Friday, May. 24, 2024

Loewen Leaves NAJYRC With Junior Freestyle Gold

July 30, Lexington, Ky.

The junior and young rider dressage freestyles on Day 4 of the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships were put on a thunderous hold as storms circled overhead at the Kentucky Horse Park throughout the afternoon. However, the rain didn't deter horse or rider from performing to the best of their abilities, and after a three-hour hold, the junior freestyle competition continued.

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July 30, Lexington, Ky.

The junior and young rider dressage freestyles on Day 4 of the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships were put on a thunderous hold as storms circled overhead at the Kentucky Horse Park throughout the afternoon. However, the rain didn’t deter horse or rider from performing to the best of their abilities, and after a three-hour hold, the junior freestyle competition continued.

  • Sarah Loewen, 18, of Manitoba, Canada, danced to a 69.67 percent aboard her 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Ricardo (Gracio—Irene, Sit This One Out). Loewen, who also earned a silver medal in the individual competition, reflected on lessons learned from her successful week at the NAJYRC. “I’ve learned to cope with the stress of having three big tests in a week. And [I learned about] keeping my cool when it rained through my test time and then going back to the barn and being able to come back out and go to work and get back into it in the warm-up.”
  • Canadian rider Monica Houweling, who got some time on the podium earlier in the week after earning bronze in the individual junior competition, rode her 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Stentano (Houston—Modora, Havel) to a silver medal on a 67.70 percent. Houweling and Stentano half-passed to music from the film Slum Dog Millionaire, which seemed to be a popular—and rewarding—choice in freestyle music. Mackinzie Pooley, who earned bronze in the young rider freestyle, also chose the soundtrack.
  • Julia Burtt rode her 15-year-old Hanoverian Aaron VI to a bronze-earning 67.15 percent. The pair rode to the Madagascar soundtrack before the rain delay put the afternoon on hold. “I was second to go today so I was pretty nervous about that, and he was a little tired because it’s been a stressful week,” she said. “But he was great.”

Young Riders

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  • Isabelle Leibler, 16, scored a decisive win in the young rider freestyle with her Watson 108, topping the class with a 74.00 percent. “I have to say, ‘Wow,’ ” said Linda Zang, who was president of the ground jury for the young rider class. “You all did a great job. It was so thrilling for us because you made such good competition. You were out for every point you could get, and it was so impressive to see such good riding in young riders. I hope you will all go on to our senior ranks. I think you have good talent and a good future. As for the winner, I had goose bumps during your test. I looked to my judge on the right and the judge to the left after the test, and they both went, ‘That was unbelievable.’ ”
  • Leibler won individual young rider gold and was a member of the bronze-winning Region 8 team earlier in the week. She chose her music, taken from the movie E.T., especially for Watson 108, a 14-year-old Westphalian gelding (Weinzauber—Djuna, Damenstolz). “This is only the third time I’ve done this freestyle in competition,” said Leibler. “We’re still going through the ropes here, trying to see how it ends up in the competition ring and see how the striding works out. Watson came in today and was right there for me and ready for anything. Our changes and pirouettes, all the canter work, is something we’ve really been trying to clean up, get a little more collection and thoroughness. I thought today we made a big step towards that. It was like nothing; it was like not even thinking. It was just riding. It was the most amazing feeling.”
  • Though Leibler was far ahead of the field, it was a tough fight for second place. Chase Hickok and Palermo took the silver with a 70.72 percent, and Mackinzie Pooley and Jonkara were right behind on 70.00 percent. “Jonkara was amazing tonight,” said Pooley. “She is 20 and can sometimes be quite hot in the freestyle, but tonight she was amazing. It was my last ride on her in international competition, and we had nothing to lose, and we just went for it.”
  • Tonight was the first time Hickok, Durham, N.C., performed her freestyle, set to a few different pieces of music with a Latin feel. “I was excited to debut it here,” Hickok said. “The atmosphere is just amazing. Palermo has a lot of energy and personality, and I wanted to do something we could have fun to.”
  • When junior Monica Houweling went down the centerline for her test, lightening and thunder forced a hold on the competition. After three hours of rain and intense storms, competition resumed in the main ring, with Houweling re-starting and completing her test. “We’re very proud of you as judges,” said Linda Zang, who judged at C for the young rider freestyle. “We were very proud you could keep yourself tuned in, dealing with all of the bad weather. That takes a little more character to pull it off. We’re hoping we’re preparing you for your future and preparing for you to represent our country and be professionals if that’s what you want. You did an outstanding job.”

Dressage results available at Fox Village.

Read our coverage from this morning’s cross-country, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

The individual show jumping competition begins tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. Eventing show jumping takes place at 1:00 p.m.

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