Jacqueline Paxton and her longtime partner Cinbad made a clean sweep of the Young Riders classes at the WEF Dressage Classic CDI***/Y in Wellington, Florida, March 14-17. The pair won the FEI Young Riders Team Championship, (67.744%), Young Riders Individual Test (69.561%), and Young Rider Prix St. Georges Freestyle (70.110%). Paxton also introduced her new mare, Sangmelima, who placed second in both the Team (65.897%) and Individual Young Riders Tests (67.982%).
Wojciech Markowski, ‘O’ judge from Poland commented, "Jacqueline Paxton did very well. The horse Cinbad is a horse that has been competing a lot. He’s very good for such a young rider, to teach [her]. She had another wonderful horse. The mare had very good paces. She can compete with horses in Europe as well."
"It was great. It was the last show and Cinbad was really working for me," said Paxton, 20, of Batavia, Ohio. The competition was her final show on the Florida winter dressage circuit. Her trainer, Reinhart Nelson, arrived from Grönwohld, Germany, to coach her. "I trained with Reinhart for three months in the fall in Germany and he came to help for this show because it was a big CDI at the end of the season. It was a big qualifier for me and I wanted to go out with a bang."
Paxton is working to qualify both horses for the North American Young Riders Championship that will be held in Wadsworth, Illinois, in August. "I’ll know by the end of June if I’m on the team," said Paxton, a veteran of three previous NAYRC shows. She competed at the NAYRC on Cinbad in 2000 and 2001, and placed 5th and 4th respectively. In 1999 with Flyover she placed 13th, then won the Consolation Class. For 2002, she has one more qualifying show for Cinbad, and two more for Sangmelima. But even if she qualifies both horses, she can only take one and must declare which one it will be by the end of July.
Paxton found Sangmelima while she was training in Germany last fall. She saw the Grand Prix mare ridden several times by a friend of Nelson’s while visiting his barn, and though she was not actively looking for a new horse, she said, "We are always keeping our eyes open." Paxton was allowed to try the mare and liked her immediately. "I said, ‘This is the coolest horse. She is great’." Arrangements were made to purchase Sangmelima and import her to the United States. Sangmelima is an 11-year-old bay, 17-hand Oldenburg mare (Sacramento Sox x Pik Bubes Lady H). "She’s my back-up horse," said Paxton. "Cinbad is 15, so she is my ‘after Cinbad’ horse."
The WEF Dressage Classic CDI was Paxton’s first show with Sangmelima. "She was great. She’s a little hot. I was expecting her to shy, but when she got in the ring she was totally focussed. She listened to everything. I was really pleased."
Paxton’s immediate plans are to "go for the gold" at the NAYRC. This year will be her last year as a young rider. "My long term goal is the Olympics," she said. "That’s what I’m training for."