Reining Junior Team Gold - USA Southeast on their victory lap
Lexington, KY - The Reining Team Championship competition was tightly contested today at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC) with Team USA South-Central claiming the top of the podium in Young Rider Competition and Team USA Southeast in the Gold position for Juniors.
The NAJYRC runs through Sunday, July 22, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. Five disciplines (a total of 9 championships for juniors and young riders) will take part in the only FEI Championship to be held annually in North America. The NAJYRC is the premier equestrian competition in North America for Junior and Young Riders, ages 14-21.
**Please be aware that tomorrow's Show Jumping team classes for Juniors will run in the Rolex Stadium at 4:30 p.m., followed by the Young Riders competition.
For the Reining Juniors, Team USA South-Central is composed of Meloney Morris riding Mr Loney 2006, Savannah Ostner aboard Sparkin Hat Skidmark, Nick Taylor showing Outlaw Whiz, and Stephen Timberlake riding Whiz Bang Boom. A very strong team for years at the NAJYRC, Team USA-Southeast is always a skilled set of riders and with a team score of 594, they just bested the also very strong Team Canada by 1.5 total team points - a very tight margin in the sport's scoring system.
For three of the four riders on the team, it was their first time showing at the NAJYRC and the first time they had competed on a team. Morris (15, Memphis, TN) noted, "It was kind of scary, but it's really fun now that I'm here. It was a little more pressure to show on a team."
Thirteen-year-old Ostner, who is from Memphis as well, added, "We all show in kind of the same region because we live near each other, so we know each other well. We knew our strengths and weaknesses so we could build off of each other."
Of showing in the Alltech Arena, site of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games reining competition, she remarked, "I thought it was really cool personally, just because all of the big name trainers have shown there and we get to do it too."
Nick Taylor (14, Martin, TN) attributed the team's success to "really good practice shows back home" and "really good horses."
Stephen Timberlake (13, Memphis, TN) contributed, "We had a really good coach, Randy Schauffer, to help us through." He went on to say, "I came here just wanting to finish strong and I didn't really expect to win. Everyone wanted to do well. It was just a great experience, the entire thing."
In Silver with a score of 592.5, Team Canada Juniors includes Emily Birch (17, Winnipeg, MB, CAN) riding Sunup Dun It, Haley Franc (13, Prince Albert, SK, CAN) on Jacs Shy Boy, Micaela Maharaj (14, Winnipeg, MB, CAN) showing Fancy Footprint and Emily Wilson (15, Uxbridge, ON, CAN) riding Miss Cielo Chex.
Rounding out the Juniors podium was Team USA South-Central with team members Kaylan Marks (17, Yorktown, TX) and Sparts Electricspark, Faythe Vest (17, Greenbriar, AR) showing Starlena Rue, and Karl Johnson (13, Northborough, MA) aboard Roses for Wrangler. They had a total score of 583.5.
Reining Young Rider Team Gold - Team USA South Central. From l to r: Chef d'Equipe Pete Kyle, Jake Letner, Reed Kyle, Kayla Rae Hatfield, and Chyna Tinney (Leslie Mangan)
For the Young Rider Team Championship, old rivalries played out once again with Canada and USA going toe-to-toe for top honors and the top of the medals podium. In this, the fifth year that Reining has been included in the NAJYRC, USA and Canada have each claimed the gold twice. But it was the USA's team South-Central that emerged as the winning team this year and did so by a wide margin. With a total team score of 642, Team USA South-Central riders were on point today for the victory.
Gold medal team members include Jake Letner riding A Genuine Diamond, Reed Kyle showing A Ruf Gal, Chyna Tinney aboard Smarter Than Chics, and Kayla Rae Hatfield with Dun It Gotta Gal.
Three of the riders on the team were also experiencing the NAJYRC for the first time, despite their extensive experience in the sport. Kayla Rae Hatfield (20, Whitesboro, TX), who rides on her IHSA team at North Central Texas College, explained, "We always go to NRHA shows, show in the Derby, AQHA, all that stuff. This is something different that we haven't done. It was a really good experience too."
Reed Kyle (21, Whitesboro, TX), whose father Pete Kyle served as the Chef d'Equipe for both USA South-Central teams, also has team experience. He competed at the 2010 Youth World Cup before and represented the United States. "It's almost the same experience and it's really fun to have a group of people and root for each other rather than just being individuals. It's a lot of fun," he related.
Chyna Tinney (21), the third rider on the team from Whitesboro, TX, pointed out, "I've never really been on a team for horse events, but I get to ride with Kayla and Reed all the time at the ranch. I met Jake this week and I guess he's a pretty cool guy! We're getting along great this week and it's been a great time. I've enjoyed it."
Tinney said that they take the opportunity to meet riders from other disciplines and watch their events. "We're super excited to see all of the other events. (With) eventing cross country, we keep asking them questions like, 'How do you do this? It's insane!' People probably think our sport is crazy too. It's really cool to see the other disciplines and how they do them."
Tinney expressed, "The level of competition has been outstanding, and all of these riders are really great riders. You can tell they put a lot of time and effort into their riding. It's been a good time coming to a show where there is a lot of competition to compete with."
For Jake Letner (19, Harris, MO), who was competing for his second time here, it was good to come back and have a positive experience. "Unfortunately I wasn't on a medal winning team last year. I was on a different horse last year and kind of had a rough time. I rode my brother's horse this year and we were getting along a little better! It's a great experience. I owe a lot of it to my teammates. It's not a one man team; they gotta help me out and they pulled their own weight. We came out on top and it was a pretty great feeling," he said.
In Silver was another U.S. Team with 623.5 points, representing the Southeast region, and comprised of riders Laura Sumrall (19, Summitt, MS) showing Einsteins Fancy Pine, Jonathan Timberlake (18, Memphis, TN) aboard Electric Maid Chic and Jacklyn Hoyt (19, Fabius, NY) with The Tari Nimble. Team USA Southeast showed that experience and wisdom pays off in international competition, as each of the team members are returning, and in Sumrall and Hoyt's case, long-time competitors at these Championships.
Bronze was awarded to Team Canada with 415 points from riders Starr Boisvert (21, Chatsworth, ON, CAN) showing Stick To Your Guns and Megan Robinson (20, Winnipeg, MB, CAN) aboard Sheza Smart Cookie.
Prizes and medals were awarded at a very beautiful ceremony following the Team Championships in the Alltech Arena at the Kentucky Horse Park.
The above riders all automatically advance to the Individual Final held on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. (USA Eastern Time). Adding to the excitement, the order of competition is "seeded" for that final based upon today's scores. The highest scores from the Team Championship earn the right to go last in order of their score, gaining an advantage and building to the final placings after the last horse.
Eventers Take to the Ring in Dressage Phase
The Eventing began today with the dressage phase for both the CCI2* and CCI1*. In the CCI2* competition, the judges were Gretchen Butts, Annabel Scrimgeour, and Carl Heinz-Boess. The win today and the individual lead went to Lizzie Snow (Area VI, VII & IX) on Coal Creek, who ended with 50.7 penalties. Finishing with 51.9 penalties, Teresa Harcourt (Area VI, VII, & IX) and Bonza Twist of Fate were second. Kendyl Tracy (Area VI, VII & IX) and Ever So Lucky were third on 53.3 penalties.
The Area VI, VII & IX team put on a dominant performance today going into Saturday's cross country phase and is also leading the team standings with a total of 155.9 penalties. The Ontario & Quebec team is in second place with 169.0 penalties, while Area V is in third on 171.4 penalties.
Lizzie Snow, who is 20 and hails from Portland, OR, is riding in her fourth NAJYRC. Speaking of her ride on Coal Creek, she said, "I had a great ride. It was very steady with one bobble in the beginning. He was great and kept his head on and had a good, solid, forward ride. He's very fancy on the flat. He can get excited once in awhile, but he's best on cross country. He knows his job and is really good."
Snow is looking forward to the cross country phase. She said, "It's a great course. There is enough to do out there and keep everybody on their toes. You can ride well if you keep riding forward. It's definitely a championship course."
Kendyl Tracy (20, Parker, CO) is riding in her fifth NAJYRC, and this is Ever So Lucky's third time competing in the championships. "I want to have a good positive weekend and grow our relationship," Tracy said of her expectations. While Tracy acknowledged the pressure of being one of the leaders after day one, she said she knows her game plan. "I hope I can put that aside and try to ride to my plan for what I and my horse knows best," she said.
Both Teresa Harcourt (21, Auburn, CA) and Sarah Braun (19, Pleasant Hill, CA) are showing at NAJYRC for the first time.
Harcourt acknowledged, "It's an advantage to be on a scramble team. I've known these girls but haven't put faces to the names and now I get to meet them. It's cool to build relationships and communicate with them and talk to them after. It's cool to experience this with them."
It's also an exciting experience to ride in the same venue as the only four star event in North America, the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Harcourt noted, "Skip is a really strong cross country horse and I'm excited to go out there and have him show his stuff."
Braun said of her ride today on Perfect Intentions, "I was expecting to come out and have a good run and improve my riding. I'm really excited to be here and have the experience that I've heard about from many other riders that have been to Young Riders." Braun and Perfect Intentions stand on 59.8 penalties.
In the CCI1* competition, two teams tied for the lead following the dressage phase. Area V and Canada/Ontario both finished on a total score of 155.2 penalties. Area III is in a close third place on 155.9 penalties.
From Area V, Brindley House (17, Ft. Worth, TX) is riding at the NAJYRC for the first time, but she has been here twice before as a groom. Her time here is much different this year. She explained, "I don't want to say it's more stress, but it's just a different atmosphere. I feel like I need to go muck stalls! Surprisingly it was exciting and not as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be. I'm happy to be here and ride and get the chance to actually compete." House and Might Be Regal finished today with 57.7 penalties.
Victoria New (17, San Angelo, TX), is riding for the second time here and is a defending team gold medalist. However this year, she is on a new horse, Fleeceworks Mystere du Val, with whom she finished on 48.5 penalties for second place in the individual standings. "It feels completely different, honestly. We'll do our best to defend our title and bring it home again this year," she said. New felt that today's performance was their "best test yet." She added, "I was really pleased with how he was. He's a fantastic horse. We put forth a good effort."
Alyssa Phillips (15, Ft. Worth, TX) is also on a new horse, Exploring, who she has had for seven months. They are continuing to cross country with 55.0 penalties. "This is the second biggest thing I've done with him," she said. "I just clicked with him. We're just still growing and getting to know each other and finally starting to come together."
Taylor Wood (17, Weatherford, TX) is riding at the NAJYRC for the second time, but last year she rode as an individual. "Last year we were here but I didn't feel like we were really contributing and now it's like one big family and it's great," she acknowledged. She and On Eagle's Wings finished with 51.7 penalties.
The Canada, Ontario team is led by Haley Armstrong-Laframboise (17, Orangeville, ON, CAN), who is here for the third time. "This is the best team," she related. "We've all really clicked." Armstrong-Laframboise and Roksolana had 51.2 penalties.
Daria Ivandaeva (16, Tottenham, ON, CAN) rode Autorytet to 54.4 penalties in the dressage phase. "My ride was surprisingly quite good," she described. "Yesterday he was quite excited after the trip down and the show atmosphere gets him excited. He knows what's happening, that it's a big event. When we passed A and he gathered himself together, it was smooth sailing from there."
Kylie Figueira (17, Fenelon Falls, ON, CAN) said of riding on a team, "It's really great, even today it's just the first day and everyone was out there hooting and hollering. They knew exactly who we were the whole time. To have that many people supporting you is a really nice feeling." Figueira led her team with 49.6 penalties on Danzig.
Fellow team member Charlotte Evans and Mail Order Bride also competed and had 59.8 penalties.
Leading the individual standings in the CCI1* is Savanna Hilles (18, Castle Rock, CO). Riding for the first time at NAJYRC, she and her horse Enchanted had just 47.3 penalties. She recalled, "Yesterday my horse was pulling me out of the tack, but we warmed up this morning and didn't canter a lot. She went in there and was awesome. I'm so proud of her. I was surprised to see my score so low." She added with a smile, "I usually don't like to look at the scores and don't think about it. Whatever happens, happens."
Regarding Saturday's cross country course, Hilles said, "I think it's an awesome course. It's really opening and galloping, with hard questions we've never done, like the bounce down. I'm really excited for that."
Erin Murphy (17, Los Angeles, CA) and Myster E are in third place individually with 49.2 penalties in their first time at NAJYRC. "He just warmed up really relaxed and went in and surprised me. He was smooth and did his thing. It was because our coach and chef prepared us for the team work we'd have to put in. It's like nothing I've experienced before. I'm excited to be here and have a great new experience."
Show Jumping Begins With Individual Qualifying After Weather Delay
The Junior show jumping class started out this morning with a Table A speed class over a course designed by Richard Jeffery of Bournemouth, England. There were four clear rounds in the class, two with one time fault, and one with two time faults. The fastest clear was Cosma 20, a 2003 Hanoverian mare by Couleur Rubin x Shakira, ridden by Abigail McArdle of Barrington, IL. Shawn Casady of Harriman, TN, and Zubantos, a 2004 KWPN gelding by Namelux R x Zabanta, placed second. Third place went to Gabrielle Bausano, of New York, NY, on Ubico H, a 2001 KWPN gelding by Ruben H x Foniek.
The Young Riders in show jumping had a good start to the competition with Callie Smith of Bernardsville, NJ, taking the early lead on Upstaire, a 2001 KWPN gelding by Gran Corrado x Ralmetaire. Smith and Upstaire finished as the fastest clear round in the faults converted class and stand on zero faults.
Second place in today's speed round was Meg O'Mara of Rumson, NJ, on Sinatra IV, a 2000 SBS gelding, by Churchill x Isabelle de L'Epine. They go into tomorrow's rounds with a total of 2.86 faults after the class was ranked by using a multiplier.
Mattias Tromp of North Salem, NY, and Vosqinus, a 2002 KWPN gelding by Kigali x Lady Brown, now sit in third place on 3.55 faults.
Tomorrow's competition will start at 6:30 a.m. with the race for Endurance riders along a 120 km track. The Rolex Arena will host activity starting at 7:00 a.m. with the Individual tests for Dressage Junior and Young Riders, and medals will be awarded in the afternoon. Following them, the show jumpers return for their team finals (Juniors - 4:30 p.m., followed by the Young Riders). The vaulting competition will also continue tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.
All of the action in the Rolex Stadium tomorrow will be broadcast live on the USEF Network presented by SmartPak at www.usefnetwork.com.
For full results or to learn more about the Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, please visit www.youngriders.org.