Williamsburg, Mich.—Aug. 15
Christian Simonson and Zeaball Diawind shattered the FEI North American Youth Dressage Championship record for the highest score in the FEI Young Rider freestyle test on Sunday, receiving a 78.93 percent to secure the pair’s third gold medal of the week. Allison Nemeth and Tiko earned a 73.33 percent for second place, while Tillie Jones and Qi Gong TF secured the bronze medal with a 73.17 percent.
Simonson, Ventura, California, and “Zeaball,” a 9-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding owned by Christina Morgan, have impressed all week at NAYC, helping Region 7 take the team gold on Friday and securing their first individual gold medal Saturday in the FEI Young Rider Individual test. The pair have worked to solidify their relationship over the past several years, coming up through the levels with the help of trainer Adrienne Lyle.
“I am surprised and really grateful. Adrienne had to leave last night, and so today we just warmed up virtually,” Simonson said. “Coming off two back-to-back days, he was tired today, and I was hoping that he would dig deep, and he surpassed my expectations. He makes me so grateful to be able to ride him. This is our third freestyle ever together, and so to have him hold that much composure and perform that way after such a long crazy week makes me so thankful.”
Lexie Kment, Palmyra, Nebraska, and Montagny von der Heide won gold in the Junior division for the third time of the week, earning a 74.77 percent from the judging panel. Julia McDonald and Lehndorff van de Vogelzang took second place with a 71.85 percent, while Kat Fuqua and Dreamgirl rounded out the top three on the podium, finishing with a 71.15 percent.
Kment and Montagny von der Heide, a 17-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Laureen van Norman, had a banner week at NAYC, helping Region 4 secure top team honors and winning both individual classes handily. The impressive pair have been partnered for just under a year and have connected quickly, leading to several notable performances.
“My horse was great today,” Kment said. “We’ve had a lot of competition, and I expected him to be tired, but he gave it his all, and I gave it my all, and it all worked out.”
Kment thanked “Monty,” saying how pleased she was with their ability to deliver this week at their biggest competition together.
“I’ve only been with him for about nine months, and his owner, after I won the Children’s at the Festival of Champions [Illinois] last year, she offered Monty for me to ride, and it’s been a great match,” Kment said. “I think that it’s time. At first, I was wary because I had never done Juniors before, so I felt like we needed to get going, but over time, he’s really started to feel like my little boy and part of the family. It’s been amazing. I want to say thank you to the organizers, and to my sponsors, and my mom for helping to coach me, and to my family. It’s just been amazing.”
It was Zayna Rizvi and Mimi Gochman who took home the final individual medals of the week in the Gotham North FEI North American Youth Jumping Championships, emerging victorious in the Junior Individual Championship and the Young Rider Individual Championship, respectively. With her win, Rizvi secured a quota place for one U.S. athlete to join the North American team at the 2022 FEI Youth Jumping Competition in Aachen, Germany.
Rizvi and Excellent left all the fences up during their two final rounds, becoming the only pair to complete four rounds of competition fault-free, and taking home the gold medal in Sunday’s class.
“I made a lot of new friends, and I think that we bonded as a team really well. I love doing events like this, where you can practice for bigger things in your future, and this was a great experience for me,” Rizvi said. “My horse is so amazing, and he always tries his hardest for me. I want to say thank you to North Run and Arturo [Vidal] and my parents for supporting this dream, Kim [Land], of course, for being the best chef d’equipe, and everyone at USEF.”
Mimi Gochman and Celina BH, an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Gochman Sporthorses LLC, won gold in the Young Rider championship as the only combination to complete all five rounds with no faults.
“I think since I’ve been riding from such a young age, I’ve been able to handle the pressure pretty well,” she said of preparing for the final round. “I’ve always tried to just focus on the actual jumping and not too much of the atmosphere. It’s really exciting here, and your blood gets pumping. I tried to focus on my horse, the jumps, the course and the steps in between, just really hone in on the actual jumping.”
Following in the footsteps of her older sister, Sophie Gochman, who earned the Young Rider individual gold medal in 2019, Mimi now owns another gold of her own. She previously won gold at the 2019 FEI NAYC Junior Individual Final.
Mimi also added a silver to her collection earlier in the week after giving a strong performance in the $40,000 Young Rider Team Final as a member of the Zone 2 team. To further sweeten her win, she’ll look forward to competing for the United States on the North American Team at the 2022 FEI Youth Jumping Competition in Aachen.
“I have the best team, and my horse is phenomenal, I don’t know what I would do without her,” she said. “She’s literally insane. And my trainer, I would never be here without Ken [Berkley]. It’s exciting to be back [to FEI NAYC], and I really enjoy coming back to learn and grow from all the riders that come as well.”