They say that everything is bigger in Texas. This year at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships, the eventers from Area V—a region including Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma—took that truism to heart, bringing a massive contingent from the Lone Star State. They were the only area to field full teams of competitors at both the junior and young rider level, and they supported those riders with a bevy of grooms, parents and friends that approached army-sized.
And yet, there was one notable absence from this impressive crew. Doug Phillips, father of junior competitor and 2011 individual junior gold medalist Alyssa Phillips, passed away earlier this year. Known as “The Silver Fox,” Phillips was a fervent supporter of Area V eventing.
Going into this year’s championships, the junior team—comprised of Alyssa Phillips, 15, Fort Worth, Texas, and Exploring; Brindley House, 17, Fort Worth, Texas, and Might Be Regal; Taylor Wood, 17, Weatherford, Texas, and On Eagle’s Wings; and Victoria New, 17, and Fleeceworks Mystere du Val—agreed to ride in James’ honor. Their goal to “win gold for ‘The Silver’ ” succeeded, and the Area V junior team clinched gold, for the second consecutive year, on a score of 169.9.
New also secured individual gold with Fleeceworks Mystere du Val, a 12-year-old Selle Français gelding (Veloce de Favi—Inedite du Val), a former advanced mount for Leslie Law with whom she has been partnered for less than a year. “I’m so thankful to have the ride on such a neat horse,” said New, San Angelo, Texas. “He kind of fell in my lap, honestly; I was looking for a horse, and he was at my barn. I wanted to compete here, so coming home with two gold medals was something I couldn’t have imagined.”
New added just one rail to her dressage score to finish on 52.5 penalties.
For Young Riders, West Coast Natives Rule
Though Kendyl Tracy, Parker, Colo., and Lizzie Snow, Portland, Ore., no longer call the west coast home for most of the year, both still chose to represent their childhood hometowns, Areas VII and IX respectively, at this year’s NAJYRC. Teamed up with two more west coast natives from Area VI—Teresa Harcourt, 21 Auburn, Calif., and Sarah Braun, 19, Temecula, Calif.—they rode to team gold on a final score of 180.2.
Though it did not affect the team standings after cross-country, with all four teams’ positions remaining unchanged, the show jumping proved influential for individual standings. Overnight leaders Kendyl Tracy and Ever So Lucky, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Be Ever So Bold—Lila Washtay) owned by A Bit of Tack, fell to fourth place with one rail.
Individually, Connor Husain and Piece Of Hope turned in a weekend of fault-free jumping that moved them up from fourth after dressage into the gold medal position with 53.9 penalties. “I tend to get a little nervous,” said Husain, 18, of The Plains, Va. “Coming down the ramp [into the Rolex Arena], my heart was beating a thousand miles an hour. This was my first CCI ever, so I made it a good one.”
Husain has ridden the 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood Gelding (Feliciano—Unqulata, Royal Conductor) owned by himself and Leslie and Najaf Husain since last September. “He’s been awesome this whole weekend; he’s been a class act this whole time,” said Husain.
Husain was also a member of the silver medal-winning two-star team from Areas I, III and IV, along with Jamie Doolittle on A Dream Come True, Lexi Scovil on Sky Show and Molly Curtiss on Savannah IX. The team finished with 185.4 penalties.
Scovil, 20, and Sky Show moved up from fourth to third individually (55.9) with a double-clear trip in show jumping. This was Sky Show’s first trip back to NAJYRC after a disasterous time here two years ago. Then, Sky Show got a foot stuck in the bars of a stall and sustained a leg fracture.
“We weren’t positive [he would come back],” said Scovil. “The vet was optimistic, but we weren’t certain he would get to this level again. He was on stall rest for months and did a lot of walking. We were letting him tell us what to do, and he kept saying yes to everything.”
Snow, 20, and Coal Creek, who moved up from third to silver individually (55.1) in the two-star after a clean show jumping round, also enjoyed a much better trip to NAJYRC. Last year Coal Creek, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Tim Sullivan and Kathryn Sullivan, bolted with Snow on the cross-country, and she elected to retire him on course. Coal Creek was previously ridden to the four-star level by Amy Tryon.
“I knew that he had run off with Amy a couple times, so I knew he had that in him,” said Snow. “I didn’t know him well enough, and the environment and the atmosphere got to us, and he took advantage of it. Now I’ve just had him a year longer, and I have a better understanding of him. It’s helped having more time with him, and now we have the right bit in his mouth too.”
The team from Ontario and Quebec won bronze in the CCI**.
—Matilda Segal and Hanna Krueger both began the junior competition tied for 13th place, but good jumping over the next two phases moved them up into the individual bronze and silver positions, respectively, when Segal pulled one rail and Krueger finished on her dressage score of 52.9.
—The junior team from Ontario (Kylie Figueira on Danzig, Daria Ivandaeva on Autorytet, Charlotte Evans on Mail Order Bride and Haley Armstrong-Laframboise on Roksolana) that had led after cross-country faced setbacks on the final day, first when Charlotte Evans’ mount Mail Order Bride was not accepted at the final horse inspection, then later when rails fell for the team’s remaining three riders. They held on for silver, however, and remained positive about their experience as a whole. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs today and coming home with a silver medal is a great accomplishment considering where we’ve come from at the beginning of the season,” said Figueria, 17, Fenlon Falls, Ontario.
—Area III’s one-star team took bronze. They remained in third throughout the whole competition.
—Three horses did not proceed forward to show jumping, all in the junior competition: Wynthrop, ridden by Coleen Shaughnessy, was not presented, while Evans’ Mail Order Bride was not accepted and Nicole Doolitle chose to withdraw Utopia III from the holding area. All 14 young rider combinations passed the jog without incident.
—While rails proved influential in both divisions, there was only one elimination in two-star show jumping when young rider Harcourt’s Bonza Twist of Fate declined to jump Fence 5, a Liverpool oxer.
—Only three junior combinations finished on their dressage scores. Shannon Quigley and Don’t Be Alarmed finished 16th for Area I, Brindly House rode Might Be Regal from tied for 24th after dressage to finish fourth individually, and Hannah Krueger and Pinney North clinched individual silver with a weekend of faultless jumping.
Results available online.