The Olympics in London, 'tis the season for bringing home medals!!! And bring some home we did this year at the 2012 NAJYRC! We experienced such a great week of competition and team work this year in Kentucky and a great time was had by all.
We held our training camp the week before at Kincora farm home of the team coaches David and Lauren O'Brien. All of kids had a great time and were such a pleasure to be with! The horses appeared fit and ready for competition. Our final gallop was held on the steeplechase track at the Carolina Horse Park. The Carolina Horse Park has been such a strong supporter of our team, and has allowed us to gallop there for the last 6 years. A big thank you to the staff at the park for providing us with such a wonderfully safe place to prepare our team horses!! On Monday the 16th we all shipped out to Kentucky and arrived safe and sound to the wonderful chaos of NAJYRC arrival. The horses worked well the day before jogs and all looked to be going our way. As always the First Horse Inspection proved stressful and humbling as Erin Nolan's horse Balmoral Avenue was held and then unfortunately not accepted upon representing.
Dressage proved to be a stiff competition as we expected in both the CCI* and CCI**.
Our Junior team had a very solid day of competition with all of our riders scoring in the 50's. Caroline Quanbeck and Sambuca and Hanna Krueger and Pinney North were are highest placed riders scoring a 51.7 and 52.9 respectively. Woodge Fulton had her best test to date with her horse Ringfort Tinkatoo, who is notorious for throwing in a naughty buck or two, and scored 57.1. Andi Lawrence and Armani V were right there with the rest of the team performing nicely with a score of 57.7. Morgan Booth, representing Area II as an individual, had a beautiful test and scored a 53.1. At the end of the day the CCI* team was in 5th place only 6 points out of first going into cross country.
The CCI** team (a mix team of area's II, III, and IV) also had a solid day. Our shining star Connor Husain riding Piece of Hope, was the first ride of the day and put in an extremely competitive test scoring a 53.9 the held the lead for a good part of the morning. Molly Curtiss's mare Savannah IX, who is a veteran member of the Area II JR team competing for us in 2008 and was a member of the 2009 gold medal team, performed an uncharacteristically tense test and their score was higher than they would have liked. Jaime Doolittle and Lexi Scovil performed admirably and the CCI** which into cross country day in 4th place.
Kentucky had been experiencing a bit of a drought this summer and there were many concerns about the footing on the cross country track. As always though, the staff at the horse park, worked tirelessly day and night to make sure the footing was superb by cross country day! Luck was shining down on us as well as some much needed rain came on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon's. The courses were big and bold, with numerous technical questions for both levels. The time on the CCI ** proved extremely hard to make as well. Connor and Molly rocked around the intimidating course clean and inside the time. Jaime and Lexi also had spectacular days both finishing with double clears. At the end of the day, our CCI** team was the only team with four double clear rounds and moved forward into showjumping on their dressage scores an in second place. Our luck was not to hold out however for the CCI* team. Woodge Fulton was our first to go and set the bar high with a double clear round. Caroline Quanbeck and Andi Lawrence however experienced some bad luck with Caroline having a bobble and falling at the coffin and Andi's horse hanging a leg at the log at the first water complex unseating her as well. Both girls and their horses were no worse for the falls and will be contenders next year I'm sure!! Morgan Booth completed with an unfortunate run out at the double corners, but moved on to showjumping. Hanna Krueger, our last ride of the day raised our hopes and spirits by turning in another double clear round and moving up to 6th place!
The second horse inspection went off on Sunday morning without a hitch and all riders went out to walk the ever imposing show jumping course in the Rolex arena. Morgan Booth was our first rider of the day and rode brilliantly to finish double clear and in 21st place in her first young rider competition. Woodge Fulton had a beautiful ride as well, only knocking the final jump of the course to end in 13th place. Hanna Krueger was our last rider and with the scores being so very close could not afford to have any rails down. She didn't disappoint!! Posting a double clear round to finish her first NAJYRC on her dressage score, all she could do is watch and wait to see how the final 5 riders finished. Rail after nail biting rail came down and as each rider left the arena, our Hanna moved up in the placings. After all was said and done Hanna had secured the individual silver medal and we were so proud!! Tears and cheers all around for Hanna and 'Jones' aka Pinney North!
No time for too much celebrating though as our CCI** team was next on the block. Molly completed her round with a few rails down. Savannah shines in cross country but show jumping proves slightly more difficult for her. Jaime Doolittle completed her round adding only 8 penalties to her final score. Then came Lexi and Sky Show to blaze around with a double clear!! Our hearts were in our hands as Connor and 'Bruno' cantered into the ring. The competition was so tight that he had to go double clear or risk being dropped completely out of medal contention. After giving us all a little scare by rubbing the first couple of fences, they sailed around the complicated course and finished with no faults!! With more tears and cheers we watched as the first place rider, Kendal Tracy on Ever so Lucky, entered the ring. Connor had applied an immense pressure as there was not even a point separating their scores. Down came a rail and we all knew.....Connor had won the gold medal! What a day it was for Area II, as with that score came the announcement that the Team had secured the silver medal as well. On top of our team and individual medals, Connor Husain won the Style award which is a huge honor (and one I'm proud to say Area II has one 3 out of the 6 years of our term) and team member Lexi Scovil's horse Sky Show won the Horse Power award.
As I stood at the in gate watching the flag raise and listening to the national anthem I was overcome with emotion. Six long years ago, my best friend Gwen Dean and myself, took on the Coordinator position of the Young Rider program. As we are retiring this year, watching our kids bring home those shiny silver and gold medals, was such a bittersweet moment. Pride, joy, teamwork, grace under pressure.....this is what the Young Rider program is all about. It has been such an honor to have been a part of this program and I know that I will hold the memories of these past six years close to my heart always. I have to take a moment to thank a few key people who have made our experience so wonderful. To Shealagh Costello, your friendship and support has been unparalleled and without it would have made this experience so much harder. Your tireless efforts to assist the Area coordinators is much appreciated! To the coaches, David and Lauren O'Brien, I can't imagine having done this without you! You have shown year after year your ability to work with each horse and rider as individuals and bring together a cohesive team that is ready to compete. Your support has meant the world to us and the program. To our sponsors VTO saddlery, Sophie duPont, Virginia Equine Imaging, Smart Pak, Bit of Britian, and so many more, a huge thank you for all the years of support. This sport would not be what it is today without sponsors such as yourselves! To the Area Council, thank you for allowing us to serve our sport and our Area and for assisting us in the back ground on all the tedious but important aspects of this job. I have enjoyed my time and I look forward to possibly representing the Area in some other way in the future. To Gwen my Co-Coordinator....it has been a wild ride my friend! One in which I would have never contemplated on my own. It has been a joy to work with you and make these wonderful memories together. And finally, to the kids and families that we have grown to know and love.....Thank You! There are no words to really describe how much the close bonds we have formed means to us both. We will always watch and cheer for you in all you do in your lives. We are truly your biggest fans.....
Love and much luck to you all in the future!