After they finished fourth in the Adequan/USEF National Pony Jumper Team Championship last year, Zone 4 riders Edie Ringger, Claudia Billups and Brittini Raflowitz have been obsessed with one thing and one thing only: team gold.
With a year of single-minded planning and practice behind them, the team returned to Lexington, Ky., along with newcomer Leigh Anne Hartrampf, for their victory on Aug. 19. Zones 8 & 9 took the silver medal and Zone 10 earned the bronze.
“My team and I have wanted this so badly,” said Raflowitz, Palm City, Fla., whose father served as chef d’equipe. “We’ve been looking forward to this and working at it all year.”
There was no shortage of team spirit among the Zone 4 riders. Though they hail from different areas of the Southeast, over the past year the riders became close, running up their cell phone bills as they kept up with each other’s training progress.
Hartrampf, Atlanta, Ga., fit right in with her new teammates, and the four riders spent the weeks leading up to the competition planning every single detail: selecting their team shirts, designing posters and organizing decorations for the stable and team golf cart.
Their focus and dedication made the job a breeze for Chef d’Equipe Brett Raflowitz.
“These girls are self-motivated, easy to please and ready to go,” he said. “I let them pick their own order of go. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and they did a great job. They’ve done every single thing together; this has been such a
wonderful experience for them.”
The team led from the start after all four riders posted faultless trips in Round 1. They had a two-rail lead over the competition going into Round 2.
In the second round, Billups, 16, Gulfport, Miss., left all the rails up on her fiery roan Salsa, and Ringger, 12, Midland, Ga., and Double Delight added 4 faults to the team’s total. When Raflowitz, 12, and Tallyman sped through the timers clean, they secured the gold.
“My pony had been on since we arrived on Tuesday,” said Ringger. “I had a really good feeling about the competition all week.”
The team squeezed in a last-minute practice session with grand prix rider Aaron Vale, who gave the riders some pointers over water jumps that had been tripping up Raflowitz and Billups. “It helped us a lot,” said Billups. “I went into the ring feeling so confident after that.”
Hartrampf, 16, also captured the bronze medal in the individual competition the next day aboard Spudd Webb.