Today marked the first day of competition of the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park. This FEI event has four days of competition in six disciplines: jumping, dressage, eventing, endurance, reining and para-dressage. I’ll be posting a daily update of the show jumping competition as it unfolds.
The first individual qualifying speed round was today. Tomorrow there will be a two round team competition by zone for the team medals. Friday there is a Farewell class for those that don’t qualify for the individual championship, and Saturday is the championship, where individual scores from the first three rounds of the week will be used for qualification. The qualification metric takes in to account how far off you are from the leader instead of your placing in the group, so riders have extra incentive to be more careful than fast in early rounds. The scoring for these rounds is based on the time completing the course plus faults from rails down, so if you are fast but have a rail down you can still finish ahead of someone that is clear but slow.
The riders compete in one of two groups: junior riders, featuring those up to age 18, and young riders, featuring those up to age 21, and ride only one horse throughout the competition. This leads to many riders used to riding six events a day having unusual amounts of free time. One rider mentioned going out to get in a round of golf this afternoon.
Yesterday evening there was an Opening Ceremony party held at the neighboring Spy Coast Farm. Riders drove over on decorated golf carts from the Horse Park, which is where I’ll begin today’s update.
The week started off with some massive thunderstorms, followed by a beautiful rainbow on the way to the welcome party.
This group was out having dinner by themselves nearby.
The welcome party features a “golf cart parade” where the competitors dress up their golf carts in extremely festive decorations and drive them over from the Horse Park to Spy Coast Farm.
Spy Coast Farm was beautiful and the perfect place for the party. I hope I can visit again sometime soon.
While there were a few water fights, there were no impromptu jumping contests over the jumps. Or limbo contests under them.
Each team was introduced by an MC and came out to a big crowd. It was occasionally difficult for me to recognize riders without their helmets on and with their hair down.
A short rain storm came, and the tents got kind of crowded.
But some riders (eventers, I think) decided to keep dancing.
Water fights broke out early and often.
Team Mexico was a big instigator of said water fights.
I had to do a little sightseeing on the way out. Spy Coast is beautiful, especially at sunset.
The next morning as the first junior riders began to school this guy was going about his morning routine nearby, perhaps taunting the jumpers that he had the day off.
I finally met Brian Moggre from Texas, who is almost certainly the youngest rider here–he’s not even 14 yet! He rides a huge 17+ hand horse named Ace of Spades AKA Ace and is definitely one to watch.
Some of my favorite team personalization on Zone 2 rider Kira Kerkorian: personalized belt and nails.
The Walnut ring had a big crowd of golf carts lining the side of the ring where the events took place this morning.
The action started at 9am with the junior riders.
Yazmin Rizvi pulling off the Zone 1 green colors very well.
Vivian Yowan of Zone 3 had the lead in the junior division for a good part of the morning before finishing 3rd.
One of my favorite parts of Young Riders so far is seeing riders new to me from the West Coast, Canada and Mexico, such as Zone 10’s Eve Jobs.
Eve and her horse Sandor De La Pomme finished 8th today and are seen here giving Lucas Porter and Doma Sue a run for their money in the “most clearance over a huge jump” picture contest for the weekend.
Sophie Simpson was all business today, posting 4th in the junior round riding Why Not.
Why Not also had some awesome orange braids in to show off his Zone 4 spirit.
Brian Moggre had a very solid first day at his first ever young rider event.
Karly Lowe of Canada gives her horse Zidane B some love after a great round that netted her 7th place.
Sophie Michaels and Catch Me T finished 5th.
At Tryon, Lucas Porter told me about his friend Juan Pablo Gaspar Albanez (pictured here) of Mexico being a big threat to win the junior division this week. He lived up to the billing with a stunning clear round today, finishing with a score 4.2 points lower than anyone else.
Madison Goetzmann was another northeast rider I hadn’t seen ride in person since Old Salem, and she was as fantastic as I remembered, placing 6th on Wrigley.
Maddie Chenoweth of Zone 7 finished 9th.
Ailish Cunniffe finished 10th with the adorable Betty Boop III.
Fourth to last to go, Daisy Farish set a blistering pace but was unable to catch Juan Pablo Gaspar, finishing second for the day.
Daisy is a hometown rider based out of her family’s Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, KY.
Brittni Raflowitz showing off her Zone 4 DIY helmet bling.
Brittni is all smiles as usual before getting on to school.
Tori Colvin and Lumiere were at the top of the order for the Young Rider round. It’s been fun watching their partnership evolve since I first watched them together at Upperville and then Tryon. Today’s very speedy round resulted in a 3rd place finish.
Lucy Deslauriers, probably the youngest in the young rider division, was the 5th rider to go and promptly captured the lead with a stunningly fast round.
Alex Matz and Quinta of Zone 4 jumping the brick wall on the way to 10th place.
Zone 3’s Noel Fauntleroy and Cabras finished 9th.
Zone 2’s Katherine Strauss and All In finished 7th.
Veronica Bot of Canada finished 5th.
Kaely Tomeu had an 8th place finish aboard perhaps the best-named horse in the competition: Fidalgo Van Het Leliehof. Something tells me that isn’t his barn name.
Lucas Porter delivered a clear round aboard Doma Sue, finishing 4th.
Zone 9’s Jenn Gates and Cadence finished 6th.
Maddy Darst and Quester De Virton bested Lucy’s time by 8 hundreths of a second to take the victory.
Click here for coverage of Day 2’s Team Championship at the Rolex Stadium!