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Chicago Medal Finals Memories Bring Smiles

Take a Walk Down 'A' Finals Memory Lane

Just one of the many memories of A Medal Finals, the chute, which brings a smile to everyone's face.

September 4, 2020 – I was just thinking about the Chicago area Fall Championships throughout the years, along with the beginning years of Chicago Equestrian and Marketing4Equestrians. Like many others, I distinctly remember marking the calendar right away for the IHJA (Illinois Hunter Jumper Assoc.) Medal Finals since it was the event of the year that everyone attended. It meant the end of the season, the celebration of goals achieved, getting ready for indoors, and the social event of the year. We all know with time things change, even though we’d like to hold on to the great memories of the past, but are we ready for things to be different? 

With the recent thoughts on Facebook regarding finals and the schedule, I took a look back at the medal finals articles we wrote from 2012 to 2019 (listed below) and noticed the growth and maturity of my business as well as the growth of the riders through the years. Each one brought a smile to my face as I recalled the memories of the year. The suspense of what show manager Pat Boyle was going to build for a course, the victories and the heartbreaks of the competition, the tests, and the victory gallops, all had me thinking what great memories these were for riders, whether they went on to compete in the grand prix ring or stopped riding to go to college and start a career. I know many of you right now are thinking, “I remember when I won, or was second,” while some are remembering, “I got around that big grand prix ring for the first time!” - I think that’s called “joy”.

2019 IHJA Junior Medal Finals winner - Alexis Ortiz and Little Paul - Kinvarra Farm. Photo Andrew Ryback Photography

And let’s not forget about the fabulous hospitality and the camaraderie when everyone pulls up their golf cart or grabs a spot in the shade to watch the grand prix and the finals. The gratitude of having coffee at 7:00am when the kids get on early to hack and you know you are in the last class of the day. The friends who pulled up a chair next to you and cheered just as hard for your kid as their own. The extended hospitality in the VIP for all, making it an annual celebration. I’m sure many of you are smiling as you read, recalling your own finals experiences. 

IHJA Adult Medal Finals - Jessica Bertoglio and Finn trained by Perfecta Farm. Photo Andrew Ryback Photography

2020 has certainly been a challenge in many ways; from COVID protocols to cancelled shows, from new show management to indoor championships that are different from any we’ve experienced. It seems with all the change we can live with, there are certain changes we cannot bear to handle, and mostly, it has to do with the heart that goes into what we love to do. (Which I’ve written about before, I Was Just Thinking About Chicago Horse Shows, May 2020) 

2019 IHJA Pony Medal Finals winner Jackie Stary with trainer Tina Judge. Photo Andrew Ryback Photography.

Those who have grown up in the Midwest can attest to the community of support among trainers and barns. There’s a sense of loyalty and familiarity with the shows in the area. The schedules have worked for years with school, amateur work commitments, opportunities to get horses in the grand prix ring before the weekend, and last minute qualifiers for everyone to have a shot in the finals. The special events have been made truly special and memorable, which is why they are looked forward to with such anticipation and excitement. I think one of the things people cannot bear is the thought of the fun, the joy, and the love of the sport, being taken out of their local finals. After all, it’s not just another horse show, riders look forward to it from the pony ranks on up to the national medal finals. The expectations are high and Pat Boyle has never disappointed. 

The 2019 NCEA Midwest Junior Medal Finals was a tough class but riders had a blast!

Photo by Andrew Ryback Photography

2019 NCEA Midwest Finals winner Molly Canfield trained by Galway Farm's Lorrie Canady. Photo Andrew Ryback Photography

As we look forward to the 2020 IHJA Medal Finals in these times of COVID, you can bet there will still be cheering and smiles behind the masks, victory gallops and celebrations, and new names to add to the winner’s list. 

Enjoy the walk down memory lane!



NCEA 2018







Past IHJA Winners 

Junior Medal                           Pony Medal 

2005 - Lisa Goldman                 Lauren Tyree

2006 - Mara Kranz                     Kevin Sassmannshausen

2007 - Amelia McArdle              Michael Banas

2008 - Caitie Hope                     Meehan Shirey

2009 - Samantha Oliva            Abbie Ross

2010 - Lauren Tyree                 Abbie Ross

2011 - Alex Carlins                    Charlise Casas

2012 - Caitlin Boyle                   Charlise Casas

2013 - Caitlin Boyle                   Charlise Casas

2014 - Caitlin Boyle                  Annabella Sanchez

2015 - Gia Rinaldi                      Olivia Markman

2016 - Celia Bresch                  Ava Lucibello

2017 - Paige Matthies              Ellen Schmidt

2018 - Paige Matthies             Austin Bauman

2019 - Alexis Ortiz                    Jackie Stary

2020 - ?????                              ?????

P.S. On a side note, we have been fortunate to call Chicago home for over 10 years, beginning as Chicago Equestrian. We thank everyone who has supported us, especially my original co-founders, Laura Martin Speer and Stephanie King and family, who encouraged and helped me start it all while helping the community. They stood with me in the cold, the rain, and the heat to cover the A finals for the past years while running a raffle to support the Zone 5 college scholarship fund. While some things change, the focus of our business stays the same as we look forward to the next 10 years as Marketing4Equestrians, a national marketing agency, expecting the launch of our new branded website and educational videos this fall.

About Marketing4Equestrians

Marketing4Equestrians is a full service equestrian media company that keeps the busy equestrian

in mind. Marketing plans are created by equestrians that know the market, the lifestyle of equestrian professionals, and the products they use. Services include press releases and articles, websites, social media, marketing plans, media training, events, and more. 


Brenda Mueller


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