Teamwork & Fun at USHJA Children’s Jumper Regionals at Tryon

I was already excited to return to Tryon after experiencing it for the first time during the Spring series, but the USHJA Child/Adult Jumper Regionals they were hosting made Tryon Summer 2 a special weekend. The South Regionals consisted of both Children’s and Adult’s classes with riders from Zones 3 and 4 competing. Zone 3 covers Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Delaware, West Virginia and North Carolina, and Zone 4 covers Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina.

The Regional rounds were held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Prior to the start of competition, there was an official horse inspection, just as there would be during an FEI event. Day One (Friday) was the first individual qualifying class. Day Two had a two round Nation’s Cup format, two rounds per rider over an identical course, for the Team Championship which doubly served as the second qualifying class for the individual championship. Day Three (Sunday) was the individual championship which concluded with the third individual qualifying class. All four full courses were speed classes with no fewer than twelve jumping efforts – one round Friday, two Saturday and one on Sunday. The Team Championship presentation was on Saturday and the Individual Championship presentation was on Sunday. The scores obtained by the riders were converted into points and calculated with penalties to determine the leaders.

The event gives younger riders an exciting opportunity to compete under the same format and guidelines as internationally sanctioned competitions and championships like NAJYRC very early on in their riding careers. The riders who participated also seemed to have a ton of fun, so I’m excited to share the action with you here!

The Zone 3 team decided to face paint for the team competition on Saturday, which was also the 4th of July.

Sydney Moriarty had a little trouble keeping a straight face while being painted.

Their faces included both the “3” and red white and blue for the 4th of July.

Several of the horses on the Zone 3 team also had red white and blue stencils of a shooting star to celebrate the holiday.

Overheard during face painting: “We’re going to go over there. I’m going to have to fix her face.”

Will Kennedy, somewhat begrudgingly agreeing to have his face painted, but only after pointing out the fact that they were actually painting the Dutch flag on their faces.

Zone 3 is painted and ready to go.

And they've got their Zone 3 gang signs ready.

And they’ve got their Zone 3 hand signs ready.

Red white and blue braids also added a little 4th of July spirit to the competition.

What’s up for grabs. (coolers!)

Riders gather with their teammates and coaches as they await the course walk.

Zone 3 was wearing maroon on Friday and blue on Saturday.

One interesting aspect of the competition was that the course designer actually used the exact same course for the Grand Prix event on Saturday night for Sunday’s culminating individual competition, encouraging riders to come out and study the course under the lights before competing in the lowered version of it the next day.

Zone 3 rider Will Kennedy heads out of the schooling ring toward the in-gate for his turn on course.

Zone 4 was wearing Blue on Friday and Orange on Sunday. They also had a sweet banner hanging from their box.

Ting Oliver adjusts her spur at the in-gate.

Hailey Berger and Shannondale Gino looking solid over the iconic Rolex jump.

Isabel Harbour and Captivate

One detail I really enjoyed is that each rider’s introduction by the announcer included a few sentences of biographical information about them and their horses. It added a personal touch to the competition, for example one rider was headed to Vanderbilt University in the fall and her horse was a big fan of Little Debbie’s Oatmeal Creme Pies.

It was very cool seeing the two teams in the boxes on either side of the in-gate cheering their fellow riders on during the rounds.

Will Kennedy and Ontario had a strong first two days, posting clears in all three rounds.

Sydney Moriarty and Adonis D’Aztlan

Mary Elizabeth Cordia and Coritano

Anderson Wagner and Thunderball had the best round of Day 1, posting one of the two clears and at a time 8 seconds faster than anyone else.

Caroline Biggs and Won Lucato

The storm clouds rolled in on Saturday, giving some of the riders much more difficult courses than others as the torrential downpour came and went.

Olivia Notman gives a big thumbs up after guiding New Jersey to a second clear round of the day in the pouring rain.

Riders and teammates seek shelter from the downpour under the bridge near the in-gate as they await the team championship presentation.

Zone 3’s team came out on top in the team competition on Saturday.

I can’t be sure, but the face paint might have made the difference.

Zone 3 also had a sweep of the top three positions in the individual competition on Sunday, with Will Kennedy taking 1st, Mary Elizabeth Cordia 2nd, and Sarah McDonald 3rd.

One funny coincidence is that the first and second place finishers’ horses, Ontario and Coritano, were 19 years old, and older than the riders themselves!

Will Kennedy’s three clears on Friday and Saturday proved unbeatable and netted him a first place finish.

Liz Cordia, the mother of rider Mary Elizabeth Cordia (pictured here, second from the left), commented, “It’s a good thing your horses can jump a little better than that.”

“I think I’m still a little surprised,” Will commented about his win.

Here’s winner Will Kennedy with his dad, Oliver. Oliver is an announcer working at Tryon right now (and has also announced at WEF, WIHS, Pony Finals, and more), and he was actually working the event that Will won. It was truly a special moment when you could hear the emotion in Oliver’s voice as he announced Will’s win in the individual championship. Of course, Will’s first stop after the awards ceremony was the announcer’s tower.

I’m thrilled that this event was held at Tryon as everyone who participated seemed to enjoy themselves. My fingers are crossed that as the facilities grow Tryon will attract similar championship events for young riders who will return time and time again until they’re eventually competing under the lights on Saturday nights!

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