Parker, Colo.—July 28
When you can hardly stay on your horse jumping a 1.20-meter course, you don’t expect to shine at the 1.40-meter level. But Alexandra Ozymy did.
“I think it’s so funny, in almost exactly a year I went from falling off in the low juniors to now, here we are,” Ozymy, 18, said with a laugh.
"Here" is the top of the podium with her three teammates after capturing team gold in the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships young rider team show jumping competition. Ozymy was joined by Sophie Simpson aboard Why Not, Nicole Peterson aboard Fast Flo, and Hannah Donald aboard Hector. The combined Zone 4 and 7 team posted a final score of 0 faults in the Nations Cup-style team competition, where each rider jumped the same round twice today.
The team from the combined team of Zones 3, 8 and 9 got silver, and then the Zone 10 team earned bronze.
Alexandra Ozymy and Curtis 57
“It’s been an amazing experience. I was really excited to come this year, and I love competing on a team,” Ozymy said. “It’s not something that you get to do all the time, so to do this with a team, to get gold, that’s way beyond my expectations. It was so much fun.”
Ozymy and Curtis’ journey to NAJYRC began a little over a year ago, when Ozymy saw the gelding on a video sent from her trainer, Christian Heineking.
“He looked nice, and I really liked him. Christian wasn’t so sure,” Ozymy said with a laugh.
Ozymy was looking for her next big horse after selling a previous mount, and she thought Curtis might fit the bill. Then he arrived from Europe, and Ozymy discovered very quickly that she was in for a steep learning curve with the quirky gelding.
“He was spinning and stopping at jumps when I first got him,” Ozymy said with a laugh. “He was a little feisty and had his own opinions. He would say, ‘I don’t want to go in the ring. I don’t want to jump this jump,’ and I was not the most technically correct rider, I’m still not the most technically correct rider, and he would spin, and I would just fall off the side.”
Alexandra Ozymy gives Curtis a big hug after a clear round.
Defeat was not an option for Ozymy if she wanted to compete at NAJYRC in her final summer before she heads off to college at Baylor University in the fall of 2016—her only other possible mount wasn’t coming to fruition. She needed to find common ground with Curtis.
“We just slowly moved up through 1.20-meter, 1.30-meter, and we honestly just got ready to compete at this [1.40-meter] level in the past like two months or so,” Ozymy said. “So when we qualified for NAJYRC, and the opportunity was there to go, I wasn’t sure.”
Her doubts stemmed from a question mark with regards to Curtis’ scope. As the two of them got to know each other better, Ozymy was able to find succsess with the gelding at the 1.30-meter level, but he didn’t feel like he had much left in the tank.
“He didn’t feel like he could jump that high,” Ozymy said. “He has plenty of scope up, but he wouldn’t jump across really.”
Curtis first efforts at the level didn’t inspire much confidence either. He contested but didn’t place in the $25,000 Grand Prix at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (N.C.). They placed 22nd in the $60,000 Summer In The Rockies (Colo.) Grand Prix a few weeks later.
Curtis shows off his scope with Alexandra Ozymy.
Then, just a few weeks before the start of this year's NAJYRC competition, Curtis seemingly found a new gear. He and Ozymy placed fourth out of 40 entries in the $75,000 Nutrena Grand Prix, also in Parker, Co.
“All of the sudden it’s like this horse is jumping over everything, like a foot over the standards,” Ozymy said, smiling and shaking her head. “I’m like, 'Where did you come from?' ”
No kidding on those jumping efforts—we have the pictures to prove it. Curtis almost looks like a working hunter snapping his knees up and stretching out over the big oxers in the Young Rider team competition, and his double clear efforts helped the team to gold.
So he’s a winner in the ring, but Ozymy remains a total goon back in the barn.
“He was silly when we got him, and he’s still is so silly. He’s a dork,” Ozymy said. “He’ll eat everything. he’ll eat your hand, anything on a shelf, he’ll knock everything off the shelves in the barn.”
Ozymy and Curtis still have young rider individual medals to vie for Saturday at the Colorado Horse Park, but when the championship comes to a close, it will be a bittersweet ending.
“I’m going to Baylor, so I’m not sure where I’m going with riding. This was kind of like my last hurrah before I go to school,” Ozymy said.
As far as riding hiatuses go, finding their stride at the 1.40-meter level and winning a gold medal is not a bad way to begin one!
Check back with the Chronicle for more coverage from NAJYRC.
Make sure to read all the Chronicle's in-depth coverage of all disciplines at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in the Aug. 15 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse, which is also the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championships Preview issue.