Saugerties, N.Y.—July 21
Show jumpers in the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships Junior Show Jumping Team competition had a nice introduction in the first individual qualifier, but on the second day, things got a bit more demanding in the HITS-on-the-Hudson grand prix stadium as Bernando Costa Cabral built a technical course.
Many of the 36 entries felt a jolt of surprise with Cabral’s rideability questions. Only five of the entries initially went faultless, with four riders walking out on their own feet.
“Today it became a little bit more complex,” said Carson Grisham. “But I think that really tested the horse and the rider. Not just the horse. Not just the rider—but them together.”
With proven combinations picking up penalties, a rookie team emerged on the top of the podium. Briley Koerner, Anna Beth Athey, Mattie Hatcher and Grisham represented Zone 7 in their first NAJYRC experience.
“It was all our first year so we just came in and wanted to support each other—and have as much fun as we can and try to do the best,” said Athey who rode her own Cantero Da Lagona.
“I think I knew everyone before coming here but I never actually talked to them—so I was like ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Briley Koerner. Oh my gosh it’s Anna Beth Athey. Oh my gosh it’s Mattie Hatcher,’ ” said Grisham, who rode Zeros (Guidam—Freya, Amethist). “But then you start to talk to them and you realize that they’re so nice and the best team you could ever ask for. This was our first year, we had no idea what we were doing.”
But even with their unproven NAJYRC record, Zone 7 tallied a total of 12 points over the two rounds—avoiding the silver tie between Mexico North and Zone 2 and 3. With Dagny MacTaggart’s mount Ziezo knocking one rail in a taxing jump-off, Mexico earned the silver medal with Zone 2 and 3’s three-man team placing in bronze.
With a winning debut, Zone 7 team members are looking forward to many more team experiences.
“It was nice going into the ring and knowing we were doing something bigger than just your own round,” said Athey. “You need to go in and give your best for other people, it’s not just about you. Even if you had a rough first round, you had to come back and you had to pull yourself back up. You had three other people on your team you had to think about. We had to come together and had to work together on a team. This makes me want to do it again. It was fun and really nervewracking. I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous for someone else going in the ring than Briley going last.”
“Normally our teammate is our horse—so actually going in and riding for them and your horse is really a good feeling,” said Koerner. “After you do well, it’s nice to see the hard work you’ve all done pay off.”
Mic Drop—No Drop Score Needed For Zone 2, 5 and 7
While most other teams entered the award ceremonies in groups of four, the NAJYRC Young Rider Show Jumping Team champions entered as an odd three. All from different zones—Ailish Cunniffe from Zone 2, Caitlin Creel from Zone 5 and Brian Moggre from Zone 7—they merged to create a unified team.
From high fiving in front of the podium to jokes in the press conference, an onlooker would have thought the fearsome threesome had been friends longer than just three days—especially since they led throughout both rounds of their team competition without the leisure of a drop score.
“We literally got put together as a team on Wednesday,” said Creel who rode Liberty Son (Clooney—Liberty, Lord Z). “I knew both of them are awesome. Their horses are awesome. So just knowing that you can 100 percent rely on your teammates made it a little bit less stressful.”
Even though they only knew each other before through hearsay and following show results, their game time professionalism pulled through and brought out the best in each other.
“It’s definitely very different,” said Cunniffe who rode Baloucento (Baloubet Du Rouet—Centina Z, Cento). “[It] put the pressure on all of us. I was the anchor rider so I definitely felt a little extra pressure, but I think the pressure did us well actually and we performed well.”
“With only having three the pressure was definitely there, but I know both of these girls ride so incredible and their horses are amazing, so I knew if I gave my all that it would work out great,” added Moggre who rode Condero 3 (Contendro I—Conny, Calido).
“Being the lead-up rider, I got to see both Caitlin and Ailish show and it made me a nervous wreck,” he continued. “I got so nervous that Ailish and I had to sit and meditate before the second round, because I was so worked up. They both ride so well and I was up in the stands cheering for them—Snapchatting and everything. Our trainers brought us together and I’m really grateful for that. I made two new best friends this summer.”
Zone 10 Takes Home The Inaugural Children’s Jumping Team
Going into the second round of the NAJYRC Children’s Show Jumping Team competition, it looked like a Zone 10 victory. With three clear rounds topping their one eight-fault score, the West Coast team of Virginia Bonnie, Dylan Laiken, Alexa Leong and Clea Caddel tallied up 0 points—the only team to do so.
But after a resurgence from the Canadian team of Kyara Semrau, Anya Berezinski, Carly Stevens and Kieley McQuarker in the second round, Zone 10’s once clear win appeared a bit less certain. Their success laid on the shoulders of their anchor Leong.
“They were like, ‘Oh just try to be clear—and most importantly have fun,’ ” said Leong. “After I had our first rail in the second jump—I was dead nervous. I was like shaking the rest of the course.
“There was some pressure and after the last jump I was just so happy that we made it through this. And our team is just very great,” she continued. “When we finished, I felt so grateful to be on this team.”
Leong finished the second round with 8 faults, just 1 point ahead of the Canadian team.
“This is a really special team because when one person didn’t have a clear round or do really well, the rest of the team kind of picked them up and supported them—and I know that was really great for me,” said Caddel.
All jumping age groups will return on July 23 for the individual final.