After a long day of competition which began in early-morning haze and ended under a blistering sun, the Young Rider team endured to finish fourth, just two points away from the podium. But you can't keep a good team down. "We are not disappointed," said team member Mackinzie Pooley. "We may not have had our very best day today, and other teams did and had great rides. But we came to the NAJYRC expecting to compete against the best, and that's what happened." Chef d'Equipe Tracey Hill echoed Pooley's sentiment. "They had a great finish, placing fourth out of the best teams on the continent," she noted. "Considering all these riders have to cope with at this competition, such as the pressure and the heat, they did the best they could and I'm so proud of them."
Every rider dreams of standing with their team mates on the medal podium at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC). However, much more important than a ribbon or medal are having pride in representing one's region, learning to be a member of a team, and the experience that is gained from having the rare opportunity to compete on the international championship stage. While perhaps not gaining a medal today, the Region 7 Junior and Young Rider Teams represented their region and the California Dressage Society proudly with solid performances, positive displays of sportsmanship, and winning attitudes.
Young Rider team member Kelli Newton believes that by getting the first test under their belts, she and her team mates will be even stronger for the Individual competition, while still being there for each other. "We still support one another as a team, and will continue to do so even though we now go on as individuals," she explained. "Sure, I was nervous today, but tomorrow I will be looking to be even more confident that things will go well for all of our team members."
The Region 7 Junior team also shined with solid rides and a seventh place finish. Morgan Wolfe was the first team member in the ring, and set a positive tone for her team mates. "It was nerve-wracking before the test, but once we got started, I just focused and thought about it as any other test," she said. "I was so proud of my horse, especially with our changes since we've been working hard on them." Leah Myers was equally pleased with her performance. "I felt very confident and I'm happy with my ride," she noted. "Today gave me a very good idea about where I stand, and tomorrow I may 'go for it' a little more." Maggie Charbonnet was also "very happy with my test, especially since it's just the fourth test where my horse didn't try to buck me off!" she laughed. "He felt nervous at first, but my favorite part of the test was actually going around the outside of the ring, waiting for the bell. Even though he was tense, I could feel that he was with me, so I knew we'd be OK."
Junior team member Stephanie Early almost had a devastating start to her test. "The bell rang, and all of a sudden I see (chef d'equipe) Tracey running towards me and yelling for me to stop," she explained. "I didn't realize that my horse's bell boots were still on." As the boots were frantically removed, Early realized that entering the ring with the boots on would have resulted in her elimination. "I said to myself, 'just go, don't think about it, you'll only get frazzled'. So then we just went right in and started the test. We may not have been completely in sync today, but I'm happy with our finish."
Complete scores and placings for all teams and individual horses and riders are available at this link: http://www.youngriders.org/Results.aspx.
NOTE: Unfortunately, following the competition's conclusion, Young Rider team member Jaclyn Pepper was taken to an urgent treatment center for evaluation. Pepper, who Chef d'Equipe Tracey Hill reports has been fighting a cold during the last few days of oppressive heat and humidity, was diagnosed with walking pneumonia and heat exhaustion. Reportedly she is resting comfortably and is hopeful for a return to the Rolex Stadium for Thursday's Individual test.
The evening concluded with opening ceremonies and the grand entry of NAJYRC teams from all disciplines. Competition resumes on Thursday with the Individual Tests beginning at 7am ET in the Rolex Stadium, where once again Junior and Young Rider tests will be run simultaneously in adjoining rings. Competition information, including schedules, live scoring, and results are available at www.youngriders.org.