The Californians are getting there experience in the rain during the first day of competition at the NAJYRC, bringing home the Team Gold for the third consecutive year. And it was newcomer Brian Hafner who led the way on his own Lombardo LHF (by Londonderry), a horse he has owned and trained since four-year-old who topped the leader board with a 68.842%. Teammates Brianna Dutton, Amanda Harlan, and Christine Stephenson joined him in the victory lap, as the rains poured down in the new arena which will be the setting for the 2010 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games.
Hafner who moved to California from Minnesota is excited to be on the team this year, and credits his trainer Laurie Falvo Doyle from San Diego for helping him to get here. “I got really lucky today,” Hafner said. “My horse was really solid. We had a few minor faults. It is a huge deal for me to be part of this group and do so well as a team.”
Harlan agreed with Hafner, and got the added privilege of experiencing the rain firsthand. “I was very happy with my ride today. I rode in the pouring rain for the first time!” she said. “I’m so happy to be here. It’s been an amazing journey.” Dutton and Stephenson finished with solid scores, but both were thrilled with their team’s efforts and with receiving the Gold medal.
“There were a few more mistakes than usual,” Dutton said. “But, it was nice to ride and get out there. My team is really awesome.” “I didn’t have the greatest ride today,” Stephenson admitted, but added, “I have the best teammates anyone could ever have. It was just awesome being there and being able to compete.”
Taking the Silver was Region Two who had two riders in the top three individual standings, Kristen Becker (67.789) and Kassandra Barteau (67.579), joined by team mates Ashlee Todsosijevic and Brianna Zwilling. Kristen N. Becker and Ramses, a flashy KWPN from Region 2, turned in a 67.789% to put themselves in second place. Ramses impressed the judges with his flashy gaits and smooth, solid movements to earn a Team Silver medal, as well as put himself and Becker in a solid position for the rest of the competition.
Rounding out the top three is the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF National Young Rider Champion Kassandra Barteau and her GP Raymeister, a breeding stallion owned by Ginna Frantz, also from Region 2, with their score of 67.579%. This isn’t the first trip to this competition for Barteau, but it is the first trip to the championships for her partner.
Barteau was pleased with Raymeister’s performance. “He was such a good boy!” she said. “I just took it nice and slow, and I didn’t push him. I thought he was really steady. He can get a little flighty, and he didn’t see the judges’ tents yesterday. But, I was really proud of how he handled that.”
Raymeister, a nine-year-old Holsteiner stallion by Rantares, has been with Barteau since he was just starting out under saddle. “We’ve been together for four years now,” she said proudly. “I’ve had him since he was doing training and first, and he’s just working his way up to the FEI levels, figuring it all out.” Barteau who is the winningest rider in USDF history and two time USEF National Young Rider Champion has yet to win the NAYRC Individual Gold Medal. This being her last year in Young Riders is looking to level the playing field and go for it in the Individual test.
The Bronze was won by Region Three. Amanda Stearns and Revanche led the way with a 67.368, in fourth place overall, followed by Mary Cameron Rollins on Rose Noire 2 in fifth with a 66.474 were joined by McKenzie Jenkins and Caroline Roffman in the victory round.
The rain is not the only challenge as the Young Riders face as the Kentucky Horse Park is working round the clock and making enormous headway for next year’s World Equestrian Games. Construction equipment, traffic and multiple events going on this week is a testing ground for organizers, volunteers, officials and staff. But all the winners agree they are very excited to be here at the Kentucky Horse Park as some of the first competitors to use the new world class facilities.Individual Results