By Amber Heinzenberger
Parker, CO - The CN FEI North American Junior/Young Rider Championships at the Colorado Horse Park presented by Gotham North finished with a three-hour closing ceremonies at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado today. The four-day championship competition wrapped up with the Junior and Young Rider Musical Freestyles in Dressage, Stadium Jumping in Eventing, the Individual Finals in Show Jumping, and the Individual Finals in Reining.
Already having locked down the Team Gold on Friday, Zone Ten swept the medals in the Young Riders Show Jumping competition today, claiming Individual Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in today’s final competition. Karl Cook, who won Team and Individual Gold last year was the only rider with a score of 0.0 in the first round, but had two rails down riding Notories Utopia in the second round and one in the fifth round (12.00).
Hannah Selleck on Bauer scored 3.76 in the speed round and had a rail down in three of the five following rounds (11.76) to place just .24 points ahead of Cook and claim the Individual Gold, relegating Cook to Silver. Their teammate Paige Dotson took the Bronze on Friponnier II CH (14.3). The team also included Sophie Benjamin riding Marga, who finished 11th overall.
Selleck said, “I’ve had some disappointments – last year my horse got hurt, but that makes it sweeter to come back and do this.”
Cook actually rode ahead of schedule, since Dotson fell off in the warm-up when her horse took a huge leap over one of the warm-up fences and unseated her. “I’m so glad I made it around,” she said.
“Regardless of how you do, riding here is a good experience,” said Cook. “Riding as a team builds character. The first year I was here I ended up in the Farewell class and I thought Young Riders sucked. But the only way to get experience and learn how to handle a situation like this is to ride here. I didn’t want to come back this year and not do as well as last year but once I started doing the trials it pulled me in, it’s a very supportive atmosphere.”
Carlie Thompson of Columbus, Ohio will go down in history as the individual Gold Medal winner at the first-ever Young Riders Reining Championships. She and her Quarter Horse stallion Paid By Corona scored 219 from judges John Snobelen, Andrea Simons and Dori Schwartzenberger. Teammates Jason Kvols and his flashy paint horse Sunny Spotacular were close behind with 217 to claim Silver, and Lacey Vernon on Duncans Dun It took the Bronze with 214.5. Team USA won the Team Gold and Team Silver went to Canada.
“I was really proud of my horse today,” said Thompson, who grew up watching reining and started at age eleven. “He loves it – it’s awesome."
Kvols said, “It went well and I’m excited. He pointed out that the Colorado Horse Park was a different sort of venue than they are used to, since they showed outdoors here and generally show indoors. “It was a lot hotter showing outdoors, and it was different with all the arenas and so much going on. We like our ground deep, and they put dump truck after dump truck loads of dirt in the pen. The footing was awesome.”
All three noted that it was fun to be in the midst of so much other equestrian sport. “I used to jump so this is familiar to me,” said Thompson, laughing, “My horse is big as a reiner, but here he feels like a midget!”
Jennifer Brannigan kept her cool and left the rails up to win the Eventing CH** riding her seven-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Cooper on their dressage score of 36.3. Karen Shull and Just My Style also went double clear to hang on to Individual Silver (47.7), while Katlyn McMorris and Clifton Peekachu jumped clear but added 4.4 time faults, still with plenty of room for error, to claim Individual Bronze (51.1). Brannigan’s teammate Max McManamy finished fourth on Beacon Hill and Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch, the sole Canadian competitor in this year’s two-star, placed fifth riding Port Authority. Tiana Coudray rounded out the top six with Ringwood Magister (60.6).
Brannigan, McManamy and Coudray, along with David Koss on Candy, claimed the Team Gold Medal for Area VI (California) on a three-day total score of 170.4. The team from Areas I, IV and V finished second (1122.8) followed by Areas VIII and X (1158.5).
Brannigan recently had surgery on her tailbone, which kept her out of the saddle for a couple of weeks prior to the championships. She was able to sit on Cooper only three times in the lead-up to the Championships, and expressed her gratitude to Nick Cwick for riding Cooper while she was recovering. She also thanked Estrella Equine Clinic and her sponsors Custom Saddlery, Ayora Saddlery and Dougie Hannum.
In the one-star championships the Area IV Team (Jessica Lux and Car Tanga, Callie Judy and Irish Odyssey, Hannah Ross and Fantasia and Edith Lee and Ballycormac Petrocelli) led from start to finish, completing the event with an impressive total score of 161.4. Medalist Callie Judy finished on her dressage score of 48.8 to also claim Individual Gold.
“It’s amazing winning Gold,” she said with a smile. This was her second time competing at a Young Riders Championships. “It hasn’t sunk in yet. I had a good cry, and I’m still shocked! My horse is still new to me and we started out with problems – we had some stops on cross-country this spring, so I’m very pleased with her. I just kept trying positive thinking, I kept telling myself, ‘I am going to win this event’.”
Individual Silver went to Lindsay Crnkovich riding Right Back Atcha (49.1) and Individual Bronze went to Canadian Sarah Talaga riding Vena (50.7). Talaga’s success was even more impressive because Vena lost an eye to glaucoma last year. Talaga said it took some time for the mare get used to having one eye, but that their partnership is strong and the horse trusts her.
“It’s so good to win Bronze,” she said. “It’s been a lot of work to get here.”
Area VIII & V claimed Team Silver, and Canada’s team with representatives from British Columbia and Ontario earned Team Bronze.
Laura Noyes had a couple of days of tense, nervous tests from Syncro, but today the 14-year-old Trakehner by Enrico Caruso settled into his job and performed beautifully to win the Young Riders Musical Freestyle Championship with an outstanding 74.75%. Noyes also competed in the NAYRC in 2006 and that same year took Syncro to the Young Riders World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany but did not compete because he had a slight injury.
“Today he was relaxed in the atmosphere,” said Noyes. She rode to music from “Peanuts” compiled by Ruth Hogan-Poulsen. “The test was steady and he was very consistent. The past two days he’s been fresh and tense.” While her horse got better, Noyes said that she suffered from the high temperatures and high altitude in Colorado. “Every day I felt worse,” she said. Noyes is a student of George Williams and bought her horse when she and he were both competing at First level.
Having already claimed individual medals yesterday, Brianna Dutton and Chelsea Pederson returned to the top three today. Dutton took Silver (71.9%) riding Tibet followed by Chelsea Pederson on H.S. With Honors (70.5%) taking home the Bronze.
“This was the first time in his trot work I’ve felt him stay steady,” said Dutton. “As for the second Silver medal, I wasn’t expecting this at all!”
Pederson commented, “The freestyle is the most nerve-wracking test. I just changed it, so I’m not 100% sure all the time. It’s based around the canter music, which is from Aladdin. The trot music is upbeat and fun, which matches his personality.”
In the Junior Dressage Freestyle Morgan Heinrichs and Orlando impressed the judges with their upbeat composition of Swedish music by Rocky Mountain Recorders and relaxed, accurate riding to win on a score of 71.9%. McKenzie Jenkins and her Anglo Polish Arabian Tsarina Bint RII claimed Silver with 70.9%, riding to music from the movie The Thomas Crowne Affair, choreographed by Marlene Whitaker. Mackinzie Pooley and Jonkara earned 69.45% to win the Bronze medal.
“I’ve only been riding this horse since February,” said Heinrichs. “I was hopeful but I didn’t really imagine winning. Overall he felt really energetic today.
Jenkins said, “I am really excited. I love my freestyle! I just try not to get nervous before I go in the ring. I think the canter work was the best; the flying changes are my favorite part.”
In recent years the closing ceremonies took place unmounted in a coliseum, with all competitors attending at once. This year the ceremonies took place outdoors with groups of riders entering the ring separately, on their horses. There was a podium where riders received their medals while flags were raised and anthems played, followed by victory gallops.