Lexington, KY - The Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championship concluded competition today after an extremely successful week. Eventing was the highlight with riders completing their stadium jumping phase to determine team and individual medalists.
Five disciplines (a total of 9 championships for juniors and young riders) took part in the only FEI Championship to be held annually in North America. The NAJYRC is the premier equestrian competition in North America for junior and young riders, ages 14-21.
The Area V gold medal junior team was led by individual gold medalist Victoria New (17, San Angelo, TX) on Fleeceworks Mystere du Val. They set the lowest final score of the competition at 52.5 penalties. The pair started out with the second best dressage score of 48.5, were clear through the cross country to move into the lead, and had one rail to add four faults for a total of 52.5 penalties. The Area V team had a total of 169.9 penalties. "It was such a great experience to be here with such an awesome team," New said.
Alyssa Phillips (15, Ft. Worth, TX) and Exploring had trouble on the cross country course with two stops at one jump. They finished on 123.8 penalties. However, Phillips was thrilled about her team gold medal. "What more could you ask for?" she said with a smile.
Phillips and Exploring were able to record a clear round in the show jumping today. "My horse tends to get frisky and likes to go fast, so I wanted to keep him contained for the verticals," she recalled. Phillips spoke about the pressure that the team felt coming into this year's NAJYRC since Area V won the gold medal last year. She explained, "I felt like we had to live up to the expectation of coming back and doing it again. Everyone knows that stuff happens, but we tried our hardest to come back and do it again."
Brindley House (17, Ft. Worth, TX) and Might Be Regal finished on their dressage score of 57.7 for a very strong finish just out of the individual medals in fourth place. This is House's first time competing at the NAJYRC, and she felt confident going into the stadium jumping phase. "My horse doesn't like to hit the fences and I took comfort in that. It just rode really nice. He put in a really good round," she said.
House has been riding Might Be Regal for one year and she described, "It's nice to be on a horse that can take you around and you know you'll get the job done and you're safe on him. We're still growing as a pair. I have no idea where I'm going from here. Everyone wants to move up, but you never really know if that's a possibility. We'll test the water and see what happens."
Taylor Wood (17, Weatherford, TX) and On Eagle's Wings had no penalties over cross country, but had eight faults in stadium jumping to finish with a total of 59.7 penalties. Wood felt that the NAJYRC gold medal "is the greatest experience I've ever had."
Wood and "Reggie" have been together for four and a half years and moved up together in the sport from the Beginner Novice level. "There was a time when he didn't want to even jump beginner novice. So to be here (with an) amazing team of girls with me, winning gold... this is definitely the biggest show that I've been to and I'm so happy to have the horse I have now."
New thanked the entire team from Area V, "From our parents to siblings, grooms and friends, we have an awesome group of people. One person we should mention is Mr. Phillips (Alyssa's father), who passed away earlier this year. We won the gold for the "Silver Fox." He's greatly missed and was a huge part of our team."
The CCI1* silver medal went to the Canadian team from Ontario, who finished on a total of 185.8 penalties.
Haley Armstrong-Laframboise (17, Orangeville, ON, CAN) and Roksolana - 59.2 penalties
Kylie Figueira (17, Fenelon Falls, ON, CAN) and Danzig - 66.6 penalties
Charlotte Evans (16, Whitevale, ON, CAN) and Mail Order Bride - 1000.0 penalties
Daria Ivandaeva (16, Tottenham, ON, CAN) and Autorytet - 60.0 penalties
The bronze medal went to Area III, who were all here for the first time at the NAJYRC. They had a total of 191.5 penalties.
Matilda Segal (16, Monticello, GA) and Guinness X - 56.9 penalties
Nicole Doolittle (14, Matthews, NC) and Utopia III - 1000.0 penalties
Alden Leavitt (16, Ocala, FL) and Castlefarm Snooze Cruise, finished on score of 59.7.
Mary Atkins Hunt (18, Mobile, AL) and Nuance - 74.9 penalties
Junior Riders Show Top Performances in CCI1* Individual Championship
Victoria New and Fleeceworks Mystere du Val were able to hold their lead from the second phase to complete a gold medal performance. Coming into the stadium jumping, New noticed that the same line of jumps that she fell off at last year was once again in this year's course. "I took the pain of remembering that and being terrified and turned it into, 'You get a second shot at this.' I'm on a different horse this year, one I have a better relationship with. It was fantastic to finish this year, let alone to be the gold medalist!" she expressed.
New has been riding "Bean" for 10 months. She said, "I'm really lucky to get the ride on such a neat horse. He kind of fell in our laps honestly. We started looking for a new horse and he was in our barn. Coming home with two gold medals was something I never thought would happen this early in our relationship."
Hanna Krueger (17, Charlotte, NC) rode Pinney North to 52.9 penalties in dressage and stayed on that score throughout the rest of the week. Krueger and Pinney North came into the final phase in sixth place and waited to see what would happen. "I was thrilled with sixth place," she revealed. "Seeing all rails drop was incredible and it was surreal."
This was Krueger's first time at the NAJYRC. "I'm thrilled with how it went obviously," she said. "Yesterday he was a machine; it was the most fun I've ever had."
While Krueger had never been here before, Pinney North won two gold medals at the 2007 NAJYRC with his previous owner Anisa Tracy. "He hasn't put a step wrong," Krueger said. "We've been working at dressage and show jumping, but he's been amazing at cross country from the start."
Matilda Segal and Guinness X had the same dressage score as Krueger and Pinney Top (52.9) and were also clear in the cross country, but a rail down in the show jumping left them on a total of 56.9 penalties for the bronze medal. Segal has owned Guinness X since he was three years old, but the horse competed at the Advanced level with her trainer. Segal said that improvement this week helped her clinch an individual medal.
"Dressage has not been our forte. We suffered through it until this weekend," she acknowledged. "This was the best test we've ever done. He blew me away with how willing he was. Our goal was to finish on our dressage score, which we didn't do, but we were able to work with what we received in dressage instead of having to work against it. The climb up but wasn't as painstaking as it usually is."
Areas VI, VII & IX Pull Together for Gold in CCI2* Team Championship
In the CCI2* competition, the composite team from Areas VI, VII & IX took the gold medal when they totaled 180.2 penalties.
Lizzie Snow (20, Portland, OR) and Coal Creek anchored the team with a silver medal individual performance. They started the dressage on 50.7 penalties, but 4.4 time penalties on cross country added up to a total of 55.1 penalties, and it wasn't quite enough for the individual win.
She said of the course designed by Richard Jeffrey, "I thought the course was fantastic. His courses are very well-built, and if you ride forward you'll have a good round. I liked the flow of the course."
Sarah Braun (19, Temecula, CA) and Perfect Intentions had a dressage score of 59.8, were clear in the cross country, but had eight faults in the show jumping. However, Braun was excited to stand on the podium with her teammates. "It's pretty emotional winning the gold medal here at Young Riders and being part of this team."
Braun has had Perfect Intentions for four and a half years, and said the first two years were "a bit of a battle." She added, "I pretty much brought her up from Novice. When I moved to Southern California to train with Hawley Bennett, it changed everything and I feel very lucky."
Kendyl Tracy (20, Parker, CO) and Ever So Lucky were leading going into the show jumping phase and were the final pair on course. The three riders before them had gone clear, but when they had one rail down, it left them sitting in fourth place individually with a total score of 57.3.
She said of riding on the Area VI, VII & IX team, "It was an unbelievable experience. These guys have been awesome." Tracy has had Ever So Lucky for four years, and the talented mare used to compete in the hunters. Tracy started her at the Training level. "She's an unbelievable athlete and such a trier," she said.
Teresa Harcourt (21, Auburn, CA) also had a disappointing show jumping phase on Bonza Twist of Fate. They started dressage on 51.9 penalties, and had 10.4 time penalties in cross country. They were eliminated in show jumping to finish on 1000.0 penalties. Although they didn't finish as planned, Harcourt was pleased with how her horse performed. "He's taught me so much. He's my best friend and I couldn't ask for another horse like him," she said.
She continued, "It was hard for me to walk out of that stadium feeling that I had contributed in some way, but all of these girls have worked so hard to get here. We all put in something no matter what happened. This gold medal means the world to me. I'll be too old for (NAJYRC) next year. At the end of this weekend, we all have our horses and are safe and happy. It's a pretty unreal feeling to be a gold medalist here with my team."
The silver medal went to Area II, III & IV on a total score of 185.4 penalties.
Connor Husain (18, The Plains, VA) and Piece of Hope - 53.9 penalties.
Jamie Doolittle (17, Reddick, FL) and A Dream Come True - 75.6 penalties
Lexi Scovil (20, Mequon, WI) and Sky Show - 55.9 penalties
Molly Curtiss (20, Sunshine, MD) and Savannah IX - 91.3 penalties
The team from Ontario & Quebec took the bronze medal after they finished with 258.2 penalties.
Erin MacDonald (20, Berry, ON, CAN) and Tobiaz - 80.5 penalties.
Katherine Martineau and H.M. As Spirits Go - 1000.0 penalties
Rachel McDonough (Toronto, ON, CAN) and Irish Rhythm - 85.4 penalties.
Sable Giesler (17, Powassan, ON, CAN) and Evil Munchkin - 92.3 penalties
Husain, Snow, and Scovil Stand on CCI2* Individual Podium
Connor Husain and Piece of Hope started with a dressage score of 53.9 penalties and were able to stay on that score for the gold medal. It was Husain's first time at NAJYRC, his first CCI competition, and only his fifth three-day event. Husain had experience in horse trials, but he felt that his horse's experience in eventing was what helped him this week.
Husain has had "Bruno" since September. The 17-hand, 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood cross had completed a CCI3* event in Europe and competed in the European Young Rider Championships. "I'm really lucky to have a horse as talented as he is," Husain said. "This was the best dressage test I've had with him to date. On cross country he's a machine, so as long as I steer, we're good to go. In show jumping, he was a little more tired than normal, but overall he's a super show jumper. He's just a great all-around event horse."
Husain sat in second place before the stadium jumping phase and recalled, "It was really intense. Coming down the ramp, my heart was beating 100 miles per hour. But I knew I was on a good horse. It was really an honor to have such a great show jumping round and competition at the Kentucky Horse Park."
Snow and Coal Creek's silver medal performance was redemption from last year's competition. "This experience this whole weekend has been quite incredible," she said. "We didn't have the best time last year."
At last year's NAJYRC, Snow and Coal Creek had only been together for a few months and had an incident on the cross country course where Snow could not stop him. "We didn't know each other well enough, and so much atmosphere got to both of us a little bit," Snow said. From then, she believes that time has helped them become a cohesive unit that won two medals this year.
"I've had him a year longer, and riding him every day has given him a better understanding," she said. "He's a very sensitive horse and not that easy to ride. I think it's just helped having more time with him and we have the right bit in his mouth now. It's a very nice combination. We've come to a mutual agreement and understanding, and it's been great since then."
Lexi Scovil and Sky Show sat in seventh place after dressage with a score of 55.9, but moved up to fourth after a clear cross country phase. They finished on their dressage score to take the bronze medal.
Scovil was presented with the Trish Gilbert Award, given to the highest placing current U.S. Pony Club member competing in the NAJYRC CCI2* Eventing Championship. She won this award in 2010 as well. Sky Show was named the winner of The Horsepower Trophy, which is given to the horse that stands out from their peers at the NAJYRC. It recognizes an outstanding horse from any of the championship disciplines who best demonstrates determination, courage, class, heart and ability to inspire athletes and spectators alike throughout the competition.
The Horsepower Trophy was given to Sky Show because of his incredible return to competition in the past two years. After the 2010 NAJYRC, it was determined that Sky Show had broken his leg. Scovil rehabbed the hardy horse through months of stall rest, a lot of walking, and a slow return to getting back to his former self.
"I never thought he'd get to this level again," Scovil admitted. "We took things one step at a time. We let him tell us. He kept answering every question and was sound every step of the way."
The FEI North American Junior Young Rider Championships are proud to have Adequan as their title sponsor. Allyn Mann of Adequan said, "When the opportunity came to become the title sponsor, we jumped on it immediately. Our relationship with the USEF has been ongoing for seven years and we have the great opportunity to sponsor high performance teams. This group of young men and women that competed here this week are the future and it makes so much sense to be involved where roots are being laid, and follow their careers as they aspire to be Olympians."
He added, "Adequan is involved with a number of disciplines on many levels and we want to continue to give back to the people that do so much for us, the horse owner. Without the horse owner, none of us are sitting here. We want to be a good corporate steward, and see a need to support the industry."
Several special trophies and awards were given at the Closing Ceremonies, which also honored all of the medalists throughout the week at the NAJYRC.
The Howard B. Simpson High Five Trophy, awarded to the volunteer who best exemplifies Howard's spirit of volunteering - Anne Case in hospitality
Reining - Reed Kyle, Team USA South-Central
Show Jumping - Kilian McGrath, Zone 10
Endurance - Cassandra Roberts, USA Southeast
Dressage - Ayden Uhlir, Region 9
Eventing - Connor Husain, Area 2
The Horsepower Trophy, recognizes an oustanding horse from any of the championship disciplines who best demonstrates determination, courage, class, heart and the ability to inspire athletes and spectators alike throughout the competition - Sky Show, Area V eventer
The Captain Andrew B. De Szinay Memorial Sportsman Trophy, given to the young rider who best personifies the high standards and virtues of integrity, sportsmanship, honor, courage, team spirit, good temper, and unselfishness - Erin MacDonald, Team Ontario/Quebec, Eventing
The Caristo Cup, given to the chef d'equipe that best exemplifies Ralph Caristo's enthusiasm and professionalism - Kim Land, Zone 4 Chef d'Equipe
The Albers Award, given to the dressage chef d'equipe who best demonstrates the same level of dedication, enthusiasm, and team spirit shown by Patsy Alberts throughout the years - Ann Moss, Region 1 Chef d'Equipe
The Pursuit of Excellence - Fiona Baan Memorial Trophy, awarded to the young rider in the dressage championships who receives the highest combined average percentage score from the Team, Individual, and Freestyle dressage rides - Brandi Roenick, Region 5
The Trish Gilbert Award, given to the highest placing current U.S. Pony Club member competing in the NAJYRC CCI2* Eventing Championship - Lexi Scovil, Area II, III & IV
The Rebecca Broussard Saturday Night Award, given to the highest placed junior and highest placed young rider following the cross country phase of the eventing championships:
Junior - Victoria New, Area V
Young Rider - Kendyl Tracy, Area VI, VII & IX
For full results or to learn more about the Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, please visit www.youngriders.org.
Photo: Victoria New and Fleeceworks Mystere du Val, Individual Gold medalists in Junior Eventing (Brant Gamma Photography)