Wayne, Illinois—Aug. 20
Hannah Irons knows a little bit about pressure. Last year the young rider team gold medal at the North American Youth Championships (New York) came down to the last ride, and Irons was the anchor for her Region 1 team in her first NAYC appearance.
But she and Scola Bella didn’t crack, instead rising to the occasion and scoring just enough to secure gold.
Irons, Queenstown, Maryland, faced the pressure once again at the U.S. Dressage Festival Of Champions. After a second-placed finish on Day 1, she knew that if she could lay down a strong Young Rider Individual test, she’d have a good shot at another championship with “Bella.”
“For a big venue and not showing much this year, I’m super proud of her for going in there,” said Irons. “She got a little nervous but really stayed rideable and trusting me, so that’s the best feeling in the world in my opinion.”
Her score of 73.08 percent was enough to secure the championship over Katherine Mathews and Soliere, who won the Young Rider Team test.
Bella was donated to Dressage4Kids, and Irons has been riding her for three years. “It’s taken a little bit of time to develop our partnership and figure her out in the ring,” said Irons.
Check out the video of their ride, courtesy of the USEF Network.
This is the 20-year-old’s first time competing in the young rider division at the Festival Of Champions, although she did compete two ponies there in 2016.
“I’m very grateful to USEF and to the Lamplight Equestrian Center for being so dedicated to even making this show happen,” she said. “We haven’t shown much this year. I actually think the training at home definitely paid off. Just having the opportunity to come here to this beautiful facility and show off our hard work from this spring during COVID was very exciting to me. Hats off to all the organizers. I think they did a fantastic job of making this show safe, and everyone did their best to do their part, social distance, wear their masks. It was great to see that teamwork come together to make a successful event.”