It wasn't until after Catherine Rose Chamberlain's morning schooling session at the Kentucky Horse Park with trainer David Wightman that the pair could find a quiet place to log onto the internet to watch Team USA's Kathleen Raine (Wightman's wife) ride at Aachen. Afterward, Chamberlain (Region 7), who earned a Team Gold with the highest individual score in the Young Rider division at the USDF/Platinum Performance North American Junior and Young Riders' Dressage Championship, returned her focus to her upcoming ride. The next ride for the 19-year-old Young Rider would be the Individual Test in dressage at the 2014 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC). And Chamberlain (Murrieta, Calif.) won handily with a 71.789%, earning her second Gold medal of the week.
But there were no tears of joy or an overly emotional reaction, as Chamberlain was more intent on listening to her trainer about all the parts of the test that needed improvement. “It was not as good a test as the team test,” remarked Wightman, who has been coaching Young Rider individuals and teams for over 15 years.
“He was fresh,” continued Wightman. “I thought he might do a buck in the changes. He was thinking about it, but Catherine is a cool customer and rode him through it.”
Chamberlain and the 12-year-old KWPN gelding, Verdicci (by Krack C), or “Chance” as he is known in the barn, have been together since her parents bought him as a five-year-old when Chamberlain was just 12. Chamberlain started competing him at training level, and has since competed at NAJYRC four times, twice as a Junior and twice as a Young Rider. In 2010 Catherine and Verdicci won the Junior Individual Fresstyle Silver medal, and in 2011 Young Rider Team Gold for Region 5.
“I came here this year just to have a good time,” said Chamberlain, “and found myself more relaxed than I have ever been. I think that is one of the reasons why we have had such a good show."
In 2011, Chamberlain won Young Rider Team Gold riding for Region 5. In 2010, she won Silver medals in the Junior Individual and the Junior Freestyle Championships.
Perhaps like mother, like daughter since Chamberlain's mother, Annie, also competed as a Young Rider in the NAJYRC when it was held in Hamilton, Mass. However, Chamberlain's mom has joked, "I was a much better broodmare than competitor."
The Individual Test wasn't the end of Chamberlain's Gold-medal performances since in her final test, the Young Rider Freestyle Championship, Chamberlain and Chance earned a 72.525%, giving her a clean sweep at this year's NAJRYC.
Following on the heels of her success, Chamberlain is off in search of continued improvement. She and Chance are next headed to Lendon Gray's Emerging Dressage Athlete Program Horsemastership Clinic during the last week of July. Offered by Dressage4kids, Inc., the goal of the Emerging Dressage Athlete Program is to educate and train dressage riders under age 21 to become stars of the future as they represent Team USA in international competition or become professional riders and trainers. It is evident that Chamberlain is already on her way to international stardom.
After the clinic, only then will she head home to Murrieta, Calif., where she works and trains at Wightman and Raine's Adventure Farms. Originally from Chandler, Ariz. Chamberlain moved to Adventure Farms last November, and has become a part of the family there. Before then, she was training with Scottsdale-based Ashleigh Luca Tyson, who she credits for helping her grow and gain knowledge while she was in school and keeping up with her training.
“She lives in our house, but I don’t see much of her there,” said Wightman. “She gets up early, works out, heads to the barn, and by the time we get there, everything is done.”
Chamberlain graduated high school in 2012 after only three years, instead of the typical four years, since she did online coursework and picked up extra work. She plans to pursue a professional career training and riding in dressage and does “whatever it takes” to earn her keep. “I polish boots, do stalls, and ride horses...whatever David and Kathleen need,” she commented.
“This girl is the real deal,” said Wightman, who, after 15 years of coaching Young Riders, now has his Gold Medalist.
“I have wanted to be a dressage rider and trainer since I was nine years old, “ said Chamberlain. “I know that sounds crazy, but I have never wavered from that goal."
She has a passion for riding and training young horses and has proven she can do it with Verdicci. She currently has another young prospect in training. Sophina is a five-year-old Westphalian mare by Spielberg.
Chamberlain’s list of achievements is impressive including:
- Recipient of the Willy Arts Young Rider Grant in 2010
- Recipient of the Caitlin Ben-Dror Scholarship in 2010
- Selected participant in The Dressage Foundation's Young Rider Olympic Dream Program in 2012
- USDF Youth Volunteer of the Year in 2012
- USDF Bronze and Silver Medal Rider Awards
- A current member of the USDF Youth Programs Advisory Subcommittee.
- Junior Individual and Junior Freestyle Silver Medals in 2010
- 2011 Young Rider Team Gold for Region 5
Now she has Triple Gold in dressage at the 2014 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships to add to that list.
For full results or to learn more about the NAJYRC, please visit www.youngriders.org.