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Mackenzie Snider and Questa Caprio win the  Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search at GLEF Week Five.

Marissa Rice and Upcountry Cetric

Aristea Santoro and Audience of One

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Mackenzie Snider Wins Her First Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search at GLEF Week Five

Written by: Kendall Bierer
Client: Morrissey Management Group (MMG)
Release Date: 2016-08-12

Traverse City, Mich. – August 12, 2016 – Mackenzie Snider is an Olympic hopeful, and as with all dreams, they take years of practice and the proper preparation to achieve. On Friday, during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF) Week Five, Snider competed in her first Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search 2*, riding to the first place finish with Questa Capriole, and one step closer to the Olympic pipeline.

“Today was a surprise,” Snider admitted. “I usually compete my horse in the Low Junior Jumpers. I was excited to see how this horse would work for the Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Finals. It worked out!”

The judges tested the entries extensively, guiding them through a serpentine-like course featuring a vertical-vertical combination, as well as large oxers and unrelated distances. Six riders returned for the flat phase, where they were asked to exemplify the working trot, lengthening of stride at both the trot and canter, as well as hold the counter canter. It was Snider who stood out, even though she laughed, “I have been training with her a lot lately, but we haven’t been working on the counter canter or much trot work lately. I was surprised we did so well!” No further testing was necessary to pin the top competitors.

Snider looked out over the GLEF show grounds at the Flintfields Horse Park, and smiled nostalgically as she held her blue ribbon. At only 16 years old, and a local of Michigan, Snider first began showing and falling in love with the sport at the very same venue.

“This has been our main show for as long as I can remember,” Snider acknowledged. “I started showing ponies here, and then when I was 10, I moved to jumpers. All of my love of the sport began here. It is my dream to be the second youngest qualified rider for the Olympics, I know it is a bit ambitious, but I want to represent the United States at the highest level.”

The Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search mission is to “play an important role in the rider pipeline as it addresses the principal that form follows function and that it is important for a rider to have equitation basics and a solid jumper seat position in order to become an effective jumper rider. The Talent Search classes test a rider’s ability to ride a jumper style course effectively while maintaining the classic American forward style of riding. The Talent Search program fosters this tradition in U.S. Show Jumping and builds on preparing the next generation of international jumping riders.”

Snider trains with Melissa Hirt, and is already qualified for the Pessoa/US Hunter Seat Equitation Medal Finals, as well as the ASPCA Maclay Region 4 Finals, held during the Kentucky National on Sept. 24.

Snider explained further, “Questa Capriole was imported just a couple of months ago from Europe. We bought her from Ken Smith. We are a work in progress. She is very different from my other two mounts—She is a very German ride with a lot of leg. She never spooks at anything, she will jump anything, no matter what. It is what I love about her—she is calm and collected about everything.”

“I am pretty sure that I will be competing with her more in the equitation, and moving her up as high as we can go. We bought her to be my next grand prix horse.”

It was Marissa Rice and Upcountry Cetric who took the second place finish jut behind Snider. Rice has not been competing in the equitation for long, and the Talent Search is a new aspiration for the 15-year-old jumper.

“This is a new division for me, I haven’t been doing it long. I have had him for about a year, and the USET is fairly new for us. I thought he went great, and he jumped really well,” Rice explained. “I have mostly only done the jumpers, so I like it better than the other equitation classes, it is more in my comfort zone, and it is a great pipeline into the bigger classes.”

Rice trains with [Henri and Katie] Prudent and Paula Randall, and she traveled to Michigan from Wellington, Florida, for her chance to compete in the three weeks of the second GLEF series.

“One day, I want to make it to the Finals and Indoors and get some experience in the Medals,” Snider concluded. “We have been working on different courses, and getting confident with him over bigger jumps.”

Owen Gajoch and Sweet Nothings took the third place, while Aristea Santoro and Comtico finished fourth.

In the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) National Children’s Medal, it was Santoro who took the lead. The talented young rider captured the win with Audience of One, outriding fellow contenders to conclude with the score of 83 points. The second place was awarded to Natalie Groulx and Enticer, who finished the equitation course with 75 points, while Emma Flett and Drommels rounded out the top three.

The Marshall & Sterling/Ariat National Adult Medal concluded the third day of competition. Lauren Coates and Candor finished in the top spot. Barney Jacobs and Cashmo earned second place, while Laurie Bidwell rode Williamston to the third place.

Series Two kicked off on August 10 and will run through August 28, featuring three weeks of hunter and jumper competition with a FEI CSI2* rating Week Five and Six and a FEI CSI3* rating during Week Seven, culminating in the $100,000 Grand Traverse Grand Prix on Sunday, August 28. Hunter highlights include the USHJA National Hunter Derby, which will take place each Sunday through the end of the second series. 

The Great Lakes Equestrian Festival is set on 88 beautiful acres and showcases five world-class competition rings in addition to spacious schooling rings. The property features don't stop there as the park offers convenient on-site campgrounds and weekly nights of entertainment for a truly unique attendee experience.

For more information or to view schedules, please visit or


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