Caitlyn Sheils of Zone 2 made her first appearance at the North American Young Riders Championships a winning one, capturing both the individual and team gold show jumping medals.
Coming into Sunday’s two round individual final, Sheils and her 9-year-old warmblood gelding Memphis held the lead by less than one rail over Abigail Carpenter of Zone 1 riding Rosanne Van de Witheove. A clean first round over Michel Vaillancourt’s challenging first track, kept Sheils atop the leader board. But Carpenter stayed within striking distance with just a heartbreaking rail at the final fence. The second round saw Carpenter drop one more rail at 8A, leaving Sheils with a two-rail cushion. A similar rail at 8A for Sheils used up half of that credit, but she hung on for the last three jumps to prevail with just a 12.14 fault total over the five-round individual competition.
“I was getting up that line and just over rode the in-and-out a little bit. He was spooking away from the crowd,” she said. “Then I thought to myself, ‘just race over to the last jump’.”
Zone 2 teammate Leigh Healey and Laurin climbed from a sixth-place ranking entering Sunday’s rounds to grab the silver (16.77) with two flawless clean rounds. “I knew if I could just sit still and keep my nerves down she would go clean,” said Healey. Carpenter’s 8 fault total for the day gave her the bronze (17.12).
Consistent rides from Sheils and Healey were also key components of Zone 2’s winning team effort on Friday. Joined by Katrina Woods on Susdal, and Brianne Goutal aboard Onira, the team edged out Mexico (36 faults) by just 3 faults. Anchor rider, Goutal recovered from a shaky 9-fault first round to come through. Dropping just one rail in the second round, she secured the victory.
“I was discouraged after the first round,” she said. “But I had the entire team depending on me. I tried to pull it together.”
Zone 10 took the bronze medal with 38 faults.
Junior Show Jumping
Jessica Helms of Zone 10 and her 8-year-old Holsteiner mare Calira topped the junior show jumping division with five consecutive fault-free rounds. But having little more than a rail in hand entering Saturday’s final rounds, kept Helm’s nerves on edge. “I love her and I didn’t want to let her down,” she said.
Katherine Brandes of Zone 10 aboard Sarah’s Pride took second (8.08 faults), and Nicole Adamson, also from Zone 10, riding Adarco grabbed third (18.81 faults). Zone 10–Helms, Adamson, Brandes, and Torie Immel on Regal–handily captured the junior team competition with just 12 faults.
Ontario was second with 52 faults and a combined team from Zone 1 and Venezuela took third (74 faults).