Post Cards from Young Riders #1

In 1998 what began as some e-mails home to my mom telling her about my adventures at the NAJYRC has turned into annual stories sent to the entire LEG Up News readership. Post Cards From Young Riders chronicles my experiences in the myriad roles I have been fortunate to have at the only FEI championship in North America, along with the fortunes of the Zone 10 teams competing.In 1998 what began as some e-mails home to my mom telling her about my adventures at the NAJYRC has turned into annual stories sent to the entire LEG Up News readership. Post Cards From Young Riders chronicles my experiences in the myriad roles I have been fortunate to have at the only FEI championship in North America, along with the fortunes of the Zone 10 teams competing.

Story originally posted by Horsecity.com Staff

In 1998 what began as some e-mails home to my mom telling her about my adventures at the NAJYRC has turned into annual stories sent to the entire LEG Up News readership. Post Cards From Young Riders chronicles my experiences in the myriad roles I have been fortunate to have at the only FEI championship in North America, along with the fortunes of the Zone 10 teams competing.

For me, the journey to this year’s NAJYRC has involved a very busy summer schedule. I spent three weeks going back and forth between Woodside (where I showed) and Burbank (home and office), then it was off to Seattle (WA) to judge, and then home for Ian’s 16th birthday. I moved some papers around on my desk, left lots of notes for the kids doing some office work for me, did some much needed laundry, and then packed for two weeks on the road.

The first stop was Parker, Colorado for the final show of the four week Colorado Summer Circuit. I lucked into great weather and enjoyed both the USHJA Hunter Derby and the $50,000 Grand Prix of Colorado. Early Monday morning Larry and I headed to Lexington, Kentucky.

While Kentucky is not the geographic center of the country, there is no doubt that the Kentucky Horse Park has positioned itself as the nerve center of horse sports. Racing, breeding, the USEF, a number of breed and discipline headquarters, US Pony Club, headquarters for farriers and veterinarians, and many educational and tourist activities all reside at the Kentucky Horse Park, in addition to the upcoming 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Although the NAJYRC occurred once before at the Kentucky Horse Park, it was only when the championship was for eventing. This is the first time all the disciplines of the NAJYRC have congregated at the Kentucky Horse Park and what a time they are going to have!

Tuesday

Larry and I got up and headed out to the facility to check in. I always love arriving as things are getting underway. There is an air of excitement, hope, and everything seems possible. I enjoy meeting up with friends and peers, many of whom we only see at select FEI events. We wandered over to the FEI stabling and found the Zone 10 team settling in. The team is comprised of several veterans, like Karl Cook and Saer Coulter, and some rookies, like Adrienne Dixon and Samantha Harrison. However, all the kids proved their mettle through Zone 10’s rigorous selection trials.

We ended our day by attending the official’s reception at the USEF. It was fun to relax and catch up with the officials from the other disciplines.

Wednesday

Here we go! Show jumpers jogged at 9:00 a.m. and all the horses looked really good. I stood with Dr. Mike Tomlinson throughout the jog learning the finer points of evaluating soundness as it pertains to competition purposes versus determining an injury. We spent a lot of time noting conformation and the observing the resultant movement.

In the middle of the jog the rain started and it didn’t stop until late into the night. However, the Zone 10 horses sailed through. Sailing, and other water sports, became the order of the day as the rain continued. Riders donned their rain gear in the afternoon for the schooling session, where they had 90 seconds to spend in the ring jumping, hacking, or otherwise acclimating themselves and their horses to the brand new (spectacular) stadium. The footing in the stadium held up really well and the horses jumped great. Once again, the Zone 10 gang had no problems and all looked fit and ready for competition.

Thursday

As we are sharing the stadium with dressage, the bulk of our competitions are held in the afternoon and into the evening. Today is the first individual qualifier. For the Juniors the class is scored on both faults and time. The class results are based on both, but for the overall individual standings only the faults are carried forward.

The Zone 10 Juniors were amazing. Samantha Harrison led the way for the riders from California. She and Santika made the course look easy as they loped around. Clearly she was not trying to win the class and she opted out of several inside turns, and instead had her sight set on the overall championship. Harrison was clean and just under the time allowed. Annie Laurie Cook on the other hand was out to win. She and Gina blazed around the course and no one came within three seconds of her time. She led the victory gallop for the class, and her fellow team mates all finished in the top ten. Richard Neal (Luke Skywalker S) finished fourth, Taylor Siebel (Thunder-Ball) was on his heels in fifth, Alec Lawler (Live Fire) was sixth, and Harrison rounded out the foursome in seventh. If they keep up the consistent riding they are serious contenders in the team competition tomorrow night. There is no doubt they’d like to defend their gold medal from 2008.

With eight clear rounds and three more with just one time fault, the Junior riders did not have an overly difficult time with Olaf Petersen, Jr.’s course. However, the Young Rider course proved much more difficult and clear rounds did not come easy. The Young Riders had to ride fast and clear as both faults and time are critical factors in the scoring. The best placed rider in the class receives zero and the other riders receive a score reflecting the difference in their final score in relation to the leader’s score. Complete scores are posted at: http://langershows.com/laec_show_details.php?show_id=131 and www.youngriders.org.

Early in the class Nicholas Dello Joio (Zone 4) took a commanding lead with a time of 83.90 despite a rail. Midway through the class only three riders managed clear rounds. Lucy Davis (True Love) and Adrienne Dixon (Pom Pom) were the first two of the Zone 10 riders to compete and they went in the first half of the class. Davis had a foot in the water and Dixon had a rail at the first fence, and both rode solidly and with confidence.

After the water and drag, the other three Zone 10 riders had their turn. Karl Cook, the individual gold medalist in 2007 and the individual silver medalist in 2008 blazed around the course, but Notories Utopia dropped three rails. Saer Coulter started out fast with Chalon, but three rails in the latter part of the course dropped her from top individual contention as well. With only ten horses left in the class, Paris Sellon revived the spirits of the Zone 10 riders by posting one of the few clear rounds of the entire 47 horse class. She and Troyes almost made the course look easy, and undoubtedly Paris’ time spent riding in grand prix events at the Memorial Day Classic and in Blainville (Quebec) helped her gain valuable experience prior to her first trip to the NAJYRC.

Heading into the team competition, run in a Nations Cup format, Zone 4 looks competitive. The Zone 10 Young Riders will need to re-group and focus in order to defend their team gold medal earned in 2008. There is no doubt that both Mexico teams, North and South, will rally for their sense of team is strong and they hunger for a gold medal. Alberto Balas (Sylvana) of Mexico South proved what fierce competitors the Mexican riders are as he rode an aggressive round at the end of the class to finish second. Although he left all the rails up and made the inside turns, he still couldn’t beat Dello Joio.

If I had to make a singular observation about today’s competition and riding, more than half the riders had faults at the open water. Dave Ballard (T.D.) lamented that too many riders do not have the requisite skills and experience when riding over open water. Today’s statistics of 27 riders out of 47 had four at the water.

Check out the complete results: http://langershows.com/laec_show_details.php?show_id=131 or www.youngriders.org