I’m currently at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park covering the show jumping competition. If you didn’t see it, here’s my recap of Day 1. Day 2 was the team competition in which riders were divided by the zones of their home state. The NAJYRC Championship is one of the few major events that gives junior and young riders the opportunity to ride on a team as they would in the Nation’s Cup or the Olympics and the hope is that’s exactly where we’ll see them in years to come.
To start, here’s a zone map of the states:
The competition also included teams from Canada, Mexico North and Mexico South. Some riders that didn’t have enough other riders from their zone at the event to make a team of three were put on other zone’s teams. The riders’ rounds also factored in to their qualification for the individual championship which will be held Saturday.
Today each rider completed two full rounds, and the best three scores for each round were used for the final team scores. The team with the lowest number of faults among these three best scores won. Here’s how the day played out:
The day started with the Junior Rider Team Competition at 8am. I followed this pair on the walk to Rolex Stadium before detouring to grab a scone.
A foggy morning kept temperatures cool and comfortable until the sun began to break through.
Madison Goetzmann and Wrigley make their way from the schooling area down the ramp to the in-gate.
Emma Sargent, the only rider attending from Zone 6, told me her “pump up song” for the event was Calabria 2008.
Zone 10’s Eve Jobs had a double clear in the morning, posting two spectacular rounds aboard Sandor de la Pomme.
13-year-old Brian Moggre of Zone 7 had a fantastic clear round to start off the morning.
…and he was very excited about it.
Brian’s “I just had an AWESOME ride” face.
Sophie Simpson posted one of the three double clear rounds for the junior riders.
Mackenzie McGehee and Brett Burlington of Zone 4 in between the 1st and 2nd rounds. Mackenzie has a very large contingent of family attending to watch her compete, but she said she was feeling the pressure more from wanting to help her team out than impressing her parents, who were excited for her no matter what.
Daisy Farish also spoke of wanting to perform well for her team, which included her fellow hometown Zone 5 riders Vivian Yowan and Emma Wujek.
Emma Wujek, also of Zone 5.
One of the sibling riding combos riding in the event is Lucy and Alex Matz, from Pennsylvania, who were watching the action here with their parents. Imagine handling the stress of one child going over 1.40m+ jumps, let alone two.
The Alessandro Albanese sweaters Katherine Strauss and Lucy Deslauriers were sporting happened to be a coincidental fashion choice and not part of their Zone 2 uniform. Maybe they should be, though, because they look great.
The open water obstacle challenged many riders throughout the day.
I had to stop and take a picture of these stylish eventers watching the jumping action at Rolex Stadium. They were from Minnesota, and when asked what they wanted everyone to know about the Minnesota horse show scene, they answered, “Well…there is one.”
Caitlyn Connors is another one of the youngest riders competing this weekend–she just graduated 8th grade and is as fierce and fearless going around a course as she looks in this picture.
Pretty sure there was not a back of a helmet out there without a Zone number decoration on it today.
Nothing but love among the Zone 7 junior rider team. They’re all Texans and were having a blast when I met them.
Young Riders is doing a team challenge across all disciplines that involves completing different tasks for points. It’s a nice way for all the different disciplines of riders, from reining to dressage to show jumping, to meet and support each other. One show jumping rider I spoke with said that a girl on her team challenge from the dressage discipline wished her luck in her Junior Rider event and it was a nice feeling to have the “outside” support.
Somehow I keep seeing golf carts with crazy decorations that I missed the day before, like this one.
This one is impressive and caught my eyes because, donuts. I thought my love for Dunkin’ Donuts was strong, but this is another level of running on Dunkin’.
Sophie smiles coming out of the ring after her 2nd clear round of the morning that clinched the Junior Rider team gold medal for Zone 4.
Mackenzie and Zone 4 Chef D’equipe Kim Land after the win.
Mexico North picked up the bronze in the junior division.
Zone 5 took home the silver. This was a moment of indecision after watching the mostly male Mexico North team take off their helmets for photos and the ceremony. The ladies of Zone 5 were debating whether they had to do this as well–they ultimately kept the helmets on.
Zone 4’s Mackenzie McGehee, Sophie Simpson, Brett Burlington and Louise Graves accepting their gold medals. They had a dominant performance, with Sophie and Brett going double clear and the team finishing with only 1 fault over two rounds.
Where do the bouquets that the winners hold on the podium go during the victory gallop? Here is your answer.
Mackenzie and her groom have a sweet moment after she came out of the in-gate thanking him profusely for all of his help.
Sophie and her mom and trainer, Nicole, of Simpson Show Jumping, smile for a photo after the ceremony.
The young rider team competition started at 1:30pm.
Zone 4’s Brittni Rafflowitz had a sensational afternoon, posting one of the only two double clear rounds in the Young Rider division.
While Lucas Porter’s Zone 7/9 team didn’t make it to the final round, he posted a clear and four fault round to continue his steady pace to the individual championship round.
Kelli Cruciotti from Zone 10 joined the Zone 4 riders for the team competition, competing along side Tori Colvin, Brittni Raflowitz, and Kaely Tomeu.
The other double clear in the Young Rider division went to Zone 3’s Noel Fauntleroy.
With the pressure on, Jacob Pope delivered a clear finish in his 2nd round of the day to keep Zone 3 in the hunt.
Brittni Rafflowitz answered right back with her second clear round.
Zone 2 was still in contention behind a clear and four fault effort from Kira Kerkorian.
Lucy Deslauriers had another one of Zone 2’s clear rounds.
Thanks to great riding by Lucy Deslauriers (pictured), Katherine Strauss, Kira Kerkorian, and Sima Morgello, Zone 2 ultimately took home the Silver medal.
Victoria Colvin contributed to the Zone 4 team’s strong performance aboard Lumiere.
Yesterday’s winner, Zone 5’s Maddy Darst joined with the Zone 3 team.
After dramatic final rounds between Maddy, Lucy and Tori, the Zone 3/5 team emerged victorious by 3 faults.
Zone 3 Chef D’equipe Sandra Ruiz celebrates after the gold medal finish.
The Zone 3/5 team comprised of Jacob Pope, Noel Fauntleroy, Kalvin Dobbs, and Maddy Darst enter the ring for the championship ceremony.
Zone 3 natives Jacob and Noel congratulate each other with a hug.
Kaely Tomeu and Fidalgo Van Het Lelihof sharing a sweet moment in the spotlight.
Maddy Darst gives Queso a little love for two great days in a row.
Noel Fauntleroy celebrates with her family and Virginia-based Newstead Farm crew.
Cabras deciding it’s a good time to try to take a bite out of the bouquet while everyone is distracted by the camera.
Kelli Cruciotti gives Maddy Darst a hug after a successful day for both riders.
It’s not a team championship if you didn’t get a selfie. (Pictured here: Brittni Raflowitz, Tori Colvin, Kelli Cruciotti, & Kaely Tomeu)
Jacob Pope, Noel Fauntleroy, and Maddy Darst await the press conference.
Friday is a slower day for the competition as riders and horses rest up for Saturday’s big championship. There is also a Farewell Class for those who will not be riding for an individual medal, which I’ll be watching in the morning. For coverage of the championship day, click here!