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Part of a series of emails to our exhibitors in an effort to provide helpful information about their interaction with the show office and other staff at the show.  If you have a particular question you would like addressed, please feel free to make a suggestion.   Please note that every effort is made to ensure that all rule citations are current and correct as of the publishing date, however, USEF and other organizations continuously make rule changes throughout the year and with each new year. 

Alfred B. Maclay

Every year, over 1000  young riders seek to qualify for the Maclay Equitation Finals held in November of each year.  To reach the Finals, junior riders begin by becoming members of the ASPCA/NHSAA (National Horse Show Association of America) and enter the ASPCA Horsemanship Class at hundreds of USEF sanctioned horse shows. The Maclay class is unique in its format of qualifying for the Championship through eight regional competitions in September. The format of 50% jumping performance and 50% flat performance is grounded in Mr. Maclay’s original objective of improving the overall rider.  Complete class specifications are at USEF EQ112.12 and at But why is it called ‘The Maclay?”

The first Maclay equitation class was held in 1933 at the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden, New York, New York.  The class was established by Alfred B. Maclay, an ASPCA board member and an accomplished horseman.  The class was conceived by Maclay “to inspire young riders to develop the best horsemanship skills and instill in them respect and compassion for their equine partners.”  Maclay served as president of the American Horse Show Association (now the United States Equestrian Federation) from 1926-1936 and served on the Show Committee of the National Horse Show for thirty years, including as Chairman in 1916.  The National Horse Show was established in 1883 (four years after the first Madison Square Garden opened) to showcase fine harness horses and show jumping.  The show was searching for a home at the turn of the 21st century spending several years at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, 2003 and 2004 at The Pier in NYC, and several years outdoors at Wellington, FL.  Throughout this time the Maclay Equitation Championship remained in the North East.  Both the Equitation Championship and the National Horse show seem to have found a new indoor home as part of the Syracuse Invitational Sporthorse Tournament.
Alfred Barmore Maclay was born in 1871 to Robert Maclay and  Georgiana Barmore.  Barmore was the daughter of Alfred Barmore who was one of the principals of the Knickerbocker Ice Company.  The Knickerbocker Ice Company was the largest ice producer in the country by 1881 housing over 1,400,000 tons of ice (out of two million tons used in New York City.) The ice operation took 500 wagons, 1000 horses and 2000 men; each man earned an average of $1.50 per day.  Robert Maclay became president of Knickerbocker Ice upon the death of his father-in-law in 1875.  Robert Maclay also engaged in real estate and banking and became president of the Knickerbocker Trust Company from 1894 to 1897. Through a series of mergers, its corporate soul is now part of the Bank of New York.

Born into this illustrious NYC family, Alfred Maclay benefitted from an education at Charlier School, a private school in NYC.  At age 16 he became a member of Squadron A, New York National Guard.  Squadron A was a cavalry troop headquartered in NYC.  He enlisted in the US infantry to fight the Spanish American War eventually obtaining the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.  Alfred Maclay wanted to study art in Paris, but his parents insisted on business experience.  Though always very artistic and creative, he agreed to the family’s demands to become an experienced businessman working with the family businesses until around age 30.  Having made several trips to Europe, he left the family businesses for a two year “grand tour.”  Upon his return from Europe, he refused to return to the family businesses instead focusing on the management of his personal wealth and the cultivation of his creative interest, including being an active official and exhibitor at horse shows.  He believed horse shows were important as disseminators of knowledge about the horse.  

In 1912 he purchased a property in Millbrook, NY which he named Killearn.  He spent his summers in New York raising Fine Harness horses and show dogs.  He grew up foxhunting, show jumping and steeple chasing.  But an injury directed his interest to Hackney horses and Fine Harness horses. Maclay became a highly successful competitor with Fine Harness horses all of whom had “Killearn” in their name. Among Maclay’s interests were judging and showing dogs, including fox terriers, mastiffs, Pomeranians, and setters; collecting one of the finest libraries of American books on sports; collecting American glass which he sold at auction in 1935 for $24,000 (during the heart of the Great Depression); and developing his winter home in Tallahassee, Florida.

In 1919, Alfred Maclay married Louise Fleischman (of the Fleischman yeast family). His wife’s two brothers had winter plantations near Tallahassee, Florida.  After several visits, in 1923 he and Louise bought the original parcel of what has become the Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park.  As with his New York farm, Maclay named his Florida gardens Killearn, after the birth place of his great- great-grandfather in Scotland.  The gardens focused on plants that would bloom during the winter and early spring when the Maclay family was in residence.  Camellias are the backbone of the Gardens which are also well planted with rhododendron, sago palms, wisteria, cherry trees, redbuds, oriental magnolias, dogwoods and azaleas.  Alfred Maclay died in 1944 and his wife, Louise, continued the development of the Tallahassee gardens.  She opened the Gardens to the public in 1946 and in 1953 donated some 307 acres of property to the Florida Board of Park Service.

Whether you watch a qualifying class; enter with a local, regional, or national goal; or watch with admiration its graduate horsemen; remember the man who started the class and why it has a multitude of monikers - ASPCA or Maclay or NHSAA.  Mr. Maclay’s commitment to excellent competition created one of the most outstanding riding competitions for young jumping riders.  This coveted Championship has produced many of our country’s finest horsemen, past and present.  Look at the list below and note how many winners have gone on to represent the US in international competition (noted with *on list below). 

Maclay Winners

2009Zazou Hoffman  1981Lisa Castelucci  1954Ronnie Martini  
2008Jessica Springsteen1980 Laura Tidball (CEF)1953Glenna Lee Maduro
2007Kimberly McCormack1979 *Gary Young     1952*George Morris 
2006Maggie McAlary1978Michael Sasso   1951G. Baker Schroeder Jr.
2005*Brianne Goutal1977 *Francie Steinwedell1950Mary Gay Huffard
2004Megan Young   1976Collete Lozins    1949Myrna Jackson Felvy
2003Mathew Sereni  1975 *Katherine Burdsall1948Charlotte Hanlon
2002Erin Stewart     1974 Alex Dunaif       1947*Frank Chapot  
2001Brian Walker    1973Michael Patrick  1946Elaine Moore    
2000Avery Dimmig   1972 *Leslie Burr      1945Nancy Dean     
1999Emily Williams 1971Anna Jane White 1944Alice Babcock  
1998Erynn Ballard (CEF)1970 Fred Bauer       1943Anne Morningstar
1997Keri Kampsen   1969*Katie Monahan 1942William P. Dunn III
1996Lauren Baas     1968Brooke Hodgson 1941*William C. Steinkraus
1995*Megan Johnstone1967*Conrad Homfeld 1940James Thomas Jr
1994Leslie Fishhback1966 Debbie Wilson Jenkins1939High Dean        
1993Kelley Farmer1965*Chrystine Jones 1938Archie Dean Jr  
1992*Nicole Shahinian1964Lane Schulz 1937Walton Perry Davis Jr
1991Peter Lutz        1963 Wendy Mairs    1935 Ellie Wood P.K. Chambers Lindemann   
1990Lauren Kay       1962 Carol Altman    1934Elizabeth Hyland Molony
1989*Raymond Texel1961*Bernie Traurig   1933Audrey Hasler**
1988Christy Conard  1960 *Mary Mairs        
1987Stacia Klein      1959 Hank Minchin     
1986Scott Hofstetter1958Wendy Hanson   
1985Steve Heincke  1957*J. Michael Plumb   
1984Francesca Mazella          (USET Eventing Team)  
1983Linda Kossick   1956 Barbra Friedemann  
1982*Peter Wylde1955Wilson Dennehy   

**Audrey Hasler Chesney who resides in Wellington, FL, has spent her life involved with horse shows, including over forty years as an USEF Steward

RMI sincerely thanks John Canetta, Tallahassee, FL, a volunteer docent with the Maclay Gardens State Park who combed the archives and records available from the Park Service.  Additional information was derived from a variety of Internet searches and communications with the National Horse Show office, the USEF, and the USET.  Any errors, omissions or misstatements are solely the responsibility of the author.