Kalispell, Mont.—July 21
Area II’s two-star team was in the lead after dressage, and the lead is where the team remains after cross-country day in the Adequan FEI North American Youth Championships at Rebecca Farm. Three of the four riders (Tayler Stewart on Ideal Contini, Alexa Lapp on Cambalda and Ryan Keefe on Flintstar) put in faultless rounds. They’ll start tomorrow’s phase on a score of 99.2 penalties, ahead of the combined Area I, IV and VIII team (109.0).
Area II rider Olivia Dutton was credited with the save of the day for her team when Mr. Medicott hung a leg jumping into the water. Dutton pitched forward, clinging to his neck for a second. She did a circle to regain her balance—earning the pair 20 jumping penalties and some time—before continuing to finish the rest of the course clear.
“It didn’t go quite as I hoped. I saw the water, and I was like, ‘No I’m not going down, not going down,’ ” Dutton said with a laugh. “We had to circle, but he doesn’t know he had a run-out. He’s pretty happy. I’m very happy with him still, and I love him so much, and he saved me.”
Lapp, riding former four-star horse Cambalda, said her worst moment came at the very first fence on course when “Ping” was paying more attention to the warm-up area than the jump ahead.
“We were kind of turning left, and the warm-up was to the left, and he went to pop his shoulder, and the distance I thought I saw was gone,” said Lapp. “I was like, ‘oh my God, we’re on the worst half step!’ After that, he was like, ‘I’m going to pay attention to you now.’ He was so careful the rest of the course. He felt the best he’s ever felt for me. He’s not the best at always looking to jump between the flags—he jumps what you point him at, and he’s jumped outside the flags of corners a few times—but he was really fighting for me, and it was the best feeling.”
As for Keefe, she realized after her round that her horse had lost one front shoe and all the studs out of his other.
“He was super good to go around with that issue,” she said. “He’s so game. You just point him at it, and he knows.
“He pretty much is always in charge,” she continued. “I try and influence it a little bit. The third fence—that was interesting. I was impressed with how honest he was there. But no, he was super good once I got my rhythm going.”
The combined team from Areas I, IV and VIII is sitting second, which is also the team that Alexandra Baugh, riding Ballingowan Pizazz, is on. Baugh and “Mango” put in a double-clear trip to maintain their individual dressage lead from yesterday, and they’ll show jump ahead of Stewart and Lapp.
“He was just perfect again,” said Baugh. “Sometimes he likes to put his head down and just kind of cruise, but he was really up and easy to half-halt. He had a lot of fun on the course. I think he thought it was challenging enough, but I really liked all the questions.
“He slipped around the turn to the corner, but he was super honest to it, and he kept going,” she added.
Lapp said that tomorrow she’ll just “as few jumps as possible” to keep Ping fresh for the final phase, but Stewart will take a slightly different tack.
“I do a lot to try and get him as careful as possible,” said Stewart. “My warm-up is usually testing the waters, seeing how careful he’s going to be that day, and what distances I’ll have to find in the ring. I have to go in and ride very smart with him. He’s not the most careful horse, but he’s quite scopey. It’s just being really thoughtful about my show jumping is how I plan to go clean.”
One-Star Riders Ready To Face Off
But while Area II’s CIC** team is holding a hefty lead over the closest challenger, Area II’s leading CCI* team doesn’t have any breathing room. They’ll start show jumping less than a point ahead of the team from Areas IV and VII.
Haley Carspecken on Center Stage put in the team’s only double-clear round, but Olivia Wall on Mandolin R and Katherine Christopher on Frodo Of The Shire picked up just a handful of time penalties each. Maia Kantorowski survived a save on Kiltubrid Rebel near the front of the course, but they finished with just 6.4 time and no jumping penalties.
“It rode beautifully for me,” said Carspecken. “I knew going in that a few combinations had tighter strides, and I ended up leaving out one here or there. It still worked out OK.”
“It went super well,” added Christopher. “ ‘Fred’ is super game on cross-country. It’s where he shines. It was a super good round, and he was super easy to get back, and he was listening. We got in the start box without problems thanks to Holly Hudspeth. He knows his job, and that helps. I still have to ride, but he knows what to do. It helps me and gives me a lot of experience to learn a lot from him.”
The team members are all aware of what they’re facing tomorrow with the tight leaderboard, but they’re feeling prepared thanks to some specialized show jumping training and an Area II camp the group did at the USET headquarters in Gladstone, New Jersey.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” said Wall. “I’m nervous for tomorrow. But my horse cooled out really well today, so hopefully he’ll have plenty of energy.”
In the individual competition, McKinsey Wickman and Dassett Profile are on top of the leaderboard (28.6), just ahead of Carspecken (29.0) and Harper Click on Rubia (29.7).
Today Wickman bested her NAYC experience from last year; then she also won the dressage but picked up a stop on cross-country with “Pro.”
“It looked like a great course, and I knew we were both capable of completing it,” Wickman said. “I’m feeling pretty great. Today has been superb, but tomorrow is a new day, and we’ll see how it goes. I completely switched up my whole training program [since last year], so my trainer Rebecca Brown put us on a great schedule to get us here, and we’ve done some jumper shows since that was my past weakness. I feel more confident going into tomorrow.”