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The inaugural Leo Conroy grant recipients: Janelle Henningsen, Kayla Lott, Rebecca Kozma, Sunny Drescher, Madison Day, Jordyn Hechter and Bailey Smith

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Winners of Leo Conroy ASPCA Maclay Grant Announced

Written by: Darlene Ricker
Client: National Horse Show http://www.nhs.org
Release Date: 2015-10-30

Lexington, KY – Oct. 30, 2015— Seven deserving teenage equestrians were awarded the all-new Leo Conroy Maclay Grant to help them meet expenses to participate in the ASPCA Maclay Horsemanship Championships at the CP National Horse Show. Riders had to qualify for the finals at regional competitions and submit an essay with their grant application.

The ASPCA Maclay Finals begin with the first round Saturday, Oct. 31 kicking off at 6:30 a.m. Then Sunday, Nov. 1 at 8:30 a.m., the top 30 qualified riders will compete in the flat phase, followed by the final round over fences and additional testing at the judges’ discretion.

The seven Leo Conroy Maclay Grant recipients are: Sunny Drescher, 18, of Hinesburg, Vermont; Madison Day, 18, Brook, New Jersey; Jordyn Hechter, 17, San Diego, California; Bailey Smith, 18, Portland, Oregon; Janelle Henningsen, 17, Greenwood Village, Colorado; Kayla Lott, 16, Camarillo, California, and Rebecca Kozma, 17, Streamwood, Illinois.

“I’m really honored to receive this grant because this is one of my favorite horse shows. It emphasizes so much the importance of taking good care of your horse, which is really important to me,” said Drescher. “It’s great for Leo Conroy to be honored in this way because he was such a great contributor to the sport.”

Hechter also said she was honored, particularly because the award promotes the welfare of the horse. “I usually do a ton of grooming and do everything for my horse,” she said. “I haven’t traveled out of state before, so the grant really helped me accomplish my dream.”

For Hechter, Lott and Smith, competing in the finals required a coast-to-coast trip. “Where I’m from (Oregon), it’s a long haul, and I’m very grateful to have this opportunity,” said Smith.

Day said she was honored to receive the grant, adding that it “made it possible for me to come to the horse show. I came last year, and I really love the show.”

Henningsen worked over the summer at a roofing company to pay for the remainder of the expenses, and she continues to work during the school year as a hostess at a restaurant. “I’ve been dreaming of this for more than five years, and I’ve watched this every single year. I never thought I’d make it,” she said.

Kozma shared that sentiment. “I’m excited to be here,” she said. “I’ve been watching this for years, thinking, ‘I want to do that.’ Now I’m living it, and it’s just such a great experience.”

Lott said she found competing at the CP National Horse Show “a little overwhelming, being here with all these people.” She added, “But I like having everyone around. We’re all so similar; everyone loves horses. Getting to watch the bigger classes in person, rather than just on your computer, is great.”

The National Horse Show established the Leo Conroy Maclay Grant to commemorate Conroy's loyalty and dedication to the CP National Horse Show and to the ASPCA Maclay Finals. Co-manager of the National Horse Show and Chairman of the ASPCA Maclay Finals, he passed away in January, 2015. The CP National Horse Show and the ASPCA Maclay Finals both held a special place in his heart, having been a rider and equitation trainer for most of his life.

The Leo Conroy Maclay Grant is open to riders who qualify to compete in the ASPCA Maclay Finals through the regional competitions. Selected riders receive entry fees and stabling at the ASPCA Maclay Finals and an additional stipend to cover show-related expenses at the CP National Horse Show ($2,000 value).

"We couldn't think of a better way to honor our friend and colleague," said Mason Phelps, Jr., president of the National Horse Show Foundation. "This grant will keep his name alive long after many of us have departed and will continue to benefit young and upcoming riders for years and years to come."

 

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