation. It’s one of the most difficult disciplines, and I like the challenge,” he said. Besides being the only male in this year’s competition, Ingram can claim another distinction. While most of his fellow competitors were finishing their junior careers at age 18, Ingram didn’t even start riding until he was 18. Now 24 years old, Ingram is in his second year of “serious” equitation competition.


The USEF Saddle Seat Equitation Medal Program began in 1937 as the top level of equitation competition for junior riders. In 2001 the medal for adult amateur riders was added. Qualifying classes are held across the country. Two tests are required of the top four riders in qualifying classes. In the Finals, all riders are required to complete an individual test. Riders are judged 50% on railwork in a group and 50% on individual tests. Once a rider has won the Finals, he/she can no longer participate.     


When asked what was next for this year’s Gold Medalist, Jacobs responded that having already ridden on the Three-Gaited Team twice (with one team gold medal), she is serving on the 2006 US Saddle Seat Five-Gaited World Cup team and hopes to help Team USA return the trophy from December’s competition in Parys, South Africa. After that, she has at least one more equitation goal to accomplish… She would like to win the UPHA Adult Challenge Cup for a second… and final time.


Although amateurs compete for the love of the sport and not for monetary gain, these amateurs received several nice prizes for participating in the Finals. The winner received a cast resin sculpture created by Patricia Crane.  Both Champion and Reserve Champion received halters and wool coolers for their horses, and bouquets of roses.  The top three riders were awarded official USEF Medals.  All riders received embroidered hats and championship ribbons. 


Following the class, USEF sponsored a luncheon reception for the riders, instructors, families, and friends held at the Red Mile Clubhouse where all participants were further awarded commemorative T-shirts and travel bags.  In addition, all trainers were recognized with thank you gifts during the reception.


All six participants:(l. to r.) Brooke Jacobs, Erin McCracken,

Jamie Bender, Kevin Ingram, Dr. Colleen Carter, Tasha Sandler 


For information on participating in the USEF Adult Amateur Saddle Seat Medal program or how to host a qualifying class, please contact the Breeds Department at the Federation office by calling (859) 225-6986.


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