The future of the “Good Hands” equitation program has passed into saddle seat hands with Mid-America Horse Show Association assuming responsibility for the entire program from the National Horse Show, the hunter-jumper focused organization that has administered Good Hands from the early days of its Madison Square Garden show.
Established in 1939, Mid-America Horse Show Association is a 501(c)(7) non-profit organization – one of the largest charter clubs of the American Saddlebred Horse Association, with more than 350 members.
As the first leg of the Saddle Seat Triple Crown, the Good Hands Finals has been held for the past six years at Mid-America’s Mane Event Show in October at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Starting now, not only the Finals but all of the qualifying classes leading up to the Finals will be part of a Good Hands program administered by Mid-America. As in the past, riders will compete nationwide at shows throughout the season to qualify for the Good Hands Finals. Class specs, judging criteria and finals procedures are detailed in the USEF Rule Book.
Good Hands originated as the ASPCA Good Hands in 1929 at the prestigious Madison Square Garden horse show in New York City. In 1941 it became the NHS Good Hands – under the National Horse Show, which has administered it until the present. Originally, the National Horse Show included Saddlebred divisions, but evolved into a hunter/jumper competition of great national prominence. After years at the Garden, the Good Hands Finals moved to the Meadowlands in New Jersey, and then to the Pennsylvania National in Harrisburg.
According to Joy Meierhans, Mid-America’s show manager and long-time board member, “The effort to acquire the Good Hands Finals began in 2005 when it was at Harrisburg. We had started Mane Event in 2003, and kept hearing people suggest that we try to acquire the Good Hands Finals. We put together a proposal back then, but in essence nothing happened until 2009, when the National Horse Show allowed us to host the Finals for one year, probably to make sure we lived up to their standards.”
“Two three-year hosting contracts followed, and I assume the NHS felt we would take good care of the Good Hands program, for when Mid-America Horse Show Association put together a second proposal they decided to turn the entire program over to us,” Meierhans continued.
The Good Hands Finals is the oldest saddle seat equitation finals in the country. When the finals moved to the more centrally located Mane Event Show participation grew by 78%, making Good Hands the largest of the “triple crown” finals.
Last year, Mid-America brought together a Good Hands Finals Advisory Committee consisting of Cindy Boel, Kathy Boggs, Lynda Freseth, Scott Matton, Todd Miles, Erin Richie, Barbe Smith and Tom Thorpe. This year’s Finals will return to the Mid-America Mane Event Show scheduled for October 22-25.