Maya Nayyar took home top honors in this year’s Hunterdon Cup at the Brandywine Valley Summer Series on July 11. She ended her first round ride on her horse Connaro on an 89 to put her in first place. Her handy round scored her a 90, keeping her in the top spot. She was called back to test, along with four other riders – Emma Kurtz, Taylor St. Jacques, and Grace Boston.
Maya switched with Kurtz, who was riding Clearway, for the work-off where they were asked to canter to the first jump, counter-canter a bending line, and then do a few rollbacks to a sitting trot before exiting the ring.
Maya has competed in the Hunterdon Cup three years in a row, and this was her first year taking home top honors. She competed on her main Medal and Maclay horse, Connaro, that she has had for about three years. She said she has developed a “strong relationship” with him over the period of time she has owned him.
“He has a great temperament, huge stride, and an excellent jump so he makes competing in big classes a lot of fun,” she said.
Maya, who trains with Stacia Madden and her team at Beacon Hill Show Stables, said that she didn’t really do anything special to prepare for the Hunterdon Cup. However, she did say just coming off two weeks of showing at Lake Placid was “helpful” for her and Connaro.
Maya said that the first and second courses she rode had long lines that “really allowed [her] to ride forward and show confidence. She also said that going into the test she had a feeling she was going to switch onto Clearway.
“Clearway and Connaro are similar in the way they go; they both have big, slow strides so I really focused on riding forward,” she said.
When asked if she ever expected to win a major equitation final, Maya had some great advice that every rider should aim for.
“My objective is to do my best in every show. Yes, I want to win the big classes but it is not realistic to assume on any particular day that I will win,” she said.
Currently, Connaro is on break until indoors. However, Maya will be taking her other two equitation horses, Fox Z and Narco V A, as well as one of her jumpers, to Kentucky. In the fall, she will be competing in the big equitation finals.
Like most equitation riders, Maya would like to transition more into the jumpers and hopes to do so by the end of this year. She also will be a freshman at Columbia University, and she plans on continuing to ride while in college.
All this competing takes a lot out of a rider, so we asked Maya how she unwinds from riding and competing.
“I adopted a puppy earlier this year [at] WEF so playing with him helps me unwind,” she said.
Finally, we asked Maya if she had any advice for young riders looking to compete in the Big Eq classes and be competitive in National classes like the Hunterdon Cup. She gave top compliments to her trainers throughout the years.
“I would not be the rider I am without the trainers at Beacon Hill and Mario Deslauriers, so my advice is to surround yourself with great trainers and people who can instill confidence in you.”
Maya’s first round performance can be found below.