19 Sep History Behind the ASPCA Maclay
Behind any big Equitation Medal is a rich history of founding horsemen and women and the long list of riders who have emerged as champions against all odds. The ASPCA Maclay is no different. This equitation final even holds the roots for the name “medal class.” Once upon a time, riders were awarded with medals to signify their excellence in equitation, thus big equitation finals were referred to as medal classes.
This unique equitation class was created by and named after Mr. Alfred Maclay. The first class was held in Madison Square Garden at the National Horse Show in 1933. Mr. Maclay hoped that this final would inspire young riders to develop good horsemanship and give them respect and compassion for their equine partners. He also envisioned a sport comprised of great overall riders which is why the Maclay Final is judged with equal emphasis on both the flat and jumping phases.
Mr. Maclay first found horses when he joined the cavalry force in the Spanish-American war. He returned to horses years later when he defied his family’s wishes for him to be a businessman and instead became an active horse show official and exhibitor, eventually becoming an accomplished horseman as well. He saw the show grounds as a place to demonstrate your knowledge of horses and proper horsemanship. His commitment to the excellence of the sport is what created the foundation of the ASPCA Maclay Medal Final and why it continues to be one of the top Equitation Finals in our nation. Year after year, this championship creates some of the best international riders from the United States.
Mr. Maclay was Chairman of the Show Commitee for the National Horse show in 1916. Then, from 1926-1936 he was the second president of the American Horse Show Association, more commonly known today as the United States Equestrian Federation. In 1927, he wrote the original six page pamphlet that was used to regulate horse show memberships and management. This pamphlet has remained the basis of USEF rules and guidelines ever since, honoring Maclay’s original goals for the sport’s prestige and his legacy.