With her eyes on the CCI* at the 2010 North American Junior and Young Riders Championships, Julia Spatt needed a stepping stone goal this fall for her 6-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred, Tazzmania.
So when Spatt, Centennial, Colo., led the victory gallop in the junior training division this morning, Sunday, Sept.13, she felt a big surge of confidence where moments before there’d been very little.
“I was really nervous going into my round because our last couple stadium rounds have been a little sticky,” she said of her dapple gray gelding. “He’s young, so I was just really hoping for a clear round, and we got one.”
Spatt, who had been in a tie for third place since the dressage phase, didn’t know she’d also get a championship on her score of 31.1.
But the scores were extremely tight, and when the two riders ahead of her (Erin Strader/J.M. Yukon and Devon Gaines/Ginger Spice) dropped a rail apiece, she emerged tied for the lead with Michelle Mercier and Prufrock—a tie which eventually broke in Spatt’s favor and sent her home to Colorado with several giant rosettes, a trailer full of loot and a check for $1,000.
Spatt competed at the AECs in 2007 with her previous horse, Surroyalist, placing 19th out of 54 starters. Last year they qualified for the Area IX one-star team for the NAJYRC, but lameness forced her to withdraw the week before the competition.
“My last horse actually died this winter, so everything’s on ‘Taz’ now,” she added. “I got him five months ago, and this has been his second season of training level, but he’s really improved a lot this year.”
Spatt, 17, spied Taz on the internet while trolling for horses to look at on a college visitation trip to Ohio. She’s considering attending Otterbein College (Ohio) next year, which has an eventing team, and she hopes to be able to take Taz along.
But Spatt will still have one more year in high school to continue working on her NAJYRC goals. After his win in the 25-horse division at the AECs, Taz will be moving up to preliminary next weekend.
Hollnagel Holds On
Wisconsin professional Chrissy Hollnagel scored a win in the 40-horse novice horse division with Sherry Hohn’s Saki. Fortunately Hollnagel doesn’t have far to travel home, because it’ll be a crowded journey; she also earned a massive load of prizes yesterday when she took the intermediate reserve championship with her own Harlan’s Flight.
“I’m always riding off-the-track Thoroughbreds who have to move up after the jumping phases,” Hollnagel said, referring to “Harley’s” meteoric rise in the intermediate standings from 12th to second after one of the fastest rounds in the division.
“I don’t get to ride a lot of warmbloods, so that was part of the reason I talked Sherry into letting me bring [Saki] here,” she said of the 7-year-old American Holsteiner mare. “I knew she actually had a shot at putting in a really good dressage test. She’s much fancier, much showier than the horses that I normally ride!”
Saki did indeed excel in the dressage, placing second with a 26.3. She moved into the lead with a double-clear round on cross-country day and never looked back.
Hollnagel only competed Saki twice this year, and their partnership certainly feels different than her relationship with Harley, but she’s enjoyed the ride more than she expected.
“Mares tend to be a little bit more dramatic and a little bit flighty, but Saki’s probably the least-mareish mare I’ve ever ridden,” she said. “She’s really tough. Sherry actually described her as a tomboy the other day, and I thought that was perfect. She’s a really cool mare.”
Hohn, who is one of Hollnagel’s students and is returning from a break from riding, will soon be taking back the reins herself.
“I’m used to riding multiple horses at the events, so I was like, ‘Which other horses can I take?’ ” Hollnagel said, laughing. “I kind of talked Sherry into letting me bring Saki, so I’m glad it went so well!”
California Girl Goes Home To Iowa A Winner
Katherine Hauck’s horse California Girl resides with her in Ames, Iowa, and today she proved that despite her name, she’s a Midwesterner at heart. The 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare made herself right at home at Lamplight Equestrian Center, leading the junior beginner novice rider division from beginning to end on a score of 25.5.
Hauck, 16, came to the AECs thinking a win might be possible, “kind of jokingly, but not really.” The odds of topping her division—the largest of the competition, with 59 entries—seemed realistically slim.
But the C-3 Pony Clubber set an unbeatable standard on Friday, and she never opened the door for a challenger.
“It’s kind of mind-blowing,” she said. “’Emma’s’ been very good this season, and our dressage has improved a lot, and that’s really what brought us the first place.”
Before Hauck’s father bought Emma two years ago, the mare competed through training level, and Hauck has been showing her at novice this season. She plans to do her first training level horse trial after the AECs and said, with Emma’s age in mind, that her ultimate goal would be a training-level three-day event next spring.
“She loves cross-country; she loves to run and jump,” Hauck said fondly. “She thinks she could be going advanced right now.”
Provisional Leaders Punctuate With Wins
At the novice level, all three overnight leaders (Hollnagel included) pulled off victories today. Cindy Bonamarte’s double-clear round with Eva cemented her win in the amateur novice division, and Evelyn Bulkeley held on to her lead in junior division with a perfect go aboard Freya II.
Susannah Lansdale and Sammy D led the beginner novice horse competition from start to finish, and Ellen Guthrie posted a double-clear with Ideal Life in the amateur beginner novice rider class to solidify her cross-country lead.
Visit the USEA’s live scoring site for complete final results.