North Salem, N.Y.—Aug. 2
Most riders preparing for the dressage Adequan FEI North American Youth Championships spend the months leading up to the competition focusing exclusively on the finer points of their test, but not young rider Emma Szegvari and Ringmoylan.
This June, after they earned their second qualifying score for the championship, they went to the Groton House Summer Classic (Massachusetts), where they finished on their dressage score in the schooling horse trial. But that was just another weekend for Szegvari and the 21-year-old pinto Irish Sport Horse of unrecorded breeding.
“He evented successfully through intermediate and did a few advanced,” said Szegvari, Carlisle, Massachusetts. “That’s really what he loves. He loves cross-country and puts up with dressage, as long as I throw in enough other things. At least once a week we try to do show jumping or cross-country days. We do gallop sets for conditioning. He still loves it.
“[At Groton House] we had no jumping faults, but our dressage was pretty bad!” she continued. “He could see the cross-country from dressage, but our test—we were doing the equivalent of intro with 20-meter circles—he was really excited. In the schooling ring we were doing pirouettes and tempis because I was trying to get him to focus on me! But he was still passaging in the ring.”
Ringmoylan got his start in this country eventing with Karen O’Connor, and Jane Jennings earned ribbons with him at the two-star level. After an injury ended his upper-level eventing career he swapped to dressage, competing through Prix St. Georges with Katherine Erickson.
He and Szegvari found each other when she was looking for a seasoned dressage horse to help her learn that sport. Sure enough that partnership gelled over their 4½ years together thanks to help from Kim Litwinczak and now Kathy Connelly, with Szegvari making her first trip to the championship at the junior level in 2015.
When neither Litwinczak nor Connelly could come to North Salem for the competition, Szegvari reached out to George Williams, from whom she’d taken a clinic, for eyes on the ground at this show.
“I was so proud of him because he can be an overachiever in the ring, which sometimes leads to mistakes,” said Szegvari, 19. “But it was one of our more consistent tests, and he was with me the whole time, which is fantastic for him. For me, the stressful part was getting here, and yesterday I was really relaxed, which was a nice change from being stressed out at the qualifying shows. He was so focused on me, and it was a great test.”
While her parents, Ingo and Muffy Szegvari, were there to cheer her on (and take her groom and guest passes), the care of “Ringo” falls squarely on Emma’s shoulders—not that she would have it any other way.
“I’m the one who feeds him and mucks out in the morning and bathes and brushes and braids him,” said Emma. “I [was a member of Old North Bridge Pony Club (Massachusetts)] where I got my HB in horse management and my C-3 in dressage. I learned so much from that—it was really my foundation. At this point it’s my routine to do everything myself.”
At school she half leases Ringo to cover her full-care board while she focuses on studies at Hamilton College (New York), but at home she’s in charge of Ringo’s daily care.
“At home there are sheep and llamas and western horses,” said Emma. “He loves it. He’s got a great personality; he’s really like a dog. If I’m doing night feed he’ll wander around and follow me to where the grain room is, and he’ll wander over with me while I fill up the hay cart and do water. He’s just a happy-go-lucky guy.
“I’ve worked for two summers with equine chiropractor [Jessie Svatek],” she continued. “He has lots of stretches and different things I do with him, and I love that time I get to spend with him.”
After her first day of competition—where she and Ringo scored a 63.29 percent for Region 8—Emma has her fingers crossed for an invitation to Saturday’s Young Rider freestyle.
“The first time I rode him I’d only ridden first level, and I got on him and was doing flying changes,” she recalled. “I couldn’t stop smiling. It was just so fun. Since then his personality has only developed. That’s been so cool to see. He lets you do anything with him.”
Stay glued to coth.com for updates throughout the week for lots more from the Adequan FEI North American Youth Championships, and be sure you’re following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @chronofhorse. We’ll have lots more from the competition in the Aug. 20 issue of the magazine.