North Salem, N.Y.—Aug. 5
Heading into last year’s Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships Daisy Farish and Great White hadn’t yet meshed. Sure, the gelding by Cavalor Cumano had plenty of talent, and the pair had over a year’s experience together, but his lack of rideability made him tough in the ring.
But at that competition horseman Lee McKeever made a suggestion that changed everything: a hackamore. Farish tried using one at the competition and finished just out of the ribbons, and as they continued to work together in his new bridle their results skyrocketed. And at this year’s Adequan FEI North American Youth Championships they earned young rider individual gold without touching a rail all week.
“He’s a super brave horse, so especially in the first day of the speed on the first day: The more I challenge the better he jumps,” said Farish, Versailles, Kentucky. “If I really ride him up to the jump and challenge him that’s good for me. Going into the last round today I knew I could be conservative and have a time fault, but I knew he’d jump better if I gave it a real ride, and he did.”
It’s been a roller coaster week for Farish. After winning the opening speed round she had a foot in the water at the team competition, dropping them down to third going into today’s two-round individual final. But when Madison Goetzmann (Prestigious) and McKayla Langmeier (Durosa W) ticked poles and Great White stayed clear, she took the gold.
Samantha Cohen, who already had a gold medal from Friday’s team competition, moved up from fifth to finish in silver with Carmen, and Langmeier claimed bronze.
“Coming into today I was in fifth so I wanted to put in two of the best rounds I could,” said Cohen, New York City. “She got a rest yesterday which is nice, so she was fresh today. She jumped amazing in the first round, and coming back for the second round I knew I couldn’t have a rail down. But I know her so well and trust her so much, so the pressure wasn’t too bad and I felt confident going in.”
Langmeier was happy to finish with the bronze.
“She’s a very hot chestnut mare, so in the speed we didn’t go that fast, and we ended up eighth,” said Cohen, East Granby, Connecticut. “She was good in the team event, and we were double clear, then today I had an unlucky rail out of the in-and-out. She was super in the last round.
“The first day in the speed I knew I couldn’t go full out or else I’d lose her for the week, so I tried to have a nice round and let her get used to everything,” she continued.
Farish’s gold medal comes on the heels of a stellar week at USEF Junior Hunter Championships—East (New York) where she rode Style to the grand junior hunter title, and topped the Hunterdon Cup.
“It’s been a really crazy week,” she said. “I’ve done junior hunter [championships], Hunterdon and [NAYC] for several years and I’ve never won. It’s my last junior year so it’s a dream come true to add these three accomplishments. It’s a culmination of hard work by horses, grooms, trainers, and everyone at Heritage Farm. I can’t thank them enough.”
Pielet Puts Her Best Foot Forward To Earn A Second Junior Gold
Alexandra Pielet’s week at NAYC didn’t exactly start out looking like she’d leave with two gold medals. In round 1, the speed class, a steering error meant she and Helena VE had a drive-by at a fence. But Pielet and Helene VE stayed focused and left all the rails up the rest of the week to earn team and individual junior gold.
Ellie Yeager and Waliba VDL headed into today’s junior individual final in the lead, but a pair of rails in the second round pushed her to silver.
“She jumped amazing all week, and we led until today,” said Yeager, who’s originally from West Lake Village, California, but rides out of Wellington, Florida. “I didn’t help her enough to the triple, and she had A and B down, but she jumped amazing. I couldn’t have asked for my first trip to [NAYC] to go any better.
The winner of the opening speed round, Puerto Rican Claudia Villamil on Quite Close VD Smis, tipped a pole out of the cups from the very last fence today for bronze.
“I sort of moved here three years ago to ride in Wellington, so I go back and forth but spend more time here,” said Villamil, whose address is in San Juan. “My parents have really supported me, and they still live there, so they have to go back and forth a lot. I’m really happy and proud to be here representing my country.”
Pielet came to this competition last year, where she and the 11-year-old mare by Diamant de Semilly finished ninth.
“It was a huge accomplishment,” said Pielet, 17. “This really was a dream of mine. I had a great team behind me so luckily I was already gold from my zone, 5. It was just a dream come true being able to go clear in all my rounds and have it pay off.”
Pielet commutes from her home in Highland Park, Illinois, to Andre Dignelli’s Heritage Farm in Katonah, New York.
“I never jump my horse at home, I work on lateral work to keep her fit, it works out because I save her jumps,” she said. “She loves what she does.”
Pielet and Helene VE have been together for three years, and the mare has helped her move up from the low junior divisions to the under-25 grand prix level. Pielet’s had to learn to adapt to her horse’s unconventional style.
“She has a very high head and she can be very marish,” she said.
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.