Twenty-year-old Julie McKean, a student of Cesar Parra, won Friday's FEI Young Rider Team Competition with a score of 66.00 percent. The young rider from Maine, who is a student at Florida Atlantic University, won with Stavinsky. "I'm really proud of my horse," McKean said.
The win was especially important to McKean because she and Stavinsky have had a rough go lately. "I'm afraid to say that I was doubting his talent and how far we could go but that was because I was frustrated," she said. "It seemed like we were in a rut for awhile and I think it was just because we were coming up close to that breaking point. But now I think that we have the concept of the young rider test. Still, we do have a lot of business to take care of."
McKean and Stavinsky, a 10-year-old Danish Trakhener sired by Haslegard's Camerlergo, have been paired for four years and from day one, it wasn't easy. "When I got him he was very difficult and when I showed him he was very hot and tense. He'd blow up a lot in the ring, but he's matured so much over the last few years. Every year I see a change in him. He's more bold and more brave."
McKean said her horse is also beginning to develop a work ethic and that is also making a difference. "I just love him to death and he's got a great personality."
McKean said she clearly saw his potential in her Derby ride. "I saw a lot of improvement through the pirouettes and the trot tour was lovely and relaxed," she said. Despite the wind that seemed to give many other horses problems, Stavinsky stayed calm. "He gets the gold star for being brave. He came in and said, 'I'm going to do my job'."