By Joanie Morris
Parker, CO - After all the dressage horses sailed through the first horse inspection on Tuesday, Wednesday brought the first championship day at the 2008 FEI CN North American Junior and Young Rider Championships at the Colorado Horse Park Presented By Gotham North. The junior dressage riders led the way and their division showcased stylish performances throughout the junior team test.
Region 5 prevailed in a close battle that came down to the last rotation of riders.
Brandi Roenick and Pretty Lady, who won the Junior National Dressage Championships at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions in June, scored 67.9% to lead Region 5 to the Junior Championship presented by Platinum Performance and the United States Dressage Federation (USDF).
“I was very satisfied with my ride,” said Roenick from Scottsdale, AZ. “I had a little bobble in one change. I will be a lot more confident on Friday because this is a spooky ring and on Friday I hope I will have a much better ride.”
Teammates, Morgan Heinrichs (riding Orlando), Cassy Fitch (Kilroy) and Brittney Klasic (Wadi Draa), all put in impressive performances with a combined average of 66.467% to stay clear of Region 4, which finished with a combined average of 65.567% for the Silver and Region 7 which finished on 64.767% for the Bronze.
Fitch and Roenick have known each other since they were three years old.
“Overall my horse was pretty good,” Fitch said of her 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding's effort. “I had a few bobbles but I tried my hardest.”
Heinrichs had one of the shortest trips to the NAJYRC with her 12-year-old Dutch gelding, Orlando. Hailing from Longmont, CO she made her 1.5 hour trip worth the effort with her first Gold medal.
“I'm really happy,” said Heinrichs after scoring 65.950%. “I only got my horse in February so we had to bond through the qualifying process. I had one mistake when he broke in the canter.”
Another Arizona rider, Klasic, rounded out the foursome. Riding the 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Wadi Draa, Klasic was pleased with how her test ended.
“I thought my ride was pretty good,” said Klasic. “I had a few bobbles but I thought I finished pretty good.”
The enthusiasm at the NAJYRC proved to be infectious throughout the first day of competition and worth every mile on the journey for all the teams, who traveled from all over the US, Mexico and Canada.
The Silver medal team from Region 4 (upper Midwest) of Hans Baertsch (on Rubinstar GB), Lauren Gorton (on Kilroy), Amy Hacker (Discoverer) and Layne Sandercott (Cedrick) gave Region 5 a run for their money but came up just short.
”It has been an incredibly long process to get here,” said Sandercott. “So it is really fun to be here now.”
Baertsch was here for his second trip to the NAJYRC and was happy to have improved since his last appearance.
“It's exciting,” he said. “There is good atmosphere and I did better this year than last year, so it is really rewarding.”
The Californians from Region 7 appeared pleased with their Bronze medal effort despite NAJYRC veteran Mackinzie Pooley declaring that it wasn't easier the second time at the Championships.
Pooley rode Jonkara, Ari Lopez rode Corlander to the highest score on the team (66.750%), Samantha Billings rode Lauris and Courtney Blaine rounded out the team on Oletty's Dutch Treat.
“My horse was actually really good,” said Lopez of her inexperienced Rhiendlander gelding. “He's only seven and he can be really naughty, but he kept it together and I'm really proud of him.”
The Reining, Show Jumping and Eventing horses all had their respective horse inspections Wednesday, and the jumpers jumped two training rounds at 1.30m and 1.35m to stretch their legs. The competition continues Thursday with the second dressage team championship, the Young Riders Team Test. The eventers do their dressage for the CCI**, the jumpers do the first individual qualifiers for both the Juniors and the Young Riders and the reiners do their Welcome Class. The Opening Ceremonies welcomed everyone to the Colorado Horse Park when the competition day was completed and the action kicks off tomorrow morning at 8 a.m.
Additional sponsors of the 2008 CN North American Junior and Young Rider Championships at the Colorado Horse Park Presented By Gotham North include: Howard and Martha Simpson, Robert and Deborah Bennett, A Bit of Tack, Absorbine, American Horse Trials Foundation, Arista Equestrian, Arcadia Equine Rehabilitation, Ariat, Centurion Systems, Collecting Gaits Farm, Colorado Hunter/Jumper Association, County Saddlery, CWD, Dressage Today, Devoucoux, EMO Agency, Eponashoe, Equifit, Equine Canada, Equisure, F.I.T.S, Great American Insurance Company, GumBits, Inc., Gus Hoof Dressing, Harmony Sporthorses, High Prairie International Polo Club, Hodges Badge Company, Horse.dk, Horses Unlimited, Langer Equestrian Group, Indiana Dressage Society, Iron Spring Farm, Littleton Equine Medical Center, McElvain Family, Mosaic Foundation, Moxie Equestrian, North Carolina Dressage and Combined Training Association, Northern Ohio Dressage Association, Palm Beach Equine Medical Centers, Practical Horseman, Purina Mills, Rebecca Farm, Rider's Closet, Sandstone America Ranch, Serenity Farm, Somewhere Farms, Spy Coast Farm, Starr Vaughn Equestrian, Inc., Tennessee Valley Dressage & CT Association, Thatcher Family, The Clothes Horse, Tredennick Family, United States Dressage Federation/Platinum Performance, United States Eventing Association, United States Equestrian Federation, United States Hunter/Jumper Association, Vet-Stem, Inc., WaterJumpsUSA.com, Zone 8 Jumpers.
Further information and results from the 2008 CN North American Junior and Young Rider Championships at the Colorado Horse Park, Presented by Gotham North is available on line at www.youngriders.org.