I have known Mackenzie Suffy since she was riding her pony, Chip, at an old barn she and I both kept our ponies at. We parted ways, and Mackenzie has since made incredible progress in her riding and is well on her way to success and becoming a big name when it comes to this sport.
Mackenzie was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule of showing in Ocala and doing online school to answer a few questions for the blog.
Mackenzie, now 16, is a junior in high school. She began riding because her mom always rode. Mackenzie considers riding to be a part of her.
“When I was an infant she would put me in front of the saddle and canter around until I fell asleep,” Mackenzie wrote in an email.
While Mackenzie is currently competing in the Big Eq, she started out riding western because that is what her mother rode.
Mackenzie began actively showing on a pony, and then she moved up to Unbelieveable or “Booji,” a 16.2hh, 15 year old KWPN. Mackenzie has owned Booji for almost four years, and he was her pre-children’s horse in 2014. Unfortunately he had a small injury and had to be sent out to be rehabbed. He was leased out last year, but he is now back home in New Jersey, and Mackenzie’s mom rides him while Mackenzie is down in Florida.
To do the Big Eq, Mackenzie’s family imported her current horse, an 18hh, 7 year old Irish Sport Horse named Meitro H or “Metro.” They imported him off a video. Prior to that, Mackenzie had never seen or ridden him in-person.
“My first impression of my horse was him barreling at me because he got loose at the airport.” She said. “Once he was caught I looked at my mom and asked what did we just buy. But ever since he got home he is as quiet as can be.”
Mackenzie normally trains with Brian and Jolene Cash out of West Milford, NJ. However, for her time in Ocala, Mackenzie is training with Robin Fairclough because her trainers couldn’t make te trip to Ocala and Mackenzie was the only one from her barn that wanted to show on the Ocala circuit this winter.
“Ocala has been such a great experience. It has been great in the sun and at the show,” she said. “My horse is enjoying the big green fields and being able to ride outside. We have been placing in the top 4 out of group classes of 30 or more. We recently placed 2 out of 36 in the USEF Hunt Seat Medal to qualify us for the HITS Equitation Championship class during week 10 of Ocala.”
Before beginning the Big Eq, Mackenzie did some 3’ equitation classes with Metro. Prior to her owning him, he had never shown in Ireland, so Mackenzie has been the first rider to show him.
“He has no problem jumping the bigger fences so we practiced at home and eventually went out and showed,” she said. “It was not easy at all at first. He is a big horse and the turns were tight and the courses were way more complicated. But we have adjusted nicely.”
Mackenzie said equitation is an important foundation to have as a rider, which is why she chose to do the Big Eq, rather tan focus on the hunters or jumpers. She also said Metro is not a hunter, but she also does not feel 100 percent comfortable in the jumpers.
“I still have to adjust to going faster and letting my horse go,” she explained.
According to Mackenzie, her biggest strength is her ability to get on a lot of different horses and being able to figure them out quickly. This has served her well when catch riding and also when participating in the College Preparatory Invitational in Florida. Mackenzie had to ride different horses in different classes and won a flat class on one horse and an over fences class on another.
In fact, Mackenzie said she catch rides occasionally.
“I would love to do it [catch ride] more,” she said. “It is fun being able to get on a new horse and show it. It is a cool experience.”
Mackenzie said he biggest weakness is having a “string leg” and on the more energetic horses, it [her leg] doesn’t always work.
While Mackenzie is still a junior rider, she has started looking at colleges, and she would love to attend a college with a riding team. In June, she will be attending a camp at Auburn University with the equestrian team coaches to see what it is like to ride on an NCEA team..
This is Mackenzie’s first year down in Florida, which is why she is showing in Ocala. However, she is aiming to compete at WEF in the future.
One of her biggest riding accomplishments was winning the Marshall and Sterling Finals with Metro in 2016. It was his first time there, and he “really stepped up.” Mackenzie’s second biggest accomplishment was winning CPI Wellington out of over 180 people.
This year, Mackenzie hopes to qualify for the Maclay Finals and for the USEF Hunt Seat Finals. She said she and Metro are still new to the Big Eq, and they need to work on the tests. Their most recent accomplishment is getting the flying change to the counter-canter.
Mackenzie also plans on starting to do the USET Talent Search classes, and she will be doing her first one with open water this weekend.
Aside from riding, which Mackenzie said is all she really does, she likes to hang out with her friends. She is spending two months in Florida. She arrived at the beginning of February and leaves at the end of March. She is currently doing a special program that allows her to attend school while still focusing on showing and riding.
Mackenzie is not currently sponsored by any companies, but she does have these favorite equestrian brands. She answered EquiFit, Voltaire, Baker, Tailored Sportsman, Charles Ancona, and Der Dau.
Mackenzie has this advice for a rider wanting to do the Big Eq.
“Keep working on confidence and your releases. It will all come naturally when you get older if you have a good foundation,” she said.
Finally, we asked her who she would most love to clinic with. Naturally, she picked the king of hunt seat equitation himself, George Morris.
“He has a great sense of technique[,] and I would love to get his input about my riding,” she said.