Maxance McManamy had more than an individual medal at stake when she entered the show jumping ring on Beacon Hill. A team medal was also hanging in the balance, and the pressure was on.
“You aren’t thinking about yourself anymore,” said McManamy, Templeton, Calif. “Every action and risk that might put you in the lead might jeopardize your teammates. You have to go out and think about what will give you and the rest of your teammates a good result.”
A double-clear show jumping round, one of only three in the CCI**, was the answer to McManamy’s thoughts, and she rode away with two gold medals at the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in Lexington, Ky., July 21-26.
“It was nice not to be in first going in; that’s when I would have lost everything,” said McManamy. “It’s not my strongest phase, but he was fantastic. He’s never show jumped so well in his life. He listened to every half-halt and every time I put my leg on. He knew it was time to behave and put in a good round.”
McManamy, 17, bought “Taylor,” a 12-year-old Thoroughbred, from Kate Luce about three years ago. They started competing at training level and have contested the NAJYRC three times.
“He’s such a fantastic horse,” said McManamy. “He’s really solid in the dressage, but he’s phenomenal at the cross-country. It’s what he lives for.”
While show jumping was the deciding factor of the eventual winners, Area VI’s cross-country performance pushed them into the gold-medal position on Saturday. Course designer David O’Connor’s track proved to be an appropriately challenging championship test. Of the 21 starters, 15 finished the event. There was one rider fall in the show jumping and four refusals on the cross-country.
“I was thinking about the drop to the chevron because our coach told us to take the option,” said Elsie Patterson, 21, Woodland Hills, Calif., who had a clean cross-country effort to finish sixth individually with Normandy Soldier. “I’ve never taken the option before, and I was sure he’d jump it the straight way. When I landed it was right there, so I just went straight.”
Rachel Dwyer, Clovis, Calif., also posted a clean cross-country trip on Catch A Star, though she picked up 5.6 time penalties.
“I slipped in the turn to [the Poly Oxers at 4AB], so they weren’t beautiful, but we got it done,” said Dwyer, 21. “She’s a little bit of a tense, hot horse, but she’s great on cross-country.”
All four riders were thrilled with their win but exhausted from the weekend and their efforts.
“The humidity is killing us,” admitted Suzy Hettich, 18, Goleta, Calif., who finished 15th with Given Half A Chance. “My horse has an ocean view, so this was definitely different. I’d never been [to the Kentucky Horse Park], but we’ve all seen it so much [in photographs and on TV], so being here was such an amazing experience.”
McManamy echoed her sentiments.
“I thought it was a great experience,” she said. “To go out on the cross-country where the best have gone out of the box—I went to the start box and stopped and went, ‘Wow, this is really special.’ ”
A Drive To Run
Katlyn McMorris was leading the CCI** on Clifton Peekachu after cross-country, but two show jumping rails dropped her into the silver-medal position.
“He felt so amazing in warm-up that I wasn’t really worried, but there’s always that if,” said McMorris, Barrington Hills, Ill. “Going to that first jump I didn’t quite see it. That was definitely my fault. After that, we got it together and jumped everything else great.”
Aside from the fact he was born in New Zealand, McMorris said she doesn’t know what breed her gelding is.
“He’s a New Zealand, station-bred mutt,” said McMorris with a laugh. “He grows full feathers and has a big belly, but he’s got a Thoroughbred face, a drive to run and a big heart.”
McMorris, 21, was also a member of the Area IV team, which finished just out of the medals in fourth. It’s her fourth year at NAJYRC with Clifton Peekachu. They were team silver medalists in 2005 and 2007, won team and individual gold in 2006, and finished the CCI** in 2008.
“Of all the years I’ve been here, this venue has been the most exciting, brilliant and horse friendly,” said McMorris, 21. “I think it’s an honor to say we’ve broken in [the facilities] for all of the great riders to come in the future [at the Alltech 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games]. We’re the start of this history.”
While McMorris was a NAJYRC veteran, Katherine Samuels, Charlottesville, Va., was contesting her first championship with Nyls Du Terrior, and she couldn’t have been happier with their individual bronze and team silver medals for Area II.
“He’s a genius at what he does,” said Samuels, 21, of the 8-year-old Selle Francais gelding. “He’s very young to be doing this, but he tries hard and takes it seriously. He can be pretty obnoxious in the barn because he’s so personable, but he gets to be like that because he gets the job done at the end of the day.”
Samuels was the only rider in the CCI** to finish on her dressage score.
Roberts Blazes To Double Gold
Laura Roberts was able to take a deep breath before her show jumping round after co-leader Devon Brown aboard Dynamic Image dropped four rails.
“I tried to go in thinking that I needed to ride each fence,” said Roberts, Herndon, Va. “I tried not to think about what else had happened. I just wanted to leave things behind and jump the next jump.”
Despite taking one rail at the second fence on course, Roberts and her 13-year-old Connemara-Thoroughbred, Galway’s Blazer, finished on 49.7 penalties to win the CCI* individual gold for Area II.
“The course was good for my horse,” said Roberts, 17. “It had lots of bending turns and lines, which helps with his balance.”
Roberts has been riding “Blazer” since June of 2007 after taking the ride over from Wendy Lewis, who had competed him at the advanced level.
“The Connemara really shows in him a lot of times,” said Roberts with a laugh. “He’s awesome all around. He loves everything he does, and he’s so much fun to have. Between us, we’ve reached a point of trust now where if either of us screw up, we have each other.”
In addition to her individual win, Roberts’ efforts also boosted the Area II team into the gold medal position, and the rest of the riders’ performances helped them hold on to first.
There were 34 combinations competing in the CCI* with one rider fall on cross-country and eight total refusals. The most technical question on course occurred at the Poly Bounce, fences 10 and 11.
“The terrain was my favorite part [of the cross-country],” said Molly Curtiss, Brookeville, Md. “The jumps were placed well, and the footing was perfect. It gave me chills to walk the cross-country and see all the Rolex [CCI****] jumps.”
Curtiss, 18, was one of only four riders to add no time penalties to their dressage scores, and her clear jumping round brought her from 10th to fourth.
“My horse always gives me her whole heart in stadium, so I was excited,” said Curtiss. “She’s sassy and has a lot of attitude and loves the cross-country.”
Connor II and Colleen McKitrick were in sixth after the cross-country, but a 16-fault show jumping round dropped them out of the top 10.
“Show jumping is not my horse’s best phase, so I had to think positively,” said McKitrick, Leesburg, Va. “It’s not all over if something bad happens [in this competition] because you have your team behind you.”
McKitrick, 16, has been riding Connor for the past two years.
“I think he likes me,” she said with a laugh. “He’s kind of grumpy, but we really get along.”
The fourth rider on the Area II team was Huxley Greer, 18, who was awarded the Captain Andrew B. De Szinay Memorial Sportsmanship Trophy. While she had an uncharacteristic stop on cross-country with Octavian, whom she has owned for 16 years, she retained a positive and upbeat attitude throughout the weekend.
“We had a run-out at the first water; we just missed the line,” said Greer, Wirtz, Va. “But my horse loves to jump, and he always tries his best. I was happy with it.”
The four teammates were adamant that their successes would not have happened without the support of their families, friends and fellow Area II eventers.
“This is not just a team effort, it’s a whole Area effort,” said Curtiss.
Arden Wildasin had been sitting just out of medal contention all weekend, but a double-clear show jumping round on Totally Awesome Bosco boosted her to the silver medal in the CCI*.
“Stadium was great, the jumps were beautiful and the crowd was awesome,” said Wildasin, Greenwich, Conn. “I knew he was good in the warm-up, but we had some funky distances. We made it through, though.”
Wildasin, 16, has been riding “Bosco” for a little over a year, and she’s planning to move up to intermediate in the fall. Her Area I team placed just out of the medals in fourth.
“I rode Bosco my best, and we really bonded and didn’t care where we were [in the standings],” said Wildasin “It was a great partnership event.”
Allegra Aiuto and Spot Me One started and ended the weekend in the bronze medal position, adding 4 faults to their dressage score.
“He’s a bottle. You have to shake him up and keep a lid on him to keep him from exploding,” said Aiuto, Pleasanton, Calif. “He exploded today, but we managed.”
Aiuto, 16, said that “Billy’s” easiest phase at the NAJYRC was his dressage and his hardest was the show jumping, which was rather uncharacteristic for the 10-year-old English Thoroughbred. The pair was also part of the bronze-medal winning Area VI team, which included Moraya Cleary on Double Take and Madison Reeb on Raquel.
“We had some bumps in the road and issues getting the horses here, but we all made it,” said Aiuto. “It’s great having two other people supporting you.”
Canada’s Wilson Reigns Supreme In Reining
After just missing out on the medal stand at last year’s inaugural reining competition at the Adequan FEI North American Junior And Young Rider Championships, Darcy Wilson was determined to take home some hardware to Goodwood, Ont.
“Last year was a learning experience,” said Wilson, who rode Miss Cielo Chex in the 2008 championship and to this year’s gold medal. “My mare is such an amazing horse. She really pulled me through.”
Wilson, 17, has three more years to compete as a young rider and plans to return to the NAJYRC to defend her title.
“I’m in awe of all of this,” she said of the championships. “To be able to show for Canada and at such a high level is a huge honor.”
Erin Duddy, 17, Campbell, N.Y., and Too Busy Cashin Chex slid into the silver medal spot with a 216.5. Tied for bronze with a 214.5 were Maggie Jo Gratny, 26, Leavenworth, Kan., on Roo Fifty Two and McKenzie Lantz, 16, Fremont, Mich., on Royalee Rowdy.
In the team competition, Team USA-North Central claimed the top honors over Team USA-Southeast/South Central and Team Canada-Alberta.
Team USA-North Central included Ian Barnard, Kendallville, Ind., on Got It Dun, Alex Bauwens, 21, Northbrook, Ill., on Heza Bigtime Bingo, Lyndsey Jordan, 22, Georgetown, Ky., on Bueno King Dude and Lantz on Royalee Rowdy.
“To win the gold medal is a real treat,” said Barnard, 21. “This entire experience has been terrific. To be at the NAJYRC and compete among all of these terrific athletes and horses in varied disciplines is so much bigger than anything I’ve ever done.”
In reining, competitors are required to run one of 10 approved patterns, which are divided into seven or eight maneuvers. Each horse begins the required pattern with a score of 70, and 1⁄2, 1, or 11⁄2 points are given or taken away for each movement, which include spins, small and slow circles, large and fast circles, flying changes and sliding stops. Smoothness, finesse, attitude, quickness and authority are rewarded.