Oklahoma City, OK - Michael Pope's 7-year-old horse, Whizota, "tried his heart out" and that determination edged the pair over their competitors into first place. Pope, Elizabeth Cosper and Olivia Hartman were crowned USEF National Youth Reining champions of three separate age groups at Saturday's 2011 National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Derby.
The Youth qualified for the USEF Championships by earning points in Qualifying Classes throughout the country in 2010-2011.
Pope, a 21-year-old from Theodore, AL, won the 19-21 age division on a score of 141 over Pilot Point, TX-rider Breanne Bertrand, who took the reserve spot on Stoned Chick on 140. Pope also claimed the third-place position, riding Whizn Freckle on a score of 139.5.
"The show is always fun and people were great," Pope said. "I am very proud of my horse he did great. It was a long trip to get here but it paid off big. Tim McQuay did a great job training this horse and I really enjoy showing him."
Pope's victory is just the latest in a long string of accomplishments that include: showing at all three NRHA Non Pro levels and leading the nation in USEF Youth 19-21 division and Adult Amateur division; 2009 Mississippi Reining Horse Association Year-End Champion Youth 14-18; 2008 Mississippi Reining Horse Association Year-End Reserve Champion Youth 14-18; 2005-2007 Mississippi Reining Horse Association Year-End Champion Youth 14-18; 2009 Year-End Champion Novice Horse Non Pro Level 2; and 2009 Year-End Reserve Champion Novice orse Non Pro Level 1.
In the middle age group, Elizabeth Cosper of Wilmington, NC, was named USEF National Youth Reining Champion in the 14-18 age group after a great performance on her mare, Whata Dream. Cosper was an NRHA Youth Top Ten ranking in 2009 and she has a Southeastern Reining Horse Association Reserve Champion title and a Virginia Reining Horse Association Reserve Champion title. She also has served as a NRHyA delegate from the Southeast region.
Cosper won on a score of 145.5 over Laura Sumrall of Summitt, MS, who had 144 aboard Einsteins Fancy Pine, aka "Smartie." Third place went to Javier Melo of Pinecrest, FL, on Imasugaredpepto who had a score of 143.5.
Olivia Hartman of Scottsdale, AZ, won the 13-and-under division aboard Sailing by Starlight, owned by OK Ranch LLC. Her score of 140 put her well on top. Stephen Timberlake of Millington, TN, rode Electric Maid Chic to second place on 136.5, and Rylee Justus of Larkspur, CO, took third aboard Ima Chocolate Dunit on a score of 132.5.
In the CRI-Y which ran concurrently, riders had their eyes on the 2011 Smart Pak North American Young Rider Reining Championships at the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) presented by Gotham North.
Will Letner of Harris, MO, rose to the top this year on a score of 144 on A Genuine Diamond owned by Dr. Larry Letner. Breanne Bertrand and Stoned Chick placed second on 140 and Tiffany Wynn of Benton, KY, on I Gotta Whiz claimed third on 135.5.
This group of riders will represent the United States July 27-31, 2011, in Lexington, KY. The NAJYRC is the premier equestrian competition in North America for junior and young riders, age 14-21. Young equestrians come from the United States, Bermuda, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean Islands to vie for team and individual FEI medals in the three Olympic equestrian disciplines of show jumping, dressage, eventing and the FEI World Equestrian Games disciplines of reining and endurance.
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For more information about NAJYRC, please visit: www.youngriders.org.
More information regarding the USEF Reining program is available by contacting Vonita Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org.