In all, 34 Young Riders vied in the USDF/Platinum Performance Dressage Championship Individual tests today, but it was Isabelle Leibler, from Greenwhich, CT aboard the 14-year-old Westfalen Watson 108 (by Weinzauber) who earned the Gold. Team Gold medalist Brandi Roenick from Scottsdale, Arizona and her KWPN mare Pretty Lady (by Iglesias) took Silver while Chase Hickok from Nurham, NC and her KWPN Palermo(by Leoliett) captured the Bronze. Less than half a point separated the top three riders. "The competition was very tough in the final five," confirmed Leibler who thanked her trainer, Marcel van der Burgh from Loxahatchee, Florida who proudly held Watson 108 during the awards ceremony. "We just rode our hearts out for every point we could get. These ladies rode absolutely amazing," she added of her fellow medalists. "But good competition is when it's close, and you have to get down and dirty for every point. It's very exciting."
Leibler also went on to thank Lendon Gray and Robert Dover who "helped me get into the zone" in preparation for her Young Rider goal for 2011.
"I knew I was riding against some of the top riders in the country," said Roenick. "I knew both of these girls have amazing horses. But, I worked my tail off, my horse worked her heart out for me, and I was grateful for every single point I was given." Roenick trains with her mom Tracy and Steffen Peters in San Diego, California.
Bronze medalist Chase Hickok was "discovered" by trainer Cesar Parra when he did a clinic in North Carolina. Parra assistant trainer Katie Riley was on hand to coach both Hickok and Region 8 team Gold medalist Jr Rider Dominique Cassavetis while Cesar continues his training and tour in Europe. "Cesar called me after teaching Chase in a clinic and said "I see something very special in this young lady, and would like her as our next Young Rider." Riley recalled. "I am so proud of both our girls we had here this week."
For Leibler, her first NAJYRC has been nothing short of memorable. "I have no words to describe this," she said. "It might sink in a bit later what has happened."
Dressage has a day off and the top 15 riders will be competing for the final medals of the NAJYRC 2011 in the Freestyle on Saturday.
Video press conference with Isabelle Leibler