North Salem, N.Y.—July 31
None of the riders on the junior team from Region 4 had ever been part of a team championship before arriving at Old Salem Farm for the Adequan FEI North American Youth Championships, but they didn’t let inexperience stop them from winning gold.
Averi Allen, 15, Maggie Elsbernd, 16, Nicolas Beck, 15, and Hannah Thiher, 17, beat out seven other junior teams from the United States and Canada by each scoring a 65 percent or better. Beck led the team with a score of 70.27 percent on his own Campari, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Vic—Omara, Mytens XX).
“He wasn’t my first pick, actually,” said Beck, Chanhassen, Minnesota. “I wasn’t sure about him when we went to try horses, but everyone else said, ‘You look amazing on him!’ So we got him, and I would not change a thing. He’s the best; he always feels like he’s giving you his all, and I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Beck’s original hesitations about Campari were more the product of nerves and inexperience than doubt about Campari’s talent.
“We went to Florida to try horses, and that was a new setting for me,” said Beck. “So I was nervous to be in that setting anyway, and I saw [a horse] I really liked [before Campari] and I was like ‘Nope, I don’t want anything else.’ When I tried Campari it felt amazing, but I still had my doubts on if it would ever be right. Also, I’ve never had a boy. I’ve always had mares. He’s improved in everything tenfold, but the thing that feels like it’s gotten better every day is the connection we have.”
Beck spends as much time at the barn as he can to strengthen that partnership, even sleeping in a hammock in Campari’s stall on occasion.
“I have as much fun with him as possible,” he said.
NAYC is a landmark event for many young riders not just because of its prestige and connections to famous riders like McLain Ward, but also because of the unique experience it offers.
“I want to be a young horse trainer,” said Allen, who scored 66.18 percent on Jonni Allen’s Superman, a 6-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Scolari—Malve, Matcho AA). “I feel like [NAYC] is a good start to training [horses to] this level, making it this far and figuring out what you’re doing wrong. I felt my horse did well, and I’m really happy with my test.”
Region 2 won silver, and Region 9 rounded out the podium.
View full results here.