Lexington, KY - The 2010 Adequan FEI North American Young Rider Reining Championship sponsored by SmartPak is off to a competitive and high-quality start at the Kentucky Horse Park along with the championships for dressage, jumping and eventing - all a part of the 2010 Adequan FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North.
The Welcome Competition, which provides a terrific opportunity to preview the intense, but still friendly, Can-Am rivalry, was held on Wednesday with a very strong showing from teams North of the border. The team from Alberta, Canada, came prepared and swept the top three prize positions, including first place taken by Nancy Pratch of St. Paul, Alberta, aboard Rooster Kicker with a 211.5. She edged out her Alberta teammate with second-place honors going to Kaylynn Malmberg of Carseland, Alberta, riding Pickin Around with a score of 211, and the third place went to Sage Sapergia with Shiners Q Chex, earning a score of 209.
After some refocusing, the U.S. teams made a big comeback on Day Two, landing Silver and Bronze medals in today's Team Championship. Still it was Canada and the maple leaf ending up on top as the very tough team from Alberta held off all the other competitors for Gold. In addition to the top three Welcome Competition riders mentioned earlier, the fourth member of Team Alberta, Chloe Beveridge and her horse Tucker Genuine Jewel joined her teammates on the podium as continental champions - the highest honor for the sport of reining for Young Riders in North America. All stood very tall as their national anthem, Oh, Canada, played throughout the new Indoor Arena - hallowed ground for reining competitors all over the world as the future site of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Reining Championships.
Attention now turns to the Individual Final, where the draw is seeded based on the individual run scores from the Team competition. Riders placing with the highest scores in the first round will go into the coveted last draws for Individual medals and those with lower scores are made to go early.
The strength of the Canadian teams may have caught some by surprise, but not for chef d'equipe of all four teams from Canada, Wendy Dyer. Dyer, who has worked hard to guide her teams toward the podium, could not be more proud.
"Last year Canada was honored to have an Individual Gold with Darcy Wilson, and this year, we are so very fortunate to have secured the Team Gold." Dyer continued, "There has been an incredible amount of hard work invested on the part of all of these athletes and the people who support them in order for Canada to have such a good showing."
When asked if we can expect even stronger teams at the championships next year, Dyer only smiled.
See more SmartPak Reining Championship action on Saturday starting at 8 a.m. at the Indoor Arena of the Kentucky Horse Park. For more information and for complete results, visit www.youngriders.org.
Photo: Sage Sapergia, Nancy Pratch, Chloe Beveridge, and Kaylynn Malmberg of Team Alberta. Photo by Diana DeRosa.