More entries, more awards, more competitors, more classes, more volunteers, more sponsors, and more ribbons awarded. That was the story of the third annual Northeast Junior/Young Riders Championships, held at the Ox Ridge Hunt Club in Darien, Conn., (see pg 37). I could say also that there were more smiles, more applause, and more good sportsmanship than last year, if only because there were more people.
I raved last year about this brainchild of the pied piper, Lendon Gray, and this year I’m going to rave longer and louder. This event is a labor of love, from and by all concerned, and it is felt by all attending. I spoke to more parents and trainers there for the first time who couldn’t believe how much was being done for them. They were so appreciative, along with incredulous that a competition could be so well-organized, yet be so, so much fun.
It amazed me how easily everything seemed to run when I would hear stories about last-instant changes or dropped exhibitions, and all the other facets that go on behind the scenes. But, because everyone was pulling together and wanted this to work, it did.
I have never seen so many volunteers who were so well-coordinated that nothing seemed to be a problem that couldn’t be solved.
This year riders represented South Africa, Lithuania, Austria, Mexico and Canada, and they all did very well on borrowed horses as part of teams put together by the organizers. The written test that all must take, appropriate to age and riding level, was harder, and there was only one perfect paper out of all the many sections. Many scored in the 70s, fewer in the 80s, but a surprising number in the 90s, indicating that some really had studied.
The roster of judges was impressive, with two Olympians among them: Robert Dover, Melanie Smith-Taylor, Trip Harting, Beth Clark, Jill Randles and myself, as well as a group of roving judges looking for incidents to award, some serious, some amusing, some moving, but always to do with good sportsmanship, which abounded over the weekend. As Lendon says, “We are awards crazy, most of them not too serious!”
Another unique offering is the roving trainers. Jennifer Baumert, Courtney King and Tom Noone