Lexington, Ky. - July 18
For the third year in a row, Region 5 won the dressage team gold at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, but the victory was not without challenges for both veteran and rookie riders.
Devon Wycoff, 18, traveled from the foothills in Colorado with Power Play, a 15-year-old Oldenburg (Pik Noir—Feldessa), where the recent wildfires threatened many horse barns and competitions.
“[The fires] were pretty close to us,” said Wycoff, who came from Boulder. “It’s been kind of intense; every day a new fire has been popping up.”
She recalled a recent show where several riders rushed home after competing to evacuate their barns and horses.
“The cloud cover of the smoke came over us, and they had to pause the horse show,” she said.
Brandi Roenick, 17, rode Weltino’s Magic, the 10-year-old Westphalian gelding (Weltino—Diva), to help Region 5 win the gold. The pair earned the highest score of the day of 70.5 percent.
“Magic,” was Steffen Peters’ double-gold medal winner at the Pan American Games last year in Mexico. Roenick took over the reins earlier this spring. She said she tries to focus on her relationship with the gelding and their goals and performances together instead of dwelling in the past.
“There are the ups and downs, but I try to keep it all behind me,” she said. “I just have to think about what I’m going to achieve with him. I just have to stay humble and keep my head in the game.”
Roenick and Wycoff were joined by veteran rider Madeleine Birch riding Uoeri (67.82%) and rookie competitor Victoria Fernalld riding Amazing (61.92%). Region 5 earned three of the top four scores of the day.
“It’s incredible,” said Fernalld, 17. “My teammates have been phenomenal and really supportive. It’s a lot of intensity but a lot of fun.”
Amazing, a 12-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding (Andiamo—Stengaarden’s Chikita-Light), is nicknamed the “Velcro Horse.”
“He loves to be attached to anyone at any time,” she said. “He’s the sweetest horse.”
A Strong Junior Canadian Finish
In the junior dressage team competition, the Canada Quebec team earned the gold medal with only one veteran rider. Nicole Babich Morin, 16, competed for Canada last year, but the other riders were new to the team atmosphere.
“Winning the gold’s a privilege for all the hard work we do,” said Fredrique Bourgault, 17. “All the hard work paid off.”
The girls on the team thought they had a chance at a medal.
“This year, I knew by watching [my team members] that they were really strong riders, so it’s good to be part of a really strong team,” said Babich Morin.
Last year her experience was marred by her horse's sickness. This year, she said she was happy to be focused more on the competition than getting her horse healthy. She rode Foxfire, a 12-year-old Hanoverian (Foxhunter—Frankfurt).
Also on the winning team, Naima Moreira Laliberte, 15, rode Tolando, a 12-year-old Dutch stallion (Krack C—Narina) owned by Brittany Fraser. She earned the top score of the team and the third best score of the junior riders (68.43%).
Laurence Blais Tetreault, 15, rode Pissaro, a 15-year-old Westphalian gelding (Pavarotti Helle—Panja).
“I knew my team, and I felt we had a really great chance,” she said.
- Michaela Nelson, 18, was loading her mount, Galena, into the trailer in San Francisco when the mare kicked herself. “My horse really didn’t want to get on the trailer getting here,” Nelson said. With no visible damage, she didn’t worry about it. When they arrived in Kentucky, the mare was “dead lame,” and Nelson couldn’t ride her for almost a week. A local veterinarian from Hagyard helped treat the injury, and Galena was fit to ride by the start of the competition. Nelson said she was so nervous during the jog that she couldn’t breath, but icing and soaking the foot paid off: The veterinarians passed her right away, and she went on to compete for the silver-medal winning junior team from Region 7.
- Jaime Pestana, 19, helped the young rider team from Region 7 take silver, but it hasn’t been an easy year for her and her mount Winzalot. The 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Wolkensten II—Francisca) underwent colic surgery last year, but because of an allergic reaction to the internal stitches, he needed two more surgeries. “I had to ride him completely bareback for almost three months,” Pestana explained due to a belly band.
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