North American Junior Young Rider Championships
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Posted by Diana DeRosa for Horsesdaily.com
It’s Not About the Bike!
When I arrived on the grounds of the Kentucky Horse Park, home to the North American Junior Young Rider Championships, I couldn’t help but think of Lance Armstrong, “It’s not about the Bike.” Last year was my first time at this competition. I’d heard about it over the years but never realized just what a great event it is. These winners of today and tomorrow really have a chance to get some championship mileage at this event which showcases Dressage, Show Jumping, Eventing and Reining. Endurance also is taking place but as a separate entity in Harrodsburg, KY.
The press tent is located just across from the grand prix arena and is situated in such a way that I can’t see the competition but I can see some of the surrounding schooling and set up areas. As I peek out on one side there are young riders coming up the hill on their ponies and on the other are the sounds of tractors and golf carts going back and forth on the major roadway.
Yesterday was when everyone arrived and so Brian and I chatted a bit about that first day. Brian’s coined phrase was no surprise. “Expect the unexpected,” he commented. “Everyone is looking for MacGyver so that he can fix every problem with a shoestring and paper clip but this is reality. Yesterday the power was out and it caused a little back up in getting credentials ready, just basic things that are the function of every show. Yet, despite that the spirit of this event is just so high. Everyone was very understanding. Once the power was on and we were back on track the rest of the day moved along without a hitch.”
Endurance is new to the NAJYRC and I so I decided that since Brian had a bit of time he could fill me in on some of the details. Shaker Village, located just outside of historic Harrodsburg, KY, is where the endurance is being held.
Yet the town still exists and continues to be a tourist attraction. “Their very simply built village is now preserved and people come from all over the world to visit Shaker Village. There’s lots of land surrounding the town and so that is why the endurance is being held there,” added Brian.
Chatting With the Reiners
After our conversation you might think it was their victory or the kind words they spoke about the Kentucky Horse Park that I remember, but it wasn’t. What I remember was the trip down by those driving the horses on the 52 hour trek from Alberta. Unfortunately that 52 hours was doubled just seven hours into the trip when the first brand new tire blew. No worries, they changed it.
If that wasn’t enough a few more hours down the road in the middle of the night, down goes the second tire. Now they are stuck so they had to find a place to change that tire. Moving right along a third one goes. Yikes they ended up buying extra tires. I hope when they get home they have a good talk with the place that sold them those tires.
Anyway, this event wasn’t about the tires so I did find some time to talk about their rides and their initial thoughts. Nancy recalled that it was in 4-H that she was bitten by the horse bug. “An instructor came in and we were awed at what the horse could do and that drove me to seek out reining,” she explained.
When we chatted a little more about how well Nancy had done, it wasn’t so much the ribbons that Nancy was proud of but rather the fact that Reining has only been a part of the North American Junior Young Rider Championships for three years.
“Competing in the first western sport within the youth championships is an honor,” continued Nancy. “I’m proud to be able to show other people our discipline.”
Kaylynn, who has been reining for six years pretty much echoed what Nancy had said. “It’s important because we are representing our province. We are competing for Team Alberta.”
Every one of these riders fought to make it here. In order to be considered they had to do three qualifying shows and have a score of 68 or higher. Kaylynn was able to do that on her 12-year-old sorrel, Quarter Horse Pickin Around. And that was a feat since he loves to spook. When Kaylynn entered the ring it was the judges that got him a bit unnerved but he pulled it together.
While Kaylynn admitted “it has been one of my goals to make it to this team.” She also couldn’t say enough good things about the grounds. “This facility is amazing. You couldn’t ask for better. The ground is great. The people around here are willing to help you out if you need anything. The barns are beautiful. The stalls are great. It’s amazing and huge. “
When it was Sage’s turn it was no surprise that she too echoed similar thoughts as her teammates. The one difference though is that unlike the others, Sage has been riding from when she was a tiny tot. “It is in my family; in my blood. I am a third generation. We all train reining horses.”
When I asked Sage about her horse Shiners Q Chex, a 10-year-old Palomino, Quarter Horse Stallion and if he had any quirks, all she could utter was “He is really loud. He likes to voice his opinion. He likes to announce himself when he comes into a place.”
The three girls giggled when Sage revealed this tid bit as it was clear they had seen his musical notes many times. This time Sage explained that it was “during the jog he made sure everyone knew he was there. He neighed and danced around and made a big scene.”
The picture she described made her horse come alive and as we were about to end the conversation on that note Sage wanted to say thanks to the Kentucky Horse Park. “It’s an incredible facility and they’ve done a great job of organizing it,” she concluded.
You see, it really is not about the bike or the horse or the rider or the atmosphere or the camaraderie. In fact, it’s all these bits and pieces that make the North American Junior Young Rider Championships such an amazing event.
Article and Photos by Diana DeRosa