Ju­nior and Young Rider dres­sage stars shine in Lex­ing­ton.

Dressage Today - - Content - Story and photos by Jen­nifer M. Keeler

The ex­cite­ment in the air was as thick as the heat and hu­mid­ity as 78 com­peti­tors from across the United States, Canada and Mexico pre­pared to can­ter down cen­ter­line at the Ken­tucky Horse Park for the USDF/Plat­inum Per­for­mance North Amer­i­can Ju­nior and Young Rider Dres­sage Cham­pi­onships (NAJYRC), held July 14–19 as part of the 2015 Ad­e­quan/FEI North Amer­i­can Ju­nior & Young Rider Cham­pi­onships pre­sented by Gotham North. For gen­er­a­tions of riders, these cham­pi­onships have served as the set­ting for the crown­ing achieve­ments of their young ca­reers, and once again the in­ten­sity at this mem­o­rable event did not dis­ap­point.

Re­gion 7 Wins Young Rider Team Gold

Com­ing into a ma­jor sport­ing event as the fa­vorite is not al­ways the most en­vi­able po­si­tion, and the Re­gion 7 Young Rider team cer­tainly felt the heat as com­pe­ti­tion got un­der way in the huge Rolex Sta­dium. With three of its four team mem­bers re­turn­ing to Ken­tucky af­ter win­ning team gold last year, ex­pec­ta­tions were high; but Lind­sey Brewin (17, San Ra­mon, Cal­i­for­nia) and Vail­lant, Cas­sidy Gall­man (20, Poway, Cal­i­for­nia) with

Grand Makana and Sa­man­tha Jen­ney (19, Gil­roy, Cal­i­for­nia) aboard Domino re­fused to suc­cumb to the sti­fling heat or pres­sure as they put down three solid per­for­mances. But as the fi­nal ro­ta­tion pre­pared for its rides, the top stand­ings were im­pos­si­bly tight and Re­gion 7’s ul­ti­mate vic­tory came down to an­chor rider and three-time Young Rider gold medal­ist Cather­ine Cham­ber­lain (20, Mur­ri­eta, Cal­i­for­nia) with her new mount Avesto Van Wel­tevre­den. Their score of 67.395 per­cent would prove to be just enough to earn gold with a team to­tal of 199.658, less than three-tenths of a point ahead of Re­gion 3’s sil­ver-medal team, which con­sisted of Natalie Pai (18, Welling­ton, Florida) and Fritz San Tino, Mal­lory Kent (17, Birm­ing­ham, Alabama) and Oki­dokie, Lind­sey Hol­leger (19, Tal­la­has­see, Florida) with Friedens­furst and Re­becca Ro­man (20, Birm­ing­ham, Alabama) and Ul­timo with a team to­tal of 199.369.

Also step­ping onto the podium was Canada’s com­bined Al­berta/Bri­tish Columbia team, which won the bronze medal on 198.105 with­out the ben­e­fit of a drop score thanks to top rides by Han­nah Beaulieu (19, Maple Ridge, Bri­tish Columbia) and Cor­ti­son, Rakeya Moussa (18, Ed­mon­ton, Al­berta) and Mer­lin Ne­moren­sis, and Elexis Ortlieb (18, Le­duc County, Al­berta) and Diego.

“It was su­per close, so ku­dos to the sil­ver­medal team for re­ally giv­ing us a run for it. It was ex­cit­ing and nerve-rack­ing,” said Cham­ber­lain. “I was just grate­ful that we could pull it to­gether. And even though maybe we didn’t have our best rides to­day, we re­ally re­lied on each other, and I think that was spe­cial. I think be­ing on a team al­lows you to dis­cover new things about your­self and how you re­act to dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions un­der pres­sure be­cause you al­ways want to be there for your team and do your best test pos­si­ble. I think it’s a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence and just a lot of fun—it’s great hav­ing these girls by your side.”

Canada On­tario Claims Ju­nior Team Gold

Con­sis­tency was the name of the game for Canada’s On­tario team, and ex­cel­lent re­sults from Alexan­dra Meghji (17, Toronto, On­tario) and Ili­ado II, Vanessa Creech-Ter­auds (15, Cais­tor Cen­tre, On­tario) aboard Den­zel BC, Yan­ina Woy­witka (15, Mer­rickville, On­tario) and Rheirat­tack and Ge­or­gia Wade (16, Fonthill, On­tario) with Beau­mont earned them the top spot on the medal podium in the Ju­nior Team Cham­pi­onship di­vi­sion with a to­tal score of 200.92.

“We’re so lucky to be at this amaz­ing cham­pi­onship at this amaz­ing venue with all of these other girls from across North Amer­ica who share the same pas­sion for horses that we have,” said Meghji af­ter the win. “For all of us, win­ning the gold medal to­day is just the ic­ing on the cake of an amaz­ing day.”

Team­mate Creech-Ter­auds agreed. “I think we’re all ex­tremely happy and proud of our rides to­day, es­pe­cially be­cause we’re such a close team,” she said. “I re­ally hope that we can be an in­spi­ra­tion to oth­ers as well that you can win a gold medal.”

With a to­tal score of 198.163, Re­gion 7 took home its sec­ond medal of the day as the team of Veron­ica West (15, Ma­rina del Ray, Cal­i­for­nia) rid­ing No­ble­man, Shelby Ro­cereto (17, Liver­more, Cal­i­for­nia) and Cha­peau, Brianna Relu­cio (16, San Ra­mon, Cal­i­for­nia) and Wyn­sum and Mia Slaugh­ter (16, Norco, Cal­i­for­nia) with Har­ring­ton L earned sil­ver just ahead of the Ju­nior Team of Re­gion 9 with 197.379 com­prised of Madi­son Lacy (14, Waco, Texas) and Flint­stone, Bron­wyn Cor­diak (17, Ar­gyle, Texas) and Dschingis Blue, Al­li­son Hop­kins (17, Dal­las, Texas) rid­ing Wind­sor and Chloe Tay­lor (17, Wimberley, Texas) and Calecto V, the for­mer Olympic and World Eques­trian Games mount of Tina Konyot, the geld­ing was sched­uled to re­tire fol­low­ing the NAJYRC com­pe­ti­tion.

Ju­nior and Young Rider In­di­vid­ual Cham­pi­onships

In eques­trian sport a dark-horse com­peti­tor will of­ten come from be­hind to win, and this cer­tainly was the case in the Ju­nior In­di­vid­ual Cham­pi­onship

as He­len Claire McNulty of Hol­land, Michigan, sur­prised many—and per­haps even her­self—by win­ning the gold medal.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing a dis­ap­point­ing 14th in the team test for Re­gion 2, McNulty re­al­ized she had to make some changes if she and her mount, Check­mate, were to turn things around.

“He’s a very hot horse, and we lack com­mu­ni­ca­tion some­times. We’ve had some rough shows,” she laughed. “I was get­ting re­ally frus­trated be­cause I wasn’t do­ing as well as I could be do­ing, so I said to my­self af­ter the team test, If you want to do well, you have to start push­ing a lit­tle bit more and ask­ing a lit­tle bit more be­cause he can give it to you. I just did that to­day, and it paid off.”

Even with McNulty’s gutsy per­for­mance, other com­peti­tors didn’t make it an easy win. Com­plet­ing her test be­fore the lunch break, McNulty had to wait for two hours and 10 more rides to see if her score of 70.816 per­cent would be enough to hold on to the gold medal. Ul­ti­mately fin­ish­ing achingly close was the very last ride of the day from Camille Carier Berg­eron (15, Mas­couche, Que­bec) and Delfi­ano, rep­re­sent­ing the com­bined Bri­tish Columbia/Que­bec Team with a score of 70.079 per­cent for sil­ver. Re­gion 9’s Tay­lor rid­ing Calecto V earned the bronze medal with a score of 70.053 per­cent.

In the Young Rider di­vi­sion, Pai rode Fritz San Tino to vic­tory with a win­ning score of 69.132 per­cent. The stun­ning pair had also topped the field in Wed­nes­day’s team test as the an­chor com­bi­na­tion for Re­gion 3, but even fol­low­ing that per­for­mance, Pai re­fused to let any big ex­pec­ta­tions rat­tle her­self or her mount.

“I felt a lot of pres­sure, but hon­estly I just came here to have a lot of fun,” said Pai. “I’m so thrilled with how it turned out. He was such a good boy, and I’m so happy with him.”

In her fi­nal year of el­i­gi­bil­ity for NAJYRC com­pe­ti­tion, Re­gion 7’s Cham­ber­lain claimed her sec­ond medal of the week with Avesto Van Wel­tevre­den, earn­ing a score of 68.711 per­cent and the sil­ver medal just ahead of Canada’s Naima Mor­eira Lalib­erte (18, Mon­treal, Que­bec) on Be­la­fonte, who won bronze with a score of 68.447 per­cent.

Ju­nior and Young Rider Freestyle Cham­pi­onships

As 17-year-old Bar­bara “Bebe” Davis, of Welling­ton, Florida (Re­gion 3), will be ag­ing out of the Ju­nior di­vi­sion this year, she knew her freestyle ride with Rotano would be her last chance to earn a Ju­nior gold medal. So she em­braced the chal­lenge. “I have a very dif­fi­cult pat­tern in my can­ter tour: I have a half pass to the left and four changes on a 20-me­ter cir­cle ev­ery seven strides. Then I have to half pass back to the right to the cen­ter­line,” Davis ex­plained. “It went ab­so­lutely per­fect, so af­ter that move­ment I was com­pletely over the moon.”

The judges were also im­pressed and re­warded her per­for­mance with a top score of 71.825 per­cent for gold. Af­ter the awards pre­sen­ta­tion Davis was can­did about her feel­ing of ac­com­plish­ment. “It’s been a long jour­ney,” she said. “I’ve been work­ing to­ward this mo­ment for a very long time and it’s amaz­ing to see that my hard work has fi­nally paid off. All of the hours and all of the long days and early morn­ings have led to this. I’m ex­tremely happy.”

Re­gion 2’s McNulty aboard Check­mate and Berg­eron of Bri­tish Columbi­aQue­bec with her mount Delfi­ano both earned their sec­ond medals in as many days by claim­ing sil­ver and bronze with scores of 71.725 per­cent and 71.375 per­cent, re­spec­tively.

Later that evening, the top 18 Young Riders per­formed their freestyles un­der the lights to close out the NAJYRC dres- sage com­pe­ti­tion. De­spite hav­ing only com­pletely rid­den through their freestyle rou­tine once be­fore, Fri­day’s in­di­vid­ual bronze medal­ist Lalib­erte and her flam­boy­ant mount, Be­la­fonte, re­turned to the Rolex Sta­dium to con­fi­dently claim freestyle gold for Canada with 71.825 per­cent. “I won’t lie—I only rode it once and qual­i­fied,” Lalib­erte laughed. “I just know the mu­sic and know the pat­terns. That’s kind of my style—just feel the groove, prac­tice a lit­tle piece ev­ery day and build up. It’s much eas­ier when you put the mu­sic to­gether your­self be­cause you know when you make the cues and the tim­ing. You know your mu­sic.”

A solid ride by Re­gion 1’s Han­nah Bauer (16, Pur­cel­lville, Vir­ginia) and Trust­ful earned the pair the sil­ver medal with 70.000 per­cent, while the bronze medal went to NAJYRC rookie Ker­ri­gan Gluch (18, Mt. Pleas­ant, Michigan, Re­gion 2) who was thrilled with her score of 69.050 per­cent on Vac­quero HGF. “It was nice to be able to go in the show ring and feel like ev­ery­thing I’d worked on and talked about over the past week came to­gether as much as it could have,” said Gluch.

Next year, the NAJYRC moves west to the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, which last played host to the cham­pi­onships in 2008. For com­plete re­sults from the 2015 Ad­e­quan/FEI North Amer­i­can Ju­nior & Young Rider Cham­pi­onships pre­sented by Gotham North, visit youn­grid­

Natalie Pai rode her horse, Fritz San Tino, to vic­tory in the Young Rider In­di­vid­ual Cham­pi­onship with a win­ning score of

69.132 per­cent.

Bar­bara “Bebe” Davis on Rotano won gold in her fi­nal Ju­nior freestyle per­for­mance with a score

of 71.825.

Young Rider freestyle cham­pi­ons from left: Han­nah Bauer, Naima Mor­eira Lalib­erte and

Ker­ri­gan Gluch

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