West Milford teen tops national competition

West Milford High School junior Mackenzie Suffy earned high point rider honors at last weekend’s College Preparatory Invitational (CPI) in West Palm Beach, Fla.

The event at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center replicated the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association’s competition format, in which participants do a draw for their mounts. The event also featured a college fair attended by representatives of 35 institutions of higher learning that offer an equestrian program.

Mackenzie’s trainer, Brian Cash of Hidden Acres Farm in West Milford, came to Florida. But with a format that allowed little to no schooling, Mackenzie had to rely on her own ability and instincts. She competed in the advanced division, with two different horses for the flat and jumping phases.

“It was awesome. I’d like to do it again,” said Mackenzie, but as the winner, she is not eligible to compete a second time. Instead, she’ll concentrate on training her 18-hand, 6-year-old Irish import, Meitreo H.

“We bought him off a video and hoped for the best,” she said. Her plan now that he’s gotten some experience is to make the finals of the major equitation championships.

Mackenzie Suffy, the high point rider in the College Preparatory Invitational. (Photo by Andrew Ryback)

The CPI was far from her first major accomplishment, however. She won Marshall & Sterling National Junior Medal Championship last year, and year-end championships in a variety of divisions, as well as being voted the N.J. Horse Shows Association Junior Rider of the Year in 2015.

Mackenzie, who hopes to be a professional, will be spending two months at the HITS shows in Ocala, Fla., this winter under a special program where she goes to school four mornings a week and rides the rest of the time.

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