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UP CLOSE: Youngest rider finishes 3rd in Grand Prix

July 6, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - McKayala Langmeier has ridden in the Lake Placid Horse Shows most of her life. She may have missed one or two events throughout her 10-plus riding years, but at this point, it's become a summer vacation and tradition for her family.

"Both my parents grew up riding," Langmeier said, "so I've just kind of been doing it ever since birth, too."

Now 18 years old, Langmeier of East Granby, Connecticut, competed in the 2018 Lake Placid Horse Show's $75,000 Grand Prix event Sunday, July 1, and took third place.

Article Photos

McKayla Langmeier guides her horse Iliano Van D’Abelendreef over a jump during the Sunday, July 1 $75,000 Grand Prix on the final day of the Lake Placid Horse Show. At age 18, Langmeier was the youngest rider in the field of 41 entries and finished third.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

Marty Bauman is the spokesman for the Lake Placid Horse Shows, and he's seen Langmeier's progress through the years. He described the horse show with a baseball analogy.

"Imagine this was baseball instead," he said. "In one field, you got the Yankees playing, and right next to it, you've got a minor league team. Next to that is a high school team, and over there is a little league game. We've got young kids riding ponies to Olympic level athletes."

Langmeier said most of the horse show competitors have aspirations of riding in the Olympics, but to get there, a lot of work goes into it, especially when you have to build a relationship with a 1,000-pound animal.

"I'd probably say six to seven days a week you're riding for at least three to four hours," she said. "That's what a lot of the top riders who compete at this level are doing."

Because of this, Langmeier said she doesn't have time to compete in other sports.

Twenty-eight hours of riding and jumping a week can take a physical toll on the rider, Langmeier said. The impact between the saddle and the horse can create a lot of back pain for some people.

Of course, the rider is nothing without a horse. Langmeier got one of her horses in Europe three years ago. He is 9 years old and named Bon Vivant - an French phrase that means "one who lives well."

The most important part of training is trust, Langmeier said. When someone is jumping 7 feet in the air strapped to an animal's back, there's a certain level of trust between the horse and the rider.

There are two events at the horse shows - hunter and jumper. To the untrained eye, the differences are subtle. While both events involve horses jumping over obstacles, hunter focuses more on how gracefully the horse performed, and jumper judges riders on how fast he or she got the horse through all the obstacles with as few errors as possible. Langmeier competes in both.

"With the hunters, I definitely have to slow my mind down a little bit," she said, "because the jumps are much farther apart, and it's a much slower pace. In the hunter ring, you want to be smooth, but in the jumper ring you kind of want to get the job done a little bit faster."

Langmeier said one of the big differences between the North Elba Show Grounds and others is that Lake Placid has grass

"Normally the big grand prix fields at a lot of the shows we go to are sand," she said, "so it's nice when you get to compete on grass."

She also commented on the small hills throughout the grounds, which create an extra aspect to worry about when laying out your strategy for the course.

However, it's not just the competition that keeps Langmeier coming back each year. She said she's made a lot of friendships over the years with other riders and looks forward to seeing them every summer.

"I know a lot of people at this show," she said. "I walk 5 feet and I say hello to probably 10 people. Everybody here is so awesome, and it's such a great facility to be at for two weeks."



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