Lexington, Ky.—July 19
Catherine Chamberlain had a fairytale week at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships. She and Verdicci earned the highest score in the Young Rider team competition and helped Region 7 win a gold medal. The following day, she once again earned the only score in the 70s and took home gold for the individual championship.
The freestyle followed in similar fashion. Chamberlain entered the ring to the tune of the Harry Potter soundtrack and posted a score nobody could catch, a 72.52 percent.
“I am a total nerd,” Chamberlain said with a smile, “so I was really happy that I could incorporate my love of reading. The whole Harry Potter message I love, so I was able to incorporate that into my freestyle, so that’s really fun for me.”
For this year’s NAJYRC, Chamberlain decided to step up her game in the freestyle to show off her progress with Verdicci. Since it was a new test, Chamberlain admitted she was nervous about how it was going to go.
“I tried to make it really difficult because in the past I’ve had really simple freestyles,” she said. “I really wanted to go for it and show off some difficulty and things like that.
“This is my horse and I’s last time coming to the championships, so I just wanted to enjoy the ride,” she continued. “He was such a good boy. I’m so proud of him. He’s been so good all week.”
Chamberlain is looking forward to competing Verdicci in the Brentina Cup and the Under 25 Grand Prix. She also has a promising 5-year-old mare named Sophina.
Devon Wycoff joined Chamberlain in the 70s, earning a 70.97 percent on Power Play for the silver medal. Wycoff, who was ranked first in the nation last year in the Young Rider division, said she was disappointed in her performances earlier in the week, so it was great to have a good test in the freestyle.
“My main goal going into the freestyle was to keep my brain between my ears,” Wycoff said. “I don’t know where I was in my individual but it wasn’t on my horse. Really what I wanted was coming in and riding every movement and not mentally leaving the arena.
“I came out and I looked right at Jeremy [Steinberg, former U.S. Equestrian Federation Youth Dressage Coach] and said, ‘Thank God I stayed there. I stayed there, and I don’t care what the result is; I’m so happy that’s all I wanted is to leave with that.’ This [silver medal] is just icing on the cake.”
After a frustrating early week, Laurence Blais-Tetreault put it back together for the freestyle. She showed her sister’s horse Michelangelo, but that wasn’t the only thing she borrowed. She also chose to use one of her sister’s freestyles.
“I’m extremely happy about how [the test] went,” Blais-Tetreault said. “We had a bit of a rough start [to the week]. I got really nervous in my team test and in my individual, so to finish this week with such a nice ride I’m really, really happy.”
Bergeron Scores Second Gold
With event horses galloping across the cross-country field behind the dressage warm-up, many of the Junior’s horses were spooking and headed into the Rolex Stadium looking frazzled. In comparison Lowelas, ridden by Camille Bergeron, looked calm and in the zone.
That focus helped Bergeron capture her second gold medal. They turned in a 70.34 percent to take gold in the individual championships, and in Saturday’s freestyle they scored a 71.27 percent, which kept them in the gold-medal position.
“In the warm-up my horse was amazing,” said Bergeron, 15. “With the cross-country he was calm; I could really concentrate on me and the horse cantering. He did not become tense; he was just nice and quiet.”
Cassie Schmidt, 17, had been within striking distance of a medal all week and finally got her turn on the podium following the freestyle. She and Velasquer’s freestyle set to a mixture of the Piano Guys and the Twilight soundtrack scored a 70.72 percent, which was good enough for the silver medal.
“He got a little excited with the cross-country horses, but he felt so with me, and everything fell into place today,” Schmidt said. “He felt really good the rest of the week as well, but we just had some unfortunate mistakes in the previous tests, but today everything felt like it fell into place.”
Bronze medalist Molly Paris stood on the podium for the third time this week following the freestyle. She’d already earned gold in the team competition with Region 1 and won a silver medal in Thursday’s individual competition.
Like Chamberlain, Paris of Charlotte, N.C., chose to ride her freestyle on Diamant Sky to music from the Harry Potter soundtrack, choreographed by Marlene Whitaker.
“The walk music was the first thing we tried with him, which was awesome,” said Paris, 15. “[Whitaker] did a really awesome job with it, and I’m super happy with how it turned out.”
To read more about all the winners at NAJYRC, check out the August 4th issue of The Chronicle of the Horse print magazine.