July 21, 2013 -- On Saturday afternoon, dressage riders competed for their Freestyle Individual medals in the Rolex Stadium at the 2013 Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North (NAJYRC). Ayden Uhlir (Region 6) and Sjapoer won their second Individual Gold medal of the week in the Young Rider division. Laurence Blais Tetreault and Lowelas also won another Gold medal in the Junior division. Endurance riders competed in their 75-mile race yesterday, and it was Cassandra Roberts (Team USA Southeast) who won the race for the Gold medal with Viktory Banner. The USA Southeast team took Gold in endurance.
The top 15 Individuals advanced to the Freestyle Championship today and were judged by Bernard Maurel (FRA) at E, Linda Zang (USA) at H, Jane Ayers (USA) at C, Martin Richenhagen (GER) at M, and Annette Fransen-Iacobaeus (SWE) at B.
The highest score of the day went to Ayden Uhlir (18, Kirkland, Wa.) and Sjapoer, her 14-year-old KWPN gelding by Contango. They had judges' scores of 74.000% at E, 68.375% at H, 73.625% at C, 73.625% at M, and 71.250% at B for a total of 72.175% and the Gold medal.
Uhlir showed no loss of concentration when her music went out as she did tempis down the diagonal. She continued with her test without a hiccup and when the music came back on again, she was in time and finished as her music ended. "I'm pretty happy with it even though my music went out," she smiled. "Two years ago I probably would have had a conniption, but I think it shows progress that I kept my cool."
She explained, "I was on time with my music when it went out. I just stayed on my exact pace. I knew that when the music would come back on, I'd be where I was supposed to be. I didn't let the music affect me in any way. I knew my pattern, I just rode it, and it all worked out in the end."
Uhlir revamped her Freestyle music for Sjapoer since last year and this was the first time they performed it in competition. "This year I wanted to do something that was maybe a little bit classier. I really think it fits Sjapoer really well," she said. "He just has that special quality about him that makes him so fancy. We needed to find the music that fits his personality and not the music that I just wanted to get. I'm really happy with my Freestyle."
Although she won Gold yesterday, Uhlir "didn't have any expectations at all" for today. "I had to forget about yesterday and I was riding a completely new day. It worked well because I didn't feel as much pressure and was focusing on what we had to do at that moment," she related. "I was very happy and it was a good end to our last Young Riders year."
Jamie Pestana (20, Livermore, Calif.) and Winzalot had another Silver medal performance with a score of 70.975%. Their scores were E: 66.625%, H: 70.250%, C: 70.750%, M: 74.750%, and B: 72.500%.
She said of her test, "I was pretty happy with my test. There were a few things that could have gone better, but overall I was really happy with his attitude. He really likes his extended trots, so those were fun. Some of his tempis were good today. He felt really rideable."
Her pop rock music included tracks from Nickelback, Pink, and the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack. "It really clicked with Winzalot; he kind of picked the music for me," she said.
After this success, they are "taking it slow and seeing" what future plans will be. "Usually when I try to make plans with my horse, they go awry," she said wryly. "We'll see how the year of training goes."
The Bronze medal went to Tanya Strasser Shostak (18, St. Adele, Quebec, Canada) on Action Tyme, a 13-year-old Oldenburg stallion by Aktuell with a score of 70.500%. Their judges' scores were E: 68.500%, H: 72.875%, C: 70.250%, M: 73.000%, B: 67.875%.
Action Tyme has been competing at the Grand Prix level for years with Tanya's mother, Evi Strasser, and it took time and convincing for Tanya to get the ride on him. They became a pair just two months ago.
"We purchased him when he was five and I rode him then. I always loved him because he's got the best personality. I've been trying to convince her for quite a few years, probably eight years now, to let me compete him," Strasser Shostak said with a smile. "She said when her other horse is ready for Grand Prix, she would let me ride Action Tyme. She held up her end of the deal, so I couldn't be happier right now."
Strasser Shostak took a Freestyle test from another horse and then realized it "suited him quite well," so they adjusted it to fit Action Tyme. This week, Strasser Shostak was fifth in the Individual class and fourth with her team. "I definitely had high expectations, maybe not with the horse, but with myself," she said. "As the days went on, I really wanted it more because I was always so close. I tried to go for the scores, and it paid off."
Blais Tetreault Repeats Junior Freestyle Gold Performance
In 2012, Laurence Blais Tetreault (16, Montreal, Quebec, Canada) was the Junior Freestyle Gold medalist, and while she was on a different horse this year, she was able to repeat that accomplishment. Riding Lowelas, a 13-year-old Trakehner gelding by Hockey 41, she scored a 71.525% for the win. Her judges' scores were E: 69.750%, H: 70.875%, C: 72.750%, M: 73.375%, and B: 70.875%.
The judges for the Junior class were Merecedes Campdera (MEX) at E, Joan Macartney (CAN) at H, Janet Foy (USA) at C, Axel Steiner (USA) at M, and Bo Jena (SWE) at B.
Tretreault chose her music and put it together with her sister Mathilde, who competed here as a Young Rider.
She said she feels lucky to be able to be at NAJYRC, and to go home with another Gold medal. "It just means so much because you realize when you put a lot of time practicing at home that it pays off so much. It's just really great," she expressed. "I would definitely recommend NAJYRC to other riders. It prepares you if you want to go further (in the sport). In my future, I think I'm going to look back and be so happy that I got the chance to do this."
Naima Moreira Laliberte (16, Montreal, Quebec, Canada) and Windbreaker 3, a 12-year-old Westphalian gelding by Windspiel As, were also competing with little experience with their Freestyle music due to their three-month-old relationship. Laliberte had chosen her music for another horse and found that it matched with Windbreaker 3.
Laliberte echoed Tetreault's feelings. "I'm really grateful to be here because it was a really last minute qualification," she pointed out. "This competition, I'm grateful because I won three medals. It was pretty consistent and I'm happy with my horse."
Barbara Davis (15, Bedminster, N.J. - Region 1) rode to her first NAJYRC medal in her first time at NAJYRC with Rotano, her 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Rotspon. Their score of 69.875% gave them the Bronze medal. Her judges' scores were E: 70.875%, H: 69.500%, C: 69.250%, M: 70.250%, B: 69.500%.
Davis picked out her "techno pop" music and prepared it two weeks ago with new music for the trot work. "This is the first time I've competed with this particular music," she said. "I rode it three or four times at our barn. I've listened to it the entire day today to get the transitions. I was really comfortable with it because I only changed the trot music."
She said of her experience here, "I really enjoyed myself. Now when I do go to a CDI or regular show, I'll feel like it's less stressful."
Endurance Has Improved Turnout for Great Results
Four teams were fielded for this year's endurance race and it was a great opportunity for young riders to experience the FEI competition and what they can do for their country in the future. Leading the Gold medal-winning team for the USA Southeast was Cassandra Roberts (16, Bronson, FL) on Viktory Banner, who also won the Individual Gold medal with a winning time of 6:19:31.
This was the first time that Roberts had ridden Viktory Banner in competition. She got the ride on him after her mare was injured. "I've ridden him a little in training, but that's all," she said. "I expected to go fast! He had a lot of experience before I started riding him. He's an amazing horse. It was pretty exciting. It makes me feel pretty good to win two Gold medals."
The Individual Bronze medalist was also on Team USA Southeast. Heleen deBeer (19, Atlanta, Ga.) and DCL Mooi Penny finished in 8:19:22. Although she was born in South Africa, deBeer has lived in the United States for 12 years. She has been riding DCL Mooi Penny for two years.
"Penny is a very sensitive, loving mare to her riders. She is a delicate mare with a lot of staying power and fantastic heart rate recoveries," deBeer said.
They were joined by Taylor White (15, Camden, S.C.) on Hoover the Mover with a time of 9:08:10, as well as Katie Baldino with Reminisonce +/ and Mallory Capps (19, Atlanta, Ga.) with Masterpiece Vlad. The USA Southeast had a team time of 23:47:03.
Capps said of the experience, "Riding for a team is definitely a good experience. Everyone is very supportive and you have a great crew. Everybody, including myself and Katie, as soon as we got pulled, we hopped in and supported our team because we wanted to see our team get a Gold medal. It's a team sport and that's what endurance is really about. We helped Northeast and Canada (too). It doesn't matter what team you're on. It's like one big family."
The USA Southeast Chef d'Equipe, Ann Stuart, was excited to see more riders compete in Endurance at NAJYRC this year. "I really appreciated it because a lot of us are getting older. We were looking around a few years ago wondering who was going to come up and ride in endurance races. We have an incredible squad. We filled in gaps in other teams. We're lucky in Southeast to have so many riders; I'm really encouraged about that. They had great attitudes," she said.
Emma Webb (19, Flesherton, Ontario, Canada) from Team Canada was a double Silver medalist with Vagas. She led the team with a time of 7:29:40. Jessica Yavis (17, Winfield, Alberta, Canada) and Jahlad (8:33:11) and Jaylene Janzen (20, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) on Sakic (9:42:51) helped their team finish second with a total team time of 25:45:42.
Webb spoke about her relationship with Vagas, noting that she borrowed him for this competition, "Last December, I got to race him 75 miles and that went really well. I've been riding him a bit this summer, but this is the second time I've actually competed on him. He's a fun pony. We had a good time."
Webb was a part of the Gold medal-winning team at last year's NAJYRC. This year, she was on a new horse, Vagas, who is owned by her neighbor. "I've ridden him more than just at this competition," she acknowledged. "He's an eight-year-old Arabian off the track."
It was not all a smooth ride for Webb, however. She explained, "It was stressful, but we made it around. He lost the same shoe twice. The shoe has been put on four times in the last 10 days, so there wasn't much foot left by the time we were done. But with his shoe on, he was sound and he passed the vet checks."
Webb has aspirations to make Canada's team for next year's Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy, France. It is a big goal for a young rider. "Maybe we'll make it to WEG next year, it may be on my own horse," she remarked. "There are only so many people that have horses that are at that level (in Canada) and want to go to WEG. It is a really big commitment."
The Bronze Team medal went to USA Northeast Combined with a team total time of 26:49:48. Michael Bishop (16, Raleigh, N.C.) and TEF Sunflash had a time of 8:33:14 to lead them, while Forest Green (16, Star Tannery, Va.) and LR Amana Tabi finished in 9:08:15. Just behind him was Maria Muzzio (15, Fairfax, Va.) on Khlil Asam in 9:08:19, and a split second behind was Hunter Green (15, Star Tannery, Va.) and DJB Braveheart, who finished in 9:08:20. Sydney Sumrall (16, Atlanta, Ga.) and DCL Mooi Koedoe were also part of the team.
Bishop's horse, TEF Sunflash, won the Best Conditioned Horse Award. "Flash is a very high energy, strong horse. He loves to go and he hardly ever stops really. He drinks well and he's very fit. He's done three 75-mile races since December."
They have only been paired together since the beginning of May. "We had to figure everything out at the Biltmore Endurance Ride, which was our qualifying ride for Young Riders," he said. "The Best Conditioned Horse Award was great to get, but the Team medal was a big honor."
The Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North conclude tomorrow with the Stadium Jumping phase for Eventing, which will determine the Team and Individual medals for CCI1* and CCI2*.
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.
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.
For sponsorship information visit www.youngriders.org/Sponsors.aspx.