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Winner’s Circle
High School Senior Realized Dream
of Qualifying for the Maclay Finals
Katharine James, age 17, a high school senior from Northern California, and her horse,
Lorelei, qualified to ride in the ASPCA Maclay National Championship, in Syracuse, New
York. Every young equestrian’s dream, the Maclay medal finals are now held at the prestigious
Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament.
The quiet, thoughtful daughter of a Harley-Davidson dealer, she attends public school
and nas never even had a new saddle. She’s never had the most expensive horse, and
she’s had to work hard for everything she’s achieved. Her horse (Lorelei) isn’t a seasoned
competitor; she was purchased as an inexperienced horse, and they’ve grown together into
the team they are today. In the ring, Katharine has a quiet confidence, but she can be a fierce
competitor and has earned the respect of the judges and her fellow equestrians.
Katharine’s rewarding performance came under the lights, in the grand arena,
at the regional Maclay finals, held at the Oaks Blenheim Fall Tournament in San
Juan Capistrano, CA, on Saturday, September 15. Arguably, the top ten riders all
had practically flawless rounds, but their ultimate placement, as with all equitation
competitions, was subjective. Judges at this level of competition rely on their years
of experience riding, training, and judging to distinguish which riders make up
the coveted qualifying spots. The crowds, the lights, the competition, and a long,
and tough 3’6” course of 13 fences, challenged every rider and defeated several.
For a trainer, watching a qualifying round can be a nail biter. Nicole Bloom
commented, “Watching that round, I just knew she’d put it together. When it
was finally over, I thought to myself, this kid’s going to New York!” Bloom
went on to add, “It’s an amazing feeling to watch someone who has worked so
hard, and for so long, achieve this goal. It’s such a high bar to hit at this age.”
Few people outside the “horse world” understand the demands the sport places
on its young riders. At the major shows, it’s not uncommon beginning your day at
5 o’clock in the morning and ending long after dark. Balancing school Monday through Wednesday and traveling to horse
shows, often Wednesday night, to be ready for a four-day weekend of sun-up to sundown showing, requires tremendous
dedication and organization. Katharine, an honors student at San Mateo High School, in San Mateo, California, points out
that it’s the camaraderie with her horse, and the satisfaction of a good ride that makes it all worth it. “I guess I’ve given up
some of the traditional things—I don’t get to hang out on Saturday night with my friends. But, in the ring, when I’m totally
in synch with Lorelei, we’re a great team. I can think of the next move in my head, and she just makes it … it’s freaky. I love
it when that happens—it doesn’t always …” Katharine says with a big smile, “but, when it does—we’re ‘flyin’. We both want
to win, but I’ve learned pretty young—a great trip around the ring is the high. I missed qualifying for New York last year, so
this was really sweet.”
Of the 150 or so junior riders that will compete in New York for the ASPCA Maclay National Championship, only three
are from Northern California. Katharine summed it up this way, “It’s a great honor to go to New York and represent our
barn. But, I really feel like I’m representing everybody who competes in Northern California.”
Round Meadow Farm is a full service training stable based at the Menlo Circus Club, in Atherton, California. Round Meadow Farm offers
instruction at all levels, by custom tailoring training programs to meet individual client’s goals. Round Meadow Farm, 190 Park Lane, Atherton,
Ca 94027 Phone: 650-325-0196 Fax: 650-325-0197
2007 PCHA Medal Finals 14 & Under
2nd - Show Circuit National Medal Finals
2006 - Onodarka Medal Finals
2005 - Rosewood Medal Finals
Cayla rides at
Far West Farms in
Calabasas, California.
Above:Cayla at the June Oaks I in 2007
Left: Cayla at Menlo 2007
Right: Cayla and dad, Robin. Above: Cayla(middle)
with Katie(left) and
Jamie(right) Taylor.
Photos courtesy The Richards Family
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