Individual Gold Medals Awarded for Show Jumping and Reining at 2012 North American Junior & Young Rider Championships

The show jumpers and reiners finished today by naming two new individual gold medalists each at the 2012 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC) at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY.

Abigail McArdle (Zone 5) aboard Cosma 20 take the Gold medal in the Junior Individual Show Jumping (Sportfot)

Kilian McGrath and Abigail McArdle took gold in the Young Rider and Junior Show Jumping divisions respectively. The Show Jumping was sponsored by the United States Hunter Jumper Association. In the SmartPak Reining Individual Championship, Reed Kyle was gold in the Young Riders, while the Junior gold medal went to Haley Franc.

Five disciplines (a total of 9 championships for juniors and young riders) took 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.

Gold medalist Abigail McArdle (18, Barrington, IL) and Cosma 20, a nine-year-old Hanoverian mare by Couleur Rubin x Shakira, showed phenomenal consistency and did not put one foot wrong through five rounds. They ended on a score of zero.

“It’s such an honor to be here. I’m beyond happy,” McArdle said. “I thrive under pressure and so does my horse. In the last round, it was significantly easier than the other (round). It was a matter of holding it together and not doing anything stupid. I was nervous, but it turned out well.”

When both Shawn Casady (18, Harriman, TN) and Charlotte Jacobs (17, East Aurora, NY) went double clear, they knew it would come down to a jump-off to determine who would get silver and who would take bronze.

Jacobs was the first to return in the jump-off on Kachina, a 14-year-old Selle Francais mare by Voltaire x Coline Star. They tried to turn on the speed early, but a rail fell for four faults and they finished in a time of 37.85 seconds.

Casady and Zubantos, an eight-year-old KWPN gelding by Namelus R x Zabanta, had to put in another clear round to win outright, and they did just that. The amiable Casady said he was “planning for a jump-off” before it happened because the top riders were so close.

Having gotten the ride on Zubantos this winter, Casady was grateful for the opportunity to compete with him at the NAJYRC. The horse came from grand prix rider Margie Engle, and Casady’s trainers, Ken and Emily Smith, thought the horse would work well for him. The DeMartini family of Elm Rock LLC purchased Zubantos and gave Casady the ride.

In the Young Rider Individual Championship, no one was able to produce a totally clear round. However, one time fault in the first round helped Kilian McGrath to the gold medal. McGrath came into today’s competition on 15.92 faults and sat in fifth place, had one in the first round, and added six faults in the second round to finish on 22.92 faults.

Eighteen-year-old McGrath, who hails from Westlake Village, CA, and trains with Karen Healey, didn’t consider winning the gold medal coming into today. “I was hoping I’d make top three at the most,” she revealed. “I honestly was shocked when they said that I won. I asked Karen if this was real. I’ve only dreamed of getting a gold medal. I never thought it would happen this quickly. I just tried to be as consistent as possible and it worked out. I’m maybe not as qualified as most riders, but I had a good horse.”

Callie Smith (18, Bernardsville, NJ) and Upstaire, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding by Gran Corrado x Ralmetaire, had only eight faults coming into today, but added another eight in round one. In round two, Smith was the final rider on course. She had a rail in hand, but when she lowered the second to last jump, it all came down to the final oxer. Smith was galloping to make the time, and Upstaire couldn’t quite clear the final fence. Another eight faults in the second round gave them a total of 24 and the silver medal.

Smith feels that the NAJYRC helps riders prepare for the next level in their equestrian career. She said, “Young Riders is the precursor for any larger event. We learn so much here, especially as a team event. If you want to go to Olympic level or show (for the team) in Europe, you have to do something like this and be prepared.”

Lydia Ulrich (18, Rochester, NY) entered the first round today sitting in eighth place. She and Santos Utopia, a 13-year-old KWPN gelding by Nevado 21 x Kitty Utopia, had 18.28 faults and added four in the first round and five in the second round for a total of 27.28 faults and the bronze medal. She said, “The first round was pretty technical. I knew going into it I had to be extra careful.” Of the tight time in the second round course, she noted, “I lost time in the beginning of the course. You had to try and go fast without going too fast.”

Reiners Slide, Stop, and Spin to Gold

The 2012 NAJYRC will go down in history as one the most exciting in the sport of Reining. Sponsored by SmartPak, today’s Individual Final was hotly contested in both Juniors and Young Riders.

Reed Kyle and A Ruf Gal (Waltenberry)

The exciting gold-medal effort in the Young Rider division was Reed Kyle of Whitesboro, TX, with an outstanding run aboard A Ruf Gal, an American Quarter Horse owned by his father and Chef d’Equipe Pete Kyle. The final competitor to go in the class because of his high score in the Team Championship, the jury rewarded his technical superiority with a soaring high score of 218.5, a full four and a half points ahead of the next contender.

A gold medal in the Team and Individual makes Reed Kyle double-gold for the 2012 NAJYRC, an incredible accomplishment. Ever-composed, Kyle complimented the riders who competed just prior to him in his biggest competition as he made final preparations for his winning ride.

“This was an incredible experience. I’m really happy my horse and I did so well, and a little sad that I don’t get to come back next year,” said Kyle, referring to his last year as an age-eligible Young Rider.

Kyle (21) said of A Ruf Girl, “I give all credit to my horse. That is one of my higher scores that I’ve had. She’s just an all-around great horse. She spins harder in the pen than she does anywhere else. Going in the spin, she’ll just whip on around. You just lay reins over on her and she spins. I feel like that’s one of her stronger points.”

Silver medalist Laura Sumrall (19) of Summitt, MS, riding Einsteins Fancy Pine is an annual favorite at these Championships and also had an exceptionally good run just a few riders prior to Kyle, making for excitement as the high marks kept coming in. Scoring 214, Sumrall was also a full four points ahead of the third place rider, demonstrating the true achievement of the two top slots. Sumrall immediately congratulated her peer and friend Reed Kyle when the final scores were announced in a display of her usual high sportsmanship.

Sumrall rode her Einsteins Fancy Pine, a horse she has had for two years, to the silver medal. “I couldn’t be happier. Today has been a very good day on all accounts. For my mare, she was good across the board. (Usually) her strongest point is her stops, but today I’ll have to go with her spins. We struggled with it in the past, but we’ve worked on it. She gave me the best spins she’s ever laid out for me.”

It was another NAJYRC veteran Jake Letner (19, Harris, MO) in bronze with a score of 210.00 riding A Genuine Diamond. “He’s about automatic,” Letner described. “I just sit up there and look pretty. I don’t do that very good so he has to pull double duty! ‘Red’ is by far a strong stopper; that’s his claim to fame. He gave me all he had today.”

For the Juniors, the maple-leaf rose to the top during the raising of the flags, and earning the top of the podium was Haley Franc (14, Prince Albert, SK, CAN) showing her Jacs Shy Boy to a 212 score and earning the beautiful Adequan prize cooler. She remarked, “I’d definitely say this is my best win. It’s really big for me. He’s just a great horse to ride through the pattern and I couldn’t be any happier.”

New to the NAJYRC but following in his brother Jonathan’s Young Rider footsteps, in silver was 13-year-old Stephen Timberlake of Memphis, TN, riding Whiz Bang Boom and earning a score of 207. Timberlake said of his experience at NAJYRC, “There’s nothing else like it to be here. You get to see everyone, all different disciplines, and it’s a place for everyone to come and show what they have. It’s just amazing.”

Bronze was earned by Kaylan Marks (17, Yorktown, TX) aboard Sparts Electricspark riding to a 205.5 score and clinching the remaining podium position. Marks has owned her six-year-old Quarter Horse mare for nine months. “She’s just a great overall horse,” Marks said. “She’s really relaxed, so easy going, and very personable. Her strengths are definitely her stops. She can drag her butt! Her rollbacks, you just pick her up and set her right back on the track. That’s her highlight.”

As the curtain closes on the 2012 SmartPak Reining Championships, a renewed energy charges the sport of Reining. It is the promise of these Juniors and Young riders, their incredible runs and the consistent elevation of quality that is most notable for the sport over the five years of inclusion in these continental championships. Although hard to imagine, 2013 will surely bring even better quality from the sport. The championships are an incredible development ground for the sport’s young and future super stars.

For full results or to learn more about the Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, please visit http://www.youngriders.org

NAJYRC showcases the best young rider and junior horse/rider combinations in dressage, eventing, jumping, reining, and endurance. Young equestrians from across the continent will descend on the Kentucky Horse Park to vie for FEI medals at these Championships.