Harrisburg, Pa., Oct 16
When Reed Kessler made her way into the ring for the $15,000 Randolph College/USEF Prix de States championship, she could knew she could afford to knock down a pair of rails and her Zone 2 would still win gold. But she didn’t rest on her laurels.
The 16-year-old clocked a second clear round aboard her long-time partner Flight anyway, and Zone 2 won handily with a team total of 0 faults.
“These girls are great,” said Chef d’Equipe Ralph Caristo. “They’re great riders, with great horses and great trainers. I’m just a cheerleader.”
Two of her teammates, Karen Polle on Cachette Z and Sinatra IV on Meg O’Mara logged double-clear rounds, and Katie Dinan rode a perfect first round clear then picked up 16 in the second go for the drop score.
Second-placed Zone 10 (Jocelyn Neff/Gaja 20, Audrey Coulter/Rodenburghs California, Pernot/Lindsay Douglas, Alec Lawler/Live Wire) finished with 9 on the board, and bronze-positioned Zone 5 (Greer Hindle/Viper P, Kalvin Dobbs/Ultimate VDL, Lillie Ross/Armstrong, Laura Pfeiffer/Amberlin) ended the day with 20.
All four Zone 2 riders laid down a clear first round. Zone 10, coached by Karen Healey, came closet, with Neff and Coulter laying down clears, Douglas posting 4 and a time fault and Lawler following up with 8.
Run in Nations Cup format, the Prix des States riders contested an identical course in Round 2, with teams coming back in reverse order. First to go for Round 2, O’Mara laid down a perfect trip, and Zone 10 riders Neff and Coulter followed suit.
When Dinan’s Vancouver proved tired and started ticking rails, Polle and Kessler knew they’d have to step up to stay on top. After Polle posted a quick double clear, and Zone 10 faltered, the pressure came off Kessler.
“Katie told me just before I went in that I could have two rails and a time fault [to tie]” said Kessler. “I’m glad I didn’t!”
While Kessler, Armonk, N.Y., has had Flight for three years, her teammates have had shorter terms with their mounts. Dinan’s had Vancouver under a year, and made this her first indoors show with him. The New York, N.Y., rider was supposed to ride in last year’s Prix des States but suffered a concussion on Day 1 of Harrisburg last year and had to bow out of the jumpers.
O’Mara, Rumson, N.J., took over the ride aboard Sinatra IV from Aaron Vale in February and has been winning ever since, and Polle, New York, N.Y., has been aboard Cachette Z for about a year.
All four riders had been hard at work making signs to showcase their team spirit.
“It’s a lot more fun than at [North American Junior and Young Riders Championships (Ky.)],” said O’Mara. “There the team competition is so serious. Here it’s great.”
Junior jumper action continues tomorrow with the final round of the USEF National Individual junior jumper championship.
If you’re an equitation fan, don’t miss this year’s live, interactive USEF Medal Finals blog on Sunday, Oct. 17.
Molly Sorge will be ringside from the first rider in the ring to the end of the final work-off, bringing you a play-by-play of all the equitation action. If you’re here at the show, you can join in the conversation on your laptop, iPad or iPhone. If you’re at home you can chime in as well, all brought to you by Wendy Soloman’s Private Tutoring Service.