Why You Should Watch Lillie Keenan Ride in the George Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship

Let’s talk excellence. Lillie Keenan won all three regular divisions at pony finals in 2007, when she was only 10 years old. The next year, she was reserve champion at the USEF Pony Medal Finals. In 2011, Keenan won the Zone 2 ASPCA Maclay Regionals. She won the $100,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals at Bluegrass Festival in 2011, too.

Can you say goals? But wait, that isn’t all.

In 2013, she won the title Junior Equestrian Rider of the Year. Lillie went on to win the ASPCA Maclay Finals, the Pessoa Hunter Seat Medal Finals, the Sam Edelman Equitation Championship, and the George Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship.

Can you say decorated equestrian? Dedicated might be a better word. It’s no secret Lille Keenan is focused, ambitious, and completely dedicated to her sport. And it shows.

There’s one adjective, though, distinctly describing Lillie Keenan’s affinity for blue ribbons. The word is: brilliance.

Let’s talk brilliance for a minute. In George Morris’ words, brilliance means executing something (a turn, a distance, a change of gait) better than the other competitors. You want to stand out in the show ring to impress the judges.

This is exactly why you need to watch Lillie Keenan win the 2013 George Morris Excellence in Equitation Championship.

To qualify, you must win a big equitation class at WEF. The class itself has some peculiar rules, but that’s what makes Lillie Keenan’s win so important to watch. Trainers cannot help their rides at all. Officials might even take away trainers’ cell phones to make sure there’s no communication.

In the class, there are two panels of judges. Their seats are often filled by world-renowned riders like Anne Kursinki. George Morris himself judges, too.

Let’s break down Lillie’s ride. Her first round scored an 89, followed by a second-round score of 98.5.

Note: That’s not Levistano 2. Lillie’s riding Clearway, an eight-year-old Warmblood she’s partnered with in equitation classes at FTI WEF in 2013.

In equitation, it’s especially important to pay attention to the questions the course asks you. That means if there’s a trot fence, you better trot it. In this case, Lillie executed a simple change with invisible aids. She helped her horse keep the counter canter by connecting with him by her seat, and keeping her legs on. Any adjustments made in her distances are fluid and accurate. And her position is flawless and classical. But there are still elements of personal style that are undeniable. You can see her poise as she helps her horse navigate the course effortlessly. It’s obvious Keenan trusts her decisions, and communicates with her horse using clear aids.

You need to watch Lillie Keenan win this class because her brilliance shows. She shows the hand gallop where she can. She executes the questions of the course without fail. This is all without the help of her trainer. Preparing well, knowing your horse, and adding a personal touch to your course is a recipe for success.

Be inspired to ride with an edge, and take risks to show what you know.

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