North Salem, N.Y.—Aug. 2
The pressure was on as the final rider of the day, Caroline Garren, headed into the ring for her FEI Junior Team test at today’s Adequan FEI North American Youth Championships.
Regions 3 and 4 had been close all day, and the final Region 4 rider, Bianca Schmidt, moved her team into the lead with the second-highest score of the day. But Garren kept her cool and rode Bell Angelo to the third-highest mark of the day, 68.60 percent, to put Region 3 on the highest step of the podium.
“I was pretty nervous, going last, but I was also excited because that’s traditionally a pretty good spot to go in,” said the 18-year-old Garren. “I work with a really great sports psychologist, Laura King, and I was listening to some relaxing MP3s of her talking before I rode. That helps me really calm down, and it helps me to go straight from listening to my ride. I just went in and tried to stay focused and in the zone.”
That mindset paid off when Garren and Bell Angelo’s score, coupled with that of teammates Isabelle Braden on Dali De La Ferme Rose, Melanie Doughty on Fascinata and Juliette Cain on Mariska, finished on top. Region 4 (Sammie Fritz on Ferra, Katarina Tedlund on Eclipse BR, Marie Elise Matern on Don Akzentus and Schmidt on Lou Heart) took silver, while Canada Central (Jade Buchanan on Qaro GS, Kiara Williams-Brown on Ladybug, Anna Swackhammer on Wrazzmatazz and Brooke Mancusi on Wellknown) took bronze.
Cain, in her last year of showing as a junior at 18, was especially thrilled with her Friesian-cross mare’s focus after the horse had a little trouble in the ring familiarization.
“I can’t believe I’m here,” said Cain, Charleston, South Carolina. “It’s been such an awesome experience, and it’s gone better than I ever thought possible.”
Doughty was thrilled that Fascinata stayed with her in such an electric setting.
“I’m really proud of her for listening to me in the big arena, and her energy level was really good,” said the 17-year-old. “We had one mistake in the trot, but I really think she shone in the canter today, so I’m really happy.”
And Braden was extra excited just to be on the team. She and her mount, an evacuee from Hurricane Irma, went back to basics when they paired up, and their work paid off today.
“A couple months ago, this competition was a distant goal for me,” said the 16-year-old. “I didn’t know if I could make it. I never, ever thought this could be possible.
“My horse hasn’t competed much before, and this is his first big trip,” she continued. “I thought he was so good in the contact and overall just amazing. He listened so well to me. We had a few mistakes, but they’re fixable, and I’m very excited for the future.”
Stay glued to coth.com for updates throughout the week for lots more from the Adequan FEI North American Youth Championship, 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.