Nathalie Ferneau and Molly Maloney, two young riders deservedly won Back On Track products at the Lendon Youth Dressage Festival (LYDF). Nathalie, (16 years old) won a Back On Track Mesh Sheet in the Horse Management Challenge. The Horse Management Challenge is a competition open to the top two riders in each age division after the written test. Nathalie said, “In my division there was a tie in written test scores for second place, so all three of us were approached on the show grounds and asked a pop quiz tie breaker question on Azortoria (tying up). I happened to know a fair bit about this disorder, so I went on to the main competition.” A total of 14 youth were eligible for the challenge this year. Their stalls and stable area were secretly inspected, with many eliminations taking place for the final part of the challenge: the practical assessment of stable knowledge. Each contestant spent about 30 minutes on the last day with two judges checking a pony’s vital signs, discussing signs of equine heatstroke, poisonous plants, and worming schedules. Nathalie continued, “None of the topics were announced ahead of time. Between my experience with horse injuries and illness and my interest in veterinary medicine, I knew most all of the answers. My riding instructor, Heidi Hauri-Gill of First Choice Riding Academy has always emphasized the importance of proper horse care, and it certainly paid off.”
Nathalie’s first attended the Youth Dressage Festival in 2009 when she was twelve and her horse, Brother Bear (Koda) was five. They won a gold medal. She said, “It took a while for the significance of this victory to sink in.” Nathalie continued, “The next year I did not return to the Youth Dressage Festival because I wanted to take a year off in hopes of returning at a higher level. By the time we were ready and the summer rolled around, my horse fell extremely sick with a vitamin E deficiency, despite supplementation, and was still too weak to be ridden to get a qualifying score. I was too busy trying to figure out the cause of Koda's seemingly unexplainable muscle weakness to even think about showing." She continued, "My horse was wasting away despite the vets' best attempts. There was a good month where I seriously thought Koda might die. After an intense year of rehab once Koda recovered, he would have been prepared to compete at LYDF in 2012, but my barn was taking a year off from the show due to a lack of riders. This year, all the pieces finally fell together. Not only did I come in fourth in my division and have a bunch of great rides on the fully recovered Koda, but I really felt like winning the Horse Management Challenge validated all the hard work I put into researching Koda's illness. LYDF has served as the book ends to my journey with this horse, the two high points in what has been a pretty heartbreaking relationship. Koda is now better than ever and we have had two great show seasons since the illness. To me, showing sucessfully at LYDF is the ultimate sign that Brother Bear is back in action.”
In the FEI Young Rider Division: Molly Maloney, and Fly Boy scored a total of 84.193% in all three phases: a 61.579% in the Dressage, a 97.000% in the Equitation Class, and a 94.000% in the Written test. Molly Maloney (20 years old) said, “Every year I’ve participated in the Youth Festival, I walk away feeling inspired to give back. To me, this show embraces horsemanship, sportsmanship, and good riding. There are riders of all ages with their horses of all sizes, and colors. The fact that there are three components to the Festival, levels the playing field, and reinforces the importance of theory, position, and effective use of aids. Aside from the rider/horse relationship, dressage on the national level is not a team sport. At the Festival, many participants choose to form teams. This is perhaps my favorite aspect of the weekend. I love the positive vibe being heard through the barns and ringside. I love the decorated tack rooms, golf carts, people, and horses. It amazes me how many volunteers donate their time and come from all over. Sponsors provide so many prizes that everyone seems to win something. It’s all about teamwork. Lendon Gray is unbelievably generous and kind hearted. She is all about increasing opportunity for young riders and improving the sport of dressage. This was my last year eligible to participate, but I’m looking forward to many years of giving back. Sign me up!
Lastly, a huge thank you goes out to my teammates and everyone that made Lendon’s Youth Dressage Festival such a positive place to be. And thank you Back On Track for the Magnetic Stable Sheet!”
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