Williamsburg, Mich.—Aug. 13
In the third day of action at the North American Youth Championships in dressage and show jumping, the United States’ Zone 4, led by Chef d’Equipe Kim Land, continued to rack up the gold medals in the Gotham North FEI North American Youth Jumping Championships. Zone 4 topped both the $35,000 Junior Team Final and the $40,000 Young Rider Team Final. Heading into Sunday’s Individual Final competition, Ansgar Holtgers Jr. leads the Junior standings, while Mimi Gochman stands as the current leader for Young Rider competitors.
On the dressage side, the Nebraska-based sister act of Lexie and Kylee Kment finished one-two in the Junior Individual Dressage while California-based Region 7 took top honors in the Young Rider Team Championship.
Junior Team Jumping Final
Friday’s FEI NAYC show jumping competition kicked off with the $35,000 Junior Team Final. Following Thursday’s portion of the competition, Zone 4 was leading on a total of 6.15 faults, thanks to efforts by teammates Holtgers, Zayna Rizvi, Reid Arani and Hailey Royce.
But after a tough two rounds of competition with the placings changing hands as each team member entered the arena, it seemed a medal finish would be anyone’s for the taking. The track designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade produced many almost-clear rounds that ended with the final oxer down.
As the anchor rider for her team and the last to try her hand at the course for the second time, the pressure was on for Rizvi. With Excellent, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Peacock Ridge LLC, she navigated one of only four double-clear rounds from the day, securing her Zone 4 team the gold medal honors.
Canada notched just four faults during Friday afternoon’s two-round competition, earning silver for team members Lea Rucker, Sasha Maniaci, Hannah Rajotte and Austin Krawitt. Taking bronze was USA’s Zone 5/6, made up of Madelyn Cardelli, Caroline Nadalin, Alexander Alston and Hannah Hoch.
“I expect this team to be a force to reckon with over the next couple of years, because they’re all young and they’re all really excellent riders and they have excellent horses,” Chef d’Equipe Land said of her gold-medal team. “This really is the Zone 4 dream team, for me and hopefully I get to see them again for multiple years.”
Young Rider Team Jumping
Friday’s $40,000 Young Rider Team Final saw a big shake-up in the standings from Thursday’s first round of competition, which Team Mexico led with USA Zone 2 and USA Zone 1/3/7 following closely behind.
On Friday, Zone 4 riders jumped from fourth place to second following the first round of competition, posting no faults with their drop score considered and putting themselves in medal contention. However, teammates Erika Jakobson, Riley Delbecq, Violet Lindemann Barnett and Ashley Vogel would have to rally together in order to clinch the win from the other close contenders, Zone 2 and Canada.
As Round 2 progressed, it became apparent that it would be down to the wire as teams fought for their spot on the podium. Austin Krawitt rode a steady course for Team Canada, guaranteeing him and his teammates at least a bronze medal for their 27.98 combined penalties. Vogel was the penultimate athlete aboard Bellissimo Z, a 12-year-old Zangershied mare. Vogel made a valiant effort through the finish line, keeping all fences up and landing USA Zone 4 on a 15.79 combined penalties. Zone 2’s Gochman was the final athlete to take on the track, producing yet another clear performance. However, Zone 2’s combined penalties of 20.21 would place them right in the middle of Zone 4 and Canada, forcing them to settle for the silver medal honors while Zone 4 wore the gold and Canada wore the bronze.
“These athletes have been really coming together to produce amazing results,” Land said of her Zone 4 team. “They all really look to each other to be a team. Some of them knew each other and some of them did not and they just pulled it together. They kept their composure in the second round from the speed yesterday to today and through each round they just got better and better. They kept moving up from fourth to second and then one fault so I’m incredibly proud of them for their accomplishment.”
Gochman still leads the way in the Individual competition with Celina BH. As the only pair sitting on zero faults from Thursday and Friday’s competition, Gochman spoke highly of the 11-year-old Holsteiner mare’s performances, adding that she still feels like she has plenty of gas left in the tank headed into Sunday’s Individual Final.
“Celina BH was excellent and I couldn’t have asked her to be any better. She was right there with me,” remarked Gochman. “It’s a little harder [to lead the Individual standings] this time around but I try not to think too much about it. I try not to get too excited because it’ll make me ride anxious or make [Celina BH] anxious, and I really believe the horses can feel what you’re feeling.”
In addition to taking home the gold and silver medals, the top two nations of the Young Rider category also qualify for the 2021 FEI Youth Nations Cup Jumping Final, set to take place at the Peelbergen Equestian Centre, in Kronenberg, Netherlands on September 23-26, 2021.
The jumping competition continues Saturday with the Children’s and Pre-Junior’s Farewell classes.
Junior Individual Dressage
The sister act of Lexie and Kylee Kment took the top two spots on the podium in the Junior Individual Championship.
Lexie and Montagny von der Heide took top honors, besting a class of 27 entries for their second podium finish this week. The duo earned a final score of 68.941 to add to their win in yesterday’s Junior Team Test with Region 4. Kylee and Honor finished in second place with a 68.941 percent, while Kat Fuqua, Atlanta, and Dreamgirl captured third with a 67.912 percent. Competition will conclude for the juniors on Sunday with the FEI Junior Freestyle Test.
NAYC is the first competition for Lexie and Montagny von der Heide, a 17-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Laureen van Norman, who have been partnered for nine months.
“I was super happy with my ride today,” Lexie said. “Going into it, I was a lot calmer than yesterday, and I just knew that whatever happened was going to happen, and I was just happy with what I’ve been blessed with.”
As for competing with and against her sister this weekend, Lexie noted that their family bond over horses, dressage and competition has brought the Palmyra, Nebraska-based sisters even closer together. There’s no hard feelings or bad blood when one sister may edge the other sister out in the standings, Kylee said.
Fuqua, who is competing in both the dressage and jumping disciplines at NAYC this weekend, discussed how both dressage and jumping have strengthened her as a rider and how she is able to apply the skills she has perfected in both disciplines to ultimately improve her scores across her rides.
“I’ve been pretty lucky that my horses have gone on different days and at different times this week,” she said. “They definitely complement each other, and it’s been nice because the dressage really helps the jumping, and the jumping helps the dressage.”
Junior competition will conclude Sunday with the FEI Junior Freestyle Test.
Young Rider Team Dressage
In the FEI North American Youth Dressage Championships, California’s Region 7 team took gold, scoring 210.23. Region 1 earned silver with a combined score of 202.08 while Region 4 got bronze with 199.73.
The team saw top performances from Erin Nichols (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and Handsome Rob AR, Miki Yang (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) and Donavan, Katherine Mathews (San Marcos, Calif.) with Solière, and Christian Simonson (Ventura, Calif.) with Zeaball Diawind. The team from Region 1 finished with the silver medal on a team total of 202.089, and Region 4 secured the bronze on a final team score of 199.735.
The Region 7 team was led by Christian Simonson, Ventura, California, and Zeaball Diawind, a 9-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Christina Morgan, who received a 73.588 percent to earn the highest score of the class and help solidify the team’s standing. Miki Yang, Los Altos Hills, California, and Donavan, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Four Winds Farm, scored the team’s second highest mark with a 68.970 percent in their first appearance at NAYC. Katherine Mathews, San Marcos, California, and Solière, a 17-year-old Hanoverian stallion owned by Peridot Equestrian LLC received a 67.677 percent, while Erin Nichols, Yorba Linda, California, and Handsome Rob AR, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Diane Nichols earned a 67.677 percent.
“Coming off of the back of a European tour, my goal was to just build Zeaball Diawind’s confidence up. It feels really good to get a personal best,” Simonson said. “It’s cool to see that, I’ve had him since he was 7, and test by test he’s developed a lot more confidence.
“This team has been awesome. All of them have been so supportive, and everyone brought their A-game, and this horseshow itself. Everyone, the families, have all been so supportive with everything going on, and it’s been really great.”
The Region 1 Team of Hannah Irons, Queenstown, Maryland, and her own Scola Bella, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare; Allison Nemeth, Flemington, N.J.),and Tiko, a 10-year-old Danish Warmblood mare owned by Karen Nemeth; and Megan Peterson, West Chester, Pennsylvania, and her own Amoretto, a 16-year-old KWPN gelding finished the Young Rider Team Test on a total of 202.089, for a strong second place showing. Irons and Scola Bella received a 68.765 percent from the judging panel to anchor the team’s score. Nemeth and Tiko earned a 68.412 percent, while teammate Peterson and Amoretto received a 64.912.
Rounding out the top three teams on the podium was the team from Region 4. The team was comprised of Tillie Jones, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Qi Gong TF, a 12-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Tillie and Tish Jones; Averi Allen, Pleasant Hill, Missouri, and Superman, an 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Jonni Allen; Nicolas Beck, Chanhassen, Minnesota, and his own Campari, a 14-year-old KWPN gelding; and Emma Lavin, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and her own Bella Mia, a 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare. Jones led the team with the highest score, earning a 68.735 percent aboard Qi Gong TF. Allen and Superman finished with a 65.471 percent, narrowly edging teammates Beck and Campari, who received a 65.529 precent. Lavin and Bella Mia earned a 62.000 percent.
Young Rider competition at NAYC continues Saturday with the FEI Young Rider Individual Test, followed by the FEI Young Rider Freestyle on Sunday.