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October 2, 2013

2013 USHJA Children's & Adult Amateur Jumper West Regional Championships

Lexington, KY- The final USHJA Children's and Adult Amateur Jumper Regional Championships took place September 24-29, at the Sacramento International Welcome Week held at the Murieta Equestrian Center in Rancho Murieta, CA.  As with the previous three Regional Championships, this event received high praise from the participants, who comprised the talented team and individual riders within Zones 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.
The championship format and team concept was a new experience and the focal point for most of the competitors. 38 horses passed their fitness inspection on Wednesday and were more than ready to take on Thursday's technical course work from German designer Heiko Wahlers.
Five teams in the Children's Jumpers comprised of 19 enthusiastic riders brought their A game to the Championship with the goal of earning a podium spot. After two rounds of focused efforts, the scores were tallied and Team California II with a fault free total claimed the gold position. Guided by Chef d'Equipe Jill Humphrey, the team of riders included Dalan Laughlin, Zoey Pacyna, Elizabeth McAfee and anchor Serenity Phillips. The Silver medal was awarded to Team California I with 8 faults, riders included Peyton Masteller, Lauren Kee, Jayme Omand and Sophie St. Clair with Chef d'Equipe Kelly Van Vleck. The Bronze medal was presented to the combined Team Zone 10 (a.k.a Hap's Happenings) with Hap Hansen as Chef d'Equipe for riders Madison Myro, Natalie Wendt, Alexandra Bidwell and Jacob Dailey finishing with 9 faults.
Following the presentations Chef Jill Humphrey said, "I just want to say thank you for putting on such an influential class, it has inspired me to pursue riding outside of the junior hunter and Derby ring and I can't wait to see what comes next. USHJA has done an amazing job. This week has been so organized it's hard to believe it's the inaugural year!"

Anchor rider Serenity Phillips said, "There was a lot more pressure on me due to being an anchor of a team. The team experience made me ride a lot better, because I knew other people were counting on me. I also love this format, my goal is Young Riders and this championship format was similar, and I feel that it prepared me. I have never ridden in this type of team format before. All of us supported each other, my teammates were super friendly, and that made it much easier to bond with them during this experience."
Serenity's mother, Susan added, "Serenity is usually so calm and cool, she really takes after her name, and when she came out of the first round she was trembling. When I asked her why, she said, 'It's because I'm riding for the team, it's not just about me, and I have to do well for my team.' This was a terrific experience for her."
The Adult Amateurs also had five skilled teams who gave their best across another course designed by Heiko Wahlers. When the final scores came in, Chef d'Equipe Debbi Long's Team Zone 9 members Bailey Fuller, Leslie Cox, Susan Bernard and anchor Kenneth Long were atop the podium with a four fault total.
A proud Chef d'Equipe Debbi Long said, "I appreciate how USHJA set this up as a level playing field. It allows people from states like Montana, Idaho, and Arizona to compete in this format who ordinarily might not have had the chance to be involved in something like this.  
For my riders, this experience allowed for camaraderie and interaction between them as well as with all the professionals involved. The riders really bonded as a group. This interaction helped to make the whole experience an exceptional one on every level."

Team member Susan Bernard added, "I am so proud of my whole team, everyone really pulled their weight.  My horse Bongo jumped beyond all of my expectations and I was so proud of him.  I was extremely nervous because instead of competing just for myself, I had three more people I was riding for and I didn't want to let them down."
The Silver medal went to Team California III with Chef d'Equipe Susie Artes and riders Kirsten Strain, Marsha Kennedy, Judy Esau and Rebecca Lewis. The team finished with 8 faults.
Scoring a total of 27 faults, the Bronze medal was awarded to Team California II members Lynne Lancaster, Diane Richie, Nikki Christison and Miles Appel, along with Chef d'Equipe Dusty Blackwood. 

 The individual competition proved to be just as exciting. The Children's section saw 16 entries advance into the starting field of the Championship round. Serenity Phillips (CA) and Tesoro continued their perfected partnership with another faultless two rounds, but found herself in a dramatic three way jump-off for the gold with Dalan Laughlin (CA) and Peyton Masteller (CA).  In an absolute nail biting round, both Laughlin and Phillips rode clear again, however the miniscule one second time difference gave Phillips a second gold medal. Laughlin picked up the silver medal and with four faults Masteller took the bronze.
Among the bounty of prizes awarded to Phillips was a spot in an USHJA Emerging Athletes Program 2014 Regional Clinic of her choice. "That is one of the prizes I'm most excited about!" Phillips said.  
15 Adult Amateurs competed for individual honors, with Kenneth Long (ID) and Cathy Jones (NV) tying at eight faults each and forcing a jump off for the gold. Long went clear, while Jones picked up eight faults, putting Long in the golden spot atop the podium. Jones was awarded the silver and Diane Puchbauer (CA) who had consistent rides throughout the competition, finished with 11 faults and the Bronze medal.

"It was awesome! Such a different format. Normally you ride in your classes and you have decisions like, do I do the inside or outside turn. In this, you have to be very consistent and it's a whole new perspective on competition."  Long said. 

 USHJA would like to thank the supporters of the Children's and Adult Amateur Jumpers Regional Championships who have worked tirelessly in bringing success to the events, with special appreciation to Fenwick Equestrian Products, the Awards Cooler sponsor.
To learn more about the USHJA Children's and Adult Amateur Jumper Regional Championships visit our website and questions may be directed to Meghan Carney via email or by calling (859) 225-6721.