For three first-timers and one veteran on the Ontario junior team, this year’s trip to the Kentucky Horse Park meant one thing: teamwork. The group has shopped together, eaten together, helped one another and cheered for one another.
Kilian McGrath and Salerno started the individual show jumping day at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in fifth in the young rider division. But a day full of felled rails for other competitors bumped the pair up to the gold with a final score of 18.92.
McGrath picked up 1 time penalty in the first round and 2 in the second. Callie Smith, 18, on Upstaire took silver (24.00), and Lydia Ulrich, 18, grabbed bronze on Santos Utopia (27.28).
The young riders on the team from Zone 2—Meg O’Mara, Lydia Ulrich, Callie Smith and Mattias Tromp—spend most of their seasons competing against each other. But they made the transition from individuals to team seamlessly, banding together for team gold on a score of 21 faults.
“You’re also thinking about riding as an individual as well as trying to do well for the team,” said O’Mara. “But tonight was all about the team, and it was really great. I love these four. They saved me a lot.”
The first six months of a partnership often bring a special set of challenges as horse and rider grow accustomed to one another’s styles and cues. For three riders in Kentucky this process was no different, but all three medaled in the dressage Young Rider Individual test at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships despite the freshness of their alliances.