Lexington, Ky.—July 16
When it came time for the Region 7 Young Rider team to lead the victory lap at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (Ky.) on July 16, their synchronization proved just how well the riders have come to know each other.
Lindsey Brewin, Catherine Chamberlain and Cassidy Gallman led off trotting almost completely in sync. Anna Buffini also rode for the winning team, but she chose not to ride in the medal ceremony because her mount Sundayboy occasionally gets over-excited in honor rounds.
For Buffini, winning at her first NAJYRC was something she never expected. “I’ve been watching it for years now, and it’s always been a dream of mine to [be here] with this group of girls who I’m so blessed to [be on a team with]. We’re a family now; we haven’t known each other that long, but we’re best friends now.”
While the other three riders have competed at NAJYRC before, they agree this year was definitely a highlight in their careers.
“This is one of my most fun years here at the championships,” said Chamberlain, 19, who has competed four times. “The girls—juniors and young riders, have been so great. They are supportive, and today was just a blast supporting each other and watching each other’s rides.”
For all of them it’s not about the medal around their necks, but the experience gained. “It’s just the connections you make,” said Gallman. “I’ve honestly stayed friends with every friend I’ve made over the years.
“It means so much to me as a young rider, and I think to all of us to have this experience and be around people our own age because where we’re from, there aren’t a whole lot of young people,” she continued.
While the silver medals were nice, the Quebec young riders wanted to make sure their horses got all the credit.
Julie Channell, 21, described Furstin Anastasia as a “gift from the sky” and her dream horse.
“I’ve always said when I was a kid that I wanted a liver chestnut mare, and I ended up getting her,” said Shannell, who was sold at first glance when she met the special mare in Germany last year after trying about 30 other horses.
Naima Moreira Laiberte has owned Nao Guimeraie for about eight years, but this is the gelding’s first year in competition. The Lusitano was a circus horse before she bought him, and she spent three to four years retraining him for dressage.
“He can lay down [and] bow,” she said. “He can do the Spanish walk, and he still does that, but in secret!”
Laurence Blais-Tetreault and Tanya Strasser-Shostak both rode horses that belong to family members. Michaelango belongs to Laurence’s sister, Mathilde Blais-Tetreault, while Tanya’s mount Action Tyme belongs to her mother, Evi Strasser.
“He was my mom’s Grand Prix horse for quite a while, and I’ve been trying to pry her hands off him for quite a bit!” said Tanya with a laugh. “I’m just so excited that I can finally have him, and she can’t take him back!”
The Region 8 Young Rider team consisting of Elizabeth Fell, Hope Cooper, Giulia Cohen and Hannah McCabe took home bronze.
Region 1 Wins Junior Gold
Bebe Davis and Katie Lang might be veterans to the NAJYRC scene, but it doesn’t make a win any less special. They joined newcomers Molly Paris and Hannah Bauer on Region 1’s junior team to take home the gold medal.
“I think the team aspect is so important just because we get to work together,” said Lang, who rode FA Patriot for the team. “Dressage is an individual sport, so it’s nice to work with other girls your age.
“I couldn’t ask for better teammates,” she continued. “They were really awesome, and I’m really glad we did so great today.”
Bauer, 15, said teammate Paris helped hold the team together, something the others were quick to agree on. Paris held the high score on the team, a 68.94 percent with Diamant Sky.
“I love the team aspect; I love being able to be here and supporting my other team members and have them support me,” said Davis, 16. “It’s such a great experience, and it's definitely big preparation for the future for those who have aspirations to go to the next level and to be hopefully representing the U.S. in international competition.”
The junior team from Ontario consisting of newcomers Vanessa Creech, Alexandra Meghji, Sophie Potter and Liza Wilson won silver..
“I think we all feel that it is such a huge honor to be able to represent our country and our province Ontario,” said Creech, 14. “[For] all of us this is our first time going down centerline and getting a silver medal, and that is so amazing.”
“It’s a bit overwhelming going into the stadium knowing that you’re representing your province and your country and obviously trying to be the best you can,” said Meghji, 16. “Looking at my name up on the screen and everyone in the stands made me a little bit nervous, but I just focused on my horse and tried to block everything out until I was finished, and I think that really paid off.”
The junior bronze medalists came from Region 6/7, consisting of Heather Decent, Danielle Bonavito, Olivia Zeilinger and Lauren Mack.
To read more about all the winners at NAJYRC, check out the August 4th issue of The Chronicle of the Horse print magazine.