Laura Noyes, an aspiring 19-year-old dressage rider from Falmouth, ME, found herself in a rather special situation – receiving an invitation to the FEI Young Rider World Cup Dressage Final in Frankfurt, Germany. Through a sponsorship from the competition organizers, Noyes and her 12-year-old bay Trakehner, Syncro, made the trek to the December 14-17 competition in Frankfurt.
The sponsorship came by way of Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, a German national with an interest in improving the talents of young dressage riders worldwide, and Schenker Logistics, a global logistics company headquartered in Germany. It allowed 12 lucky and aspiring international dressage riders from around the world to be invited to take part in the championship.
In order to qualify for the invitation to compete at the FEI Young Rider World Cup, a rider must complete the FEI Young Rider Freestyle test at two CDI-Y competitions achieving minimum scores of 64%. The rider with the highest scores from those competitions receives the invitation to travel to Germany. The final qualifying competition in the U.S. was held in September at Dressage at Devon where Noyes was successful in gaining her final qualifying score of 70.3% to receive the bid.
Noyes, a micro-biology major at Ohio Wesleyan University, had the unique opportunity to demonstrate her freestyle ride as a part of the dressage competition at the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) in November. This gave her the chance to introduce her mount to the electric environment of a large, indoor competition. Two weeks prior to the Frankfurt competition, Noyes had the opportunity to train with Klaus Balkenhol at his facility in Rosendahl, Germany, in preparation for the event.
"Being at Klaus' was unbelievable." Noyes told DressageDaily. "He and his family were so amazingly nice and welcoming. Klaus actually sat on Syncro one day, so that was extremely cool. I was a little worried riding with someone so new right before a horse show but his teaching style is very similar to George's, quiet and soft, so we didn't miss a beat. I even got to ride a 5 year old owned by Judith Balkenhol a few times."
Dealing with the pressures of international competition like a seasoned veteran, Noyes found herself, and her mount, suffering from some rather bad luck. However, this did not deter or take away from the invaluable experience she received. On the first of three days of competition, Syncro developed an untimely high/hot nail and as a result had a major inflammation in his hoof. Unfortunately this resulted in the pair withdrawing from competition.
This is something that any international rider could possibly face, and Noyes impressed all those who supported her with her professional attitude and sportsmanlike response as she remained at the competition to cheer on her challengers at the finals.
"It was definitely the most disappointing thing that has ever happened to my horse and me, yet luckily there was no injury and he is totally fine now. He is back in full work and is happy as can be. It was extremely hard withdrawing from the show because he is such a great horse and deserved to compete and show off. I'm sure if it was his decision, he would have dragged me around the ring that second day! It was also disappointing because I think we could have done very well. But maybe the two of us will get another to chance to represent our country and compete in a similar situation some day. I'm just so thankful that he did not have a serious injury."
"I am so grateful for the experience, and thank everyone involved in supporting our efforts, the USEF and Gil Merrick for his support, my trainer George Williams, Ann-Kathrin Linsenhoff, and sponsors Schenker Logistics, the organizers of the event, and my family who all came to support me. In spite of the disappointment, it was a valuable step in my future in dressage.
Canadian Alexandra Duncan Finishes Fourth
Couldn't Have Asked For Anything More at Young Rider World Cup